Monthly Archives: December 2009

Books of 2009

As the end of the year draws in I find that I become quite reflective. I have actually had a bit of an issue with reading this week and wonder if that is an end of year thing, more on that at some other point. 2009 has been a big year for this blog; it’s also been a big year for my reading. It seems a delightful coincidence that today as I wrap up my best reads of 2009 it is also my 500th post which I think deserves some fireworks…

My original idea of doing my ‘best of’ like I did last year with The Savidge Dozen just wasn’t working. I have read too many brilliant books and so I thought I would instead do two separate top ten’s. The first being my favourite books published or re-issued in 2009 itself which was hard and actually I got down to a final twelve but I had to cut the delightful books Notwithstanding and ‘The Earth Hums in B Flat’ and be tough to make the ten which are (click on each title for full review)…

10. Legend of a Suicide by David Vann – One of the most emotionally raw novels I have ever read. Fictional accounts of a father’s suicide, the events leading up to it and the effects of this tragedy on his son and others around him, based in parts on the authors own fathers suicide. Moving and masterfully written.  

9. The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood – The first of two Atwood novels that truly made my year. This dark (and often darkly funny) tale of the future of humanity starts off sounding like something out of a sci-fi novel yet disturbingly slowly reads as a not too distant possibility.  

8. After The Fire, A Still Small Voice by Evie Wyld – Without question the debut novel of the year for me. A book many are labelling as being a ‘War book’, I wouldn’t 100% agree with that as its so much more. The author calls it a ‘romantic thriller about men who don’t speak’ I would call it ‘a book about the dark truths behind the faces of those we love’ a compelling and moving read.

7. Howards End is on the Landing by Susan Hill – Some loved it some hated it, I revelled in it. Susan Hill’s thoughts on some of her books and the people she met who wrote them. And she popped by and made a comment or two.

6. The Taste of Sorrow by Jude Morgan – A fictional account of those famous Bronte Sisters which sadly didn’t get the Man Booker notice it should have. This brings the Bronte’s to life and you will think of them slightly differently. Made me want to read every Bronte book I could… as yet I haven’t started but a possible resolution for 2010, that or read all of Morgan’s prior works.

5. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel – The deserved winner from the Man Booker Shortlist and the one I guessed (though I was hoping a certain other book would win, see below). I thought that there had been Tudor fiction overload, I was wrong just as I was wrong that reading a book about Thomas Cromwell that was huge would bore me to death, I was enthralled and enwrapped.

4. Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie – The only way I can think of to describe this book which skips such a huge expanse of time is ‘a war torn epic’. I thought this was marvellous and was thrilled I got to hear her speak about it and even ask her a question; I was a bit in awe.

3. Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks by John Curran – Definitely the non fiction book of 2009, well published in 2009. Getting a glimpse into the private world of such a marvellous author and how her criminal mastermind brain worked and plotted was utterly fascinating.

2. Henrietta’s War by Joyce Dennys – Technically not actually released originally in 2009, but thankfully brought back from the past thanks to the wonderful Bloomsbury Group. The tale of Henrietta and the villagers she lives with during the war had me laughing out loud all over the place.

1. Brooklyn by Colm Toibin – A book I fell wholly in love with from start to finish. It might not have the biggest plot or be brimming with a huge cast of characters but its simplicity is what makes it so stunning. An interesting look at the life of a woman who is sent to be saved from the poverty in Ireland by being shipped to America, only not everyone wants to be saved. Utterly stunning and quietly intense.


Then I had the ridiculous task of finding the ten ‘best of the rest’ which in a year where I read such delights as The Secret Scripture (which lost a point or two for the ending I won’t lie) and the joy Miss Garnett’s Angel and had a Sensation Season was going to be tough. OK, so it’s not quite ten but it’s as close as I could get. The final ten (cough, eleven) are…

10. Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith – I wasn’t convinced that a thriller based on a child murderer in the time of Stalinist Russia would work for me. I was utterly wrong as I think for me it’s been the thriller of the year. Also thrilling was getting to go to Tom’s house for coffee and questions.

9. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood – Proof that sometimes books can be hard work but all that hard work is definitely worth it. Opening with the suicide of the narrator’s sister, this becomes an epic novel of the lives of the Chase sisters and the effects of the Second World War. Also comes with an intriguing novel inside the novel and a sci-fi-ish novel inside that one, are you keeping up?

8. State of Happiness by Stella Duffy – I am a big admirer of Stella and her work and this to me is her best fiction yet (oh but wait for the next one in 2010) despite loving her latest book The Room of Lost Things in 2008. This is a tale about love and ultimately death and it broke my heart and made me cry quite a lot. If you are up for an emotional journey and wonderful writing you simply cannot miss this book.

7. Lady into Fox by David Garnett – Wonderful surreal and touching fable of a husband and how he deals with his wife randomly turning into a fox one day. This is may only be 96 pages long but each page is perfection.

6. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell – Most of the planet with have read this novel so I will simply say a modern classic masterpiece about a dystopian future where we are all under the watchful all seeing eye of Big Brother and should ever be fearful of Room 101.  

5. The Shuttle by Frances Hodgson Burnett – My first year of reading Persephone books and this one just took me on a journey that I wasn’t expecting. A sensational tale of rich American heiresses, one whom meekly marries an Englishman for a title and vanishes, the other a forthright woman who wishes to seek her sister out and solve the mystery of what has befallen her.

4. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes – A total surprise hit of 2009 for me. I never thought that a ‘sci-fi’ book about a mentally handicapped man and a genius mouse would grab me let alone move me to tears and yet this frankly marvellous book did exactly that.

3. Small Island by Andrea Levy – Really this is a modern masterpiece. A tale of two completely different women brought together through war and adversity. Also a tale of forbidden love, war, racism and hope, a remarkable book I was glad Granny Savidge Reads recommended so strongly and so often.

2. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote – This book is what I may now consider the greatest nonfiction book I have ever read (so far – though unlikely to be beaten). A true tale of the ruthless killing of a family in America, and a thought provoking quite often disturbing study of their murderers. In parts bleak and horrific, it’s also emotional (I cried at this one too) and yet a darkly fascinating insight into the minds of killers.  

