Reading plans

Sample Sunday: a classic and a dose of crime

This week it’s the turn of novels with titles all stashed in the C section of my bookcase, to come in for some close scrutiny as I decide which to keep and which to let go.

Daniel Deronda by George Eliot

Eliot’s last novel is described as a richly textured novel about British society and the Jewish experience both within and beyond it.

Daniel Deronda is a young man groomed in the finest tradition of the English upper-classes. After a dramatic encounter with Mirah, a young Jewish woman, he embarks on a search for her lost family and finds himself drawn into ever-deeper sympathies with Jewish aspirations and identity.

The Verdict: no real doubt that this is going to stay on my shelves even though it’s already been there for about 10 years. I do love Eliot’s novels and the only reason I haven’t yet read this one is the daunting length: my edition comes in at 850 pages. Gulp.

Dead Eight by Carlo Gebler

Irish author Carlo Gebler has based this novel on a true case of miscarriage of justice from 1940. He explores how police in County Tipperary fabricated a case for murder against the local man Harry Gleeson who had discovered a woman’s body in a field. He was hanged in 1941. In 2015 he was cleared of murder and awarded a posthumous pardon.

The Verdict: Keep. I’ve been interested in miscarriages of justice for years, ever since I read Ludovic Kennedy’s 1961 book Ten Rillington Place which exposed the failings of the prosecution against Timothy Evans. I haven’t read anything in this genre for years so am curious to see whether my interest has been sustained.

A Darker Domain by Val McDermid

This is the second title in McDermaid’s series featuring Karen Pirie, a detective in a cold case unit in St Andrews. The plot in this book involves the discovery of new evidence in the case of a kidnapping of an heiress and her daughter twenty years earlier

The Verdict: I’m letting this one go. Last year I read a later novel in this series — Still Life. It was my first encounter with McDermid and I had high expectations, given her popularity and status as a crime fiction author. But I was disappointed by a novel that lacked tension and I didn’t warm to the character of Karen Pirie. Maybe McDermid’s other series will be more to my taste.

So that’s two definitely staying and one which will be leaving the house next week. If you know these books please give me your opinion on whether you think they deserve space on my shelves?

Sample Sunday is when I take a look at all the unread books on my shelves and decide which to keep and which to let free. The goal isn’t to shrink the TBR as such, but rather it’s about making sure my shelves have only books I do want to read.


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

8 thoughts on “Sample Sunday: a classic and a dose of crime

  • I would have kept the Eliot, abandoned teh McDermid (as I hear they’re a bit violent) and would be 50/50 about the other one!!

    • I didn’t detect any violence in the one McDermid I’ve read to date but that of course doesn’t mean it isn’t in evidence in other titles by her

  • I can’t read miscarriage of justice books. Find them just too upsetting. So much of it happens. Enjoy the ones you have kept.

  • You must read Daniel Deronda. Is Middlemarch your favourite? It’s one of my all time top books.

    • Jenny Lockwood

      I agree with Guy on both counts. DD is worth the trouble, though no book tops Middlemarch.

      I read the first in Val McDermid’s Karen Pirie series, was underwhelmed and decided not to read any more. There’s plenty of good detective fiction out there!

      • Good to meet another member of the MM fan club! I know many readers just don’t get on with the book – finding it a bit ponderous. But I look at it as a novel that is incredibly rich in themes and ideas.

    • MM is absolutely my favourite Guy. I’ve read it six times at least and every time I find something I hadn’t noticed previously. So now I’m encouraged to read Daniel


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