Mini Reviews

reading


I have a huge stack of books sitting on the coffee table. They are books I have read recently and that I keep meaning to review. However, good intentions aren't getting me anywhere so instead of full reviews, I am going to make it short and sweet with a few brief sentences on each book and whether or not I think you should read it. Are you ready?

The Feast by Margaret Kennedy. A cliffside hotel on the Cornish coast is buried when the cliff collapses. You know that from the beginning but then you go back and meet all the hotel guests and find out their stories. Who survives and who doesn't? It is a bit odd. The characters are definitely eccentric and, in some ways, it feels like a quiet story. But, at the same time, you have that cliff looming over you. Read it. I thought it was great.

The Shepherd's Life by James Rebanks. I have mixed feelings about this. It is the story of Rebanks and his family farm in the Lake District. His love of the land and his farming heritage is clear and appealing. His descriptions of the countryside made me immediately want to travel there. I learned a lot about sheep farming. But, at times I found myself annoyed with Rebanks as a person. Yes, I understand his farming life is wonderful but it is not the only life. He speaks a bit disparagingly of education but he went to Oxford. He loves the countryside but is annoyed by the walkers and other tourists who are also enjoying it. It all felt a bit disjointed to me. I enjoyed it on a certain level but I don't think I loved it as much as many others have. Read it if you happen to come across it but don't rush out and buy it.

Caught in the Revolution by Helen Rappaport*. This is a very detailed account of the 1917 Russian Revolution as told through the eyes of foreign journalist etc. who were in Russia at the time. This was not an easy read. The events during that time were truly horrifying and disturbing. The book was well-researched and detailed. However, I struggled with it. It sat on my "currently reading" shelf on Goodreads for way too long. I finally finished it and feel like I learned a lot about a time and a place I knew little about but I would not say I enjoyed it. Read it if you have an interest in the time period.

The Spirit of the Age and Other Stories from the Home Front by E. M. Delafield.* I loved this so I am saying right away that you should read it. It is a series of vignettes set during WWII in a little village called Little-Fiddle-on-the-Green. They are charming and funny and full of great characters who make you laugh out loud. If you loved Delafield's Provincial Lady then you will like this. It isn't quite as good, but then, few things are.

Verdict of Twelve by Raymond Postgate.* A woman is on trial for her life. Each member of the jury has their own history that will affect how they decide the case. The reader is introduced to the members of the jury one by one and learns about their past and then is presented with the facts of the case. It made for a very interesting story and I enjoyed it quite a bit. One of the more successful of the British Library Crime Classics.

Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley.* I will read pretty much anything about Jane Austen though my favorite book about her is Jane Austen: A Life by Claire Tomalin. I didn't feel this offered anything unusual or new but I basically enjoyed it and thought it was written in an engaging manner. I was worried about that since I saw the TV show based on this with Worsley and I had not really enjoyed it. I found her a bit irritating. I think everyone feels their Jane Austen is the real Jane Austen and Worsley is no exception. Her conclusions from things Austen wrote or said are not necessarily my conclusions. Of course, I am not an Austen scholar but still...my Jane Austen is the real Jane Austen, right? Some of it was a bit too speculative for me. Do we really need to debate whether Austen ever had lesbian sex or any sex at all, for that matter? And what was that about the titillating effects of bathing in the sea? Also, I felt Worsley frequently put modern sensibilities on Austen's thoughts and actions. But, all in all, enjoyable though not the best book about Austen that I have ever read.

I am currently reading A Chelsea Concerto by Frances Faviell. It is an account of life in Britain during WWII. So, in other words, my perfect book. I am about halfway through and highly recommend it. What have you been reading lately?

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

6 comments

  1. I was really excited to get the Worsley book, but I ended up not finishing it. I felt like she was harping on Mrs. Austen too much, blaming her for everything in JA's life. And I found her tone grated on me after a while.

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    1. I know what you mean. I almost set it aside but it is about Jane Austen and that kept pulling me back. It didn't really make a big impression on me though. I read it, basically enjoyed it, and then promptly forgot it.

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  2. I know what you mean about the Shepherd's Life, even though I liked the book. Mr. Rebanks has a curmudgeonly persona.

    I want to read the Feast - I wish Margaret Kennedy books were not so hard to find!

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    1. Yes, read The Feast if you can find it. I enjoyed it. Margaret Kennedy is one of those authors I wouldn't ever have heard of if it wasn't for blogs.

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  3. Love the name of your blog! I'm interested in the Delafield stories, I'm a huge fan of The Prov Lady.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by. The Provincial Lady is wonderful, isn't she? I think it is interesting that Delafield wrote such a wide variety of books.

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