If you’re in the UK, or probably other countries too, I hope you’re enjoying the Bank Holiday weekend. For me, it means that my book-buying ban is over – I’ve been pretty restrained so far. I’ve bought a 1930s collection of essays about novels, Titles to Fame, that I’ve had my eye on for a while, and a Mary Hocking novel. I’m hoping to venture out to bookshops later…
But, in the spirit of clearing the decks a little before I start the next purchases, here are some books I’ve finished over the past few months…
The Egg and I by Betty Macdonald (audio)
I read and reviewed The Egg and I about three years ago, but was recently given the opportunity to experience it again as an audiobook. Post Hypnotic Press got in touch to ask if I’d like to give it a listen, and I leapt at the chance. I tend only to listen to audiobooks when driving, and I avoid driving where possible, so it took a while – but it’s a great version. The narrator, Heather Henderson, brings across Macdonald’s humour beautifully. She was so in character that I could almost fool myself that Macdonald was the narrator herself.
Chelbury Abbey by Denis Mackail (audio)
And this one I bought, on audible, after enjoying the same narrator (Steven Crossley) reading Mackail’s The Majestic Mystery. This novel is long and winding – longer and more winding because it was audio, of course – about the fate of a family who own a crumbling abbey. The history of the family and the abbey takes quite a long time, then we get to the crux of the matter: the appearance of an American visitor who falls in love with the daughter of the family and wants to turn the abbey into a hotel. It’s very amusing, Crossley is an excellent narrator, and the plot ends up being quite surprising. If you can spare all the hours it takes to listen, then this is highly recommended.
Elizabeth and Her German Garden by Elizabeth von Arnim
I never got around to reviewing this one properly – but covered my thoughts about it in episode 12 of ‘Tea or Books?’. For those who don’t podcast – I enjoyed this, but had built it up so highly in my mind, after hearing about it for so many years, and loving all those books published as being ‘by the author of Elizabeth and Her German Garden‘, that I was a bit disappointed. I thought it would be a lifelong favourite, whereas it’s actually towards the bottom of the E von As I’ve read so far.
My School Days by E. Nesbit
After encouraging everybody to download the Complete E. Nesbit, to enjoy the wonder that is The Lark, Sarah W said how much she’d enjoyed My School Days. I decided to give it a go on my Kindle app (what is happening to me?) and also liked it a lot. It’s very brief, about a few highlights (and lowlights) from her childhood, told quite seriously.
Browsings by Michael Dirda
This is one of those books-about-reading that I love so much, and which was great fun, but which covered so many topics that I couldn’t begin to summarise the book. Dirda returned to sci-fi more often than I would choose in my ideal collection, but this is chiefly a lovely wandering through books, reading, writing, authors, and bibliophilia.