Books Read 2019/20



  • Shaun Bythell - Confession of a Bookseller. Non-Fiction. (Published 2019) This is the second book by this author who owns the largest second-hand bookshop in Scotland. Like the first it is a diary of all the strange people that come to the shop, the books they buy and the strange questions that get asked and about Wigtown characters and the Book Festival held there every year.
  • Alexander McCall Smith - To the Land of Long Lost Friends. Crime Fiction (Published 2019). The latest in the long running series about the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. The blue skies of Botswana always warm up a British winter.
  • Kathleen Hewitt - Plenty Under the Counter. Crime Fiction(Re-printed by the IWM 2019. Originally Published 1943).The Imperial War Museum have also started reprinting books originally published during wartime. This is a mystery/crime featuring a RAF pilot on leave after being in hospital. A murdered man is found in the back yard of the boarding house  so David sets out to solve the murder in between trying to persuade his girlfriend to marry him.
  • John Dickson Carr - The Case of the Constant Suicides. Crime Fiction (Published 2018. Originally Published 1941). Another reprint from the past. John Dickson Carr was known in his day as the master of the impossible crime..........there is one in this story and 3 possible suicides! It features his amateur sleuth Gideon Fell and is set in the Highlands of Scotland.
  • Nicola Ford - The Lost Shrine. Crime Fiction. (Published 2019). The second from this author who herself is an archaeologist. Another story set on an archaeological dig. Clare Hills takes on a new job working on a dig where the previous site director was found hanged surrounded by dead wildlife. A suspected suicide which looks more likely to have been a murder after other threats are received.
  • Elizabeth Fair - The Mingham Air. Fiction. (A Furrowed Middlebrow Reprint 2019 Originally Published 1960). A gentle story of the characters in a village and  newcomer Hester who goes to convalesce with her Godmother and sets about organising everyone.
  • Mary Stewart - The Wind Off the Small Isles/The Lost One. Fiction Novella and short story. ( Originally published 1968 and 1960, reprinted 2014).A Quick read with both stories featuring the same young woman - intrepid survivor of cliff falls on Lanzarote and escaped prisoner on the Moors.
  • Laurie Ogden - The Chimney Swallows. Children's Fiction. (Published 1999). The author and his family live in an old house where swallows return every year to nest. One summer his son John has to spend a lot of time in bed and the swallows nest right inside his room. But then comes the year where the swallows don't return.
  • Richmal Crompton - Family Roundabout. Fiction. (A Persephone reprint originally published 1948) Richmal Crompton was must better known for a chidren's books about William. She also wrote many adult books. In Family Roundabout we are shown the matriarchs of two families, and the ups and downs of their children and grandchildren in the years between the wars.The families are linked by marriage and there are other marriages, none of which are straight-forward and happy. 
9 Books Read in January
  • Esther Rutter - This Golden Fleece; A Journey Through Britain's Knitted History. Non Fiction (Published 2019). Esther Rutter was born on a Suffolk sheep farm and learned to spin, weave and knit as a child. In this book she travels the length and breadth of the UK - from Shetland to the Channel Islands unearthing the history of all thing knitted, the wool they are made from and the communities that earned their living with wool. Even though I can only knit dishcloths I found this book fascinating.
  • Donna Leon - Unto us a Son is Given. Crime Fiction. (Published 2019). The most recent in the long series of books set in Venice and featuring Commissario Brunetti and his family. 
  • Marjorie Wilenski -  Table Two. Fiction. (Published 2019 Originally 1942). Another Dean St Press/Furrowed Middlebrow Reprint. Set in the London office of the Ministry of Foreign Intelligence in WWII with the Blitz going on all around. Table Two is where the translators work, nine women - some old and bitter but independent and capable. When pretty newcomer Anne Shepley-Rice arrives she is befriended by the middle aged Elsie.
  •  Michael Gilbert - Death in Captivity; A Second World War Mystery. Crime Fiction ( Published 2019 Originally 1952.) Another Crime Classic from the British Library. This is set in an Italian Prisoner-of-war camp for British Officers. A man is found dead in one of the escape tunnels, it's an impossible scenario and one of the Officers turns detective to find out who the spy is. This is set at almost the end of the war and finishes with the British Prisoners preparing to flee south towards the British invasion line as the Germans arrive to take over the camp. 
  • D.E. Stevenson - Mrs Tim Gets a Job. Fiction (Published 2019 Originally 1947). The third in a series about Mrs Tim. Just after the war and Hester Christie's husband Tim is still overseas. With her daughter off to boarding school Hester is at a loose end until she gets a home and job with the formidable  Erica Clutterbuck who has opened a hotel in the Scottish Borders.
  • Kel Richards - The Sinister Student. Crime Fiction (Published 2016) Another book by this author written as a Golden Age crime and set in 1930's Oxford with C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein. Apart from the main story this one goes into the realms of Sci-Fi with a Tardis appearing and a student coming back from the future to study the two dons - very odd.
  • Eve Diett - Diary of a NAAFI girl. Non Fiction (Published 2012). After being a Land Girl during WWII and then working in a hotel, Eve and her friend Marge start working in the NAAFI (Navy,Army,Air Force Institute) working at a camp in Devon where new recruits for National Service are trained. Everyday was different as she served the young recruits and officers at the camp shop.
  7Books read in February

  • Barbara Noble - The House Opposite. Fiction (Published 2019 Originally 1943) This is another of the Dean Street Press/Furrowed Middlebrow collaboration). Actually written during WWII by someone who lived through the London Blitz.                                                                      Elizabeth is a secretary who has been having an affair with her married boss for the last 3 years. She has moved home to live with her parents during the Blitz.In the house opposite lives Owen, a teenager, waiting for call up to the RAF. Following their lives through  Fire Watching, traveling across the city, visiting relatives in the country and the end of the affair.
  • Francis Duncan - Murder for Christmas. Crime fiction (Originally published 1949) This is a typical Country House Murder, full of strange characters all brought together for a Christmas House Party. The amateur sleuth in this goes by the wonderful name of Mordecai Tremaine.
  •  Angela Thirkell - Growing Up. Fiction. (Published 1943). Another of the Barsetshire family stories. Big houses, servants with war going on in the background. I love these books - but lots of other people don't.
  • Laura Carlin - Requiem For a Knave. Crime Fiction (Published 2020). It is England in 1367 and when Alwin of Whittaker hears the confession of his mother on her death bed he leaves the only place he has known to travel to The Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham to discover the truth. This is a strange tale, readable but a bit odd. A quick read and I think I enjoyed it. 
  • Elly Griffiths - Now You See Them. Crime Fiction ( Published 2019). This is the fifth in the series featuring Edgar Stephens and set in Brighton. Edgar is now a Superintendent, his former sergeant Emma is now his wife and they have 3 children. It is 1963 and a schoolgirl has gone missing from Roedean Girls Boarding School. Mods and Rockers having battles on the beach is part of the story, which ends with Emma and her news reporter friend Sam deciding to start a Private Detective agency. This should make for lots more books in the series.
  • Tony Medawar(editor) - Bodies from the Library. Crime Fiction (Published 2018) Short stories from the golden age of crime. Some of these short stories had only published in newspapers and magazines back in the day. A few were very odd and it was understandable why their authors had never been heard of again!
  • Linda Grant - A Stranger City. Fiction (Published 2019) A body is found in the Thames which starts a search for her identity. A policeman, a documentary film maker and a nurse all respond to the death of the unknown woman in different ways. London is a place where people meet or pass by. The story is set now, just after Brexit but in a country where immigrants are deported by the trainful to live on prison ships in the Thames.
7 Books Read in March

