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Friday, May 30, 2014

Cypress Point by Diane Chamberlain

Cypress Point

This is an author who takes unpalatable subjects like unfaithfulness and murder and makes them somehow acceptable to the reader. That I think is being rather clever.

We have Joelle who works in a hospital along with Liam. Joelle works with babies and Liam and she have a very close working relationship. Liam's wife Mara was a very dear friend of Joelle but now lives in a nursing home suffering with permanent brain damage after the birth of her son which went tragically wrong. The situation has put immense stress on Liam who is very much in love with his wife and trying hard to cope bringing up his little boy the best way he could in the circumstances.

The attraction between Joelle and Liam is dormant but one day the relationship goes a step further and results in Joelle getting pregnant. It is ironic because Joelle does not think she could ever conceive. She had been married for seven years and during that time tried desperately to get pregnant and it never happened. That led to the break up of her marriage as well. That she should conceive now takes her completely aback. She decides to keep it  a secret from Liam and to move away from her present hospital to one further afield where she can make a new life for herself. She does not want to disrupt Liam's life because she realizes that Liam is still very much in love with his wife and torn between the dilemma of his wife and his secret attraction to Joelle.

Joelle's parents (hippie and a commune lifestyle till Joelle was ten) welcome the news of the impending birth and give Joelle all the support she needs. At the same time Joelle remembers a faith healer who supposedly brought Joelle back to life at birth, and approaches her with an idea of improving Mara's state of health. Liam looks on this skeptically but finally gives in to Joelle's request. The introduction of Cathryn unveils another story which is equally interesting!

Courtesy of Open Library this was a very heart warming book.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Lacey's House by Joanne Graham

This book was sent to me courtesy of Legend Press and Netgalley. Thank you.

This story is an unusual one. We have Lacey an old woman, living a very solitary life in this small village. She has lived there her entire life first as the doctor's daughter and now known as an eccentric old woman who dresses very colourfully and is considered by the local children as one whom they can ridicule especially at Halloween.

Rachel is a newcomer to the area. She has moved here to get on with her life after the desolation of a miscarriage which somehow left her feeling that she has to take a stand and do something new in her life. 

The unexpected friendship between the two women - two generations, two different walks of life and even temperament is the basis of the story. The warmth of Rachel who realizes very early on that Lacey is isolated and lonely and the way Lacey appreciates what Rachel can offer is very sensitively told. The history of Lacey is a very sad one. Dominated by a father who physically and mentally abused his only child and even gave her electric shock treatment and lobotomized her hoping that he could change her ways was brutal even for the reader.  That a parent could behave like this was so difficult to even read. The fact that Lacey remained good natured and kind throughout added to the contrasts between herself and her father.   I am only glad that mental illness now does not have the stigma that it carried for families in days gone by and we can look at it in a more humane manner.

The story of a friendship between two people and the building up of trust between someone whose trust has been abused and misused over the years and how with quiet support and love trust can be restored is Joanne Graham's debut novel. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

An Academic Question by Barbara Pym

An Academic Question

This book was a download from Open Library. 

Like my previous read which poked fun at the British police, this poked fun at the stiff slightly pompous academia. This was throughout the book and made this book a humourous one;

We have Caro and Alan a young couple. Caro is a stay at home Mum with an au pair to handle their little daughter. Alan is a Professor of African Studies whose main focus to have as many articles published as possible, preferably something more important and which will have more effect in the academic world than his senior. Caro is bored. She looks for something to occupy her time and chances upon a reading assignment at the elders home.  Here she comes across a very old retiree who is incidentally a former very prominent figure in the world of African Studies. Alan sees this as an advantage for himself and persuades Caro to steal a manuscript from the old man which he uses in his publications. This gives him an advantage over the others in his field and especially his senior Professor. 

Trying to return the document however becomes a problem for Caro as the old man dies and his effects are packed away. The story of the relationship between Alan and Caro after this incident is nicely handled and shows our author's skill with handling relationships of every kind.

Nicely written and quite soothing!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Murder on Thames by Matthew Costello & Neil Richards

This book was sent to me courtesy of JKS Communications (Bastel  Entertainment) via Netgalley.
Thanks Netgalley.

