Monday, October 23, 2017

Anne of the Island

Recently while shelving books in the library I discovered that the books in the Anne of Green Gables series by L M Montgomery have been published as large print books. I have fond memories of reading these books as a young teenager with Anne of the Island being a favourite. With some trepidation I decided to borrow a copy hoping that rereading the book many years later would not be a disappointment. Fortunately I thoroughly enjoyed being reacquainted with this book and its characters.

Anne, Gilbert and Charlie leave the Island to study at Redmond College on the mainland. Anne with her friends Priscella, Philippa and Stella share a house as they navigate their studies and friendship plus the challenges of love and life.

The book is about people, including Anne's adopted family at Avonlea, and about relationships,  particularly discovering the true meaning of love.

Reading some of reviews in Good Reads I am obviously not the only person who loves this book and its characters.

The book can also be read online:
Project Gutenberg edition
Page by Page books

A Distant View of Everything

The latest Isabel Dalhousie novel by Alexander McCall Smith allows us to renew our acquaintance with Isabel, Jamie and their growing family, now consisting of two small boys, Charlie and Magnus. The housekeeper, Grace, is only too willing to look after the boys allowing Isabel to occasionally escape to assist her niece, Cat, in the delicatessen. Isabel continues to edit the Review of Applied Ethics though she is finding it hard to concentrate on this task after the birth of Magnus.

A former school-mate provides Isabel with a philosophical challenge when she is told about a man who appears to be developing relationships with rich women in order to gain access to their wealth. Isabel decides to investigate and the book looks at the ethics of such an investigation as well as questioning the extent to which opinion can be taken at face value.

The descriptions of Edinburgh remain a feature of these books as Isabel endeavours to discover the truth not hearsay.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Gone Gull

Once again Donna Andrews has written a crime book with a bird related theme. Meg is assisting her grandmother, Cordelia, run the Biscuit Mountain Craft Centre where a range of craft courses are offered including Meg's blacksmithing class. However, after a while, acts of vandalism occur at the centre and a rival craft centre is suspected of trying to sabotage the Biscuit Mountain venture. Then the first murder is discovered. The police, aided by members of Meg's family, work to discover the identity of the vandal and the murderer.

Meg's grandfather manages to antagonise a number of people as he endeavours to discover the existence of a variety of gull in the area that was believed to be extinct. Meg's work is cut out as she tries to protect her family, locate the gull colony and save her grandmother's craft centre as well as locate the murderer. As usual, this crime story also describes the exploits of Meg's unusual extended family.

Another entertaining read, Gone Gull is number 21 in the Meg Langslow Mystery series.

Reviews of Gone Gull in Goodreads

Monday, September 25, 2017

The Dry

This book by Jane Harper is set in a small farming community in north-west Victoria during a severe drought. The community, struggling to survive, is shocked when news spreads of the death of Luke and Karen plus Billy, their young son. Aaron Falk, a policeman with the Federal Police, now lives in Melbourne but travelled to Kiewarra for the funeral. He had grown up in the area and had been good friends with Luke until a mutual friend, Ellie, was found dead in the creek. Accusations that Aaron or his father were involved caused them to leave the town. Aaron soon discovers that his return to town is not welcomed by most of its citizens but Luke's parents ask him to stay for a while to try and find out what really happened. He agrees to work with local policeman, Raco, investigating the case unofficially.

I soon discovered that this crime novel was difficult to put down. You can feel the dust and desolation of the countryside struggling to survive in the drought. You also experience the tensions and mistrust in this small community struggling to comprehend what is happening. As we follow Aaron's attempts to discover what happened to his friend and why, we learn, via flashbacks, about the events and secrets of twenty years ago that continue to simmer beneath the surface and affect the life of the town. Although this is primarily a crime novel, it is also a study of people in a small outback community attempting to exist in extreme conditions. A great addition to the genre of Australian crime fiction.

The Trip of a Lifetime

This is another book by Monica McInerney about Lola Quinlan and her family. We have met members of this family previously in The Alphabet Sisters and Lola's Secret. After living in Australia for more than sixty years Lola decides to visit her home country, Ireland, again and plans to take her granddaughter, Bett, and great-granddaughter, Ellen, with her. Bett has to reorganise family and work commitments to go on this trip of a lifetime but finally agrees while thirteen year old Ellen is excited about the adventure. Bett has previously lived in Ireland but has never visited the area where Lola lived and hopes that the trip will provide answers about Lola's early life. On arrival in Ireland it is soon obvious that Lola is reticent about confronting the memories of her past.

This is a story about family and family secrets. Family jealousies and tensions arise as not everyone is pleased with Lola wanting Bett and Ellen to accompany her. The book also deals with the relationship between Bett and her sister Carrie and the memories they have of Ellen's mother, Anna.

The setting of the book is in the Clare Valley in South Australia as well as in Ireland. In the Valley there is excitement about a television program being shot in their area and the resultant publicity it will mean for local business and tourism. Consequently there are parallel stories for the reader to enjoy.

Those who have read the other titles making up the Lola Quinlan Saga will thoroughly enjoy this sequel but the book can also be enjoyed in its own right. I thoroughly enjoy reading novels by Monica McInerney and this one did not disappoint.

Monday, September 4, 2017

The Traitor's Girl

When Annabel Logan receives a phone call from her grandmother, Caroline Banks, asking her to visit her urgently she decides to travel from Australia to England to visit the grandmother she has never met. However on arrival at Beechwood Hall Annabel discovers that her grandmother has disappeared.

Annabel meets Simon Culpepper, a journalist who is writing a story about Caroline Banks who worked for MI5 during the Second World War. Simon gives Annabel a series of tapes recording part of Carrie's story and also helps Annabel find out who has recently been threatening her grandmother. Annabel discovers a world of spying and intrigue in which her grandmother and great grandmother were involved. When she finally meets Carrie, Annabel also finds out the story of why Carrie did not keep contact with her family in Australia.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book by Christine Wells.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

This would be one one of the happiest books that I have read.

It is not often that everyone one on The Book Club on Channel 2 all enjoy the same book so I immediately reserved a copy from the library. Obviously the publicity from the program convinced many others that they should also read the book as there was quite a wait for my turn - but it was worth it.

Miss Pettigrew is a forty something governess who is sent for an interview to the wrong address by the employment agency. This error changed Miss Pettigrew's life. Not only did she meet actress and night club singer, Delysia LaFosse, but also many of her friends (and lovers). Miss Pettigrew found herself in an entirely new world and to her surprise she enjoyed it.

This was a book that I did not want to put down. The book only describes the events of one day but is full of joy and hope and discovery as Miss Pettigrew explores this new world and opportunities. I am so glad that I read this book and spent a day with Miss Pettigrew.

Winifred Watson wrote this book in 1938. Fortunately it was republished in 2000 by Persephone Books with the latest reprint in 2015. 

The Book Club (replay of review) 2 May 2017