Monday, 23 March 2009

13. Frances Osborne - The Bolter

I didn’t have any expectations about this book, save that I assumed it was fiction. It isn’t – it’s a biography of the five-times-divorced Idina Sackville – and, as such, I’m not sure I’d have picked it up if it wasn’t the March read for the Waterstones’ bookgroup. I don’t usually ‘do’ biography although I realise I’ve not long slogged my way through Dickens and I’m loving the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. The Bolter has made me think that, perhaps, I should ‘do’ more biography.

Frances Osborne is the great-granddaughter of the infamous Idina who, as the blurb on this book says, ‘scandalised 1920s society’. This isn’t just the story of Idina – interesting though that was. Osborne has done mountains of research and, therefore, is able to write about class, society, war, morality and history with an authoritative and pleasant voice. I now a lot more about English society, Kenya, both World Wars and Idina Sackville having read this book and I’d recommend that anyone with an interest in these subjects read it too.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

12. Laura Ingalls Wilder - On the Way Home

In this book, Laura chronicles the little family’s journey from De Smet to Mansfield, Missouri where they plan to finally settle. With an opening and closing by Laura’s daughter, Rose, we are quickly immersed in Laura’s thoughts and experiences as she travels – and it is a journey not without its heartache.

Monday, 16 March 2009

DNF - Simone de Beauvir - The Mandarins

I started this book about a week ago and, after 40 pages, found myself so reluctant to read it that I was avoiding reading altogether and watching TV instead! It’s a long time since I’ve abandoned something without reading at least 50 pages but the thought of another 10, closely-typed pages of depression is more than I can bear. I haven’t met any interesting characters or situations in this book and really cannot find any reason to continue.

11. Michael Francis Pennock - The Seeker's Catechism

This little book does exactly what it says on the tin by presenting the facts of Catholic belief clearly and concisely.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

10. Laura Ingalls Wilder - The First Four Years

I’m very sorry to have come to the end of the ‘Little House’ series and put off reading this little book for that reason. In it, Laura tells of the deal she made with Almanzo – if farming didn’t work out for them after three years then they’d give up and do something else. That isn’t quite what happens and Laura’s life is full of things going wrong and things going right during the first four years of her married life.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

9. Richard Yates - Revolutionary Road

In this powerfully evocative book, Yates tells us the story of April and Frank – a young couple living in the suburbs. Their characters are fully drawn and very memorable while other characters and lightly sketched. Full of tension, this novel had me sitting on the edge of my seat all the way to the end …

Thursday, 5 March 2009

8. Peter Ackroyd - Dickens

I really struggled with this book throughout February but I’m glad I finished it. Apparently, this is an abridged version of the original text. As it runs to 570 pages I’d hate to see the original!

Ackroyd provides a blow-by-blow account of Dickens’ life from cradle to grave. He also includes quite a lot of analysis of Dickens’ writing and tries to show how the author’s life shaped his work. There were times when I felt he made rather a large leap from known fact to supposition and didn’t back up his theory with much evidence. I think this bothered me more because the book reads like an academic text and I, therefore, expected the content to live up to that standard.

In all, this is an interesting, if heavy, book which does exactly what it says on the tin.