1. East Lynne by Ellen Wood/Armadale by Wilkie Collins – Technically I am cheating but I really couldn’t decide between these two. The epic scope, characters and thrilling plots of each of these was utterly remarkable. In a year where I rediscovered my loved of all things sensational I found these two new favourite books. Both of these are genuine gems of sensation novels and couldn’t have more mystery, twists, dramas or thrills if they tried.


I have to say I don’t think that minimal short snappy reviews are my fortes so do visit the full reviews, they are much better. Should you be really tough and ask me which out of this final twenty one would be my favourite of the year I would have to go with… Brooklyn by Colm Toibin. I know some people will be surprised after my sensation fiction love in and some of you won’t agree and that’s fine, though don’t push your negative comments below this post (ha, ha, ha), for me it was just wonderful and a true surprise delight in this years Man Booker Longlist read-a-thon. There will be much more Toibin to come in 2010 I promise you. Now I must dash as I have a party to prepare for (attending not hosting) and some resolutions to make… What have been your best books of 2009?



Filed under Agatha Christie, Andrea Levy, Books of 2009, Colm Toibin, Daniel Keyes, David Garnett, David Vann, Ellen Wood, Evie Wyld, Frances Hodgson Burnett, George Orwell, Hilary Mantel, John Curran, Jude Morgan, Kamila Shamsie, Margaret Atwood, Stella Duffy, Susan Hill, Tom Rob Smith, Truman Capote, Wilkie Collins

Legend of a Suicide – David Vann

It seems strange to me that two of the best books I have read in 2009 have been within the last few weeks of it. I am also going to possibly sound like a stuck record when I tell you that my second book review this week is down to Kimbofo once again as she gave me a copy of David Vann’s ‘Legend of a Suicide’ at one of our Book Group meetings after I banged on about how much I wanted to read it on her blog. Though book gifts are always welcome there is then that awkwardness of making sure you read it asap (or in this case within three months of getting it) and then after that what happens if you don’t enjoy it? I wouldn’t know the latter this time luckily as Legend of a Suicide is marvellous, if again another difficult book to capture in words. What is it with these reviews this week, is the end of 2009 testing me?

Legend of a Suicide is less a novel and more a collection of five short stories and one novella sandwiched between them. All the stories here deal with the same subject of a father’s suicide, the effects it has on him and those around him leading up to the event and in the aftermath of it. This is a subject close to the author David Vann’s heart as his father killed himself when he was younger. Though not a work based on his own life the emotions and thoughts are very much in every page of the novel making it quite an affecting book as well as an unsettling one.

Even though each tale is quite different they are all based around Roy and his father or the effects his father has on him and others in varying ways. The first take Ichthyology looks at life through a younger Roy’s eyes as he watches his parents break up and has to deal with it by becoming interested in fish (fish is a theme throughout the book though I am not sure why). However its also an insight to his father and the life he has ended up with that this tale really brings home before the deed in the title is done. Rhoda, the second story, is about Roy’s father’s second wife and the relationship they all have giving you further insight into his life and mind. This tale actually made me laugh quite a lot and seemed darkly comical. The third instalment is also witty; A Legend of Good Men is all about all the men who his mother dates who come and go ‘like the circuses that passed through our town’.

Then comes the novella, we what I think is a novella, in the shape of Sukkwan Island. This tale is so well written and delivers such a punch half way through, I wont say anymore than I had to read the paragraph three times before I could believe what I had just read, that sadly the follow up tales Ketchikan (a tale of his fathers past as Roy revisits) and The Higher Blue (an idealisation of everything) fell a little flatter than they might have. However having said that you need all these isolated tales blanketing the middle novella for it all to work.

Sukkwan Island is just amazing writing, differing from the first person narrative of the rest of the book and written in third person, I don’t think I could put it any other way. It evolves around a year long excursion into the wild for father and son in the Alaskan wilderness. I can see why people have compared him to Cormac McCarthy though I would put this tell as a cross between McCarthy’s The Road and Stephen King’s ‘The Shining’ its remarkable, shocking and breathtaking all at once. I was horrified by it yet fascinated and mesmerised by it all at once. I read it in one sitting and couldn’t put it down.

It’s a remarkable book in so many ways, I think Vann has put all his emotions into it which therefore cannot help but pour out of the page and into the reader which is quite an experience and one that you don’t get too often. Will it make it into my Best of 2009 tomorrow? You will have to wait and see. The only reason that it might not is that I haven’t had long enough away from it to let it all settle (even the unsettling bits) with me yet, but you may very well see it in there. Who else has read this, who really wants to? I can fully recommend it.


Filed under Books of 2009, David Vann, Penguin Books, Review, Viking Books

End of Year Meme 2009

So as the end of 2009 creeps ever closer I thought I would once more take part in a yearly Meme. I did this back in 2008 after seeing it on Stuck in a Book and adapting it somewhat. This year the results have suprised me again. Who knew I read so many male authors, I am most suprised. Anyway as ever I have added some questions to it on top of the ones I added last year and here it is.

How many books read in 2009?

This year has been my best reading year yet with me reading 131 books, beating last years 102. Lets hope I can do even better in 2010. Mind you reading shouldn’t be a race and one of my resolutions will be to get through some more tomes I own.

How many fiction and non fiction?

120 works of fiction this year and 11 non fiction.

Male/Female author ratio?

Take in to account I read the same author more than once this year I read 55 male authors and 41 female authors. This shocks me (it did last year too) as I always think I read more women authors than I do men, not so apparently.

Favourite book of 2009?

I think my very favourite book published in 2009 was Brooklyn by Colm Toibin, understated brilliance, but my favourite book is a joint tie with Armadale by Wilkie Collins and East Lynne by Ellen Wood… ooh or Henrietta’s War. You will have to see the post on Thursday.

Least favourite?

Netherland by Joseph O’Neill I couldn’t bare it, bored me silly. I had some I didn’t finish which don’t count.  

Any that you simply couldn’t finish and why?

Home by Marilynne Robinson, some people love her work; I am just not a Robinson fan. Its beautifully written but doesn’t do anything for me.

Oldest book read?

I would say it would be one of the Sensation Season novels, I haven’t thought about what year they were published. How lazy of me.


After The Fire, A Still Small Voice by Evie Wyld has only been recently published and recently read by me. I also think that this book has my cover of the year, its stunning.

Longest and shortest book titles?

