Time Travel

I’ve been doing some time travel lately with my reading choices. Have you got a favourite era? A time period that really appeals to you, makes you think you were born at the wrong time? I’ve always loved everything about the 1930s, the clothes, the music, the movies, the books. The vast majority of my book collection dates from, or is set in, the 1930s.

But lately, I’ve been obsessed with the Edwardian era. There’s something magical about the golden years of the early 20th century, the years before WW1. Life seemed so elegant back then; there was just enough technology to make life easier, but still a slow pace of life and a gentleness that is in sharp contrast to today’s brittle fast-forward world. I enjoyed the glimpses into that world that Downton Abbey gave, although I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the direction of the storylines as the series went on. It all seemed a little forced by the last episode. However.

I’ve been reading the completed works of Saki, some of E.F.Benson’s less well known books (Dodo, Mrs Ames, Paying Guests), and Dornford Yates. Now I’m in search of more authors from that time period.

Another favourite era is the Regency. Unfortunately, this has been done to death by third rate writers, wanting to cash in on the success of Georgette Heyer, and failing miserably. I’m not a huge fan of the many Jane Austen spin offs that have been written in recent years either. So I always approach fiction set in that time period with my heart in my mouth. So I was pleasantly surprised by A Little Folly, by Jude Morgan. It’s not derivative, nor plastered with period slang, and the story is well devised, with believable characters. It leans more towards the writings of Jane Austen than Georgette Heyer, and despite the glitzy covers of the author’s other novels, it’s not a historical bodice ripper, but is true to the period, gentle, and enjoyable.

I’ve also received some other historical novel recommendations, via the Posh Knitters Ravelry group, which I’m looking forward to trying out. I’ve never read any fiction set earlier than the mid 1700’s – for one thing, the language of earlier periods is harder to read, and I’m a bit lazy in my reading requirements. But so many people seem to enjoy the works of writers such as Jean Plaidy and Anya Seton, that I’m going to give them a try. I’ll let you know how I get on!

Reading Matters

I know that I’ve told you before that I prefer older fiction to modern. I suppose it’s all a matter of preference, but I just don’t find modern fiction as well written, as believable, as older works. Even books that most people rave over – The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society, for example, which gave me the distinct impression that the author’s inspiration had ended with the title – leave me underwhelmed. I’d rather read a good book that I’ve read twenty times before, than a new book that bores me.

But lately there have been some gleams of hope. Good fiction may not be dead.

The Attenbury Emeralds, a Lord Peter Wimsy novel by Jill Paton Walsh, is absolutely wonderful. Almost better than the original Lord Peter series, if you ask me. The characterisation is spot on, there are no jarring modern notes, and the approach to the setting of the novel is both clever and well crafted. I’m listening to this on audio book, and the narration is adding to my pleasure. 

A Woman Of Consequence, by Anna Dean, is the third Miss Dido Kent mystery, set in Regency Britain. Goodness knows, that period has bee thrashed to death by second rate novelists hoping to cash in on Georgette Heyer’s success, and failing spectacularly. So I always approach novels set in that period with extreme wariness. These books, however, don’t try to emulate anyone, and are quite delightful. There is a good balance between mystery, romance, and wit, and again, no unhistorical anachronisms to grate on one’s nerves. I hope there will be more to come in this series.

Finally, another Regency series, which has surprised and entranced me. I have tried reading many of the Jane Austen spinoffs, and have hated pretty much all of them. But the Jane Austen mystery series by Stephanie Barron is good. I’m on the sixth at the moment, Jane & The Ghosts Of Netley, and enjoying it immensely. Not as good as the other books I’ve mentioned, but still very readable. I could wish for fewer editorial footnotes, but I’m picky like that.

Aside from those, I recently bought myself the complete works of Saki in one volume, but I’m saving that for my trip. I rather wish I’d saved The Attenbury Emeralds for the trip too, but it’s too late now, I’ve greedily gobbled most of it up over the last two days.

Reading…..

…… The Kind Diet. This is the best book on vegan living that I’ve read. It’s balanced, written in a friendly way that manages to be forceful without being brash (unlike the Skinny Bitch books), and is chockful of fantastic recipes. Its made me determined to kick my sugar habit too.

…… The Little Otleys. This trilogy was published in the first decade of the 20th century, by a writer who was close friends with Oscar Wilde. I really enjoyed the first book, Love’s Shadow, but the following books were a bit too depressing for me.

…… Women’s Running magazine. Just awesome. I’ve learned so much already.

…… Notes To My Mother-in-law. Perfect to dip into at bedtime. Sweet and hilarious.

…… murder mysteries by Catherine Aird. Henrietta Who is my favourite so far.

…… Exotic Planting for Adventurous Gardeners. Because a girl can dream.

…… A Garden For Allegra. Very sweet and gentle, a bit reminiscent of L M Montgomery’s books.

…… Something Under The Bed Is Drooling. Just because.

Snippets

My trust sidekick Emma is off work sick this week, so I’m playing first base, second base, third base…… so, this is just a quickie blog post.

Visiting: Ute Von Cappeln, one of our customers who makes delightful soaps.

Reading: The Blackstone Key. If you like stories like Jamaica Inn you will love this.

Watching: The Big Bang Theory, season 3. Love, love, love Sheldon.

Listening: Jubilee, by Grant Lee Buffalo. And especially to Truly, Truly and Everybody Needs A Little Sanctuary.

And also The House At Pooh Corner, which I listen to nearly every week while doing the yarn photos, because no matter how many times I listen to it, it never fails to make me laugh.

Wanting: a reindeer rug. But I’m not sure how the cats would take to it……

Thinking: about running. I’ve clawed my way back to my pre-xmas fitness, and am up to 2 mile runs now. My aim is to get to 5 miles by spring. Eeeeeek.

Eating: Jamaican Rice & Peas. Made with coconut milk and kidney beans, but without the bacon. Mmmmmmmmm.

Drinking: Lady Grey tea with a dash of milk (soy). The idea of milk in Lady Grey was yuck until I tried it, and now I’m a convert.

Knitting: Cat Socks. Because I need some crazy socks in my life.

Greyladies

Like many of you, I love old books. My house is bursting at the seams with ’em. (Although while I was ill, I did amuse myself by reaaranging the bookshelves according to genre, and in the process, weeded out about 60 books. Worryingly, you can’t see the gaps that this created. Possibly this has something to do with the Amazon order I placed round about the same time. Ahem.)

I’m always on the lookout for books from the 1930s-50s, light fiction, preferably with a touch of wit and charm. I have an especial fondness for classic whodunnits, but its not easy to find ones that I haven’t already got. So I was very happy to stumble upon Greyladies, a publisher who is reprinting books from the period, specialising in children’s books, adult novels written by childrens authors, and vintage crime. So far, I’ve read Death On Tiptoe, and Murder At The Flood, both of which were excellent (although the cover graphics of Murder At The Flood was a bit lurid and OTT, in my opinion). Next on the list is Murder While You Work, which is described as a creepy thriller from Noel Streatfeild.

You can read more about Greyladies here. I must say, so far, I do like the cut of their jib.