Two of my June reads, too much cricket.

June has meant that I have been spending a great deal of time watching the World Cup Cricket so my reading has taken a back seat.  I have still managed to read a few books.

Another library book but one I wished I had bought as it would have been good to be able to pass it on to my reading group.

If you had to pick five people to sum up your life, who would they be? If you were to raise a glass to each of them, what would you say? And what would you learn about yourself, when all is said and done?

“‘I’m here to remember – all that I have been and all that I will never be again.’

At the bar of a grand hotel in a small Irish town sits 84-year-old Maurice Hannigan. He’s alone, as usual -though tonight is anything but. Pull up a stool and charge your glass, because Maurice is finally ready to tell his story.

Over the course of this evening, he will raise five toasts to the five people who have meant the most to him. Through these stories – of unspoken joy and regret, a secret tragedy kept hidden, a fierce love that never found its voice – the life of one man will be powerfully and poignantly laid bare.”

Nothing more to say.  A truly wonderful book, particularly for those of us in our senior years.

This book was lent to me from one of my book group friends.  It is what I would call a joyous book even though it is set in a harrowing time and place.

“In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him entry into a much larger world of emotional discovery.”

After finishing the book I thought it would make a wonderful movie, apparently others thought so too.

Period drama news and reviews, from the website Willow and Thatch, well worth a read of this article on A Gentleman in Moscow.

And a finish with this nifty little video.

One thing led to another

We have been thinking about overseas holiday plans for next year and part of that is time in the Hebrides and the Shetland Islands.  On a recent visit to the library I borrowed this book.

It is a wonderful book for the traveller to the Hebrides as it gives such detail about what to expect but it also includes excerpts from some fiction that Peter May has written.  I had not heard of this author but he has won awards for his writing and is well known in the UK for his work in television.

The fiction that is mentioned in the travel book Hebrides led me to check out the title at my local library.  The first in the Lewis Trilogy is The Blackhouse and I read that at lightening speed.  There were so many instances of experiences I had as a child in the highlands of Caithness.  I loved the book and even though it was crime fiction there was so much detail about life on the islands that you would enjoy the book even though you were not a crime fiction fan.

I immediately reserved the remaining two books in the trilogy and promptly finished them.

I have checked out the internet for ideas for our trip next year and have discovered that there is a trail you can follow that visits places mentioned in the books.  I include the link here at The Lewis Trilogy.

The picture above is an example from the website.

When I first started looking for ideas on travel in the Hebrides

this was the page from a book on travel in Scotland that I was going to base our journey around.  I will now be looking into the holiday in much more detail.

I highly recommend the Lewis Trilogy.

Giving Margaret Drabble another try.

The dark flood risesMany years ago I attempted to read The Red Queen.  I found that I just couldn’t get into it so I stopped.  I went back to the book a few years later and tried again but still couldn’t get into it so the book went to the secondhand bookshop.

I read a review for The Dark Flood Rises and it sounded as though it would be a good book for me to read being as I am in my “senior years’.

I can thoroughly recommend it for those who are in their retired years as it gives various pictures of how old age is approached by various people.  It is not at all maudlin’ in fact there are some quite humorous parts.  I really enjoyed it and I am glad that I have given Ms Drabble another chance albeit with a different book.

You can read several comprehensive reviews here.

Another book with a sewing related title

The Tailor’s Girl by Fiona McIntosh is a historical fiction novel but also a romance.

The Tailor's Girl

I have read Fiona McIntosh previously, The French Promise and The Lavender Keeper.

The Tailor’s Girl is another book for my Historical Fiction Reading Challenge as the story is set in the few years following World War I.

From the cover:

When a humble soldier, known only as Jones, wakes in a military hospital he has no recollection of his past.  Jones’s few fleeting memories are horrifying moments from the battlefield at Ypres.  His identity becomes a puzzle he must solve.

Then Eden Valentine arrives in his world, a stunning seamstress who dreams of her own high-fashion salon in London.  Mourning the loss of her brother in the war, Eden cannot turn away the soldier in desperate need of her help.

The key to Jones’s past – and Eden’s future – may lie with the mysterious Alex Wynter, aristocratic heir to the country manor Larksfell Hall.  But the news that Alex bears will bring shattering consequences that threaten to tear their lives apart.

This novel is set in London in the 1920’s but there are also glimpses of the English countryside and aristocratic living. Eden is the daughter of a Jewish tailor who had aspirations to work in Savile Row but now does piece work for the Savile Row tailors.  Eden is a talented seamstress and the novel highlights the difficulties for working women when the war ended and the difficulties soldiers suffered when they returned from the war. Eden and Jones are both strong and determined characters and the interplay of their stories is beautifully done.

The reader lives in hope throughout the novel and it is not until the last few pages that you find out whether your hope has been in vain.

A terrific novel.  Highly recommended. Another Australian author.




Book of Lost Threads but wool plays a part. . .

Book of Lost ThreadsIndeed there were many lost threads in this book but wool also played a part. This was a delightful book, another feel good read.

It was so long ago.  The person he was then no longer existed.  What was he supposed to say to this. . .  this interloper who had materialised on his doorstep?  Couching down on his haunches, he poked at the fire and looked at her covertly from under his eyebrows.  She was obviously waiting for him to say something.  He frowned. There was something not quite right . . .What was it?

Moss had run away from Melbourne to Opportunity on the trail of a man she knows only by name.  But her arrival set in train events that disturb the long-held secrets of three of the town’s inhabitnts: Finn, a brilliant mathematician, who has become a recluse: Lily Pargetter, eighty-three-year-old knitter of tea cosies; and Sandy, the town buffoon, who dreams of a Great galah.

It is only as Moss, Finn, Lily and Sandy develop unlikely friendships that they find a way to lay their sorrows to rest and knit together the threads that will restore them to life.

This is a tender story but also funny.  It is about love, loss, parents, children, faith, hope and the value of kindness. This was a very quick read, something light after many thrillers. Also it was delightfully Australian.

Javascotia. . . . .coffeeScotland?????

Javascotia is the title of my next book in the A-Z Book Challenge.  The book is by the author Benjamin Obler.

Being a coffee lover I thought I might enjoy this book.

From the book jacket:

Melvin Podgorski is young, naïve, American — and a coffee fanatic. It’s this passion that leads him from his native Chicago to 1990s Glasgow to scout out the prospects for a US coffee franchise. Looking for an escape from his suffocatingly suburban parents and the tangled wreckage of a divorce, he finds himself floundering in an alien land of Glaswegian dialect and radical student politics. As he becomes increasingly entangled with one particularly charming local and her militant ex-boyfriend, his efforts to keep the past and the present separate are put to the test, and soon his old life in Chicago and his recently found freedom in Glasgow are set for an emotional and catastrophic collision

Imbued with dark, mournful notes, dashes of warm humour and the bittersweet tang of learning the hard way, Javascotia combines a feel-good flavour with a deep substance.

You can read an extract of the book here.

Although I enjoyed the use of the Scottish dialect in this book and also the description of various parts of Glasgow and the weather, the book was not my cup of tea!

The plot was not intriguing enough to keep me reading beyond page 198 0f 438 pages.