Alices Adventures in Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll and Basil by Wilkie Collins.

Longest and shortest books?

Armadale at 880 pages was the longest, the shortest was Lady into Fox which was only 92 pages long, but both were wonderful. The Childrens Book probably felt like the longest. 

How many books from the library?

Six library books this year which is six more than the last! 

Any translated books?

Voice Over by Celine Curiol, A Perfect Waiter by Alain Claude Sulzer and I Served The King of England by Bohumil Hrabal. I want to read more translations next year as feel I am missing out. Mind you some books I read I don’t realise have been translated which is shameful. 

Most read author of the year, and how many books by that author?

Wilkie Collins is my most read author. I managed eight by him again through the sensation season. I already have a sneaky suspicion who my most read will be in 2010 but my lips are sealed for now.

Any re-reads?

The Woman in White, The Woman in Black, The Man in the Picture, Lady Audley’s Secret and The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Favourite character of the year?

Oooh it has to be Lydia Gwilt as she is just a brilliantly evil and malicious character who I ended up warming to in Armadale which is really quite wrong.

Which countries did you go to through the page in your year of reading?

Hmmm, let me see… The British Isles, The Czech Republic, America, Bosnia, Russia, Germany, Wonderland (ha ha), France, Pakistan, Canada, Italy, India, Japan, Afghanistan, Switzerland, Ireland, China, Australia, Brazil, Africa and Jamaica. Phew, its no wonder I am so tired.

Which book wouldn’t you have read without someone’s specific recommendation?

I wouldn’t have read the superb Flowers for Algernon without it being a recommendation by Jackie for the Book Group I started with Kimbofo this year. It was superb and I am so, so pleased I have read it and have it to re-read.

Which author was new to you in 2009 that you now want to read the entire works of?

Colm Toibin, Kamila Shamsie, Ellen Wood and Hilary Mantel.

Which books are you annoyed you didn’t read?

Oh a few in fact there was a list of ones I owned that I should have read, mind you my whole TBR is a pile of books I should have read. I would say today its Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Burberry. Its one to look forward to next year though. 

Did you read any books you have always been meaning to read?

Another thanks to book group and to Gemma who chose George Orwell’s 1984 always wanted to read that and never quite got round to it. Other titles I have wanted to read and now have are East Lynne, Armadale, In Cold Blood and Small Island all were great successes.

There you have it. I would love it if people had a go at this on their blogs (though if you could leave a link where you saw this version that would be lovely) and then leave links to theirs so that myself and others could pop by and have a nosey. You may have already done one so do leave a link and let me know. If you dont have a blog you could always answer the questions on here in a comment maybe? I will be having further reflections of 2009 on Thursday just hours before 2010 starts. Does the whole idea of it being 2010 freak anyone else out? Its come around too quickly hasnt it?


Filed under Book Thoughts, Books of 2009

After The Fire, A Still Small Voice – Evie Wyld

One of the things that I have really loved about 2009 is extending the network of bloggers that I have met. This of course has lead me to some books and authors that I would possibly have missed. One such book is Evie Wyld’s debut and its thanks to a video Kim posted of the author describing her book as a ‘romantic thriller about men not talking’ which you can see here. With such an unusual surmising of a plot I couldn’t really not rush out and read this could I?


‘After the Fire, A Still Small Voice’ is actually the tales of two separate men told in alternating chapters living in Australia told both in the present and in the past and not always in chronological order yet never confusing for the reader. It is really hard to tell you all about it without giving anything away but do bear with me as I will try and do my best without any spoilers and yet trying to cover everything that this wonderful book does.

The first of the men we meet is Frank. Having recently given up his life in Canberra after a rather rocky relationship he has moved to his Grandparents shack by the sea in an attempt to hide away from the world which he will have to live off, though in the end the world won’t remain hidden, neighbours will be friendly, and he will need money and so takes a part time job in the local marina. But in a small town he is watched with interest and suspicion, especially as a girl has recently gone missing. Franks a tough character and as we get to know him better and the story of his youth, though he is only in his twenties roughly, you gain an insight into why.

Leon is the second male character. We meet him in his youth in a town, where his family are looked down on for being immigrants, as he learns the trade of his father’s cake shop which when his father is sent to fight in Korea he must take over until his father comes back. Once his father returns he is a changed man and adds additional strain to the family home leaving Leon in charge for good. Only Leon himself then gets conscripted to fight in the Vietnam War and like his father the affects of war change him forever.

This makes the book sound quite simplistic and it’s not the case as Wyld throws in quite a few other plots such as a delightful romance for Leon and a wonderful tale of a little girl breaking through Frank’s tough exterior. To say anymore would simply give too much away. I thought that is was particularily remarkable how Wyld got so deeply into the two male lead characters, especially as they are both such complex, emotionally scarred and sometimes quite dislikeable characters. I wasn’t sure this book would be for me for the first two chapters and then I was hooked and read it in three sittings. Through these two men’s viewpoints I went on an emotion filled journey through loss, love, war, discrimination, and also most importantly I felt, hope.

I thought this was a marvellous piece of work, an incredibly impressive debut, I think Wyld is definitely an author to watch out for in the future. I am already wondering if there may be some recognition of this in the 2010 Orange Longlist, I do hope so, its already won The John Llewellyn Rhys prize. I am definitely honouring it with the Savidge Reads “Cover of 2009” prize, if ever you were to judge a book by its fabulous cover make it this one. I am not the only one who enjoyed this thoroughly as you can see Kim’s review here too. One of my books of the year no question.


Filed under Books of 2009, Evie Wyld, Jonathan Cape Publishers, Random House Publishing, Review

Sherlock Holmes

One of my favourite characters in literature and one of the best fictional detectives ever has to be Sherlock Holmes. It is also down to him and the unusual way that I was introduced to him by a very special relation of mine which really got me into reading when I was younger.

From since I can remember my family was big on walking though not so much now. When I was younger we would think nothing of a nice thirteen mile hike through the peak district before a nice late Sunday roast (who was making it or how long it was in the oven I have no idea as we were all out). Occasionally we would also do one on Saturday. As I got older we would go on walking holidays. These involved my Gran (Granny Savidge Reads), Bongy (who I mentioned the other day) my Great Aunty Pat and her husband Derrick who is my Gran’s eldest brother. They would also involve anything between nine and fourteen miles of walking a day either for a week or a fortnight.

