Thursday, February 26, 2015

Long Summer Day by R. F. Delderfield

Long Summer Day by R.F. DelderfieldOooh I really loved this. *hugs book close* It's going on my favorites shelf for sure. 

Simply put, a young man, Paul Craddock, is invalided out of the Boer war, inherits some money and purchases a large estate in Devonshire, 'playing squire' to the laboring families in the valley.

If you think that sounds dry, it's not. Once the characters are all introduced (which takes some time so consider yourself forewarned) the story gallops along without a lull. Aside from very absorbing family melodrama, there is madness, a grisly murder with a hay knife, a shipwreck, poaching gone wrong, suffragist action and romances aplenty. 

Time covered is roughly twenty years and the characters are varied and three dimentional. I feel like I know them so personally that if I was to travel to Shallowford now, a hundred years later, there would be no "empty chairs at empty tables" but the fields would be alive, ringing with scythes and familiar laughter, the villagers I know putting down their burdens to wave or lend a hand.

Yes, I would be very sad to leave these folks but there's no need for tears yet as I've got two more books in the series to read :)


SEX: A number of non-explicit, but frank encounters, mostly behind closed doors.
VIOLENCE: One murder, a few knock outs, suffragest violence.
PROFANITY: Mild, mostly Ds
PARANORMAL ELEMENTS: One character of gypsy background reads cards to herself


The Morals Of Marcus Ordeyne by William J Locke

The Morals of Marcus Ordeyne, a Novel by William J. LockeWilliam J Locke is one of my "comfort- read" authors. Even books that are not his best are never complete duds, and his plots, while improbable and verbose with the vibrant verbiage of a true verbarian, hit the spot for me. There's no explaining it.

In this story, we have a 40 year old, staid philosopher searching for the Great Meaning. He's a little awkward, very "proper" and not particularly attractive, being described as tall, thin, and hatchet faced.

One day, while walking the Enbankment, he comes upon a girl crying on a bench. She has escaped from an arranged marriage and harem life in Syria and come to London where her male rescuer has henceforth disappeared. 

What's a man to do? If he leaves her there on the bench, some blackguard may take advantage. It seems the only 'moral' thing to do is take her home under the protection of his guardianship. Where she settles in, stretching and purring like a satisfied cat under the scandolous scrutiny of society.

Well I don't want to say too much more but there are twists and turns which none can forsee (ok, I forsaw it but I read Pride and Prejudice and Tess of the D'Urbervilles, but don't think you know what happens cos its not quite like that). 

Anyway, while I was reading I was thinking it was a 3- 3.5 star read but the ending totally kicked it up to 4 stars for me. It is perfect. Like, I-almost-cried-perfect. Its worth reading for the ending alone. But the rest is good too.

SEX: None shown
VIOLENCE: One blow of a fire iron
PROFANITY: Very Mild. A few Ds


Laughing House by Warwick Deeping

Laughing House by Warwick Deeping

This is a story of a house.

We meet John Mortimer as an ageing man. His two sons had been killed in WW1 and his wife followed shortly after. He alone is living in the large ancestral home his great- grandfather built in times past. Its a house with twenty bedrooms, memories and a heartbeat of its own. 

When WW2 gets under way, the home is requisitioned by the army, where it is badly abused and neglected. I wanted to cry seeing this. When the first battalion leaves, the house is in tatters. Bannisters and doors have been pulled down and used for firewood, windows broken, obscene graffiti painted on the walls, fruit trees destroyed etc.

Subsequently, two other billeting units settle there, with less disasterous results. [Armies were, and are, largely a product of their commanding officers.] Nevertheless, by the time the war is over, the great house is but a shadow of its former glory and John Mortimer hasn't the funds, the energy, or the heart to repair it alone.

But it will take more than a war to thwart the "Laughing House". Enter Peter, a one legged ex soldier and his wife to be. With three heads plotting together and a spirit of adventure, there may be a way yet to save the house and bring joy to countless weary survivors.

This is a feel good, gentle story. Well recommended.

SEX: None
PROFANITY: Mild, mostly Ds


Portrait Of A Playboy by Warwick Deeping

Max Tryte was a playboy. A pompous, happy-go-lucky, loose living, crude critic of society and the art world. Everything came easy for him; money, women, and admiration. But as an individual he was immensely unlikable and difficult to root for.

When success is at its zenith, the house of cards falls. An unwise affair of the night lands Max with Cerebral Spinal Meningitis and he fights for his very life. It's when he reaches rock bottom and is but a shadow of himself that he eventually sees the light and has a chance for true happiness.

I enjoyed this but it wasn't my favorite Deeping. I didn't feel much affinity with the main protagonists but preferred a minor side character who was just that, a minor character. 

This is quite a moralistic tale, voicing a warning against the futility of modern, frivolous living. But for someone already "on board", it can be a bit snoozifying. I also really disliked the French housekeeper (but that was intended), I thought she was a little cliched and predictable.

But it's very readable and deserves 3 strong stars

SEX: Off screen


Anthony Ant Goes To Egypt by Julie Bettendorf

Anthony Ant Goes to Egypt by Julie BettendorfI think most kids will love the illustrations in this one. They're vibrant, bold, catchy, and tell the story well.

The story itself is written in poem form and I did have a bit of a problem with this. I love rhyming stories but this one doesn't flow very well. The rhythm is off and the wording sounds a tad clumsy. In my opinion, a simple non-rhyming story would have been more effective. 

But it's a cute story!

Many thanks to the author who provided me with a free book to review.

The Pearl Fishers by Henry De Vere Stacpoole

The Pearl Fishers by Henry de Vere StacpooleI can't think of anyone who paints a picture of remote island life quite like Stacpoole. This one really struck my fancy. Who wouldn't love to bask in the fangipani scented breeze and feel the sun toasting you a golden brown? (Ok the golden brown is a real dream here. Lobster red is more like it). Oh! And while you're exploring the clear azure and turquoise waters in the lagoons, schools of rainbow fish skate around the coral; even a bank of oysters is not without beauty, for where there are oysters, there are...PEARLS!

When Floyd is shipwrecked, he rows to a deserted island where two others (from another wreck) have settled before him; an intelligent, but power hungry German named Schumer and a "fetch it" Kanaka girl, Isbel. Floyd has a dingy and Schumer has a wrecked ship full of provisions, which, thanks to the dingy, they can now access. They settle down to quite the cozy island paradise. Before long, an oyster bank is discovered and they immediately begin diving for pearls.

One day, a ship arrives; native Kanakas without a crew or captain. It seems a godsend for a growing enterprise requiring labor and sails...

What follows is treachery, danger, mutiny and love.

Exciting story with beautiful descriptions; well worth reading and available on public domain.

SEX: None
VIOLENCE: There is a mutiny and people die but it is not gory
PROFANITY: Mild, mostly a few racial slurs

Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Undertaker's Wife by Dee Oliver

The Undertaker's Wife by Dee OliverI'm not quite sure what I was expecting when I chose this book, some funny macabre tales I guess, but the story wasn't quite what I expected and in the end it wasn't my style.

The book reads a bit like a diary that's trying to be funny but ends up being at best, a bit silly, and at worse, a boring account of daily life/ dating woes etc with some scriptures flung in higgeldy piggeldy. 

I really hate to only give this 2 stars but

It just didn't work. For me.

* Thanks to Netgalley for a free ebook given for review