Cherringham is a quiet town where nothing very exciting happens. Sarah has moved back home with her two teenage children, trying to get her life together after her marriage has broken up. Jack is a retired NYPD detective who seeks solace in this quiet backwater, trying to come to terms with the death of his wife to cancer.

The discovery of a body in the weir of Sammi a former friend of Sarah sets Sarah reminiscing about their former close friendship and the sadness that life was so tragic for Sammi that she has taken her own life. Sammi has had a reputation for rough living so most people in the town are not surprised at the way Sami ended her days. Jack however has proof that Sammi was murdered and he and Sarah join hands to discover who was the murderer. Despite skepticism on the part of the local police, antagonism on the part of the rather insular village and annoyance on the part of Sarah's daughter who imagines romance in the air and is protective of her mother against the much older Jack, both Sarah and Jack are determined to get to the truth.

Painting the British police in a rather bad light as bumbling idiots who could not deduce simple detective methods used, Jack and Sarah engage in a methodical system of deduction and elimination, until they are left with a single suspect.

This was a straightforward murder mystery simply and matter of factly told.

Monday, May 26, 2014

A Cottage by the Sea by Ciji Ware courtesy of Open Library

A Cottage by the Sea

This was several genres nicely put together. We had the romance and heart break first. Blythe going through the trauma of a very messy divorce from her world famous Hollywood husband. He trying very hard to come across as the aggrieved party, despite being unfaithful with of all people Blythe's very own sister. She is also now incidentally pregnant and this has broken Blythe because the husband point blank refused to even consider having children as he considered them getting in the way! 

To escape the papparazzi Blythe goes away to a remote Cornish hideaway - a place which her Wyoming grandmother spoke of fondly as being beautiful and remote. It is the remote tag which attracts Blythe as she wants to hide away and lick her wounds in private and come to terms with the break up of her marriage.

Meeting Lucas Teague the Lord of this particular part of Cornwall was not part of her initial scheme but he is also the landowner of the cottage which she is renting. Becoming friends with him she begins to know the extent of Lucas's troubles. Not just being widowed and left with a young son, but also financial burdens which farming alone will not help to evade eventual bankruptcy.

At this point the next genre kicks in! Blythe is drawn to the genealogical map found in Lucas's study and she is very keen to see where her connection to the Teague family come in. Bearing the same name of her famous fore-bearer it is too much of a coincidence that the same fore-bearer also married someone of the same name as the present day Blythe's husband.  It seemed surreal.  Blythe accidentally goes back in time to the former Blythe's era and slowly over a number of going backs, unravels the mysteries and secrets of ancestors of days gone by.  

The mixture of genres was for me cleverly done, not one overly overlapping the other and one not completely hijacking the present day story of Lucas and Blythe.

My first read of this author. Liked this book, courtesy of Open Library.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Mailbox Monday/It's Monday What are you Reading?

I could not do my post last week because for some reason my Ipad would copy and paste the photos and in publication it would disappear!

I thought the post without the photos looked very dull so just deleted the whole post.   Back in Colombo to very sultry weather - though rain is imminent its not happening much to our frustration.

Netgalley publishers have been very kind to me! Despite several publishers not wanting to send books either due to geographical restrictions or the fact that my followers are a small number, some publishers are very encouraging for which I am appreciative.

The following are the books received from them.


Courtesy of Open Library where I just read the book online are

A Cottage by the Sea         An Academic Question      

Free downloads from Amazon

A Very Good Life (Dana McGarry, #1)         The Bone Church: A Novel        InYourEyes


Hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Reading the second in the trilogy of Noel Streatfeild's Vicarage series.

Interesting reading.

A Vicarage Family by Noel Streathfeild

Noel Streatfeild, A Vicarage Family

First because there is confusion Noel Streathfeild is a woman. It is a fictionalized autobiography and Noel identifies with Vicky in the story.

Now that we got that out of the way, the family story set a few years before the onset of the first World War and how life was going to change for everyone, particularly for women is an enlightening read. I am beginning to wonder did everyone just sit down and take all the orders, rules and regulations that were dished out by the menfolk of the day. In this very nice family, there was no question of children being consulted about any of their likes or dislikes - this went from the small things like clothes, colours and then went on to the big issues of what you wanted to do with your life.

