Saturday, 31 July 2010

July Book Review

After last month's kind of ridiculous levels of book reading I have slowed down somewhat. Not surprising given everything that's happened really. There was only going to be three books in this post but the last one has managed to scrape through by the skin of his teeth.

The Little Stranger – Sarah Waters

Any of you who have read other Sarah Waters’ books might want to prepare themselves for a revelation about this one....

No lesbians!

I think I was a little disappointed in a way.

Waters has again proved that she is the Mistress of Good Books. Her ability to write and to draw and suck you in never ceases to amaze me. This time she’s turned her hand to ghosties and big old crumbling houses.

I don’t want to give too much away about this one, it’s just. Too brilliant. And scary. Seriously I was in bed one night reading this and was seriously terrified, I nearly jumped out of the window when my door very slowly creaked open and was somewhat relieved to discover it was just Maud coming to say hello.

You must read this. You must. And then you have to e-mail me so we can talk about the ending. Deal? (although be aware that I’ll have probably forgotten the ending by the time you e-mail ‘kay?)

Also. WHY did this not win the Booker Prize when the monstrosity that was Wolf Hall did?! You guys needed your heads examining.

The Friday Night Knitting Club – Kate Jacobs

There’s always room for chick lit and this was the perfect antidote to a somewhat stressful period in my life. Dorothy thrust this into my hands on the day that I moved in and it provided a comforting little place to escape to.

Basic premise – single mother owns yarn shop, very independent, daughter similarly so. Lots of women who work/come in to yarn shop, have life crises, father of daughter returns, trip to Scotland, tears, tantrums, laughs, escapades. Shock ending that will make you go “What the?!”

It’s good but like a lot of these books I find myself wishing there was just a little more. Sometimes it’s ok to have less characters and then concentrate on just a few, rather than trying to flit from story to story and ending up with 4 kind of fulfilling stories, rather than a couple.

As they go though, this one was pretty good.

The Silver Linings Playbook – Matthew Quick

I’m a sucker for any kind of recommendation. I’m no snob. I quite liked Richard and Judy’s Book Club so when they disappeared (bad luck with that whole moving to a digital channel guys) and the TV Book Club emerged I was pretty excited. Unfortunately they kept putting the programmes on More4 on a Sunday at 7pm which was just a rubbish time. Kept forgetting about it and only saw 2 episodes.

Nevertheless I will always go and check out their recommendations and have a little read and see if it takes my fancy.

This one’s a quirky little number. Won’t take you long to read at all. Tells the story of Pat Peoples who has come from a secure facility and has moved back in with his parents and is just biding his time until ‘apart time’ with his wife is over. It has more than a hint of the Curious Dog at Nighttime about it, mainly because it’s narrated from Pat’s point of view so everything’s a little skew-whiff and doesn’t feel quite right.

Mostly it’s good although there are more than a few bits that are a little unbelievable.

Mr Rosenblum’s List – Natasha Solomons

Hello Times Book of the Week at WH Smiths – you call to me again! I’m not even going to lie, I bought this mainly because the front cover was so pretty. Yes. I am hanging my head in shame. I judged a book by its cover.

And I’m so pleased I did.

Jack Rosenblum arrives in England as a Jewish refugee from Germany just before the outbreak of the war. Upon arrival with his wife, Sadie, he is given a pamphlet to help aid his assimilation into British life which he immediately takes to heart and begins to expand upon.

Upon discovering that his presence is not welcome at any Golf Clubs, Jack decides to move to Dorset and build his own. What follows is a story of loss and acceptance and woolly pigs.

It’s incredibly charming and well worth a read.



The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. Without a doubt.

(Even if there are no lesbians in it.)


Also. I have a huge apology to make. Last month I complete neglected to mention that the only reason I had the A Debt to Pleasure book was because Jill had sent it to me. She knew that I'd liked some of his other books and was kind enough to send this one on to me. So sorry Jill that I forgot to mention that. Please don't tell my Mum she'd kill me for my rubbish manners.


  1. Oh thanks for the book review. I am really anxious to 'stock up my shelves' this winter with good reading.

  2. Mlle. Girl: I've added The Little stranger and Mr. Rosenblum's List to an upcoming vacation reading list. Thanks for the recommendations. Enjoy this day!

  3. What are you on about? I'm sure I remember my name being mentioned when you did last month's book review - not that you need/ed to mention my name at all.

    I don't really read scary books, but I might be tempted by The Little Stranger - sounds v.intriguing.


  4. I really enjoy reading your book reviews. Have just finished reading Buster's Secret Diaries - got it from the library along with the England one :-) Gemma

  5. I should tell everyone that I only had The Friday Night Knitting Club because it was about a stitching club; I don't normally do Chick Lit.
    I'm LOVING Sarah Walters despite the lack of lesbicans.

  6. Your comment about being a bit disappointed re: the lack of lesbians in the first book made me laugh, :)

  7. Fancy judging a book by its cover! Ha ha! DO you know, I think I have Little Stranger up stairs somewhere in our huge pile we must read this sometime books! Now I shall go and root it out and read it finally! It will help me get my poor mind onto other things! I shall let you know what I think! Susie xxx

  8. No lesbians? Phooey -crosses book off list-

    Oddly I've spent the last month listening while MrMooncalf read The Little Stranger and moaned constantly about how slow and dreary it was and how he didn't care for any of the characters and what brief scary stuff there was was just interesting enough to keep him reading for another 100 pages of dreary monotony.

    Now I am torn.

  9. According to amazon The Little Stranger is "the book customers have most often ordered whilst ordering" my next book. I want to read it, but I'm even more intrigued because of the crossover - perhaps it will enlighten me as to a hitherto unknown "history lesbian" element to my work.


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