What I read in October 2010 (part 2)

Photo: Richard Wilkinson

Grey, wet and windy weather is perfect for curling up with a book, without having to pretend that it would be a healthier and better use of leisure time to go out for a walk. So, here are the books I read to the accompaniment of branches lashing against the window panes and the sky turning from ink black to varying shades of grey:

Greenmantle by John Buchan. Having really enjoyed watching a film remake of The 39 steps recently, I was inspired to buy myself a copy of the book, and found out by browsing the Kindle store that there were actually four Richard Hannay stories. So having finished reading Greenmantle, I’m not throwing myself on the other two, too gung-ho and simplistic about fighting the good fight, and not much suspense in this one.

Peter and Paul by Susan Scarlett, which was the author’s second pen name, her first  being Noel Streatfeild, the name with which she wrote many well-known children’s books still popular today. Ballet Shoes, for example, was made into a really excellent film starring Victoria Wood, Emma Watson and Richard Griffiths a couple of years ago. Anyway, about Peter and Paul, the blurb on the back of the book mentions that it is “A charming love story, originally published as a magazine serial in 1939” and that just about says it all. A “light romance” would be another way of describing it and I’m ready to bet that the serial was published in Woman’s Weekly… The story is about twins, one plain and kind and one beautiful but without feelings, leaving their country home for a dress shop in London. The shop has a young, handsome and very eligible owner-designer and a wicked, older, manipulative woman. You guess the rest. The writing style is very flat compared to practically all Noel Streatfeild’s books. I suppose that you don’t expect the characterisation to be  particularly believable in a children’s book (although…), so maybe that’s part of the explanation. But if you  compare Peter and Paul, for example, to A Vicarage Family, Noel Streatfeild’s autobiography, which I’m assuming was intended for adults as well, you’ll find that the latter has real bite. The sharp descriptions of her family  members, school friends and scenes from her daily life in an Edwardian English vicarage are absolutely captivating. The same can not be said of the description of Peter and Paul‘s adventurettes.

Les paupières de Yoko Ogawa. C’est une autre collection de nouvelles de cet auteur que j’adore, dans une version plus macabre cette fois-ci. J’ai beaucoup aimé. Ce livre est le quatrième que je lis de Yoko Ogawa; je pense que La petite pièce hexagonale reste mon préféré pour l’instant. Je songe même à inclure ce dernier dans mon hit parade des livres
And just for the heck of it, in no particular order, here is a list of books that I’ve started and not finished over the past few months:
Hors de moi de Didier van Cauwelaert
Un aller simple de Didier van Cauwelaert
The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai 
Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
At Home by Bill Bryson
Infinite in All Dimensions by Freeman J. Dyson
La Consolante de Anna Gavalda
Coroner’s Pidgin by Margery Allingham
Passion Lippi de Sophie Chauvin
Cette histoire-là de Alessandro Barrico
J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye by Sarah Graham
Le plus grand des hasards – Surprises quantiques de Jean-François Dars et Anne Papillault
Les arpenteurs du monde de Daniel Kehlmann
When Heaven Invades Earth by Bill Johnson
At this point in time, I estimate that I’ll finish half of these…

One thought on “What I read in October 2010 (part 2)”

  1. Whew!A wee bit difficult to keep up with Hélène's reading boulimia!(better than the other sort admittedly!)Personally it gives me great curiosity to try them all, tho' there isn't much choice in our local “Galerie Marchande”-” rayon VO”.No matter, I have just picked up the latest Henning Mankel in French.”Den orolige mannen” for those hordes of us who speak Swedish…
    And in the schoolgirl nostalgia mode,ever heard of the magazine(called comics in those days) “Girls' Crystal”? Flimsy paper,riveting romance,middle-class 50's values & not all that far-removed from “romans photos” of more Italianate inspiration.Would love to read them again–from a strictly sociological point of view OF COURSE!!it's foggy here at the moment in Cauchois country,so am infra good read –or claustophobia!


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