Parents and elders pre-determined everything and to someone like Victoria who was just different - labelled as difficult and rebellious and needing guidance and spiritual help from above, she was just the average child with decided views on what she liked or disliked. She stood out because it was not the norm. Not in this family anyway and unfortunately her Mother did not understand her at all. Her father did but from a very Victorian viewpoint of being protector and guardian and the person who knew best what was good for his children.

The story takes you through a childhood where being the Vicar's children classified you as sort of gentry, but poor, always mindful of what everyone else is saying or doing and that your life is really not your own. This went for Mother more than anyone else. How she had to be diplomatic, careful not to hurt anyone's feelings and at the same time support and provide largesse from meagre means was very good to read about.

Transferred to a new vicarage and thus to a new school Vicky comes under a more enlightened head mistress who recognizes in Vicky a girl with a mind of her own and someone who has to be more gently handled. The school is anyway not a run of the mill school and all the girls are lucky to be enrolled here.  We then move on to Britain entering the First World War and then the casualties of the war and its effect for the first time felt very strongly by the Strangeway family.

This is the first book of a trilogy and I must now check all the resources available to see whether I can lay my hands on the second and third book. 

Though restrictive on women in general, it is only girls like Vicky who felt that life was unfair. The majority of the girls seem to take what was the norm in their stride. Growing up meant marriage and motherhood and nothing else. Things obviously will change with the second book which I am looking forward to. No one is going to have debuts and then have a fancy marriage and then be a closed chapter anymore! 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Scotch Rising by S J Garland

Scotch Rising (Markinch Series, Volume 1)

The year 1707 where an Act of Union has been signed bringing Scotland and England into one body. The feelings are very strong on either side with detractors and opposition quite vociferous despite the law.

Esmond come back from a brutal war in America wants to resign his commission from the Army and find a place of quiet and solace where he can lick his wounds in private. Devastated by the un-necessary death of his native Indian wife whom he adored, he cannot bear the wars that surround him and the knowledge that if he continues in the army he will have to face.  The Army however has other plans for him. Assigned by his commanding officer to take over an assignment in Scotland - overseeing the revenues due to the government on the distilling of Scotch and the rake offs and illegal stills that still seem to exist and which deprive the Crown of their legitimate dues, Esmond takes off reluctantly to the remote village to see what he has to do.

Immediately embroiled in discovering two murders, and himself under attack twice, Esmond knows he is onto something big as someone wants him out of the way. Trying to figure out who is the mastermind behind the scheme is the difficulty and this forms the major part of the story.  The fact that there is a Scottish lass who is also rather intrigued with Esmond and vice versa adds a piquancy and a touch of romance to the tale.

Interesting reading.  The book was courtesy of Netgalley via the publishers Smith Publicity - Maple Kakapo Limited.  Since few publishers are willing to send even e-books overseas, I am very appreciative that they did so as I otherwise have no access to this kind of read. Thank you.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Gondola Maker by Laura Morelli (courtesy of I Read Book Tours)

This is just my second time around doing a review for a book tour and I was quite pleased when I made the request and was accepted. There seem to be so many restrictions for publishers on the geographical side that getting this book was good for me.

You couldn't ask for a better setting - Renaissance Venice and what was really unusual was that it was a working class background and setting. We read so much about the aristocracy in Italy that it was a real change for me to read about a more down to earth background. 

Set in 16th century Venice the story deals with the eldest son of a boat yard. A famous boatyard with the emphasis on good workmanship, loyalty to its customers and a history going back generations. Luca's life is already decided - he will take over the boat yard, he will marry whoever has been chosen for him (this has already been decided), and will continue like his father and father before him. 

At this point you know you are going to some interesting place because if Luca was going on the straight and narrow it will not be an interesting story. Luca has personality and vision and that vision does not stop at building a gondola. A family tragedy is the catalyst for Luca's departure from home and he lands on his feet, finding a minor job for a famous artist and running errands for him. It is a far cry from his specialized job of building gondolas but Luca is strangely happy with an alternative lifestyle.  The fact that there is an ancient gondola lying in the artist's backyard perishing with neglect perks Luca's interest and he obtains permission from the owner to restore it to its former beauty. This satisfies Luca's artistic yearnings as he finds it intolerable that such a fine craft is so neglected.

Full of minute details of working class Venice and of the craft of the gondoliers themselves the coming of age of Luca who also finds love in the most unlikely place is so fine, that you are crossing your fingers and hoping that everything is going to turn up roses for him. 