Naturally this could get a little boring for a young gent so my Uncle Derrick would memorise tales for me of Arthur Conan Doyle. Initially starting with such greats as ‘The Croxley Master’, ‘The Brown Hand’, ‘The Nightmare Room’, and many, many more. These are all contained in a collection of Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories he gave me in my early teens and one I still treasure dearly and dip into now and again. I loved these tales, though it was with Sherlock Holmes that my Uncle Derrick realised he had struck gold half way through The Dales Way. I was apparently spellbound. All these wonderful adventures in Victorian London with dastardly doings and seemingly impossible mysteries to solve, all done by a rather rogue and mysterious man who would fathom them all easily with his trusty sidekick.

It seems I wasn’t the only one hooked as Gran admitted when she was here that she would walk quicker to stay in ear shot of me and Derrick as he regaled these tales for a good mile or three. After the walks stopped (I got a bit teenagery – I needn’t say more) the reading of Sherlock didn’t and I think for a good few years I would start at the beginning read the whole lot and then return to the beginning again. I had a wonderful illustrated omnibus that actually fell apart from over reading and all the journeys it went on. Shockingly I have never bought them again, and now I think it might be time. Maybe I should have a Sherlock Season this spring?

I hinted yesterday that I was going to see a film in this households Boxing Day movie ritual. It was of course Sherlock Holmes. I was slightly worried as I have always found the TV versions lacking something; he always seems too old and more mentally apt than physically which isn’t the case in the books where he boxes like he does in the film. Would a blockbuster directed by Madonna’s ex do the job? The answer is a resounding yes!

It’s utterly brilliant and everything  a Sherlock Holmes tale should be. It’s got an impossible mystery, masterly disguises, devilish doings, tonnes of action and mayhem galore. Robert Downey Jnr is just brilliant as a wily, mysterious, dry humoured and cunning Holmes. Jude Law is great as an authentic Watson who, again like in the books, doesn’t just keep notes and stand by the sidelines but gets fully involved. It was everything I hoped it would be and probably a bit more. I cannot wait for the second one already. You must go and see it; I think it will cause a huge serge in Sherlock sales in the next few months with both adults and younger fans. The game is afoot.

So who else has been thrown under the spell of Sherlock or indeed Arthur Conan Doyle in their reading life? Who has never read him? Who really wants to? Who out there might be up for a read-a-thon? Also who of you have had a remarkable relation who through you further into reading in an unusual way? Uncle Derrick sadly now has Alzheimer’s and when I go and see him has no idea who I am. I often hope he goes back to his favourite tales and gets lost a little in the Victorian adventures he loved and passed the love of on to me?


Filed under Arthur Conan Doyle, Book Thoughts, Books To Film

The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding – Agatha Christie

I don’t think that for a Christmas read you could do better than a title ‘The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding’ especially when it’s followed by the tag line ‘and a selection of Entrée’s’ the fact it is written by Agatha Christie only adds to its appeal and charm. It was also slightly ironic that after cooking a huge, and rather lovely, Christmas dinner the pudding was the problem. More on that some other time as really this is a post about a rather marvellous Christmas read, rather than my shoddy pudding debacle.

I had never heard of the regular event in publishing called the ‘Christmas Christie’ until I read the wonderful ‘Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks’ by John Curran earlier in the year but indeed she did write many. Naturally hankering for some perfect Christmas this book with its fabulous title had to be high up on my list. What could be better than some murder under the mistletoe whilst munching on chocolates and mulled wine?

The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding is actually a collection of some of Agatha Christie’s short stories. Five of them are tales of Poirot ‘The Mystery of the Spanish Chest’, ‘The Underdog’, ‘Four-and-Twenty Blackbirds’, ‘The Dream’ and the title tale itself. The last one ‘Greenshaw’s Folly’ stars Miss Marple, my favourite Christie character, herself. The title tale is indeed very Christmas filled and is murder meets great theft containing three brilliant plot twists within 60 pages which I think is remarkable. ‘The Mystery of the Spanish Chest’ had be baffled as to how six guests could eat dinner with one of their spouses murdered in a chest in the same room, again so, so clever. ‘The Underdog’ is a very interesting tale of women’s intuition and how having it cannot prove a thing, even if it might (note I say might not it is) be right.

The latter three were interesting clever, highly readable and slightly annoying in one. As though it was very interesting to see Christie use one specific plot device (which I cant say or you wont need to read them and they are charming) and change it so much in three ways I did feel it was a shame to have them be the last three tales as it could have been mixed up more. It did show what a genius of murderous mayhem she could be and how many ways one thing could be reworked; I would have just placed a few different methods in between. It’s a small critique though as I didn’t guess any of the endings in any of these three and they all kept me reading until the small hours of this very Boxing Day. All in all it was a truly delightful classic Christmas Christie collection (loving that alliteration) and I couldn’t have asked for more.

How were all your Christmases, did you all have a delightful day? I do hope so, do report back please with your Xmas tales. I had a marvellous day, bar the Christmas pudding nightmare (don’t ask). Dinner was a delight and I had wonderful presents but oddly only one book, though I do know another has been ordered. Apparently I am a nightmare to book buy for, as if. I mean really that’s so untrue.

Isn’t it interesting that though I love Christmas Day it is actually Boxing Day that’s my favourite since I started hosting Christmas myself? I think because everything is done and we now simply have those delicious parsnip and turkey sandwiches, left over chocolates and wine etc and can all relax from the hype. It is also tradition that we go to the cinema on Boxing Day which I love. Tonight we are off to see a film with a bookish twist that shaped my reading in a rather major way. I shall be discussing it in more detail tomorrow. I wonder if you can guess, its quite elementary my dears…


Filed under Agatha Christie, Harper Collins, Review

Merry Christmas

I am sure most of you won’t be blogging or reading blogs today, I know I won’t be (and will admit I have scheduled this post and a few others over the holidays) as have guests to tend to and a dinner for seven to cook, but should you pass this page then I wish you a very Merry Christmas and hope you have a wonderful day getting all the books that you could desire…

The image above was the only Bookish Christmas image I could find, I did find some lovely Christmas quotes though whichI will leave you with.

