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

Sample Sunday is an opportunity to check all the books on my shelves and decide what to keep

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 @heavenali.com. 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.

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