For fans of historical fiction, Renaissance Italy and also for those who would like a coming of age story this is it. It combines the best of all three together. 

Where to buy the book:


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Last Great Dance on Earth by Sandra Gulland (Josephine & Napoleon)

The Last Great Dance on Earth (Josephine Bonaparte, #3)

Am back in Colombo and hopefully able to post the pictures! I felt something was missing from my previous two posts when the covers did not turn up!

The story of Josephine told intimately from her angle though Napoleon is hovering over it all is this book. For Josephine despite Napoleon being a serial adulterer he was the love of her life, and however bitter it was to have to see so many women parade in front of her she was willing to overlook it all, as long as he came back to her. Her tragedy was that because of her inability to bear Napoleon a child, his entire family took this as their trump card using it against Josephine repeatedly to score by trying to get him to divorce her (which he eventually did). 

Josephine faced odds on several sides - the constant war with England took Napoleon away from her and though she did accompany him on the Continent several times there were long absences away from home. His Corsican family detested her, only because they saw her as their obstacle to getting all the plums of office which they felt were their due as siblings of Napoleon. A more greedy and grabbing bunch of sisters and brothers could not be found. Josephine tried to be diplomatic with them all but she was severely tested because Napoleon favoured her daughter and son from her first marriage and this was unacceptable to the Napoleon clan.

Through Josephine's eyes we see her betrayal by Napoleon leading to the final exile in Elba. Throughout Josephine loved him and in a strange way Napoleon also loved his wife. He was however always focussed on what was to come after him and this was his weakness which was exploited by all. 

This book is the final in a trilogy and it is the only one I read. Sad but true history.

Monday, May 19, 2014

In this House of Brede by Rumer Godden

In this House of Brede, Rumer Godden

I studied throughout in a Catholic convent. Though the influence of the nuns was tremendous I had very little personal contact with them and after reading this book I regret that.

Absolutely beautifully written, a tough subject sensitively handled. Phillips is an unusual addition to an enclosed order. She comes in her mid 30s, having held a high powered job, giving it up and all the power it embodied to enter the order where the order of humility was of paramount importance. The nuns she encounters are like normal human beings. Rough, brusque, jealous, envious of her calm facade, envious of her knowledge and education which places her miles above the rest. Never mind that she never ever flaunts this! At the same time there are nuns who are appreciative and kind who understand the mind numbing hardships that Phillipa is undergoing during her initial years.

The head of this House passes away and as the new Head is elected in a turbulent election, very reminiscent of a political appointment, the new Head is faced with a problem of embarrassing and difficult proportions. Monies which should have been there as deposits and on whose interest the monastery would have run most comfortably, are empty. The scandal cannot be hidden from higher authorities and scapegoats have to be found to account for the empty coffers. The former Head with the idea of grand edifices has ordered sculptures from a world renowned artiste to bring glory to the convent for generations to come, not caring for the day to day running of the Convent and her trusted deputy has been siphoning funds to a prolifigate brother hoping he would return the funds one day.

Apart from the workings of an enclosed order (which was an eye opener), the story of relationships amongst a group of women totally enclosed in their own little world with little or no contact with  the outside world, and how even in the more rarefied atmosphere of sanctity and holiness, human failings of the most ordinary kind can appear and there is amongst the highest or rather whom we think of as the best, those with feet of clay.

I read this book on Open Library through a recommendation from Cornflower Books. This is a book I will go back to maybe in another year or two.

Yesterday I tried three times to do my Monday post of Mailbox Monday and It's Monday! what are you reading? All attempts failed when I tried to put the images of book covers in the post. I got some really good books through Netgalley. Still out of Colombo and all posts from my IPad.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Difficult Daughters by Manju Kapur

Doing this review from my iPad and for some reason I am not able to get the image of the book onto this blog  post. It is a pity because the cover is eye catching. Did manage it but it is the kindle version

It is also my first download from Netgalley and I am so pleased it worked out so well.  The book was published by Open Road Media - thanks to them for allowing me access to the book. Lots of publishers have geographical restrictions and that seems to be the general rule around. So thank you.