I do like Christmas on the whole…. In its clumsy way, it does approach Peace and Goodwill. But it is clumsier every year.” E.M. Forster

“I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.” Charles Dickens

What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” Dr. Seuss

Merry Christmas to you all!


Filed under Book Thoughts

Agatha Raisin & Kissing Christmas Goodbye – M.C. Beaton

This year for the first time ever I decided to get myself involved in some seasonal reading. Christmas tends to be the period when I read lots and lots of guilty pleasures and one or two big books I have been meaning to read for a while. So I thought if I could combine a guilty pleasure (though actually there is no guilt involved) with a seasonal read that would get me just in the mood for what’s coming tomorrow and this book has helped get me even further into the Christmas spirit even though it actually starts off in October. (Currently this Christmas Eve I am reading the seasonal ‘Adventure of the Christmas Pudding by Agatha Christie, thoughts on Boxing Day.)

M.C. Beaton’s Agatha Raisin and Kissing Christmas Goodbye is a wonderful title for a book though a teeny tiny bit misleading as really Christmas happens right at the end. However when it does show up it sets you in the Christmas mood as Agatha tried to organise the whole village to have dinner in her cottage, it involves a lot of expense builders and hired chef’s and is very funny. However by this point a murder or two have already been solved so no actual festive murder, if there is such a thing, has taken place which is what I was expecting. I still enjoyed it immensely.

Now I did a rare thing reading this book and skipped about eight of the series in order to read something festive and so quite a lot had changed but it did prove you can throw yourself into any Agatha to hand and they are stand alone reads. Anything like her complex love life is explained in a few sentences or in the case of this book with an introduction of the story so far. I didn’t realise she had a Detective Agency now though and at first the idea of it really put me off, in the end though it worked and was quite important to the plot.

Agatha receives a letter from a Mrs Tamworthy who states “I think a member of my family is trying to kill me. Isn’t the weather warm for October?” Initially thinking she is crackers and having far too much work to do she ignores the note. However after dubiously hiring a new detective in the form of seventeen year old Toni Gilmour time is freed up and indeed a murder does take place. Agatha soon hits dead ends whereas Toni seems to have amazing luck solving cases so she drags her into it all with her leading to some interesting an not seen before adventures for Agatha some quite, quite dark.

Toni is a great character with a very interesting and topically current back story and who also brings out some very different sides of Agatha’s personality both good and bad. Hopefully, once I catch up, I will read more of her in the future. I was briefly wondering if a spin off series might be planned but I can’t see it happening just yet. I thoroughly enjoyed this despite my worry the detective agency might be too much. It does mean we get less of the wonderful characters from the village, but we also get to meet a whole host of new ones in two other settings. Another delightful Agatha read and just about right for Christmas time.

I always wonder why people keep moving into these fictional murderous villages, I mean with such high death tolls I don’t think I would move in, would you? Actually in this case I might, I would love to go off sleuthing with Agatha Raisin especially as I have the daunting task of Christmas dinner for six tomorrow, that seems much more of a difficult prospect and not half as much fun, though hopefully the resulting meal will be!! Merry Christmas!


Filed under Agatha Raisin, Constable & Robinson Publishing, M.C. Beaton, Review

Books of the Noughties

I feel a little like all I have been doing of late is compiling lists. If it wasn’t the two lists for best books of 2009 for next week, or books for 2010 for both work (I now have the books page in the magazine hoorah) and for the blog then it was shopping lists for the family Christmas presents, even though not seeing most of them till the end of January, and the never ending Christmas food fest shopping list. This is the list that has proved the most difficult.

I will admit that it’s really only since 2006 that my reading got out of hand. It’s interesting that that was also a year where escapism was the thing that I needed the most, it wasn’t the happiest year – well until I met The Converted One – a long bad relationship ended and I had a rather huge health scare all in all not the best. Yet the positive that came out of that year, roughly from February on, was that I utterly embraced my love for books again. I had been reading but maybe one book every month or so.

Now you would think in the nearly four years its been I wouldn’t have read that many of ‘the books of the noughties’ but this list has taken ages, books have been fighting with each other its been carnage. I have always preferred contemporary fiction to classics (though this has changed rather a lot this year) looking back over my blog and pre-blog ‘books I have read’ lists which I compile each year I have actually consumed quite a few though not all the big contenders I have seen in the papers. So bearing in mind I haven’t read every great book since 2000 (not that we will all agree on the great books since then, Cloud Atlas for example which I loathed) here are the books that made my top ten of the noughties with their blurbs, I could write a paragraph on each of them but am a) listed out and b) I loved them end of…

The Time Travellers Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

This extraordinary, magical novel is the story of Clare and Henry who have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-two and Henry thirty. Impossible but true, because Henry is one of the first people diagnosed with Chrono-Displacement Disorder: periodically his genetic clock resets and he finds himself pulled suddenly into his past or future. His disappearances are spontaneous and his experiences are alternately harrowing and amusing. The Time Traveler’s Wife depicts the effects of time travel on Henry and Clare’s passionate love for each other with grace and humour. Their struggle to lead normal lives in the face of a force they can neither prevent nor control is intensely moving and entirely unforgettable.

The Road – Cormac McCarthy

A father and his son walk alone through burned America, heading through the ravaged landscape to the coast. This is the profoundly moving story of their journey. “The Road” boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which two people, ‘each the other’s world entire’, are sustained by love. Awesome in the totality of its vision, it is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation.

Small Island – Andrea Levy

It is 1948, and England is recovering from a war. But at 21 Nevern Street, London, the conflict has only just begun. Queenie Bligh’s neighbours do not approve when she agrees to take in Jamaican lodgers, but Queenie doesn’t know when her husband will return, or if he will come back at all. What else can she do? Gilbert Joseph was one of the several thousand Jamaican men who joined the RAF to fight against Hitler. Returning to England as a civilian he finds himself treated very differently. It’s desperation that makes him remember a wartime friendship with Queenie and knock at her door. Gilbert’s wife Hortense, too, had longed to leave Jamaica and start a better life in England. But when she joins him she is shocked to find London shabby, decrepit, and far from the golden city of her dreams. Even Gilbert is not the man she thought he was.