  • Tracy Chevalier  - A Single Thread. Fiction (Published 2019). As always with this author fiction is woven around fact. In this case it is the women who embroidered the kneelers and cushions for Winchester Cathedral in the 1930's. Violet has moved from Southampton to work in Winchester mainly to get away from her mother and memories of her brother and fiance both killed in the war. One day she comes across the Broderers, women from all sorts of backgrounds working the patterns designed by Louisa Pesel.                                                      A very good story which I really enjoyed.
  • D.E. Stevenson - Mrs Tim Flies Home. Fiction (Published 2019 Originally Published 1952) This is the final book featuring D.E.Stevenson's alter-ego Hester Christie. Hester has spent 18 months in Kenya where her Army Officer husband has been stationed and now comes home for the summer, renting a house where her children can join her for their summer holidays from school and university. Another gentle happy story that I enjoyed. 
  • Emma Smith - No Way of Telling. Children's Fiction (Published 1972) This is a childrens book by the author who wrote The Maidens Trip about her time on the canal boats during WWII. It's a story of a girl and her granny in Wales during a spell of harsh winter weather when a stranger appears and then vanishes.
  • Edward Marston - The Mad Courtesan. Crime Fiction (Published 1992) Featuring Nicholas Bracewell who is a Stage Manager (Book Holder) with Lord Westfields Men - a group of actors in Elizabethan London. The stories are all very similar but as I only read one now and again it doesn't matter. 
  • Mary Wesley - An Imaginative Experience. Fiction. (Published 1994). A book of co-incidences all stemming from the woman who pulled the communication cord on a train so she could leap off and turn a sheep off it's back  and the man on the train who watched and saw the sadness in her face.
  • Robert Barnard - The Killings on Jubilee Terrace. Crime Fiction. (Published 2009) When two characters in the TV soap Jubilee Terrace were killed in an arson attack not long after an anonymous letter is received questioning the death of another actor, the police investigate.
  • Carol Carnac - Crossed skis; An Alpine Mystery. Crime Fiction (Published 2020 Originally published 1952). Another British Library Crime Classic. This author has already had BLCC's republished under her other name of E.C.R.Lorac. The story moves from London still struggling after the war to an alpine ski resort and a group of friends and colleagues on holiday. One of the party is perhaps not who he say's he is.
  • Rose Macauley - The World My Wilderness. Fiction (Published 1950). Set immediately after WWII in France and London. Barbary Deniston is 17 and has spent the last few years running wild with  the French Resistance. She is sent from her beloved mothers home in France to stay with her father in war ravaged London. In the ruins she finds an area much like she has left behind and begins to run wild again. I so enjoyed this and read it very quickly.
 8 Books Read in April


  • Carola Oman - Nothing to Report. Fiction (A Furrowed Middlebrow Reprint Originally Published 1940). Mary Morrison is an unmarried lady in her early 40's and although no longer living in her family home she is still very much part of the village. There are Lords and Ladies in this and young people and her old friend Lady Rollo and her family just returning from India. England is just on the verge of war although it's not much mentioned until the very last chapter. This was OK but not riveting. 
  • John Bude - Death in White Pyjamas. Crime Fiction (A B.L.C.C reprint originally published  1942). A Theatre owner,producer and several of the actors have gathered at a country house to read through the script of a new production. But soon one of their number, staying at another home in the area is found murdered in the grounds of the house wearing white pyjamas. BLCC have already reprinted several books by this author who died in 1957. This is another good story - a typical Country House murder of the time.
  • John Bude - Death Knows no Calendar. ( Published in the same volume as the above originally published in 1944). An intriguing locked room murder set in a village with all the usual characters - A Major, servants, wealthy artist, her exuberant husband, a vicar, a Lady and her niece. Another well written and puzzling crime.
  • Janet Corke - A Hidden House in the Gwydyr Forest. Non Fiction. (Published 2019). In 1955 a young English civil engineer finds an empty cottage 1,000 feet above the Conwy Valley. There is no vehicular access and the only amenity is a nearby stream. Charlie Corke bought the cottage and gradually renovated it. When he married, his new wife struggled with the minimum facilities and soon a new baby moved in too. This story is told by his Welsh wife Janet who was training as a solicitor in Llanrwst when Charlie came into the office to purchase the house.
  • Ronald Blythe  - A Year at Bottengoms Farm. Non Fiction. (Published 2006). Another collection of short pieces from The Church Times. A year watching  nature, working his garden and travelling to church events around the country.
  • Pamela Hansford-Johnson - Winter Quarters. Fiction (Published 1944). Waiting to be posted abroad during WWII an artillery battalion is stationed in a small English Village. This book which  looks at the interaction of soldiers and civilians. Through the book we get to know the people from the village and members of the battery from the Major and Captain to the junior offices. They have personal and psychological troubles, wives, girlfriends. Spend a lot of time in the pubs and are bored and tense waiting for the off.
6 Books Read in May.

  • Martin Edwards (Editor) - Settling Scores; Sporting Mysteries. Crime Fiction (Published 2020). Another collection of short stories reprinted by British Library Crime Classics.
  • Agatha Christie - N or M. Crime Fiction (Published 1941). This is one of her Tommy and Tuppence Mysteries, which for some reason I didn't read back in the 70's when I read dozens of her other books. I've had a copy on my shelves for about 5 years so about time it was read and sold. It is WWII and Britain faces a threat from "the enemy within". The intelligence service appoint Tommy Beresford - a very unlikely spy- to find out what connection a boarding house in the fictional Leahampton has with Germany. His wife Tuppence overhears the discussion and decides to be part of the investigation too.  A light quick read.
  • Laura Dawes - Fighting Fit;The Wartime Battle for Britain's Health. Non Fiction (Published 2016). The story of how the people of Britain were kept fit and well through WWII. How the scientists and doctors and ordinary people worked to replace the things that had once been imported. Each chapter looks at a different part of the battle from the agar needed for Petri dishes, the National Loaf, Lice and Venereal disease.
  • Carola  Oman -  Somewhere in England. Fiction ( A Furrowed Middlebrow reprint Originally Published 1943) The follow up to Nothing to Report.       At the end of the first book the main character  had just resumed her nursing career at the beginning of WWII and in the second we join her again 2 years later when she has just married and her new husband (who she knew when she was much younger but lost touch with for many years) has bought her old country home to turn it into a cottage hospital for injured soldiers which she is running with the help of a nasty Matron and several young nurses.
  • Angela Thirkell - The Dukes Daughter. Fiction (Published 1951) Another of the rambling tales from fictional Barsetshire, with lords, ladies and gentlemen, their grand and not so grand houses, their land and farms and prep schools....... and all the people who work for them. 
  • Rory Clements- Hitler's Secret.Historical crime fiction(Published 2020) In Cambridge, professor Tom Wilde is approached by an American intelligence officer who he has worked with before.He is needed to smuggle a secret package out of Germany.
    But it is only when he is deep behind enemy lines that Wilde discovers why the Nazis are so desperate to prevent the 'package' falling into Allied hands. And as ruthless killers hunt him through Europe, a treacherous question hangs over the mission.  This is the 4th in this series about the American professor living in England during the war. A very good read
6 books read in June. Running total so far 44

