Sample Sunday: Decision Time On Pamela Hansford Johnson, Paul Hardisty and Andrew Michael Hurley

It’s time to move along the shelves to the letter H in my trawl of unread books in the bookcases, deciding what to keep and which to let go. In the case of my collection of novels by Richard Flanagan and J. G Farrell, the decision is an easy one: they are authors I’ve enjoyed reading previously so there’s a very good chance that will continue. From the other Fs on my shelves, I’ve picked out three books where there is more uncertainly whether they will resonate with me.

The Good Listener by Pamela Hansford Johnson

I’d not heard of Pamela Hansford Johnson until I saw her mentioned by Ali It was a surprise to discover from Johnson’s entry in Wikipedia that she’d written 27 novels. What really got me interested was that according to her biographer she wrote “in the moral tradition of George Eliot, with the commitment to social justice found in Charles Dickens, and with an unwavering belief that an important task of the English novel was the depiction of everyday life to be discovered from Jane Austin to Anthony Trollope…” So I bought two of her novels when Bello began re-issuing some of her works a few years ago.

The Good Listener is one of her later novels, published in 1975. The focus is on a young man who is somewhat of a scoundrel: good at winning confidences and attracting women but not good at commitments.

The Verdict: I’m edging towards keeping this. It’s all going to rest on how well Hansford Johnson portrays the world of Toby and his friends from Cambridge in the late 1950’s

Turbulent Wake by Paul Hardisty

Hardisty is best known as a crime fiction author but he departs from that genre in this novel of Ethan who returns to the place of his birth to bury his father and discovers, hidden in one of the upstairs rooms of the old man’s house, a strange manuscript. It’s a collection of stories that seems to cover the whole of his father’s turbulent life, and could provide answers to questions that have puzzled Ethan since childhood.

The Verdict: I was thinking to let this one go until I saw that it has some sections set in the deserts of Yemen and in Africa. Could be good for some virtual travel

The Lonely by Andrew Michael Hurley

Did I get this book confused with another title? I can’t think of any other explanation of how I ended up with a novel that has more than a dash of horror. It’s not a genre I’ve read since I was in my teens and devouring the black magic tales of Dennis Wheatley ( I groan now at the recollection). Maybe it was bought because I saw that it was a Costa First Novel Winner and the description suggested it was more gothic than horror?

The Verdict: Undecided – would love to hear from any readers who know this novel

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 think of the decisions I’ve reached? If you’ve read any of these books I’d love to hear from you.


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

7 thoughts on “Sample Sunday: Decision Time On Pamela Hansford Johnson, Paul Hardisty and Andrew Michael Hurley

  • Pamela Hanford Johnson is a name that sounds so familiar. It’s possible I read her years ago. I think I need to do some further investigation. I just went through a clean/keep/give to the library exercise a few weeks ago. It’s hard to make those choices!

    • So true Angela, I do find it hard to do and even harder to resist the temptation to take the book back out of the “donate’ bag once I’ve put it in there

  • A tricky one! I don’t know any of them but I know Heaven-Ali rates PHJ so I’d keep her!

    • I had Ali’s voice in my head when I was debating PHJ, knowing she would say “keep her”. And I was too afraid of Ali to say no (LOL)

  • I don’t know… I doubt I could chuck any of these three. This is such a good idea. I might copy this sometime!

    • Feel free to do this exercise – I copied it from another blogger who uses it just for the Kindle samples she has

  • Definitely agree about the PHJ – but don’t know anything about the others so can’t advise. I would probably have passed them on by now!


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