Kafka on the Shore – Haruki Murakami

“Kafka on the Shore” follows the fortunes of two remarkable characters. Kafka Tamura runs away from home at fifteen, under the shadow of his father’s dark prophesy. The aging Nakata, tracker of lost cats, who never recovered from a bizarre childhood affliction, finds his pleasantly simplified life suddenly turned upside down. Their parallel odysseys are enriched throughout by vivid accomplices and mesmerising dramas. Cats converse with people; fish tumble from the sky; a ghostlike pimp deploys a Hegel-spouting girl of the night; a forest harbours soldiers apparently un-aged since WWII. There is a savage killing, but the identity of both victim and killer is a riddle. Murakami’s new novel is at once a classic tale of quest, but it is also a bold exploration of mythic and contemporary taboos, of patricide, of mother-love, of sister-love. Above all it is an entertainment of a very high order.

Half of a Yellow Sun – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This highly anticipated novel from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is set in Nigeria during the 1960s, at the time of a vicious civil war in which a million people died and thousands were massacred in cold blood. The three main characters in the novel are swept up in the violence during these turbulent years. One is a young boy from a poor village who is employed at a university lecturer’s house. The other is a young middle-class woman, Olanna, who has to confront the reality of the massacre of her relatives. And the third is a white man, a writer who lives in Nigeria for no clear reason, and who falls in love with Olanna’s twin sister, a remote and enigmatic character. As these people’s lives intersect, they have to question their own responses to the unfolding political events. This extraordinary novel is about Africa in a wider sense: about moral responsibility, about the end of colonialism, about ethnic allegiances, about class and race; and about the ways in which love can complicate all of these things.

The Blind Assassin – Margaret Atwood

Laura Chase’s older sister Iris, married at eighteen to a politically prominent industrialist but now poor and eighty-two, is living in Port Ticonderoga, a town dominated by their once-prosperous family before the First War. While coping with her unreliable body, Iris reflects on her far from exemplary life, in particular the events surrounding her sister’s tragic death. Chief among these was the publication of The Blind Assassin, a novel which earned the dead Laura Chase not only notoriety but also a devoted cult following. Sexually explicit for its time, The Blind Assassin describes a risky affair in the turbulent thirties between a wealthy young woman and a man on the run. During their secret meetings in rented rooms, the lovers concoct a pulp fantasy set on Planet Zycron. As the invented story twists through love and sacrifice and betrayal, so does the real one; while events in both move closer to war and catastrophe. By turns lyrical, outrageous, formidable, compelling and funny, this is a novel filled with deep humour and dark drama. 

Atonement – Ian McEwan

On the hottest day of the summer of 1934, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis sees her sister Cecilia strip off her clothes and plunge into the fountain in the garden of their country house. Watching her is Robbie Turner, her childhood friend who, like Cecilia, has recently come down from Cambridge. By the end of that day, the lives of all three will have been changed for ever. Robbie and Cecilia will have crossed a boundary they had not even imagined at its start, and will have become victims of the younger girl’s imagination. Briony will have witnessed mysteries, and committed a crime for which she will spend the rest of her life trying to atone.

Running With Scissors – Augusten Burroughs

This is the story of a boy whose mother (a poet with delusions of grandeur) gave him away to be raised by her psychiatrist, a dead ringer for Santa Claus and a certifiable lunatic into the bargain. Suddenly at the age of 12, Augusten found himself living in a dilapidated Victorian house in perfect squalor. The doctor’s bizarre family, a few patients and a paedophile living in the garden shed completed the tableau. Here, there were no rules or school. The Christmas tree stayed up until Summer and valium was chomped down like sweets. When things got a bit slow, there was always the ancient electroshock therapy machine under the stairs.

The Book Thief – Markus Zusack

Here is a small fact – you are going to die. 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier. Liesel, a nine-year-old girl, is living with a foster family on Himmel Street. Her parents have been taken away to a concentration camp. Liesel steals books. This is her story and the story of the inhabitants of her street when the bombs begin to fall. Some important information – this novel is narrated by death. It’s a small story, about: a girl, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. Another thing you should know – Death will visit the book thief three times.

The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters – Charlotte Mosley

The never-before published letters of the legendary Mitford sisters, alive with wit, affection, tragedy and gossip: a charismatic history of the century’s signal events played out in the lives of a controversial and uniquely gifted family. Nancy, the scalding wit who parlayed her family life into bestselling novels. Diana, the fascist jailed with her husband, Oswald Mosley, during WWII. Unity, a suicide, torn by her worship of Hitler and her loyalty to home. Debo, who adored pleasure and fun, and found herself Duchess of Devonshire. Pamela, who craved nothing more than a quiet country life. Jessica, the runaway, a communist and fighter for social change. The Mitfords became myth in their own time: the great wits and beauties of their age, they were immoderate in their passions for ideas and people. Virtually spanning the century, these letters between the sisters — alternately touching and explosive — constitute a superb social chronicle, and explore with disarming intimacy their shifting relationships. As editor Charlotte Mosley notes, not since the Brontes has a single family written so much about themselves, or been so written about. Their letters are widely recognized to contain the best of their writing. Mosley, Diana’s niece, will select from an archive of 18,000, to which she has exclusive access.

So that is your lot, not necessarily in order as it changes every hour or so. As I said lots of books fought for the top ten spot and I could easily have added The Life of Pi, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Child 44, What Was Lost, On Chesil Beach, The Kite Runner, Notes on a Scandal, The Secret Scripture and many many more. A top 40 would have been good but might have been somewhat excessive. It has made me think how difficult doing this in 2020 will be considering I read so much more now. Anyway, this is my list in all its (some of you may think questionable) glory. What are your top books of the noughties? Oh and what do we call the next decade, the tensies, the teens?


Filed under Audrey Niffenegger, Augusten Burroughs, Charlotte Mosley, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Cormac McCarthy, Haruki Murakami, Ian McEwan, Marcus Zusack, Margaret Atwood

Charity Shopping & The Thrift Lifestyle – Lettice Wilkinson

In a time where we are all watching our budgets especially as it’s almost Christmas (in case any of you have missed the advance warning we have had since October) and this is the time of year we spend vast amounts of money then I may have found the perfect book for you, or gift for others. ‘Charity Shopping and the Thrift Lifestyle’ by Lettice Wilkinson is a book that not only celebrates the delights of second hand shopping but also lets you know where the best places to shop for it are too.

