Murder at Sedgewick Court, Murder at Renard’s and Murder in the Servant’s Hall by Margaret Addison
On one hand it seems like May has whizzed past (how are we nearly half way through the year already?), but coming to review the month’s books, it seems like quite a long time since I read these. The month began very auspiciously with a lovely Bank Holiday weekend with friends, but then declined as both children were ill – Anna with a really horrible infection of her big toe, and Sophia with an ear infection. In between visits to hospital and doctors and administering antibiotics, cuddles and sympathy, these books were the perfect escapist comfort reads, and I was really disappointed to realise that I’d downloaded the last in the series. For now, anyway – there’s plenty of potential for the character of amateur detective Rose Simpson to develop, and I’m very optimistic that Margaret Addison may write more of these books.
The Reading Group by Elizabeth Noble
Ok, hands up – this is a re-read rather than new book to me. It’s such a fabulous comfort read, though. I love the story of five women who form a book group, and then find support from each other and the books they read as they experience a turbulent year of unexpected pregnancy, marital problems, bereavement, infertility, infidelity and abortion. I really care about the characters, even when they are making palpably terrible decisions, and I have been inspired to read several of the books they do – including I Capture the Castle, which is now one of my favourite books in its own right.
Noble is fantastic at creating believable protagonists and tear-jerking situations. One thing I did notice on a re-read, though, is the huge benefit of a good proof-reader and copy-editor! I was a bit irritated by some of the continuity errors – including a couple of minor characters who change name half way through. I hate this as a reader, and as an author it is something I absolutely dread, not least because until I started writing I didn’t realise how terribly easy it is to make mistakes like this, and how dependent you are on others to help you pick them up.
The Provincial Lady Goes Further by E.M. Delafield
This was undoubtedly my star book of the month. I read the original Diary of a Provincial Lady some time ago, and absolutely loved it. It is a semi-autobiographical novel wittily describing life as an upper middle-class lady in 1930s provincial England. I found it to be laugh out loud funny, and was amazed at how much familiarity and common ground there was, even as I read it living a completely different lifestyle around eighty years later.
I was delighted recently to discover that there are several sequels to the original, and they were available in one volume on Kindle for 87p.
In this novel the narrator has had some success as a novelist, and decides to rent a small flat in London so that she can concentrate on her writing more easily, away from domestic distractions. Although my solution to a similar dilemma tends to be begging husband or mother-in-law to have the children for a couple of hours rather than renting a flat in Bloomsbury and leaving them all to it for weeks at a time (don’t tempt me), I still loved her drily witty, self-deprecating account, and it was just as funny as the first book. In my opinion these are modern classics, and I’m really looking forward to reading the next instalments.