A Few Good Books

The first Simon Garfield book I ever read was a compilation of Mass Observation diaries that I bought at The Imperial War Museum in London. It is still one of the best books I have read about life in England during WWII and I have read a lot of books about that time period. I have been meaning to read some of his other books so when I saw that In Miniature:  How Small Things Illuminate the World* was available on NetGalley I immediately requested it. Garfield explores why people are so fascinated by miniatures and what drives them to create or play with them. He looks at everything from dollhouses to toy soldiers to model villages to the Vegas Strip. I was fascinated by the section about meticulously recreated crime scenes and amazed to read about the realities of flea circuses. I must admit, I now want to travel to Germany to visit the biggest model train layout in the world. This book is detailed, well-researched and takes the subject beyond the obvious. I wouldn't say I was someone who was fascinated by miniatures to begin with but this caught and held my attention and that readable, detailed account is what Garfield does best.

I have mentioned before that I love the British Library Crime Classics. I regularly request them on NetGalley even though this means I don't get to enjoy the absolutely gorgeous covers. I mean, just look at that cover above. I would happily hang a copy of that picture on my wall and I could say that about all of the covers.

The Colour of Murder* is told from two points of view. The first is John Wilkins talking to his psychiatrist about his life up to that point. Wilkins is not a likable man and he is an unreliable narrator. He is married to a girl that he decides is dull and unsatisfactory after he falls in love with another woman who works at the library. He gets caught up in a fantasy life, follows the woman to Brighton, and she is found dead on a beach. Did he kill her? The second part of the book is the account of John Wilkins trial. I enjoyed this even though it was a bit dark and I didn't really like anyone. It was a bit like watching a train wreck. You know things aren't going to end well but you keep turning the pages.

Another British Library Crime Classic and another gorgeous cover. I want to step right into that picture. The Belting Inheritance* is narrated by Christopher who is eighteen at the time the events in the book take place. He was orphaned as a child and raised by the Wainwright family. One day, one of Lady Wainwright's sons who went missing during WWII returns home. Or does he? Is this man who he says he is? What other family secrets are going to be brought out in the open? Is it possible to get most of the main characters to Paris on what seems to be a relatively flimsy pretext? Read it and find out for yourself. Despite the unnecessary detour to Paris, I enjoyed this.

I have decided that I will pretty much read anything Lynne Olson writes. She makes history completely fascinating. Madame Fourcade's Secret War* is just as interesting as her previous books. Marie-Madeleine Fourcade led the largest spy network in France during WWII. She was only thirty-one, she was female, and she was beautiful. It sounds a bit like the beginning of a blockbuster movie but Fourcade was ferociously intelligent and had nerves of steel. This was real life. Her spies provided vital intelligence to British and American forces and many lost their lives in the process. By the end of the war, Fourcade was in command of 3000 men and women. Surprisingly, few people have heard of her. Maybe Olson's book will change that. I highly recommend this. I already have another of Olson's books on my shelf waiting for me.

*Review copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions and raving about cover art completely my own.


  1. I've just added Madame Fourcade to my library list. I've heard only good things about Lynne Olson, but I've not read anything of hers yet - despite a very tempting list of titles.

    I haven't signed on to Net Galley yet, partly because I'm not reviewing as much on the blog, so I'm not sure I even qualify!

    1. Well, I don't post a ton of reviews here and NetGalley still seems happy to let me review books. I think they mainly look for established blogs that mainly talk about books.