Now if you go by the title you might think this is a guide of how to live the charity lifestyle and though there is a wonderful opening introduction ‘A Virtuous Economy’ which discusses all the benefits and plus sides of Charity Shopping which isn’t quite the case. It is really more a wonderful picture filled guide to where to shop for what. There is a real insight into the whole business and not just you the buyer, there is also the charity and of course those who need the charity and the strategies behind it all which makes for additional interesting reading.

The book is set into different sections such as ‘furniture’, ‘antiques’, ‘bridal’ and many more. I knew as soon as I hit the first section entitled ‘Café’s and Tearooms’ that I was in great company having a wander through hundreds of charity shops with Lettice Wilkinson. Her writing is full of friendly facts, by that I mean there is a lot of information delivered in an easy to follow to the point and yet chatty style which makes it all the more enjoyable to read. There is of course a section that I can guarantee followers of this blog will love devoted to…

Okay so in fairness it’s actually ‘Books, Music and Film’ but the last bit always phases out with me. I now have a wonderful list of shops I simply cannot miss in Oxford, Edinburgh, Herne Bay, Stratford Upon Avon, Southport any many more. I may actually have to do a tour in the summer. If that wasn’t enough I may have to go slightly further afield to what to me is the most pristine looking bookshop I have ever seen let alone an amazingly stocked second hand one…

It would be worth the flight alone to have a wander around this second hand bookstore in New York, as it would cost rather a lot I will have to hold back. They also have three recommendations in Sydney which seems very far to find a nice cheap copy of the latest best seller and a cardigan but if one can why not? Sadly though a certain amazing bookshop in south west London seems to have been missed, I am relieved though as it stays a secret with me and a select few for longer.

I really like this book and ook forward to having it as a guide when I pop off on my travels in the future. It will be going straight onto my lovely new coffee table when it arrives with the wonderful Perfume A-Z Guide. I have a feeling soon people will be coming round to read my books rather than to see me. I know a few people who would love this, what a perfect pressie this will make for a certain few special people? A nice extra stocking filler and no mistake.

So who else out there is big on Charity Shopping? Which stores and where should be must visits for us all? What are your thoughts on books for the recession? After all recession writing seems to be appearing in fiction already with a few big recession themed novels (which I probably won’t be reading – who wants to read it fictionally when we are living it, the latter is depressing enough) coming out in the forthcoming New Year. Is it something you want to read? Who do you know would love today’s Charity book?


Filed under Lettice Wilkinson, Marion Boyars Publishing, Review

Adopt a Book

If you are like me and still haven’t gotten round to buying all your Christmas presents yet especially as some relatives are awkward. Or maybe like me don’t actually still know what you want for Christmas then today’s post might hopefully give you a new charitable and bookish idea.

When my lovely Gran came to stay (aka Granny Savidge Reads) after waiting for her at the wrong station, fortunately she was only at Euston and I was next door-ish at St Pancras, we went for a coffee and a wander around The British Library which shockingly she had never been to before. After a good wander I spotted a rather large stand in the corner which was advertising a wonderful idea. You can adopt one of the books at The British Library. And save books that are looking like this…

You can spend from £25 – £1000 (depending on your budget, or to my mind how much you like the person you are buying for) and this will help a classic book be restored. I am not sure how much conserving books cost, we are doing this at Highgate with the burial records since the 1800’s so I might ask, but the more you spend the more treats the person who the gift is for gets. Everyone gets a certificate though other additions are personalised book plates, private tours of the British Library, behind the scenes at the Conservation Studio and much more. You can find out all about it here.

I went on the site and there are a few I would love to conserve. Well you know me I naturally made a list of titles that would mean a lot to me such as Picture of Dorian Gray (1902 edition) Jamaica Inn (1932) or The Devils Foot and Other Stories of Sherlock Holmes (1921) and many, many more. There are titles for everyone though you could have a 1853 edition of Cranford, the complete Winnie the Pooh, Ozma of Oz, a late 1800’s edition of Emma the list could go on but as it’s the shortest day of the year lets keep this post shortish too.

Do you know anyone who would love to adopt a book or have one adopted for them? Is there a certain book that if you knew you could adopt a first edition of you would? I think mine would be The Woman in White or Rebecca naturally, but what about you?


Filed under Book Thoughts

The Moonstone – Wilkie Collins

The Moonstone is the final Wilkie Collins read of the season (though thankfully I have still many Wilkie books to go or I would possibly be in despair). This is possibly one of the most famous of Wilkie Collins novels and so telling you all about it and my thoughts on it might really be preaching to the converted.

The book opens in 1799 when during a siege of the Indian town of Seringapatam when Colonel John Herncastle steals ‘The Moonstone’ from a religious statue not knowing that the stone is cursed. He comes back to be ostracised by his family and so in an act of revenge disguised in giving kindness he leaves the stone to his niece Rachel in the hope the curse passes onto her. However her cousin Franklin Blake finds out the secrets of stone and the real reason for its inheritance when he brings it to Rachel. It is when she receives it that after years of keeping the stone protected and hidden she merely leaves it in her bedroom cabinet where of course it disappears during the night. What follows is one of the greatest detection novels in history, and one that I think it would be wrong to give anything more away about, other than stating that it is brilliant.

The book is just as filled with wonderful characters as ever such as the reticent Rachel, the mysterious Rosanna Spearman, the brilliant Sergeant Cuff (who steps in after the police are all inept) and my favourite ‘Limping Lucy’. However characterisation isn’t really the point of The Moonstone, it is clearly plotting that is and unlike other sensation fiction we aren’t looking at bigamy, murder and social mysteries this is a full on mystery of theft. Naturally as a Collins novel you can expect many thrills, red herrings and as much suspense as you could wish for.  

In many ways this book is very different in terms of his other sensation fiction, in fact really I would say this was much more a full on adventure romp than sensation. Being the first proper detective novel (and look what it spawned) it caused quite some sensation at the time. It does share a theme with the other books however, as it does look at social attitudes and, in a way, looks at how people of colour were treated in England at the time through three Indians who appear in the book. I also think that Collins made a concerted effort through his strong female characters in particular Rachel (who I wondered if inspired Du Maurier’s ‘My Cousin Rachel) he tried not to make this too much of a boys book and I think as ever he succeeded. This book is absolutely brilliant; I don’t think I can say more than that.

