Reading plans

Well, the Indian summer is over & autumn has finally arrived. I’ve taken a few days off work between yesterday’s Anzac Day public holiday & Friday’s RDO & I’ve been doing some bits of cleaning I rarely do. Cleaning windows (inside & out) & polishing furniture don’t usually get done in the weekend housework blitz so it’s satisfying to tick them off until the next time. The green bin was emptied on Friday & it’s full again already with spider plants, weeds & other bits & pieces. Yesterday was a lovely day, sunny but cool, & I was back at the nursery buying more parsley for the herb garden, lavender & geraniums. I planted some catmint near Abby’s favourite sleeping place under the hebe. The label said it would make cats go wild with joy but I have to say that, after a cursory sniff, Abby was more interested in digging the new soil I’d worked into the garden. No ecstatic leaps & bounds just yet. I expect she’s too dignified to get high on anything so common. She’d sniff but never inhale.

I’ve also sorted through the piles of library books I’ve brought home over the last few weeks & picked a few books from the tbr shelves & put together this lovely pile to sit on my tbr table. They’re a mixture of fiction & non-fiction, crime & classics, bookclub reads & short stories. From the top they are,

Hidden depths by Ann Cleeves – after finally starting the Shetland Quartet I picked up this novel from the Vera Stanhope series. It’s been made into a TV drama starring Brenda Blethyn so I’d like to read it before I see the TV version. Although as we get UK series here in Australia at least a year later, if at all, I’m not sure why I’m hurrying!

Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald – Her Booker Prize winner. I’ve been meaning to read this for ages.

Less than angels by Barbara Pym – This will be a reread but I love Pym & I’m so thrilled that Virago have brought her back into print.

My cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier – Another reread but Cornflower has chosen it next for her Bookclub so I thought I’d read along.

The string of pearls by Thomas Prest – Better known as Sweeney Todd, the demon barber of Fleet St this is the novel that is the basis of the stage production, opera & movie. This is the next read for my 19th century online bookclub.

Constitutional by Helen Simpson – I’ve read one of Simpson’s collections after reading about her on Susan Hill’s old blog. She has a new book out soon so I thought I’d see what else my library had.

The essence of the thing by Madeleine St John – This was shortlisted for the Booker in 1997. St John was an Australian author who lived most of her life in the UK. Her best-known novel is The Women in Black, the story of the women who work in the frock department of a Sydney department store in the 1950s. An article in the Readings newsletter inspired to pick this one up.

The three Weissmanns of Westport by Cathleen Schine – This is supposed to be a modern take on Sense & Sensibility which is usually enough to put me right off. But, Cathleen Schine wrote The love letter, a lovely romantic novel about a lost letter being rediscovered. She writes beautifully about love & relationships & I’m sure I will find no zombies or vampires in these pages. Gubbinal has also reviewed it here & I’ve had another of her books, Rameau’s niece, on my tbr shelves for far too long so maybe I will read both books soon.

Eleanor, the secret queen by John Ashdown-Hill – The story of Eleanor Talbot, the woman who was said to be secretly married to Edward IV. This marriage, if it really happened, was the pretext for Richard III taking the throne by making Edward V illegitimate. I started this one last night & I’ll be interested to see how much the author has managed to find out about this shadowy figure who had such an impact on English history.

I’ve also been tempted by three more books which haven’t made it to the tbr table yet but only because the table is threatening to topple over already. Dani at A Work in Progress is reading Anna Karenina for the first time. This is one of my favourite books & it’s all I can do not to dive in & read along. Verity at her Virago Venture blog has just reviewed The solitary summer by Elizabeth Von Arnim. But, this would be another reread & there are so many new books to be read. Hannah Stoneham has just started reading Ford Madox Ford’s tetralogy, Parade’s End. This has been on my tbr shelves for 8 years & Hannah’s post on the first book made me want to start it immediately. There should be health warnings on some book blogs as they’re so bad for my (admittedly feeble) ability to restrain my impatience. I know it’s a cliché but it’s true. So many books, so little time.

Then, there’s Persephone Reading Week. Verity has posted all the details here. I only have a couple of unread Persephones on the tbr shelves, Making conversation by Christine Longford & Daddy’s gone a-hunting by Penelope Mortimer. I have my fingers crossed that my copies of the new books, Dimanche & other stories by Irene Nemirovsky & Still missing by Beth Gutcheon, will arrive in time, but I’m not sure if they will. I plan to read one of these next week. Only time will tell how many of these plans will actually be fulfilled. Watch this space!

6 thoughts on “Reading plans

  1. I think reading Anna Karenina is throwing off all my other reading, but I am enjoying it so much I am happy I finally picked it up. The way I read (too many books at once) there would have never been a good time for it. I do have plans for May, though, something I don't usually think about ahead of time. I also want to reread My Cousin Rachel (love DdM!) and want to finally read a Dorothy Whipple book for the Persephone Reading week, though I also plan on starting early (and will likely finish late!). Do you have any suggestions for books if I want to read about Queen Victoria? My latest interest–there seems to be lots written about her but I am not sure which book to choose.


  2. I've just ordered the first Vera Stanhope from The Book Depository, and am searching for a used copy of A Lesson in Dying from her other series. Thank you for mentioning a new-to-me writer. The tv series will be excellent, I'm sure.

    I emailed the library about the Weissmanns after reading Gubbinal's report. It sounds so good. I've only read The Love Letter, which I really liked. I want to read more of Schine's work.

    I'm interested in the women who worked in the department store – reminds me just a tiny bit of A Town Like Alice. Is it fiction or nonfiction?

    Wonderful post with so many appealing books!


  3. Dani, you're right, there's so much written about Victoria. I read a couple of biographies of her earlier this year. Lytton Strachey's was written in the 20s & Gillian Gill's is brand new. If you click on QV in the labels cloud you should find my reviews. I really like Elizabeth Longford's book Victoria R I. Originally published in the 60s & reprinted in the 80s I think (sorry, can't check, Abby's on my knee & she's comfortable…). EL was Antonia Fraser's mother. Alison Plowden's Young Victoria & Kate Williams's Becoming Queen are both very good on her early life.

    Nan, I hope you enjoy Ann Cleeves. She's a newish author for me too. I hope the TV series is good enough to continue. The Women in Black is fiction. I haven't read it yet but friends at work just loved it. A Town like Alice is one of my favourite novels. The 1980s TV series with Helen Morse & Bryan Brown was also excellent if you ever have a chance to see it.


  4. Rocky is a catmint addict I'm afraid, if ever we plant any it's ground to a pulp within minutes and he's glassy eyed and in rehab for the rest of the day, the girls always show so much more self-restraint don't they:-)


  5. Thanks, Lyn! I watched the movie The Young Victoria over the weekend and then of course became instantly interested but there seems to be so many books to choose from. It' better when I can get recommendations. Now I will see which my library has on hand!


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