Two more books from my massive reading stint today and a funny pair but one that ended up at the front end of the TBR shelf. Both offered a good, dense amount of text that took me a little longer to get through, so perhaps these offered more reading “value” than the crop of novels from yesterday’s reviews, although I needed that lighter stuff, too.

Mark Ellen – “Rock Stars Stole My Life!”

(03 October 2016 – Penzance)

The music journalist and magazine editor (and fan, and bass guitarist) writes his autobiography. Although full of rock’n’roll excess and excitement and almost as indiscreet as promised on the cover (he certainly writes openly of his feelings about the management of publishing companies; I suspect that the part of my job that makes me a transcriber for music journalists interviewing various musicians has inoculated me against indiscretion in that area), it’s fundamentally a story of a an essentially kind, decent and loyal person who appreciates the path he’s gone along. He’s generous in his praise of his colleagues and I loved reading about the ins and outs of magazine life – especially the gone but not forgotten Word magazine. A good example of the rock write biography (OK, there are only two I can think of and both have been good) and very enjoyable.

D.E. Stevenson – “Mrs Tim of the Regiment”

(03 September 2016 – from Astley Book Farm, the last remaining read from that trip!)

An absolutely charming book and I’m raring to read the three sequels (although I sadly find they are v expensive second hand and not reprinted (yet?) – I will keep a firm look-out for them). A little like the Provincial Lady in that it’s in the form of a diary of a nice lady with children and servant problems, but Mrs Tim is an Army Wife, used to moving at the drop of a hat and also taking a pastoral role with the wives of the lower ranks while dealing with the angels and horrors at her level and above.

Mrs Tim has admirers but professes not to realise this – she comes across as sweet rather than annoying in this, luckily. There’s a move and all the horrors that entails, social calls that are almost unbearable but lovely neighbours, and a delightful interlude in Scotland when she gets to take a little holiday with one of these neighbours (plus the woman’s lovelorn son and completely batty relative).

Not much actually happens in the novel: some love is found and lost, yearnings happen, ghosts might be seen and there are episodes with the children; it’s a little uneven, too, mainly episodic and veering at times between farce that’s more farcical than the Provincial Lady and lyricism that’s more lyrical, but it’s a lovely, engaging and attractive read and fabulous as a whole.

One addition to the TBR shelves has come in the form of Jess Phillips’ memoir / polemic / call to action, which my friend Meg very kindly got for me (and got signed for me) at her book launch. I had to start it almost straight away and I think it’s brilliant – straight-talking and honest and explains how she got to be how she is and where she is (MP for a local constituency and loved/hated in equal measure).