Mar 2016 TBRI’ve had a slightly frustrating period of reading recently, as I’ve read three books, one I didn’t finish (more on that below), one was to review for Shiny New Books, the new issue of which isn’t out quite yet, and one I have to save the review to publish nearer to the (re)publication date. I then came down with a mild version of my husband’s cold, which meant that I had to temporarily abandon Dorothy Richardson (I’m finding “The Tunnel”, Volume 4 of the “Pilgrimage” sequence, quite heavy going and not the kind of thing you can read when you can’t concentrate) and my plans for some Virginia Woolf, and retreat to a Debbie Macomber.

The Prose Factory D J Taylor

This is how committed I am to good-quality reviewing

I took this photo for my photo-a-day challenge to show all the post-it markers I’d inserted into my copy of D. J. Taylor’s “The Prose Factory”, which is the book I’ve been reviewing for Shiny. It was longer and more detailed than I’d expected, but very good and interesting. Luckily, it turned out that many of the themes and points were repeated (in a good, historical writing sort of way – here’s an example of x here, and here it crops up again), so I didn’t end up submitting a 5,000-word essay on the book! I’ll pop a note up on here when the review is out on Shiny New Books, so you can pop over and read the result of my labours!

I very much enjoyed Margery Sharp’s “Cluny Brown”, having read “The Foolish Gentlewoman” in January. As I mentioned a little while ago, Open Road Media are republishing a selection of Sharp’s novels in e-book form on 12 April. The publishers were kind enough to contact me and offer me two books (“Cluny” and “The Nutmeg Tree”) pre-approved through NetGalley, and I absolutely loved Cluny, so watch out for those reviews in a few weeks’ time, as they have asked people to help build interest by releasing reviews closer to the publication date.

So, some reading that I CAN talk about …

Matt Fitzgerald – “80/20 Running” (DNF)

(Bought January 2016)

This isn’t a running blog, though I have blogged about runs and you might spot the odd race report, and I won’t go on about this, but I’m planning on running my first marathon in August this year, and I picked up some books that had been recommended by running clubmates to see if I could pick up any hints (PS, yes, my knees are fine).

This one promises to help you run stronger and race faster by training (on your long runs) slower. The general principle was very sound – running at a more comfortable pace for long distances increases your stamina for more sustained faster running. But it spent the first half of the book justifying the approach (which I do get that some people need), then got very complicated and prescriptive, using a mixture of heart-rate, perceived effort, mileage, speed and running (or, to be fair, cross-training) six times a week. This was far too circumscribed for me – I get myself all wound up if I try to follow a very detailed plan. So I gave this to a friend, and am going to stick to my increasing distance gently and doing lots of yoga plan!

This book would suit: people who like to have a plan they can nail to the fridge door and tick off with coloured pens (maybe newer runners or people new to distance running). There’s nothing wrong with it, it just didn’t suit me.

Debbie Macomber – “Promise, Texas”

(22 March 2016)

Amusingly, this arrived in a big parcel along with a load of running gels and recovery bars! It’s the seventh in the Texas series, apparently written a while after the others, and actually Macomber’s big break-through novel which helped her realise how much people like a series. Oh, this should be a book confession, too, shouldn’t it …

We’re back in Promise, Texas, a few years after the end of the last book. The small town’s population explosion and renewal have brought in a vet, a bookshop owner and another doctor plus a midwife, so there are plenty of people to stock the stories of friendship and romance. The older generation is not left out, as Dovie, the owner of the antiques shop, becomes worried about her oldest friend, as do the woman’s family.

All cosy and satisfying, some situations you just wouldn’t find yourself in, but some lovely escapism!


I’m currently still so enjoying the second volume of Harold Nicolson’s “Diaries and Letters” – it’s a blow-by-blow contemporary account of World War Two, and fascinating for that, with good notes by his son and editor, Nigel, covering what was known about the background and outcomes in the mid-1960s (obviously some governmental stuff didn’t come out until later). Once I’m tippy-top, it’s back to Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf, although I think the odd sports biog might get a look-in, too.