Set in the cities of Lahore and Amritsar long before the dreaded Partition when both these two cities were serene, beautiful and free from the taint of war and suspicion, we have a story told by Virmati and her daughter Ida.   The story is complex and deals with a traditional extended family which Virmati belongs to. The eldest of eleven children, she has to deal with family responsibilities from the time she was a young girl while her mother just went on producing child after child. From her early years Virmati was attracted to education and a career, not seeking the traditional role of wife and mother which was the destiny for almost all Indian women of the time.

The family reluctantly allow her to study and graduate while at the same time making it clear that a marriage is fixed and it is. Fate however decries it and Virmati slowly falls in love with her married Professor which is almost doomed from the start. To be a second wife would be bad enough but would he have the courage to go against society in general and his mother in particular to take this bold step.

Following Virmati through her trials of a secret love affair, an abortion, losing her job due to the scandal of her affair, losing the love and support of the extended family which was so essential for her is the nitty gritty of this story.

Intricacies of relationships and how in a society such as this, the individual may not be thought of as important as the whole , family and the position of the family is of paramount importance and the sheer bewilderment of her mother who could not understand her daughter at all and thought of it as willfulness on her part and nothing to do with emotions or circumstances.

On the part of Ida the divorced daughter who is trying to understand her mother after her death and put together pieces of her mother's life, the story is almost too much to handle. Even after so many, many years the scandal of Virmati's life is something that no one wants to discuss. I do not know whether Ida gets the closure she seeks.

To modern people the story may not be that earth shattering. A young woman falling in love with a married man is not so uncommon but in the context of the times and society they came from it was a very radical thing to happen.  That it did and the story thereafter is very well told.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Undertow by Susanna Kearsley


I was expecting Romans, Hadrians Wall, at least a Scotsman with kirk and kilt and I was a tad disappointed to get a thoroughly modern mystery. I did not even know this author wrote this genre!

Laura is a writer and has taken over her sister's isolated beach front property whilst they are away to get to grips with her writing. She has to finish her novel and her publisher is to put it mildly pressurizing her to do her best to finish it. Her neighbours are people whom she has known for years and the isolation of the property and being alone does not daunt her a little bit.

Looking through her friend Ben's library she discovers the history of the area and his house and also that built in the 1790s the property and the environs was the hub of a huge smuggling operation which ran very successfully (complete with hidden tunnels and all). She feels a new story coming on based on this novel but when she stumbles into a modern day smuggling operation with a death of one and a near death of another she realizes she in it much more than she can handle.

This was a book which was easy to read, quick to finish and I later learnt her first effort. Certainly nothing like what has come after - those keep you on the edge of your seat, biting your nails and wanting to finish and not wanting it to finish. 

Tomorrow out of Colombo again for three days. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Cinderella Debutante by Elizabeth Hanbury

The Cinderella Debutante

I wanted something light and romantic and this fitted the bill. I've read all of Georgette Heyer and this comes close, not GH but close.

Frivolous, extremely pretty Belinda with the scheming mother come to London to ensnare a husband for the pretty Belinda. The elder sister Lucy (who is a step sister) is almost on the shelf at 23, her earlier debut cut short by the death of her father and return to the country. Mother and younger daughter have forgotton about Lucy and cannot even imagine her attracting the attention of any eligible bachelor around.

Lucy's godmother and grandmother have not forgotton about her and are determined that during this short stay they do something and introduce her to someone who may be the correct partner for Lucy. On her own, Lucy does quite well without any help from anyone but unfortunately the person whom she is attracted to is also the man whom Lucy's step ma is marking out for her pretty Belinda. There is also a villain in the form of a dissolute penniless Lord in the background also vying for Belinda's favours.

As in all Regency romances there are skirmishes (no duels), almost elopements and rescues and everything ends very happily.

Just what I needed on a tiring afternoon!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Familiar Passions by Nina Bawden

book cover of 

Familiar Passions

I seem to be going off track and reading books not on a scheduled list but when I get to something really good, I just cannot resist.

At the start you wonder what is wrong with our Bridie. A 37 year old married to a 50 odd man (his second marriage after a tragic death of his wife) she has been the submissive, never interfering wife, always giving in to James always thinking that he knows best. Underneath it all Bridie is slightly offended by all this but she never even dreams of never mind breaking free, of even speaking her mind. 

