Tag Archives: John Buchan

Four Metres of Penguin Classics…

As I mentioned recently, one of my friends did an art installation involving books for a local hospital and this meant buying 4 metres of Penguin classics, from a charity shop warehouse – so the a good cause benefitted too, with the odd additional book mixed in. As they ended up only needing just over three metres of these gems I was asked if I might like to have a few for myself. Well how could I say no? The only problem was choosing which ones to take out of quite a selection…

Which went on and on…

I can’t pretend I wasn’t like a kid in a sweet shop. However after some whittling down, because literally I could have ended up taking away about 30+ of the books, and I am aware I have a lot of books already, I decided that I had to be strict. There were a few books that I simply had to have as soon as I saw them. I also allowed myself to pick a few books that just took my fancy; the only rule was that they had to be short. There was then some more whittling from the rather large amount I had picked up/pulled off the shelves…

And I ended up with just the ten copies, though four of them weren’t for me so actually just the six…

  • Noblesse Oblige edited by Nancy Mitford – this one I grabbed the second I saw it, it’s a fortune on Amazon so I was thrilled to get this with my Mitford obsession.
  • The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen – I have read no Bowen and after seeing Rachel’s raving about her I think it’s high time.
  • My Memories of Six Reigns by Princess Marie Louise – I have a copy of this already but I love this one’s simplicity more, Neil Bartlett recommended it to Savidge Reads and its readers last year. I am debating what to do with the spare.
  • Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan – I haven’t read much Fench fiction, and this seemed short and a little dark and possibly tragic. Maybe I am wrong?
  • A World of Strangers by Nadine Gordimer – This I picked up for Kimbofo (who won’t know it yet, surprise) as I thought she might like it – she’s probably read it but it’s a fabulous edition.
  • Where Angels Fear To Tread by E.M. Forster – I read Forster for A-Level English and the teacher put me off completely. I have heard lots about this so it could end up being the next one I try.
  • The Comforters by Muriel Spark – I was very tempted to keep this one for myself but Polly of Novel Insights introduced me to Spark and I thought she would like this one.
  • Castle Gay by John Buchan – Again a present for Polly, I know she likes and adventure, and yes – the title made me snigger too.
  • The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh – who also writes in ‘Noblesse Oblige’ interestingly, though the cover doesn’t say so, I read this a while back and LOVED it so now I have two, my other one might have to find a new home.
  • Hons and Rebels by Jessica Mitford – with my Mitford-mania you might expect this to be another one for my never ending Mitford collection. In actual fact this if for my lovely friend Dom (again, surprise) who introduced me to the wondair clan.

I think I was quite restrained, though I have been thinking of finding out the number of the charity that sell 4 metres of Penguin classics for £20 (seriously that’s all it cost) though that would be dangerous wouldn’t it. Oh and I found one more gem of a book, that one (and what I found inside it) needs a special mention all of its own. What Penguin Classic would you most love to own? Why is it that those orange covers are so appealing? What do you make of my collection and choices?

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Filed under Book Thoughts, Penguin Books, Penguin Classics

1000 Novels Everyone Must Read… So Far

So The Guardian (and Observer) are treating us to the ‘1000 Novels Everyone Must Read’ over seven days. I wasn’t sure how this would work it being that 1000 divided by seven means 142.85714 books per day. However what they have done is to theme each issue in the series. So far we have had Love and Crime. Though personally I didn’t exactly think that To Kill A Mockingbird or Jurassic Park was crime, or The Virgin Suicides a love story but I shouldn’t be picky. I was shocked The Time Travellers Wife wasn’t in love actually. I haven’t thought of ones I would put in their yet! That could be another blog for another time.


I don’t know about you but I go through the list and look at which ones I have read and then the ones that I should read in the future and these two issues so far have given me lots to read. What had I read?

