What I read in June and July 2010

Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby. This has nearly knocked A Long Way Down off my fave Nick Hornby perch. How does he manage to create pathetic characters you still manage to empathise and engage with? As usual in his books, the woman character is rather less pathetic than the man and it’s a bit as if Nick Hornby were saying to us “Yes, I know we men are a bit useless, but bear with us, OK?”
Caught by Harlan Coben. I read this just a few weeks ago and I barely remember anything about it! I didn’t actively dislike it while I was reading it, it just didn’t make much of an impression. Usual kind of Coben stuff, but without the usual page-turning factor.
Mes amis mes anours de Marc Levy. Comme toujours, c’est agréable à lire, mais ça ne va pas chercher bien loin. En fait, je pense que Marc Levy est Anna Gavalda au masculin, en plus gnangnan; conclusion je pense que ce sera le dernier Marc Levy que je lirai, alors qu’Anna Gavalda me donne encore envie de lire son prochain bouquin.

L’échappée belle d’Anna Gavalda justement. J’ai bien aimé. Pas autant qu’ Ensemble, c’est tout, mais autant que Je l’aimais et que J’aimerais que quelqu’un m’attende quelque part. Par contre, déception avec La consolante (on m’avait prévenue). C’est comme si elle essayait de s’approprier un style qui ne lui appartient pas. J’ai abandonné ce livre rapidement.

Hand in Glove and Death at the Bar by Ngaio Marsh. I thought I’d read all the Ngaio Marsh novels but I was thrilled to discover I hadn’t, so that’s one up for Kindle, because that’s where I found them. Hand in Glove was a disappointment for me, one of the rare Marsh books I haven’t enjoyed, but I felt right back on familiar and well loved territory with Death at the Bar.

Armadale, Poor Miss Finch and No Name (a re-read) by Wilkie Collins. Take one headstrong but virtuous young woman, one virtuous but wimpy young woman, one evil scheming older woman, one virtuous young man, one evil young man, place all the afore-mentioned in Victorian England, add a moral problem with far-reaching consequences for the virtuous young people and hey presto, you have a Wilkie Collins. I think that the recipe works a lot better in The Moonstone and The Woman in White, which I have both read many times, but I still enjoyed reading these three in quick succession on a sunlounger in Aix.

The Secret Adversary and The Big Four  by Agatha Christie. The first is a Tommy & Tuppence mystery, but I much preferred N or M? also featuring the T&T couple. The second is Agatha Christie having a go at writing The 39 Steps with Hercule Poirot and Captain Hastings tracking the baddies. Not a classic body-in-the-library plot, but plenty of action and really good fun.

The joy of reading good books in a sunny garden

Having moved out to the burbs a couple of years ago, there is very little I miss about Paris a) because I go there quite often b) because there are so many things I enjoy here, like a garden. (By the way, for those of you who were anxious to hear the latest developments about the blue tits, they seem to have flown the nest – anyway, all is quiet, it’s been over a month since they hatched, and having checked their breeding habits on Wikipedia, they’ll have flown off by now.) So, the hammock and the loungers are out most days, and are extremely conducive to reading and/or a nap…
Of course, as I write, the weather has turned rainy and stormy (as forecast) but yesterday was glorious and so I disappeared in the hammock with my Kindle (which is perfect with its special whatever screen in strong light) and had a go at a review of Catcher in the Rye, which I bought by mistake instead of the novel itself.  It’s OK so I’ll probably finish it.
I also took with me La consolante by Anna Gavalda. I’m aware that it’s not meant to be her best effort, but I wanted to read it anyway and was just waiting for the smaller paperback to come out. (French bestsellers don’t tend to come out in big hardback format before the paperback version like in the UK. Instead, publishers bring out big paperbacks, before the small paperbacks which is perhaps marginally more environmentally friendly, but still annoying.) I haven’t started it yet. The sunshine filtering through the trees and the tweeting and chirping sent me to sleep before I picked it up…
I’m starting to get a little disappointed with the choice of ebooks availble on Kindle. After the initial euphoria, I am discovering that apart from the latest releases and past-the-copyright-date classics, there is really quite a limited choice. For instance, I’m listening to Daphne du Maurier’s Frenchman’s Creek on the radio at the moment, and thought I would get the book on Kindle, but no joy, even Rebecca isn’t available. Neither are any of the Salinger novels or the Harry Potter books. I wonder whether this is to do with rights issues or are down to publishers’ decisions or what. I still love the Kindle as object/concept but would love a little more choice of books, and of course, books in French too.
No hammock today, will  just have to read indoors.

What I read in May 2010

Time to be in earnest by PD James
An autobiography in the form of a diary over a period of one year (1997/1998). As always, I find it interesting to get insight into the life of authors I admire. But I wish she had just written an “ordinary” autobiography, because the diary-as-an-excuse-for -reminiscing ploy sometimes feels a little clunky. Still, I enjoyed this.


Notting Hell by Rachel Johnson
This was lent by a fellow book club member and was a fun read. “Witty, sharp, outrageous and cringingly real.  I was riveted” says Sophie Kinsella on the front cover and I more or less agree with her. It left me with the feeling that having the money to live in a place like Lonsdale Gardens would be a very mixed blessing.

Ce blog cause surtout de livres, en français parfois.