The nights are definitely drawing in, the teen is back at school and soon the lazy, sunny days of August will be a distant memory.....
I found "The Shops" by India Knight in Oxfam and at £1.69 I thought I'd give it a go. India loves to shop and this book is full of her recommendations interspersed with vignettes from her ( very interesting) family background. Although its ten years since it was published, it still seems relevant and most of the shops are still around! I like India's chatty style of writing, and I do prefer her non-fiction to her novels.
Book club choice this month is "Miss Savidge Moves Her House" by Christine Adams. I didn't really fancy this book about a lady who, when faced with her medieval house being earmarked for demolition in the 1960s, dismantled the whole thing and moved it 100 miles to Norfolk. However, I could not put it down. May Savidge spent the rest of her life putting the house back together and left the unfinished project to her ( initially very unwilling) nephew and his wife, Christine. This is a book about resilience, love and loss, family ties and a very remarkable lady who literally never threw anything away. Christine becomes intertwined with May's world and I won't give away the ending, but it is a delightful tale and all the more remarkable for being true.
I really can't make up my mind about Sophie Hannah. I've read all her books now, and some I really enjoy and others leave me a bit cold. This is her latest psychological thriller and I'm sure if you hadn't read the others you wouldn't have a clue who all the police characters are. This book follows Amber Hewerdine, who is accused of a crime she did not commit after seeing a psychologist and muttering the words "kind of cruel" which were written on a note at the scene of an unsolved murder. The book is a good read, the character of Amber is well written and I didn't really guess who had "dunnit" until near the end. However, I am getting a bit tired of the same setting and police characters in all her books, they are just very uninteresting and as I say, could put off someone who picks up her books as a "one-off".
I enjoyed "The Weird Sisters" by Eleanor Brown, a tale of three sisters who grow up as passionate readers with a Shakespearean scholar for a father. In adulthood, they all follow very different paths but after their mother falls ill, they return home to their small mid-western American college town. This reminded me in some way of Anne Tyler in that nothing much happens but the characters are very well written and do elicit our sympathy. I loved the tag-line on the book's cover, "there is no problem a library card can't solve", I totally agree!
Finally, "A Secret Alchemy" by Emma Darwin was a book I was really looking forward to as it intertwines a modern day plot with the story of Elizabeth Woodville, the subject of the recent BBC series, "The White Queen". However, I was rather disappointed. The modern day story concerns a family who own a threatened printing press in London, Una returns to London following the death of her husband and is researching the lives of Elizabeth and her brother, Anthony. I simply could not engage with the plethora of characters who popped up in the present day story, there were so many I lost the thread of who was who. I preferred the subplot of what happened to Anthony, but I do like that era of history very much. Anthony's tale is deeply tragic and I did like the way it linked to Una in the end. This was not as densely written as a Hilary Mantel historical fiction nor as light as, say, Philippa Gregory, but I thought the modern day plot could have been a lot better and so I can't really recommend the book overall.