Sample Sunday: Reviewing the Cs

I’m moving through my shelves of unread books to decide which to keep, this week landing on all those whose author’s names begin with C.

The Winter Crown by Elizabeth Chadwick

I’m perplexed about how I have ended up with this book. It’s a novel based on the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine and her husband Henry II. It begins with her coronation at Westminster and ends with her imprisonment at Sarum (the site of the original settlement of Salisbury). The Winter Crown is book 2 in a trilogy and I’ve not read part 1 nor do I own a copy so it seems an odd purchase.

The Verdict: An easy decision here. I do find Eleanor a fascinating historical figure but am doubtful my interest would be sustained over three books. I’m letting this one go.

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

Carson’s book is a landmark text in the history of environmental science. Published in 1962 it acted as a wake up call about the environmental and human dangers of the indiscriminate use of pesticides. Such was the reaction to Carson’s book that it spawned the creation of environmental groups like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth and DDT became a banned substance.

The Verdict: Definitely one to keep. I’ve read the opening chapters and was surprised how lyrically Carson wrote. It might not stay that way of course once we get into the nitty gritty of examples of pesticide misuse but I think I should give it a go.

Hostages to Fortune by Elizabeth Cambridge

This autobiographical first novel follows the life of a young woman, the wife of a doctor in a small Cambridge village, It doesn’t have a plot as such but is more a domestic narrative that reflects on a way of life in the period between 1915 and 1933 when the book was published. Persephone describes it as “A quiet, beautifully-written novel …”

The Verdict: Keep. It’s a Persephone that I bought second hand at the National Trust where I was volunteering. These books are hard to come by so whenever I find one, I snaffle it up without even checking who the author is or what the book is about.

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

26 thoughts on “Sample Sunday: Reviewing the Cs

  • Sheree @ Keeping Up With The Penguins

    Good calls, one and all! Eleanor does sound fascinating, but I’m with you, I’m not sure a whole novel would sustain my interest either…

    • I know I started a book about here many years ago but couldn’t finish it so that didn’t give me great confidence about this one

  • That’s interesting to hear about Silent Spring. I’ve definitely bought/checked out copies on numerous occasions but have always gotten distracted by something else and it languished on my shelf.

    • Similar thing happened to me Geoff – I take it off the shelf, enjoy the first chapter and then never pick it up again to read further

  • Do you really only have three books by authors beginning with C, or do you just pick three to consider each week?

    • Good question – I do have a lot more than 3 books in the C category, I just pick out three that I’m not sure about. Then I skim a few pages and try to decide whether I think I want to keep it

    • I was introduced to Carson when I got involved in an environmental project in work – everyone else on the team was very aware of her and I felt so embarrassed that I’d not even heard of her name

        • Hm, I don’t think we can get PBS here in the UK. Such a shame because I’d be interested in seeing that documentary. I found a trailer for it on You Tube which is tantalising me….

        • It shows up on youtube sometimes. Do you have any streaming services? Maybe on one of those. Too bad–it is excellent. (All American Experience shows are excellent–I’ve never been disappointed in any over all the years).

        • We have Netflix but may not come through on that one. Oh well…

  • This is a great idea for a meme. I need to systematically go through my TBR, too.

    I read Rachel Carson for my naturalist book group this year, and I could not believe how beautifully The Sea Around Us was written. I’d love to read Silent Spring. Of course a great deal of the factual information was out of date.

    • Doing this sample sunday has pushed me into taking a closer look at what’s on my shelves. There are some books I simply don’t remember buying and others I’ve lost interest in. By clearing those out I have more room for books I really want

  • I would have passed on your first two as I know Rachel Carson’s message though it is a well known book. Persephone books are rare here but I have found a couple. Like you I grab them, author unseen.

    • I know her overall message but I’m still curious how she argues it and the evidence she presents

  • I’ve read the Carson, but TBH, although the writing is beautiful, if you already know her message, (and I did by the time I got round to reading it) I found it too much of a good thing.

  • I enjoyed the Eleanor of Aquitaine trilogy, but they are three long books so would be a big commitment if you’re not really interested. I haven’t read Hostages to Fortune but I would definitely keep anything published by Persephone too.

    • Thanks for confirming what I was suspecting Helen about the trilogy.

  • I certainly would have kept the Carson and Cambridge too. I should read the Carson but am worried I’ll find it too depressing…

    • Probably what’s depressing is that although much has changed, there is still so much yet to be done.


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