On their 13th wedding anniversary after a very nice celebratory dinner including champagne, James drops the bombshell that he wants them to live separately. Not "exactly" divorce but he is moving to Paris ( an office move), Bridie can live in the family home and he should be able to come and go as before (even with marital rights if possible!) but he wants to live alone.. James brings the proposals forward with all the finesse of an office project and presumes Bridie will fall in line with all he suggests.

Too taken aback Bridie is flummoxed but she thinks it over with no overt animosity to James and then walks out of the house. Taking nothing with her, she returns to her parents who welcome her back very warmly. They have never liked James who along with his Mother decided to even change her name to suit their own strange needs. 

The story of Bridie trying to make some sort of life for herself, coming to terms with her two step children who are also very supportive of her and her own daughter who is less so and how she takes it all in her stride, coming to terms with all that is happening around her is very matter of factly told! A coming of age story more or less of a situation which may be common but which in the protected circumstances of Bridie's life was a bombshell. 

The fact that Bridie is an adopted child who never thought of her adoption upto now is also part of her seeking out the truth about herself and coming to accept herself. Finding her birth mother very easily and the surprising news of who her father is, does not upset her even keel and she takes it in her stride as just part of all the changes in her life. 

The story is full of varied and interesting characters even the spineless James and his mother. Simple story nicely told.

Photograph courtesy of a friend. This is Wesak lanterns decorating a building in Colombo.

The Kitchen Madonna by Rumer Godden

The Kitchen Madonna

Although this is a brother sister story - a story of two young siblings and would be a very good read for a youngster, at the same time it was a book which was a nostalgic, simple read for an adult as well.

Gregory and Janet want to do something for their maid Marta who is very sad despite being quite happy as part of their household. She is a refugee from Ukraine and misses the warmth and closeness and religious upbringing of her native country.  She is close to the children and entrances them with stories from her homeland - stories for the two urban children seem like fairy tales - but she also makes them realize that something is missing from their home, especially from the kitchen and this is the catalyst for the Madonna.

For two children with not much knowledge or imagery of the Madonna and the baby Jesus, the imagination of Gregory specially is tremendous. How he succeeds in creating an "icon" of the Madonna in his own inimitable style is the story of this book. The imagination plus the creativity of both children in creating this icon from nothing, not even knowing what an icon was or what it represented was magnificient.  More than anything else it showed the humane character of both children who wanted to replicate for Marta something of her own home, so that she would be happier with them.

A very heartwarming story. What I am most excited about is that I got the book In this house of Brede also by the same author. Got the book after a seven day wait list so really looking forward to this read.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Private Enterprise by Angela Thirkell

Set in fictional Barsetshire Angela Thirkell brings out a set of characters and a way of life which seems idyllic. Whether it was actually so I wouldn't know but I'd certainly like to believe that it was so.

We have a young widow Peggy - pretty but not wanting to cling to anyone. She attracts all the young and not so young men of the neighbourhood with no effort at all. There is also a sister in law who lives with her the Miss. Arbuthnot - strong, slightly masculine and independent. The two get on well together. 

How the two women settle down in this small village and the workings and machinations of a small village  brought very much to life in this book. The facts of how hard life was for a class of people used to umpteen number of servants, the food rationing which was a major topic of conversation, how did one make do with what one had, again the change in social norms for women particularly in this period all highlighted in this book.

If one has read about this subject (like what happened to me) as I have been reading pre and post WW1 and WW11 era books, you can see the somewhat sameness of the subjects but if you are coming to it for the first time, Thirkell is a good author to go ramble about!

I still enjoyed the quiet pace of the book and also enjoyed the happy ending!

Tomorrow we go into a two day holiday celebrating Vesak - the birth, death and enlightenment of Lord Buddha. All Buddhist homes are decorated with lights, flags and lanterns. A very pretty sight even in the suburbs.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mailbox Monday/It's Monday! What are you reading?

Lots of very nice books coming in to my Mailbox via Open Library and Amazon Kindle.

The Last Great Dance on Earth (Josephine Bonaparte, #3)

The story of Josephine. Another character like Elizabeth whom I do not get tired of.

Another fascinating family (like the Mitfords!). this recommendation picked up from Fleur Fisher 
Go to this blog for some excellent reading recommendations.

The Kitchen Madonna

Like this author very much. This is going to be an unusual one. The Kitchen Madonna.
by Rumer Godden

The Widow's Club (Ellie Haskell Mystery, #2)

I thought this was a murder/mystery (unfaithful husbands) being got rid of conveniently but a club and a bunch of women. Turning out to be humorous as well!  Another blogger recommendation.