  • Mike Parker - On The Red Hill; Where Four Lives Fell into Place. Non Fiction (Published 2019) A story of a house and the 2 people who owned it before passing it to the author and his partner. In 2016 Mike Parker and his partner Peredur were witnesses at the civil partnership of their elderly friends Reg and George, the first to be held in the Welsh town of Machynlleth. A few years later when Reg and George died withing a few weeks of each other Mike and Peredur found that Rhiw Goch had been left to them. Mike has put this book together using George's diaries and photographs and Reg's paintings and notes and the memories of people who knew them. This fascinating book is a look at how life for gay couples has changed in 60 years and how the year turns in a quiet beautiful part of Wales.
  • Suzanne Goldring - The Year the Lights Went Out. Fiction (published 2016) . A Fictional look at what might happen if there was a nationwide power cut through-out the whole of the UK. Sandra and Martin live in an old house in Surrey when the UK National Grid is sabotaged. Luckily they are able to fetch home their daughter from her university house and their son and his fiance arrive too. There's quite a lot of luck in this book - they have fields with sheep, the village has a farm butcher and the pub has beer! 
  • Frank White - There was a Time. Fiction (Published 2017). A village in Lincolnshire going through the months of The Battle of Britain in 1940. This is a light book imagining the way lives are changed in a village through  this period.
  • Edward Marston - The Silent Woman. Historical Crime fiction (Published 1994) The sixth book featuring Nicholas Bracewell as Book Holder for Lord Westfields Men - actors in Elizabethan London. After the disastrous fire at The Queens Head, the players are forced to take their plays out on the road but just before they start a messenger from his native Devon is murdered trying to reach Nicholas.
  • Edward Marston - The Roaring Boy .Historical Crime Fiction (Published 1995). Another in this series set in late C16 London. When mysterious Simon Chaloner arrives with a new play, his proposal seems too good to refuse especially after their own playwright has been unable to write a good play for months. Unfortunately the story in this play is too close for comfort to some wealthy Londoners. 
5 Books read in July

  • Erik Larson - The Splendid and the Vile; A Saga of Churchill,Family and Defiance During the Blitz. Non Fiction (Published 2020). Excellent writing with a day by day look at the first years of Churchill's time as Prime Minister and  how his family reacted. Amazon says "Drawing on once-secret intelligence reports and diaries, #1 bestselling author Larson takes readers from the shelled streets of London to Churchill’s own chambers, giving a vivid vision of true leadership, when – in the face of unrelenting horror – a leader of eloquence, strategic brilliance and perseverance bound a country, and a family, together"
  •  Alys Clare - The Indigo Ghosts.Historical Crime Fiction. (Published 2020) This is the third in a series set in the early 1600's featuring former ship's surgeon Gabriel Taverner. Gabriel is now a country doctor in south Devon not far from Plymouth. When he gets a call from a ship's Captain who is convinced his ship is haunted by evil spirits he investigates below deck and  finds a strange body hidden - it seems to have traveled all the way to Plymouth from the Caribbean. 
  • Deborah Crombie - A Bitter Feast. Crime Fiction (Published 2019). The latest in a long series of crime featuring  Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and his wife DI Gemma James. This author is American but the books are set in this country usually in London but this time in the Cotswolds. They are published first in the US and some of the language and words grate as we wouldn't use them here but always a good story.
  • Laura Thompson- The Last Landlady. Non Fiction (Published 2018). Laura's Grandmother Violet was born in a London pub and then went on to be the first woman to be given a pub licence in her  in her own name. This is the story of Violet and the memories of Laura during her time spent at the pub while her mother was at work. It charts the changes in British pubs from the 1930's to the time Violet retired in the 1990's. A good read - well written social and personal history.
  • Candace Robb - A Conspiracy of Wolves. Historical Crime Fiction (Published 2019). The first for many years in a series set in C14 York. Owen Archer,former Captain of the Guard is asked to investigate when a man seems to have been murdered by wolves. A quick read.
  • The Medieval Murderers - The First Murder. Historical Crime Fiction (Published 2012). This is the 3rd of these books I've read. They are a collaboration between various authors who write historical crime. They each take it in turns to write a chapter set in different periods of history. This story is about a curse put on a medieval play first performed in 1154. 
  • George Bellairs - A Knife for Harry Dodd. Crime Fiction (Originally Published 1953) Another of this long series featuring Inspector Littlejohn republished after many years out of print. 
  • Kate Ellis - The Burial Circle. Crime Fiction  (Published 2020) This is the umpteeenth in the series featuring Wesley Peterson a detective in Tradmouth (Dartmouth) Devon. These books always involve archaeology and history with crimes of the past mixing with the present. 
8 Books Read in August

  • Ann Cleeves - Too Good To Be True. Short crime story. (Published 2016). This is in the Quick Reads Series aimed at people who don't do much reading. It features Jimmy Perez of Shetland fame. 
  • Josephine Bell - The Seeing Eye. Crime Fiction. (Originally Published 1958) A rather dated story about the death of an art critic and the doctor turned amateur detective and his wife who track down the real killer.
  • Candace Robb - A Choir of Crows. Historical Crime Fiction. (Published 2020). Another in this series that started many years ago featuring Owen Archer. Set in York in 1374 when preperations are underway for the enthronement of the new Archbishop of York. The tensions between two important Northern families - the Nevilles and the Percys might be the cause of several deaths and a mysterious youth with the voice of an angel.
  • Ruth Adam- A House in the Country. Fiction (Originally Published 1958). This is a Furrowed Middlebrow/Dean Street Press reprint. During the war six friends spend their time in the shelter talking about how after the war they would buy a big house in the country. And they did....a neglected 33 room manor in Kent. Unfortunately the realities of looking after a home this large soon dawn on them, forcing them to take paying guests and rent out half the manor to a stream of strange people.  The book is based on the actual experience of  the author, her husband and friends. An interesting read about this period in the years after the war. 
  • Kathleen Jamie - Surfacing. Non Fiction (Published 2019). A new essay collection about her visits to archaeological sites and her own memories - of her grandparents and youthful travels. The larger part of the book is about her time visiting a Yup'ik village in Alaska where archaeologists are finding more about  its hunter-gatherer past. She also visits the shifting sand dunes of a Scottish shoreline, where hearths and homes of Neolithic farmers are uncovered. 
  • Mick Finlay - Arrowood. Crime Fiction  (Published 2017). London in 1895 is a hard place to live for the poor and while the rich rely on Sherlock Holmes to sort the crimes that the police are too hard pressed to solve,  the poor turn to Arrowood - private investigator. This is a new to me author but a good story although rough and gory at times. 

