Flittering here, there and everywhere

lines-636981_1280Ever had one of those days where you can’t seem to settle on anything? After some enjoyable summery days its back to grey skies and rain here in Wales today so the garden is out of bounds. Maybe that’s affected my mood or it could be the signs I might have a cold coming on (I hate summer colds more than winter ones) but I can’t seem to settle to anything this morning.

It’s not like I don’t have plenty of things to do. I have a backlog of about eight reviews to write so I thought I’d give this some concentrated effort but after false starts on two of them I’ve abandoned that. I don’t know how you all approach writing your reviews/thoughts on books but I have to strike the right note from the first paragraph otherwise it becomes  a painful exercise. And today my muse has deserted me.

So then I thought I’d make some progress with one of the short story collections on my 20booksofsummer list but although I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read so far of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s The Thing Around My Neck, the next story in the sequence didn’t grab me as much. Another abandoned activity.

Right I thought, time for a change of tack. Crime fiction I find is wonderful escapist reading and I’ve been eying the British Library crime classics series ever since they started to be re-released in 2014.  The success of these releases has been astonishing when you think none of the authors are around to help promote the titles in the way we’ve become used to with contemporary novels – perhaps our appetite for nostalgia and the gloriously painterly covers tell us something about the mood of the country right now?  I’d had been hoping someone in the family would think to buy me a few to beautify my bookshelves but no such luck. A recent post over on HeavenAli about The Hog’s Back Mystery –  which sounded wonderful – reminded me that indeed I did have have one of the titles in the series via NetGalley.

Ugh is all I can say about The Female Detective by Andrew Forrester.

Originally published in 1864 it is reputedly  the first novel in British fiction to feature a professional female detective. in the firm of Miss Gladden, also known as ‘G’. The new edition includes an introduction by Mike Ashley and a foreword by Alexander McCall Smith in which he positions Miss Gladden as the forerunner of more modern-day female detectives like his own character Mma Ramotswe. Ashley’s introduction provides interesting context for the significance of this book – apparently there were no female police officers let alone detectives in the British force in 1864 and indeed they wouldn’t materialise for another 50 years. The Metropolitan Police Force was still rather in its infancy having been established only in 1829, Scotland Yard (the plain clothes detective branch wasn’t created until 1842) and the term detective didn’t actually pass into common usage until 1843. So by creating a protagonist with such an unusual role , Forrester was truly pushing the boundaries.

I wish he’d spent more time creating some compelling stories in which she is the investigator. I’e now read three and they’r rather dull, not helped by the dan-pan, colourless nature of the prose. I’ll give it another 30 minutes but if it’s failed to ignite by then it’s going to get abandoned and become the second book this year I couldn’t finish.

Hm, I could always tidy up the sock drawer I suppose…..

About BookerTalk

What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

Posted on July 24, 2016, in #20books of summer, Crime and thrillers. Bookmark the permalink. 36 Comments.

  1. I hate those times when it is hard to settle to anything. They do usually end up being a good time to organize the sock drawer. Hope they are all nice and tidy and matched 🙂

  2. Hope you’ve found your reading mojo again by now. If not, you will. Sometimes, no, all the time, it takes…well…time.

  3. I hope you feel better and get your reading mojo back soon – I have just had a cold and I totally agree summer colds are the worst!

  4. My ‘can’t settle to anything’ days tend to be Monday to Friday and coincide with a thing called ‘work!’ – sometimes mid-report even the sock drawer has a certain allure! ( though to be fair that’s more likely to happen when I’m the one actually writing the report!!!). When my reading mojo is strong I soothe my mood by leaving the book I’m reading on my desk as a sort of paperback comfort blanket! On the days when my reading mojo is on a go-slow too, I soothe my troubled mind by promising myself a Guinness or six on the way home! To be honest the promise of the Guinness doesn’t work that well on my butterfly thoughts beforehand – but once I’ve had six pints my mind stops flittering here and there as its too busy trying to remember who I am and where I live!

    • anything can be attractive compared to writing dull reports – yes even sock drawer tidying. How soon in the day is it acceptable to begin thinking of the Guiness cure?

      • Depends how bad a day it is!!!! Sometimes when am going through Victoria on way TO work I occasionally think ‘can you have Guinness for breakfast?!’