Spoilt for choice and reading bits of everything!

The week has turned out to be quite tough so reading may take a back seat. Lets see how it goes.

Friday, May 9, 2014

The War Workers by E M Delafield

Set in the Hostel for Voluntary Workers we have the boss lady Vivian - hard working, tireless, dogmatic and by the end of this story you want to wring her neck. You also wonder at the effect that class had on society in Britain which hopefully does not exist today that allowed a woman of this kind to ride rough shod over everyone and anything in her path. It was her way or the highway sort of business and God help anyone who got in her way.

The bunch of workers were a very nice lot of girls - hard worked and overworked. That anyone would have not had the gumption to tell Miss. Vivian where to get off got me mad. After putting in an eight hour day of hard work, she roped them into canteen duty (for a good cause it is true) but the girls were exhausted, cold and ripe for falling ill (which they often did) because they were so weak.

We have Miss. Jones who arrives a little later in the story - a secretary that cannot be faulted but because she is not an adoring sycophant our Miss. Vivian just does not "take" to her. Miss. Jones not only does everything that is assigned to her but she does not fall over Vivian and this is something that Vivian finds hard to swallow.   Surprisingly Vivian is the daughter of the local Lord and Lady and though he is a bit out of touch (senility perhaps) she is a very nice character and one who is so in touch with current happenings and the changes that are taking place in society that it is actually her daughter who is the snob here!

The story of the lives of these girls and of the intertwined world of both Miss. Vivian and the Lord and Lady of the area is descriptively told. The war is always the focus of the story and there is plenty of that around in history, background and society. The entire story is driven by the War. How it effected young women in Britain is fascinating and how it changed them forever is a feature of this story.

Romance in good measure but delicately told, history in abundance and a personal saga of a family in times of change as well as the huge change in British society are some of the best features of this book. 

Returned to Colombo before schedule as the dog is sick and had to be taken to the Vet. No Vet in Rozella so a quick run back to Colombo.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Just Jane by Nancy Moser

I am trying (hard!) to do a proper blog post on the IPad so please excuse any errors as this is the first time.

I am at Rozella which is in beautiful tea country in Sri Lanka. It is very serene  acres of hills and totally green. Very quiet. Today not even the sound of a bus in the distance. The only sound is continuous temple music from a Hindu temple in the far distance heralding a festival of some sort. Sri Lanka has an abundance of festivals anyway. All celebrated with much gusto!

The book Just Jane was for me continuously touched with a feeling of both nostalgia as well as sadness.  The story of Jane Austen herself was not an easy one. Jane was different from her siblings and a strong contrast to her only sister Cassandra. Fortunately Cassandra loved Jane understanding that her temperament was so different to other young women of her time and loving her for it. Unfortunately Jane did not get that understanding or acceptance from anyone else though her father certainly tried.

The idea that for a young woman marriage and family was the sole purpose of her existence was paramount at the time and no where more prominent other than in Jane's circles. Jane felt herself in love but that was not to be. A more advantageous match was made for him and Jane felt it very sadly. For the future, Jane looked at any future partner more judiciously - looking at the social norms of society other than her personal feelings. However here too her natural sensitivity took precedence and she released her future husband from his proposal feeling that it was "not right" to marry him under a false prevention of love. This letting go of an advantageous match was met with exclamations of horror on the part of the small community which surrounded Jane. Apart from the advantages of a rich husband, Jane was accused of being wicked, selfish and nonsensical. This more than brought out how much importance was put on marriage as the very purpose of a woman's existence.

That Jane eventually was successful with her trade and gained some recognition during her lifetime was for me some consolation. I disliked the overwhelming feeling of frustration and anger I had just reading how Jane had to face family and friends with a pleasant face and attitude, despite in my case seething inside with the unfairness of it all.

That a book got me so riled, so thinking of what could have, should have makes me think this was a very good book. Not just for lovers of Jane Austen but for anyone.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


An Amazon free download. Glad I found another author whom I like for mystery/murder genre. The style of writing is for me a bit abrupt but I guess I have to get used to that. It maybe another style of writing!