6 Books Read in September


  • Jan Morris - Thinking Again. Non Fiction. (Published 2020). Heading towards her century this book is a diary of her life as it is now in North Wales with memories of her past travels. 
  • Elly Griffiths -The Lantern Men. Crime Fiction. (Published 2020). Another in the brilliant series featuring  Dr Ruth Galloway, a Forensic Archaeologist and set in Norfolk. Things have moved on by 2 years since the last book and Ruth is now lecturing at a University in Cambridge. However she returns to Norfolk to help solve a murder on the request of a man imprisoned for 4 murders and of course meets up with DCI Harry Nelson again.
  • Noel Streatfield - Saplings. Fiction. (A Persephone reprinted in 2000. Originally Published 1945) Follows a family with 4 children through the war starting as a happy middle class household and tracking through the problems when the father is killed, the mother is unable to cope and the childrens fears as they are sent to boarding schools and to stay with relatives - also busy with their own problems. A really good read but not a happy one.
  • RE -READ of Anne Perry - Death in Focus. Crime Fiction. (Published 2019) A very good book to start a new series by this prolific author who has written two series set in Victorian London. This new book has as it's main character Elena Standish and is set in 1933 mainly in Berlin as Hitler comes to power.
  • Anne Perry -  A Question of Betrayal. Crime Fiction (Published 2020)2nd in a new series by this prolific author. On her first mission for MI6, young photographer Elena Standish travels to Mussolini’s Italy to rescue the lover who betrayed her. Britain’s secret intelligence service, MI6, has lost contact with its informant in northern Italy, just as important information about the future plans of Austria and Nazi Germany is coming to light. And Elena, to her surprise, is the only person who can recognize MI6’s man.
  • Kate Humble - A Year of Living Simply. Non Fiction (Published 2020). This isn't about her life of living simply but about her travelling around the country and other parts of the world and going on courses to learn how to do it. Nothing new in it that I didn't know before.
  • Liz Trenow - Under a Wartime Sky. Fiction. (Published 2020.) Set in Wartime Felixstowe in Suffolk where people wonder what is happening at Bawdsey Manor just across the river where scientists are secretly working to develop radar. One of the scientists is a young man who meets a local girl. The story finishes in 1973.
  • Mel Starr - The Easter Sepulchre. Historical Crime Fiction (Published 2020). The 13th Chronicle of Hugh de Singleton, surgeon and now bailiff to Lord Gilbert. These stories are set C14 . While keeping watch in church over the Easter Sepulchre , Odo The priest's clerk goes missing and then Hugh finds spots of blood by the alter. The description of the medieval food consumed is so interesting with a helpful glossary to explain all the words we no longer use.

    8 Books Read in October


  • Anne Granger - A Matter of Murder. Crime Fiction (Published 2020) This is another in her Campbell and Carter series featuring Superintendent Ian Carter and Inspector Jess Campbell. Miff Ferguson opted out of his City life to live rough but two years on while looking for winter shelter he disturbs a man hiding a body. Miff is forced back into real life and seeks shelter with an Aunt and Uncle in the country. Unfortunately the killer seems to have found him again.  These are always well written stories. 
  • Raynor Winn - The Wild Silence. Non Fiction/ (Published 2020). The follow-up to The Salt Path this book tells how she came to write the first one, her husbands ongoing battle with illness, their move to an old farm - thanks to a reader of their first book and finally a trek through Iceland.
  • E.C.R. Lorac -  Checkmate To Murder. Crime Fiction (British Library Crime Classic Published 2020. Originally published 1944) When the murder of 'Old Mr F.' is discovered by his nephew, Inspector MacDonald is called in to investigate. The next door neighbours that evening - all gathered in an Artists studio - seem to be in the clear. But all is not as it seems. This author has had several books republished by BLCC and they've all been very good.
  • RE-READ of Walter J C Murray - Copsford. Non Fiction (Published 1948). The classic account of a young man’s life in rural Sussex, away from his city life – a year in which he rented a derelict cottage and scratched a living from selling dried herbs and wildflowers. Bearing comparison to Thoreau’s Walden, Murray’s intense feeling for his place is evident on every page. For all that it is no simple story of a rural idyll – life at Copsford was difficult and Murray does not shy away from the occasional terrors of a house that had its hauntings.
  • Tamsin Calidas - I am an Island. Non Fiction (Published  2020). Tamsin and her husband Rab leave their city jobs for a Hebridian Island. It is idyllic for a while but things start to go wrong and eventually Tamsin is left on her own, ill and injured and with Islanders who resent her and offer no help.Eventually she finds a way through. This is a hard read - it seems impossible to imagine the way she was treated by the local people - but the story starts 20+ years ago and hopefully things have changed for incomers since then. 
  • Margot Bennett  - The Man Who Didn't Fly. Crime Fiction (A British Library Crime Classic Reprinted from 1955).Four Men had chartered a small plane to fly to Dublin but after the plane is lost over the sea it seems everyone at the airfield says that only three people actually boarded, yet the four people whose names are down to fly have all disappeared. So which three were on the plan and where is the 4th man? This is a fascinating story, quite complicated to start with and I had to go back and re-read the first bit again but a good read. I hope BLCC reprint some of her other books.
  • Susan Hill - Lanterns over the snow Fiction (Published 1987). An account of a country childhood in Wessex a hundred years ago. Evoking the delights and surprises of Christmas and the mood of the countryside in the bleak mid-winter, this is a nostalgic and lyrical story. A quick and gentle read about a little girl sharing Christmas with her brother, mother and her Vicar father in Victorian England.
  • Anne Perry -  A Christmas Secret. Crime Novella ( Published 2006)Glad to escape his dreary London flat and a less-than-satisfying job as church curate, Dominic and his beloved wife, Clarice, set off for Cottisham where he is to be substitute vicar while the Reverend Wynter is away on a three-week Christmas holiday. 
    As a blizzard leaves Cottisham treacherously snowbound and the isolated village swirls with unsavory secrets, Dominic and Clarice suddenly find themselves in deadly danger.
  • Jill McGown -  Murder at the Old Vicarage. Crime Fiction (Published Originally 1988 titled Redemption) This was the second in a series of 13 by this author featuring Chief Inspector Lloyd and Sergeant Judy Hill.Snow began to isolate the village as the locals settle down for the festive season when the peace is shattered by a murder at the vicarage. The victim is the vicars son-in-law and no one seems to be saddened by his death. A domestic murder? - Chief Inspector Lloyd thought it would be an open and shut case but it turned out to be much more complicated. Struggling to keep control of his personal relationship with Sergeant Judy Hill, Lloyd must work his way through the suspects, who all seem to be trying to upset the investigation.
  • David Williams - Murder in Advent . Crime Fiction (Published 1985)
    Like yesterday's book this one was also reprinted as a Pan Heritage Classic in 2016 after first being published in 1985. A clever story set in the Cathedral close of the fictional town of Litchester.
    Litchester Cathedral, usually an oasis of cloistered calm, suddenly finds itself at the centre of an acrimonious dispute over the proposed sale of its 1225 copy of the Magna Carta. Merchant banker Mark Treasure is invited down to sort out the squabbling cathedral chapter. But before he has been there a day a fire destroys the ecclesiastical library - Magna Carta and all - and a body is discovered in the debris.         
  •  Edited by Cecily Gayford.  Murder on Christmas Eve. Short stories (Published  2017) . This collection of short stories date from various periods from GK Chesterton to Val McDermid.
    "From a Santa Claus with a grudge to a cat who knows who killed its owner on Christmas Eve, these are stories to enjoy - and be mystified by - in front of a roaring fire, mince pie in hand."                   