I cannot believe that we are already at the penultimate Sensation Season read. I am especially sad that this is the last Wilkie read I will have for a while, like I said before though at least I have made sure I have many more of his works left for the future. It’s all gone a little too fast with only one more to go as we see the New Year in which is Charles Dickens ‘Great Expectations’ in two weeks. I hope you will all join in. So who out there has read The Moonstone and what did you think? Remember no plot spoilers please, though am not sure there are many people who haven’t read this are there?


Filed under Books of 2009, Penguin Classics, Review, Sensation Novels, Wilkie Collins

Simon’s Bookish Bits #2

I think that this might be the last Simon’s Bookish Bits (and its only the third) of 2009 as next Saturday is of course Boxing Day and I will be doing something a little bit festive and Christmas themed. Well I will if the post sorts itself out as I am awaiting some parcels and yet getting some from November instead… interesting. The week after will be all about Bookish Resolutions and of course be 2010, its getting scarily close.

Now as one year starts another one ends. I am planning to give you a full list or two fo my best books of 2009. You can however have a sneak peak of one of my favourites on the Oxford University Press Blog. I was kindly asked by Kirsty, as one of their favourite bloggers, to give a review of one of my favourites along side the delightful company of Vulpes Libris, Dovergreyreader, Kimbofo, Eve’s Alexandria, Random Jottings and Stuck in a Book. Do have a gander it’s a very interesting selection of choices.

Speaking of Kirsty she has written on her blog the list of festive reading she will be partaking in over the festive period. I have also seen festive bookish posts from Paperback Reader and the aforementioned Kimbofo and Simon Stuck-in-a-Book too. One blogger who I know you can help decide what to read over the season, as you are so good at advising me, is Novel Insights. She wants you to help her choose her holiday reads though none are festively themed she has some corkers to look forward too. I have finally whittled down my festive fiction maybes and they will be…


Peyton Place and Great Expectations aren’t festive reads, but they are two reads I have been desperate to read for the last few months and I like the idea of something salacious and something truly classic. The last two choices are some Christmas murder and mayhem from Agatha Christie and Agatha Raisin. Mind you I say first, they haven’t actually turned up though some lovely books sent in November have which is nice…

  • Precious by Sapphire (which I want to start now)
  • The Passport – Herta Muller
  • Doors Open – Ian Rankin
  • Firmin – Sam Savage (whose name is a bit too like mine)
  • An Equal Stillness – Francesca Kay
  • An Elergy for Easterly – Petina Gappah
  • The Confessions of Edward Day – Valerie Martin
  • The Complaints – Ian Rankin

Looks like I have some more crime to go. In the world of podcasts it’s a little out of date in parts but my podcast of the week is from Faber and Faber. I only found it yesterday and there were so many podcasts they had I wanted to listen to by some of their top authors it was a gem of a find. Pop to their homepage, scroll down and you can download them all. 

Now finally something not bookish at all but I had to share with you all a little bit of pre-Christmas joy that I have bought myself. I have been looking for one of these for absolutely ages to go on my new desk and finally I find one…

That’s right an original 1980’s dial phone… for £2 and its been converted for new phone lines already. I was ecstatic. Right that is me done and dusted for now. So what’s been going on in all of your bookish worlds this week? What books have you loved? What are you reading at the moment? What’s news?


Filed under Book Thoughts, Herta Muller, Ian Rankin, Petina Gappah, Sam Savage, Sapphire, Simon's Bookish Bits, Valerie Martin

A Life Like Other People’s – Alan Bennett

It seems timely when a certain book arrives and you are in just the mood to read it, which has happened with Alan Bennett’s most recent memoir ‘A Life Like Other People’s’. It has been a bit of a Bennett fest on the television of late here in the UK as Elaine at Random Jottings has been discussing to mark his 75th Birthday. He also has become some what of a national treasure which he says doesn’t sit with him very well. I read and loved The Uncommon Reader a while back and have enjoyed many of his Talking Head monologues, not just recently, but for a while in fact I had them on audio cassette when I was younger.

Faber & Faber, hardback, 2009, non fiction, 256 pages, kindly sent by the publisher

A Life Like Other People’s, which I keep wanting to call A Life Amongst Others though I have no idea why, is about his formative years though mainly it looks at the relationships of his parents. I don’t have any of Bennett’s previous diaries and memoires to compare this too, though I will be making sure that changes, though what I have always loved about Bennett is his ‘real writing’. He looks at people, and himself, and the actions of real people their emotions there thoughts the whole gambit. There are no tricks and though there is often drama its never written to be dramatic or to gain readers its simply life.

The simplistic and honest writing style is incredibly endearing. Scenes can be quite harrowing and emotional and yet there will be some slight comedy around the corner, its not intentional or planned it’s just the way it is. Two scenes that really hit me were between him and his mother, which almost made me cry, and his mother searching for her sister in a dementia ward. I loved the story of his parents wedding and why there were no pictures as his parents didn’t want any ‘splother’. You will have to read the book to find out just what that means and how they got around it.

Bennett was clarely very close to his mother, though of course he loved his father they didn’t have that same relationship. He seemed to get to know him best when he was driving him to see his mother when she was in hospital on several occasions for depression. In fact these trips, where his father got most annoyed about making sure everything was on time, showed a wonderful dedication between husband and wife, father and mother, that I found deeply affecting. I loved the relationship between them and think that love like that seems to be becoming much rarer in today’s society. I wonder if Bennett would agree. If only I could sit and discuss it all further with him over a pot of Yorkshire tea. We can all dream can’t we?

It’s not a long book and so I can’t really write too much about it without giving lots of things away. I think overall that poignant, in all its ways, is what best describes this work. If you like books about real people and real lives then I don’t think you can het much better. I can only wonder what his diaries and ‘Writing Home’ have in store for me to read in the future. I think 2010 may have to involve a bit of a Bennett binge as I also want to read the whole of Talking Heads again now too. What about you, what Bennett have you read and loved? Or is he someone you have yet to read? If it’s a case of the latter I can think of nothing better than whiling away an afternoon in the company of Alan Bennett. This book comes very, very highly recommended.


Filed under Alan Bennett, Books of 2009, Faber & Faber, Profile Books, Review