A reporter finds out that his professor has committed suicide. He is not assigned to report on the case but he is distressed as he felt that this man would be the last person to commit suicide. Talking to the daughter it affirms his belief because she feels that her father was murdered.  Trying to get some information on the case, Hyder finds that he is very firmly told to lay off the case and go investigate and report on something else or else!  When obstacles are thrown in his way as well as getting dismissed for no real reason, Hyder knows that he is onto something.

That it involves a bigger scenario than what he can handle and knowing that his adversaries are using the fact that he is a Muslim American to their advantage by bringing in a terrorist angle is frustrating and difficult. Add to the story a drunk detective  who is trying to come back to the land of the living after being drunk for months and another detective boss who knows his worth and is trying to keep his job open for him despite orders from everywhere to get rid of him.

An easy read with a well developed story and nice characters.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Mailbox Monday/It's Monday! What are you reading?

My mailbox is now limitless - with access to Open Library  my selection is now wide open!!!

The books I have downloaded for this week are :

After Diary of a Provincial Lady looking forward to this one.

A bit rambling but I like the tone.

A novel on Jane Austen herself. 


Hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

I am reading a Susanna Kearsley  - Undertow which is totally different to her other books. I expected romance and time travel and a good dose of history. Nothing like that. Very contemporary but a nice change.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Sarah Morris Remembers by D E Stevenson

This though set in turbulent times - the 1920s and 1930s - is a gentle read. With uncertainty all around, sudden death quite possible, the restrictions of wartime Britain, still this was a very relaxing, soothing book.

The character of Sarah herself lends to this feeling. It is like a port in a storm how one person could imbue a sense of calm to all. The Morris family is a happy one. With the sudden death of Mrs. Morris things take an uncertain turn. Sarah takes on the role of Mother with no questions asked from anyone including Mr. Morris who takes it for granted. He is certainly a very good man but he is rather insular and thinks that this is the ideal life for Sarah. Lottie the only other girl strikes out on her own from the beginning and the boys with the onset of war are all absorbed into the war.

Life in the little village prior to the war was a peaceful one and during Sarah's school days it was a happy one. Sarah was able to leave school as was her wish and study languages both French and German which was so very useful for her later on. She was also introduced to Charles, one of her brother's friends who also turned out to be the love of her life. With the onset of war and Mr. Morris taking over a parish in London, Sarah moves to London to keep house for him. Charles being an Austrian citizen also has to go back, despite the danger from Hitler to look after some urgent family matters. With his departure Sarah feels bereft but struggles on.  Taking on a job as interpreter for a very large departmental store is the saving of Sarah who enjoys the interaction with people and knowing she is doing something more useful than just cooking and cleaning. 

The story goes on detailing how the life and future of the entire Morris family unfolds with a special emphasis on Sarah. You are throughout the book hoping that things are going to end well for her particularly. Sarah has sacrificed much for her family especially after her mother's death but with no recriminations and you feel that justice will not be done unless there is a happy ending for her. Thankfully this was so.

I enjoyed this book from Open Library. Stevenson, Delafield, Thirkell are not authors I will ever get a chance of reading otherwise!

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Blue Ribbon Jalapeno Society Jubilee by Carolyn Brown

The Blue-Ribbon Jalapeno Society Jubilee

Set in Cadillac Texas this was the perfect antidote to the genteel, slightly formal reads I have been indulging in of late!

Four women, two of them related all of them good friends and looking out for each other. All slightly quirky but wonderful people.  Aunt Agnes old, eccentric and dangerous declares war on Violet Prescott. The war has been declared forty years ago and neither time nor age has diminished or mellowed either of them. The younger four just want to keep the peace!

Covering the jubilee celebrations of this small town is the climax of the story. How small town relationships evolve, how everyone knows everyone else's business almost before it happens (I can't believe this happening in America but I think I now have to!), the warm heartedness of people and that friendship amongst women is one of the nicest things there is around is the story of the book.

Covering a cheating cop married to one of our women and now playing around with her and another, the mild Cathy being over ridden by the politically ambitious Violet and her ineffective son and his agent, the club which seeks to keep Agnes out at any cost for reasons going back decades, the how and why of an underground railroad for abused women and how a former brothel owner has turned preacher with her own church and planning of weddings which go really over the top are part of the fun of this book.

The book was hilarious and funny. It was seriously chick lit for me when I needed it most!