11 Books Read in November

  •  DECEMBER                                                                                                        
  • John Lewis-Stempel -The Wood in Winter. (This is an "instead of a card" pamphlet from Candlestick Press published in 2016.) I spotted in a charity shop window for £1. A very quick read and I'm now sending it to a friend for Christmas.   “A wood on a winter’s eve, no matter where you are, when the snow is falling through the trees, is existence stripped back to the elements. It is the Ice Age returned in miniature.”
  • Dylan Thomas - A Child's Christmas in Wales. Originally written for radio in 1952.            "Dylan Thomas's lyrical account of his childhood Christmases in a small Welsh town, featuring wolves, bears, hippos and Mrs Prothero's cat, has become deservedly famous. Beautifully illustrated by award-winning artist Edward Ardizzone, this classic edition is beloved by fans of Thomas's work and a perfect Christmas gift for young readers building their own childhood Christmas memories". 
  • Caroline Taggart - Christmas at War. (Published 2018). During the 6 long war years Christmas for many was just an ordinary day. Others with children tried hard to make it special. This book is reminiscences collected together of making decorations, carol singing in the blackout and the excitement of receiving a comic and some nuts in a Christmas stocking.
  • RE-READ of Angela Thirkell - Christmas at High Rising. Short Stories (Originally published in 1930s/40s and gathered together in 2013.)
  •  Ann Cleeves - The Darkest Evening. Crime Fiction (Published 2020) The latest book featuring D.C.I. Vera Stanhope and The Northumberland countryside.
  • Jane Oliver & Ann Stafford -  Business as Usual. Fiction. (Originally Published 1933). This was a good read, re-published this year. The authors wrote together for many years later doing lots of Mills and Boon romances.This book is written all through in the form of letters or memos and is the story of an Edinburgh girl in London wanting to earn her own living after University and before marriage. Set in a department store called Everymans which is a thinly disguised version of Selfridges.

    6 Books Read in December TOTAL 87 for 2019



  • Robin Blake - Rough Music. Historical Crime Fiction ( Published 2018). 4th in a series featuring coroner Titus Cragg and his friend Dr Luke Fidelis. It is summer 1742 and Titus Cragg takes his wife and new baby away from Preston to avoid an approaching epidemic. There he is called upon to investigate the death of a local woman in an unusual community.
  • Cyril Hare - Untimely Death. Crime Fiction (Published 2008. Originally Published 1957) Francis Pettigrew, a retired barrister, travels to Exmoor for a holiday with his wife and on a walk discovers a dead body, which half an hour later has disappeared.
  • Mel Starr - Prince Edward's Warrant. Historical Crime Fiction (Published 2018). The 11th Chronicle of Hugh de Singleton, surgeon. Hugh has helped Prince Edward in the past and is asked to help with his health again. He travels to London but soon someone in the palace is poisoned and then others are killed and Hugh has to find the murderers.
  • Horatio Clare - The Light in the Dark; A Winter Journal. Non Fiction (Published 2018). This is the diary of an author with depression surviving the dark days of winter in the North of England. Actually a bit depressing to read!
  • Alexander McCall Smith - The Colours of all the Cattle. Crime Fiction(Published 2018) The latest in The No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. Precious Ramotswe is persuaded to stand for the local council so as to vote against the building of a hotel right beside the grave yard. 
  • Kate Ellis - The Boy who Lived with the Dead. Crime Fiction (Published 2018) This is the second book featuring DI Albert Lincoln and set in 1920, with all the after effects of The Great War still being felt. This is set in the North West of England in a village that seems to be full of secrets.
6 books read in January


  •  C.J. Sansom - Tombland.  Historical Crime Fiction (Published 2018).This is the 7th in a series which has covered many years in Tudor times and featuring lawyer Mathew Shardlake. It is 800 pages all about what is now called Kett's rebellion that took place in Norwich in 1549. All his books are so well researched and written.
  • Elly Griffiths - The Stranger Diaries. Crime Fiction (Published 2018). A stand alone novel not in a series yet. Clare Cassidy is an English teacher at a school that was once the home of R.M Holland a Victorian Gothic horror writer. She is writing a biography of Holland but then her colleague is found dead with a line from Holland's novel by her side.  This is quite a quick read, with the three main character taking in turns to tell the story.
  • E.C.R. Lorac  - Murder by Matchlight (British Library Crime Classic Published 2018. First Published 1945). Set in the London wartime blackout this is a clever mystery . This author wrote several crime fiction between 1930 and 1950's which were totally forgotten until the British Library reprints. 
  • Donna Leon - By it's Cover. Crime Fiction (Published 2014). This series of books, of which this is the 23rd are set in Venice featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti. I hadn't read any before but found this interesting although I struggled with all the Italian names.
  • Joy Ellis - Stalker on the Fens. Crime fiction (Published 2016). Another in the series featuring D.I. Nikki Galena and D. S. Joseph Easter. A friend of Nikki is involved in an accident, then a year later tells Nikki that she is being watched. Is it her imagination or Post Traumatic Stress. Then she is found horrifically murdered.
  • Ngaio Marsh - Hand in Glove. Crime Fiction (Published 1962). Another in the long series featuring Superintendent Roderick Alleyn.
  • Margery Allingham - The White Cottage Mystery. Crime Fiction (Originally published 1927). The first detective story by this author originally written as a serial for the Daily Express. Eric Crowther collected secrets and used them as weapons and there is no shortage of suspects when he is found shot dead in the White Cottage. A short quick read.
  • D.E.Stevenson - Spring Magic. (A Furrowed Middlebrow Reprint Published 2019 Originally Published 1942). After being a dogsbody for her lazy Aunt , Frances escapes to Cairn in Scotland - a place she saw in a painting and knows nothing about. It is wartime and just after her arrival an army training camp also arrives with some of the wives joining her in the local hotel. Like all good romances there are misunderstandings and muddles and a happy ending after some trauma. A light read but one of DES' better stories.
  • Julian Symons - The Belting Inheritance. Crime Fiction (British Library Crime Classic reprint 2018. Originally published 1965). A stranger arrives at Belting Hall claiming to be David Wainwright, eldest son and heir to Lady Wainwright who is seriously ill. Missing for many years since WWII is it really David? Told through the eyes of Christopher, a young orphaned nephew living at the hall this is a good story mixing the ways of the remaining gentry with the new sexual freedoms of the 1960s.
9 Books read in February


  • Ngaio Marsh - Dead Water. Crime Fiction (Published 1964) Another featuring Superintendent Roderick Alleyn. This series which were started in the 1930s is now beginning to seem very dated as she doesn't seemed to have noticed that the 1960s were the beginning of times changing!
  • George Bellairs - Toll the Bell for Murder. Crime Fiction ( Published 1959). Another in the series about Inspector Littlejohn. Called in once again to investigate a murder on the Isle of Man. These have all been reprinted over the last few years
  • D.E. Stevenson - Mrs Tim of the Regiment. Fiction(Published 1932).  Hester Christie tries to run her home like clockwork, as would befit the wife of British Army officer, Tim Christie. Left alone for months at a time whilst her husband is with his regiment, Mrs Tim resolves to keep a diary of events large and small in her family life. This is a light read, written as a diary of an Army wife and her move to Scotland.
  • Ngaio Marsh - Death at the Dolphin. Crime Fiction (Published 1967). The 24th in the series featuring Superintendent Roderick Alleyn. Set in a theatre  among actors. A glove supposedly belonging to Hamnet Shakespeare causes problems and death in a newly refurbished theatre.
  • Elly Griffiths - The Stone Circle. Crime Fiction.(Published 2019) This is the 11th featuring Dr Ruth Galloway. The discovery of modern bones in an archaeology dig starts the search for the killer of a girl who went missing 30 years earlier. 
  • Rory Clements - Nemesis. Crime Fiction (Published 2019) This is the 3rd in a series featuring Professor Tom Wilde, an American living and working in Cambridge. On holiday in France just before the war he is approached by a stranger and asked to rescue one of his students, Marcus Marfield, from an interment camp. This starts a horrible chain of events just as German tanks roll into Poland and a U-boat sinks the Athenia in the Atlantic. An excellent book.
  • D.E.Stevenson - Mrs Tim Carries On (Originally published1941). Another in the series about D.E.Stevenson's fictional alter-ego, Hester Christie. The author brought back this character first written about in 1932 , to lift spirits and boost morale in the early days of the war. Mrs Tim carries on through the war, while her husband is stationed in France. 
  • Ellen Wilkinson - The Division Bell Mystery . Crime Fiction (Originally Published 1932 British Library Crime Classic published 2018). Through the double clamour of Big Ben and the shrill sound of the bell rang a revolver shot. Robert West, a parliamentary private secretary has to find out who killed the financier without  scandals hitting the government.
  • Joy Ellis - Buried in the Fens. Crime Fiction. (Published 2017). Another in the series featuring D.I. Nikki Galena and D. S. Joseph Easter.
9 Books read in March