Lady Audley’s Secret – Mary E Braddon
Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
The Thirty-Nine Steps – John Buchan
Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
The Murder At The Vicarage – Agatha Christie
The Woman In White – Wilkie Collins
Jurassic Park – Michael Crichton
The Hound Of The Baskervilles – Arthur Conan Doyle
American Psycho – Brett Easton Ellis
A Quiet Belief In Angels – RJ Ellory (I was shocked this was in here – hated it)
Casino Royale – Ian Fleming
A Room With A View – E.M. Forster
The End Of The Affair – Graham Greene
Red Dragon – Thomas Harris (which I am going to re-read this year)
Lady Chatterley’s Lover – D.H. Lawrence
To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee
Atonement – Ian McEwan
The Pursuit Of Love – Nancy Mitford
Dissolution – CJ Sansom
The Reader – Bernhard Schlink
Perfume – Patrick Suskind
The Secret History – Donna Tartt
Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy (well am reading it in the background)
Breathing Lessons – Anne Tyler
The Night Watch – Sarah Waters

Hmmm… 25/1000 so far… must try harder! If you have missed this so far then have a look here http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/series/1000novels

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Filed under Agatha Christie, Bernhard Schink, Brett Easton Ellis, Daphne Du Maurier, Emily Bronte, Harper Lee, Ian Fleming, Ian McEwan, John Buchan, Leo Tolstoy, Nancy Mitford, Sarah Waters

Not ‘The Thirty Nine Steps’

I don’t know if anyone else didn’t watch the BBC’s version of ‘The Thirty Nine Steps’ a few hours ago? It’s just I tuned in at the right time earlier tonight and appear to have watched something completely different with the same title and same named lead character of Richard Hannay. Is this just me?


I read the book earlier in the year because I knew this would be on at Christmas and really like to read the novel before I see the TV version/film. After having loved the book so much I was really excited by the prospect of some great Christmas television, especially after how good the Beeb’s versions of ‘Bleak House’ and ‘Cranford’ have been.

Well I don’t know what happened here, I mean it started off the same and then suddenly they brought in this suffragette strumpet called ‘Victoria’ who not only didn’t exist in the book, completely took over and then also completely changed the plot from then on. Richard Hannay didn’t play second fiddle to anyone in the book and yet here he was being ordered about and getting domineered by someone who didn’t exist in the world of John Buchan. I fear the author might have been turning in his grave during the last few hours. I was so cross I didn’t watch the show about him on BBC4.

I really wish I had just watched ITV’s adaptation of ‘Affinity’ by Sarah Waters now!

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Filed under Book Thoughts, Books To Film, John Buchan, Sarah Waters

The Thirty-Nine Steps – John Buchan

Just like I mentioned with Twilight not only do I like to read things before they come out at the cinema, or I get the DVD, I also like to read them before they come on the television. One of the adaptations for the forthcoming festive season that the Beeb are doing this year is ‘The Thirty-Nine Steps’ having had it on my TBR pile for almost two years it gave me the final push I had been needing to read it.

I really, really enjoyed it. I can completely understand why it has become on of the great modern classic (is that a contradiction in terms) thrillers of all time. Richard Hannay has just come back from a long stay in Africa. He finds everything back in London mundane and boring. That is of course until he becomes involved in a plot to precipitate a pan-European war.

After befriending and hiding a neighbour who says he knows of this plot he comes home one day to find his neighbour dead in his flat. From then on he not only has to flee the men who killed his neighbour, he also has to flee the police who want him for suspected murder. What follows is a fantastic chase and man hunt through the highlands of Scotland. Gripping train rides, plane chases, captures and escapes ensue with mighty foe’s following him as he tries to uncover the truth and find ‘The Thirty Nine-Steps’.

Like the book, I shall keep this review short. The book is short at only 160 pages and could be read in an afternoon curled up on the sofa. I took a few days over it to relish it and also to not get to confused in all the chases and the many plots and twists along the way and also to savour the adventure. I haven’t read an adventure novel in ages and it took me back to my youth and endless reading of Arthur Conan Doyle. I am going to definitely track down the rest of the Hannay adventures which I never knew existed until I looked him up on Wikipedia.

All in all a thoroughly enjoyable and definitely worth a few hours of any readers time, well we all like a good old fashioned adventure now and again don’t we?

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Filed under Books of 2008, Books To Film, John Buchan, Penguin Classics, Review