  5. I agree with JG, NAP! You are too funny! Actually, I finished one book and read another this weekend, and would continue reading, but have work to do before tomorrow morning and I REALLY NEED TO COMPOSE SOME BLOG POSTS!!! I just always want to read…rather than blog… 🙂

    • Ugh you have to work on a non work day? thats miserable ….I used to do that but realised that weekends were meant for relaxation

      • Agreed. However, there are times when I have no choice. I have had no help for 3 months during my busiest time, so until I have another work study student, I must do it all, and it’s more than 40 hours per week, some weeks. 🙁

  6. Sounds like maybe a nap is in order. That’s my Go To when all else fails.

    • Remember those very early days in school when you were allowed to have forty winks in the middle of the day? My husband tells me that in his school they even had little cots and blankets. Why can’t companies do that? I’m sure it would make people more productive. If a mid afternoon nap was good enough for Churchill I’m sure it would be fine for plebs like me

      • I do remember those days, and wish it was more socially acceptable to check out for a few minutes each day. We’d probably all be less cranky and more productive.

  7. That sock drawer can wait. Now, that paint on the wall that is drying, however…
    You made me laugh! But we all have days like that.

    • Ah but I’d already done the paint drying thing. Alan Bennett said his work avoidance tactic was to clean the fluff out of the washing machine. I don’t think I’m that desperate. Yet.

  8. My fav. British crime library classic–in case you’re interested: Antidote to Venom.

  9. I often find I can’t settle in my reading when I’ve just finished something outstandingly good because then everything seems to disappoint. I hope you find the next read you love quickly.

  10. I’m close to the end of that sort of day myself. I blame the humidity. Fogs the brain.

  11. There are days like that, aren’t there? I think the Forrester is not necessarily a shining example of what the BL books can be like. Anthony Berkeley maybe – or Freeman Wills Crofts – but I’ve read a few of the Forrester stories in anthologies and whilst they were fine like that, I don’t know that I could manage a whole book of them! Definitely time to move onto another book (but not the sock drawer…)

    And I know exactly what you mean about that first paragraph – it’s the hardest part of a review! 🙂

    • I read another one just to give Forrester the benefit of the doubt but really its not worth the time and effort. Guy just recommended a Freeman Wills Crofts – Antidote to Venom – which sounds much more appealing

  12. Please, I beg you, whatever you do…step away from the sock drawer now! You’ll thank me later.

    I find writing reviews incredibly time consuming and don’t attempt to review evrey book that I read as I just don’t have the time. I’m lucky if I post two a month. Even though I’ve been on holiday for a week I still haven’t posted any more reviews…Still two a month suits me, I think.

    • I resisted the lure of the sock drawer you will be pleased to know. I decided it was much more fun to go shopping on line for some new books 🙂
      As for reviews, I know some bloggers just do short pieces of multiple books in one review so at least they have a record of what they read without feeling the need to write a full length review. Might work for you?

  13. Ah, yes, I do recognize that feeling of not being able to settle on any one thing. I try to keep those feelings at bay by following a routine…an obsessive routine, if you will. Turn on the computer, check e-mails, post on a blog or two, visit blogs. By then, the morning is gone.

    But as for reading….I have had a problem settling into the books I have listed for the week, so now I’m being whimsical. I might list possibilities, and then see where the flow takes me.

    I also find that some reviews seem to write themselves, while others are a struggle. I always write them after finishing the book, though, even as I struggle with some. I am worried that I will lose whatever inspiration the book brought out in me.

    Thanks for sharing…the history of female detectives would be an interesting one. Or not, depending on the writer.

    “Would you fancy a cup of tea?” One of my favorite expressions gleaned from watching BBC shows. Or…”I’m beggared if I can place him.” (In reference to your question on my post..lol).

  14. It looks like I’m about to abandon a book that I was sure I was going to like — so sure that I’ve gone on longer than I otherwise might have. Other people liked it, the topic suits me, and I’ve liked other books by the same author. It may be my mood, but it just hasn’t grabbed me.

    • It’s tough knowing when to stop isn’t it. There’s that feeling of ‘if I just read a few more pages it might get better’ and then you just drift and drift. Some readers have a ‘rule’ where if the book hasn’t grabbed them by page x they give it up. I dont follow that because some books do take longer to get going than others

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