  • Rachel Hore - The Last Letter Home. Fiction (Published 2018). Historian Briony Wood is on holiday with friends near Naples and after expressing an interest in the story of a ruined villa she is handed a bundle of letters and an old cine film. It seems to mention her Grandfather who was a British soldier stationed in the area during the Italian campaign of 1943.                            The story move backwards and forwards between modern day Norfolk and London and wartime Norfolk, London and Italy.
  • Kate Ellis- Dead Man's Lane. Crime Fiction (Published 2019). This is the 23rd in the series featuring DI Wesley Peterson set around Dartmouth in Devon. Strangefields   Farm is notorious for being the home of an artist now in prison for murdering young women. Now years later it is being turned into a holiday village complex. Then a skull is found on site and a local woman is found murdered in the same way as those women two decades ago. As with her previous stories this book weaves history, archaeology and crime together.
  • George Bellairs- Death in the Fearful Night.Crime Fiction (Originally Published 1960) Another in the slightly dated series about Inspector Littlejohn.
  •  Donna Leon - The Waters of Eternal Youth. Crime Fiction.(Originally Published 2016) Another of the long running series set in Venice with Commissario Brunetti.
  • Joanna Cannon - Three Things about Elsie. Fiction.(Published 2018). 84 year old Florence is laying on the floor in her flat in the Cherry Tree Home for the elderly. She is waiting for someone to miss her and help her up. As the hours pass she goes back over the last few weeks which have taken her memory back 60 years to a hidden tragedy.  It takes a while to sort out what's happening but is such a good book it ought to be read by anyone who has care of the elderly or people with dementia, just to show that maybe what you can see isn't the whole story.
  • Katie Fforde - A Rose Petal Summer. Light Fiction (Published 2019) Another book of light fluffy stuff for a change, a speedy read with a happy ever after ending.
  • Micheal Gilbert - Smallbone Deceased. Crime Fiction  (A British Library Crime Classic Reprint Originally Published 1950) This clever story is set in a lawyers office in London.
  • Elizabeth Berridge- Tell it to a Stranger. Fiction short stories ( A Persephone re-print originally published in 1947/9) These stories, mostly set during the war, are mainly bleak without happiness but still interesting. A quick read.
8 Books read in April

  •  George Bellairs _ Death in Desolation. Crime Fiction (Originally Published 1967) Another  reprinted crime classic about Inspector Littlejohn.
  • Alys Clare - The Woman who Spoke to Spirits. Crime Fiction (Published 2019) The first in a new series. This time it is set in Victorian London in The World's End Investigation Bureau. Lily Raynor has set up an Investigation Bureau after being a nurse in India. Her new employee is Felix Wilbraham and together they work on two new cases. The first is finding out about an actress and the second looking at how a woman is being warned of threats from her spirit guides. Looks like this series will be as good as her others - a quick read.
  • Jacqueline Winspear - The American Agent. Crime Fiction (Published 2019) This is the 15th in this series which starts with a book set in 1929 and in this latest it is now 1940. I love these books they have all been so good and  the Wall Street Journal recommends them by saying "A series that seems to get better with every entry". This is the description from Fantastic Fiction website................................................................................................................................... When Catherine Saxon, an American correspondent reporting on the war in Europe, is found murdered in her London digs, news of her death is concealed by British authorities. Serving as a linchpin between Scotland Yard and the Secret Service, Robert MacFarlane pays a visit to Maisie Dobbs, seeking her help. Accompanied by an agent from the US Department of Justice - Mark Scott, the American who helped Maisie escape Hitler's Munich in 1938 - he asks Maisie to work with Scott to uncover the truth about Saxon's death.
    As the Germans unleash the full terror of their blitzkrieg upon the citizens of London, raining death and destruction from the skies, Maisie must balance the demands of solving this dangerous case with her need to protect the young evacuee she has grown to love. Entangled in an investigation linked to the power of wartime propaganda and American political intrigue being played out in Britain, Maisie will face losing her dearest friend - and the possibility that she might be falling in love again.
  • Chris Nickson  - The Leaden Heart. Crime Fiction (Published 2019) The 7th in a series set in Leeds. During the hot summer of 1899 Detective Superintendent Tom Harper investigates the death of a shopkeeper and uncovers a web of intimidation and corruption that leads back to the mysterious North Leeds Company
  • Jacqueline Winspear - Journey to Munich. Crime Fiction - This was a re-read for me to find out how Maisie Dobbs first met Mark Scott - See above.
  • Anne Perry - Death in Focus. Crime Fiction. (Published 2019) A very good book to start a new series by this prolific author who has written two series set in Victorian London. This new book has as it's main character Elena Standish and is set in 1933 mainly in Berlin as Hitler comes to power. 
  • Joy Ellis - Fire on the Fens. Crime Fiction. (Published 2018). Once again DI Nikki Galena and DS Joseph Easter have to track down a killer in the Fens. This time someone is killing people by trapping them in houses and then setting it on fire. It seems to be some sort of revenge but for what?( I also had "Captive in the Fens" on loan but didn't read it - didn't like the story-line.)
7 Books read in May

  • Hilary McKay -  The Skylarks' War. Junior Fiction. (Published 2018) A lovely story about the children of two families growing up before and during the Great War. This was a re-reading for me as I read it in November last year and saw it sitting on the library shelves and decided to read again as it is such a good story.
  • Julian Symons - The Colour of Murder. Crime Fiction (Published 2018 a BLCC originally printed 1957). A strange book where the first half is taken up by the account of the main character, John Wilkins, talking to a psychologist. This is an award-winning crime novel.... a totally different Who-Done-It.
  • E.C.R. Lorac - Murder in the Mill Race. Crime Fiction (Originally Published 1952.) Another British Library Crime Classic reprint by this excellent author. They are all really well written. 4 reprinted so far, one more due, hope they do more as she was very prolific between the 1930's - 1950s.
  • Joy Ellis - Thieves on the Fens. Crime Fiction (Published 2017) I'm now up to date with this series but should have read this one before the one I read in May.
  • Cyril Hare - Tragedy at Law. Crime Fiction(Originally Published 1942) Another recent reprint introducing the barrister Francis Pettigrew.
  • Michael Gilbert - Death has deep roots. Crime Fiction ( A British Library Crime Classic Reprint originally published 1951. The trial of Victoria Lamartine an ex French Resistance fighter and now a hotel worker in London, is about to take place. It seems she is the only person who could have murdered a visitor to the hotel, Someone she had been eager to meet. But the history of this crime goes back to wartime France and luckily she replaces her defence counsel with a new firm and one of them travels out to France to track down the story.
  • Mark Boyle - The Way Home: Tales From a Life Without Technology. Non Fiction (Published 2019) No running water, no car, no electricity or any of the things it powers: the internet, phone, washing machine, radio or light bulb. Just a wooden cabin, on a smallholding, by the edge of a stand of spruce. In this honest and lyrical account of a remarkable life without modern technology, Mark Boyle explores the hard won joys of building a home with his bare hands, learning to make fire, collecting water from the spring, foraging and fishing. 
  • Edmund Crispin - The Case of the Gilded Fly. Crime Fiction ( 2018 Originally Published 1944). Another book reprinted from the Golden Age of crime. A clever story set in Oxford featuring Crispin's hero - the Oxford Don Gervase Fen. 
8 Books Read in June

