December is a busy, busy month for everyone, but I can always squeeze reading time into the day!
For the season, I read "Christmas At Cold Comfort Farm" by Stella Gibbons, which I found in Oxfam. It is actually a collection of short stories and only one is set at Cold Comfort Farm, a case of a publisher definitely cashing in! However, I like to read short stories over Christmas, they are easily digested ( unlike my cake, boom boom) and these were light vignettes written in the 1940s. Some were very poignant and beautifully written, others not quite so good. Only two were set at Christmas, so a little mis-sold, perhaps for only the most ardent of Stella Gibbons fans.
Another festive collection was "The Twelve Poems of Christmas" edited by Carol Ann Duffy. I really like these Candlestick Press editions, they are reasonably priced and come with lovely bookmarks. Reading these poems made me feel very festive indeed, they would make a great little present for a literary friend.
"Fire and Rain" by David Browne is a book which describes the musical scene in 1970, a momentous year when The Beatles recorded their last album; Crosby, Stills and Nash made their debut; Bridge Over Troubled Water was completed and James Taylor produced Sweet Baby James. Browne recounts each month and how the wider context of a society in various states of unrest, shaped the music. For someone who loves the music and history of this period, I really liked this book. I read it with the CDs playing in the background, very atmospheric!
SJ Watson's "Before I Go To Sleep" was another Oxfam purchase, and I thoroughly enjoyed this thriller. After a supposed accident, Christine loses her memory every time she goes to sleep. She awakes with no recollection of her marriage or her history since she sustained a head injury many years ago. Slowly, she comes to realise that her husband isn't all that he appears to be. This was very well written, very taut and I had difficulty putting it down. I am not a huge thriller fan, but I recommend this one highly.
Lastly, I finally got round to reading my SIGNED copy (!) of Anne Tyler's "The Beginner's Goodbye". When the author said she initially intended this to be her last book, there was an audible collective groan amongst the audience at the Oxford Literature Festival. However, she said she realised she loves writing too much to ever retire, phew! This is just exquisite, a tale of how Aaron comes to terms with his wife's bizarre death. It has Tyler's usual warmth and wit, together with an actual HAPPY ending. So many of her books leave me wondering what on earth happens to these fabulous characters, but in Aaron's case, we find out. This was such a treat to read, with my annual purchase of Rose and Violet Cremes, wonderful!