  • Edmund Crispin- Swan Song. Crime Fiction (2018 Originally Published 1947) Oxford Don Gervase Fen is asked to help when an actor with an opera company is found hanging in his dressing room. 
  • Elizabeth Fair - Brampton Wick. Fiction ( Originally Published 1952) This is one of the Furrowed Middlebrow books re-published by Dean St Press in 2017. It's light fiction set in a village with all the eccentric characters of the period. Bit of a cross between DE Stevenson and Angela Thirkell.
  • Martin Edwards (Editor) - Deep Waters. Short Crime Fiction Stories.(Originally published between 1898 and 1975.) Another British Library Crime Classic collection of short stories this time all involving the sea, rivers and canals.
  • Juliet Blaxland - The Easternmost House. Non Fiction.(Published 2018).         Juliet Blaxland lives on a crumbling cliff top on the east coast of Suffolk. The Easternmost House will soon crumble into the sea. This book describes a year living on the edge: a meditation on nature, on coastal erosion, on impermanence and on the changing seasons.
  • Julie Wassmer - Murder Fest. Crime Fiction. (Published 2019). Set in Whitstable Kent and featuring Pearl Nolan a Private Detective and owner of a Seafood Restaurant. 
  • Kel Richards - The Country House Murders. (Published 2014) Modern books but written as a Golden Age mystery set in the 1930s. Featuring Clive Staples "Jack" Lewis of Narnia fame who was a tutor at Oxford. There is much discussion on theology, life and death in this book. There are one or two phrases that jar as being too modern but a good read, feel I need to watch the film Shadowlands again now.
  • Donna Leon- Earthly Remains. Crime Fiction (Published 2017). Another of the long running series set in Venice with Commissario Brunetti.
  • Edmund Crispin - Buried for Pleasure. Crime Fiction. ( 2018 Originally published 1948) . Oxford don Gervase Fen decides to take a break from Oxford to run for Parliament. The villages he has come to canvas look quiet but someone in one village is involved in blackmail and soon Fen is caught in a tale of lost heirs, eccentric psychiatrists, beautiful women, an Inn being demolished and a vengeful poisoner. A complicated story but with humourous touches.
  • Donna Leon - Uniform Justice. Crime Fiction (Published 2003). An earlier story from this author in the Brunetti series set in Venice. 
  •  Dan Boothby - Island of Dreams, A Personal History of a Remarkable Place. Non Fiction (Published 2015)

    Island of Dreams: A Personal History of a Remarkable PlaceThe Amazon description says...........Dan Boothby had been drifting for more than twenty years, without the pontoons of family, friends or a steady occupation. He was looking for but never finding the perfect place to land. Finally, unexpectedly, an opportunity presented itself. After a lifelong obsession with Gavin Maxwell's Ring of Bright Water trilogy, Boothby was given the chance to move to Maxwell's former home, a tiny island on the western seaboard of the Highlands of Scotland.
    Island of Dreams is about Boothby's time living there, and about the natural and human history that surrounded him; it's about the people he meets and the stories they tell, and about his engagement with this remote landscape, including the otters that inhabit it. Interspersed with Boothby's own story is a quest to better understand the mysterious Gavin Maxwell.
    Beautifully written and frequently leavened with a dry wit, Island of Dreams is a charming celebration of the particularities of place.

  • Angela Thirkell - County Chronicle. Fiction (Published 1950) Another of the wonderful Barsetshire series, with all the usual people from the earlier books popping in, lots of engagements, big houses, servants, petrol rationing, authors and general merriment.
  • Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird. Fiction. (Published 1960). A re-read of this influential book.
12 Books read in July
  • Harper Lee - Go Set a Watchman . Fiction (Published 2015). Although published 55 years after To Kill a Mocking Bird, this book was actually written in the mid 1950's before Mockingbird but refused by publishers at the time. It had very mixed reviews. In this book Jean Loiuse 'Scout', now mid 20s, is back from New York City to visit her father. It is set among all the racial tension of the time and explains the differences in race relations between small town life in the Southern States and in a big city and how Jean Louise sees her father and aunt and the small town-folk in a new light and questions everything about race and colour. 
  • Donna Leon - Blood From a Stone. Crime Fiction.(Published 2005) Another in the long running series set in Venice. 
  • Richard Mabey - Home Country. Non-Fiction. (First Published 1990). One of the early books by the author best known for Food for Free. This is about his early adventures with nature in the Chilterns.
  • Cyril Hare - With a Bare Bodkin. Crime Fiction.(Originally Published  1946) Another crime story featuring barrister Francis Pettigrew. The blitz has forced government offices out of London and people are forced to work and lodge together, where they start a game of 'plan the perfect murder'. Then a real murder occurs.
  • Catrina Davies - Homesick; Why I live in a Shed. Non Fiction. (Published 2019). After years of living in rented rooms, a caravan and even in a van, Catrina returns to Cornwall and makes her home in a dilapidated shed, once used as an office by her father. Needing little money to live on she is able to spend her time surfing, writing and making music. The lack of affordable housing in holiday areas where most of the houses are now second homes is one of the main themes of the book which is well researched with lots of quotes from various sources.
  • Edmund Crispin -  Holy Disorders. Crime Fiction. (Originally published 1946). A strange story of spies in cathedrals - set during WWII. It took me the whole book to make sense of this story again featuring Gervase Fen. 
  • Elizabeth Fair - The Native Heath. Fiction. (Originally Published 1954). A Dean Street Press Furrowed Middlebrow title reprinted in 2017). Another light read set in a village. When widowed  Julia inherits a house she takes her cousin and old nanny to live with her there and tries to sort out all the village problems.
  • Donna Leon - The Temptation of Forgiveness. Crime Fiction (Published 2018). Another of the long running series set in Venice with Commissario Brunetti. 
  • Robert Macfarlane - The Gifts of Reading. Non Fiction. (Published 2016) An essay that's been turned into a VERY small book. It's all about the gift of books that have shaped his life and the books he gives as gifts.Took just a few minutes to read.
9 Books Read in August
  • Alys Clare -  City of Pearl. Historical Crime Fiction(published 2019). This is the 9th book in the Aelf Fen series about Lassair, the young healer. It is 1093 and Lassair  is in Cambridge where she is being taught by Gurdyman. But he is ill and something has made him decide that they both  need to travel to Spain. But Why?
  • E.C.R.Lorac - Fell Murder. Crime Fiction. ( British Library Crime Classic reprint. Originally Published 1944). Another excellent story featuring Chief Inspector Macdonald, called in to investigate the murder of an old farmer and landowner. Set in Lunesdale in Lancashire it has good descriptions of farming and countryside at the end of WWII.
  • Willa Cather- My Antonia. Fiction(Published 1918) The library website says" In this novel Jim Burden tells the story of his beloved childhood friend Antonia, the immigrant girl and woman whose struggle and splendour represent the source of life itself."                                                   And from Amazon website" My Antonia is the unforgettable story of an immigrant woman's life on the Nebraska plains, seen through the eyes of her childhood friend, Jim Burden. The beautiful, free-spirited, wild-eyed girl captured Jim's imagination long ago and haunts him still, embodying for him the elemental spirit of the American frontier. "                                        Now a  Modern Classic, not my usual reading but so glad I did read it. 
  • George Bellairs - The Body in the Dumb River. (British Library Crime Classic Reprint Originally Published 1961.) This is the 22nd book by this author that I have read, all reprinted recently after not being available for 50 +years. Another story featuring Chief Inspector Littlejohn. This is set in Yorkshire after starting in the Fens. 
  • Andrew Wilson - Death in a Desert Land. Crime Fiction (Published 2019) This is the third in a series featuring Agatha Christie as the 'detective', using real episodes in her life. In this one she is asked by her friend in the secret service to travel to an archaeological dig in Ur, to find the truth behind the death of historian, archaeologist and author Gertrude Bell. 
  • Neil Ansell - Deep Country,Five Years in the Welsh Hills. Non-Fiction (Published 2011) This was a re-read for me. The cottage Neil lived in had no electric,no gas, no running water, no vehicular access and he could walk 20 miles west without seeing another house. It's about how he immerses himself in nature and the wildlife he saw. 
  • Kel Richards - The Floating Body. Crime Fiction. (Published 2016) Although written recently this is one of 4 books which are set in the 1930s and are written as a homage to C.S.Lewis. The main character is Tom Morris, once a student of Lewis at Oxford. The story is set in a Cathedral School .
  • Ursula Orange -  Tom Tiddlers Ground. Fiction. (Originally Published 1941) This is the Furrowed Middlebrow reprint that I found by happy chance at a car boot sale. Just like 'Company in the Evening' by the same author and reprinted, this book is quite a treat. Caroline Cameron - charming and superficial, evacuates from London in the early days of the war to stay with an old school friend Constance Smith - completely opposite of Caroline in every way. This is a witty look at troubles and changes with evacuees and disastrous marriages.
8 Books read in September

  • Alan Melville - Weekend at Thrackley. Crime Fiction. (British Library Crime Classic reprint published 2018. Originally published 1934) A typical country house crime, with guests invited to a country house weekend, where the owner has a collection of jewels and plans to add his guests jewels to his secret stash in a hidden cellar. 
  • Katherine Rundell - Why You Should Read Children's Books, Even Though You Are So Old and Wise.. Non Fiction. (Published 2019) Like the small book by Robert MacFarlane, that I read in August this is an essay turned into a book. The author writes books for children and I read this book in 15 minutes. It doesn't really say anything more than what's in the title.
  • Ann Cleeves - The Long Call. Crime Fiction (Published 2019). A new detective for Ann Cleeves,  set in North Devon. Mathew Venn takes on his first big case after moving back to the area.A man is found stabbed and then a girl with Downs Syndrome goes missing. The cases seem to be connected with The Woodyard, a centre for counseling , day centre for people with learning difficulties and a bit too close for comfort to Mathews home life past and present. 
Just 3 books read in October

  • Martin Edwards (Editor) -The Measure of Malice. Short Crime Stories. (BLCC published 2019.Originally published between late C19 and 1955). Another collection of short stories from authors well known in their day. The stories in this book are all based on science in some form from chemicals to poisons.
  • Ann Granger - The Murderer's Apprentice. Historical Crime(Published 2019) . Another in the series that started several years ago ago featuring Inspector Ben Ross and his wife Lizzie in Victorian London.
  • Chris Nickson - The Hocus Girl. Historical Crime (Published 2019). This is the second in a series about a Thief Taker - Simon Westow. The stories are set in the early C19 in Leeds as industrialization increases the people moving into the city.
  • Ronald Blythe - Forever Wormingford. Non Fiction (Published 2017). Blythe is a local man - very elderly now, once a friend to famous people like Benjamin Britten. This book is another compilation of his writings for The Church Times. He writes about his home,church,travels and old customs and old friends 
  • Neil Ansell  - The Last Wilderness; A Journey into Silence. Non Fiction. (Published 2018). After re-reading his first book I decided to try again with his most recent. This book is the story of 5 visits over a year to a very remote part of Scotland. He walks and camps in the wilderness watching birds and mammal local to the area while also charting how he is losing his hearing as years go by.
  • Roger Deakin - Notes from Walnut Tree Farm. Non Fiction. (Published 2008). Edited by his partner and son after his death in 2006 this is a book of diary notes from some of his years living in an old farmhouse on Mellis common in Suffolk. Deakin was an author and broadcaster and his first book Waterlog started the wild swimming movement.He had many friends in the world of nature and writing. He often mentions visiting Ronnie ( Ronald Blythe)
  • John Dickson Carr - It Walks by Night; A Paris Mystery.(A British Library Crime Classic Reprint Originally published 1930). I read this but it was a complicated mystery, had to keep re-reading bits to see what had happened.It was the first by this prolific American author.
7 Books Read in November

  • George Bellairs -  Surfeit of Suspects. Crime Fiction (Another B.L.C.C. originally published 1964) This author write good stories and it's surprising they disappeared for so long. This is a story of fraud regarding land and old families.
  •  Barry Turner - Waiting for War; Britain 1939-1940. Non Fiction. (Published 2019) A new book looking at the "phoney war" at the start of WWII. Using words spoken at the time to document how people went about preparing.
  • Rachel Hore - The Love Child. Fiction. (Published 2019). In 1917 Alice Copeman is forced to give up her baby for adoption. Edith and Phillip Burns adopt the baby Irene, who grows up knowing she is different. Alice tries to forget about the baby and embarks on a medical career, against opposition from so many male doctors. The story of Alice and Irene carries on through two decades, inter-twining into the second world war.
  • Mel Starr. - Without a Trace. Historical Crime Fiction (Published 2019). The Twelfth Chronicle Of Sir Hugh de Singleton, surgeon and Bailiff. These are set in the mid C14 countryside, always a good easy read crime story with lots of Medieval details.
  • Helen Cox - Murder by the Minster. Crime Fiction (Published 2019). A First book by a new author. Kitt works in the University library and when her best friend Evie is accused of murdering an ex-boyfriend, she sets out to help the police solve the murder. A good story although a bit unbelievable in places, an easy read.
  • Robert Harris - The Second Sleep. Mystery Thriller. In 1468 a priest sets out on horseback across Exmoor to take the funeral of his predecessor. Except all it's not as it seems. This 1468 is 800 years after the Apocalypse!
6 Books Read in December

92 total for 2019


  1. Looking forward to seeing what you've read. You seem to have quite a pile of library books each month and some very different reads.

  2. I’ve waited with bated breath for Atwood’s sequel to the Handmaid’s Tale. Started reading The Testaments yesterday. I highly recommend it!!

  3. I've just read through your list to give me some idea of what to request from our local Click and Collect library van. Thanks very much. We do seem to have very similar tastes! Green Rabbit