Snapshot February 2016

imageAnother storm was predicted to hit the UK today and tomorrow which is not good news  at any time but esp ecially disconcerting when you have to get to the airport. Hope the Met Office gets the forecast wrong… Talking of the Met Office it seems ever since they embarked on their “name the storm” project last autumn, we seem to have had  them more frequently.  We started with Abigail, now we’re up to Henry. At this rate we’ll have exhausted the alphabet before year end.


I just managed to finish Look at Me by Jennifer Egan on my last night at home for a few weeks. I started reading this in November but put it on the back burner so I could attend to a few other commitments but I was determined not to let it run into a third month. I wasn’t sure I would take to it but it grew on me the more I saw how richly layered it was in its treatment of the theme of identity. So here I am on the first of the month with a new book to open. And I can’t decide which it will be. I have with me Sovereign by C.J Sansom which is the third in his series about the lawyer turned detective Matthew Shardlake who has to navigate the political turmoil of the Tudor era. I also have Winifred  Holtby’s most famous work, South Riding, which is  a portrait of a Yorkshire community dealing with the effect of the Depression. Both have the advantage of being long enough to sustain me through an eight hour flight. I suspect the decision will be a sour of the moment thing just before my bag goes through check in.  Of course if the ultimate choice doesn’t work out I have plenty of Net Galley titles on my e reader including the latest Helen Dunmore novel Exposure. I wasn’t impressed with the on,y other title I read by her, The Great Coat, but since that wasnt  the genre she normally inhabits I thoughts she deserved another try.


On my car journey up to the airport I listened to the final chapters of The Vanishing Point by Val McDermid. It’s not one that features any of her detective creations but is a stand alone thriller about the abud toon of a child from an airport while in the care of his adopted mother Stephanie Harker. She is a ghost writer who compiles the autographies of celebrities. Her relationship with the boys real mother Scarlett Higgins, a foul-mouthed reality TV star known to the nation as the Scarlett Harlot, began on a professional level but soon lurched towards the personal. To discover who addicted the boy, Harker has to delve into the past. This is the first time I’ve experienced fed Val McDermid which is odd given how prolific and highly respected she is.  I suspect this is not one of her best, though it was good enough to get me through the drive even if I did find the actress playing Harker had that very irritating habit of the upward inflection at the end of every sentence.


The hotel tv channels didn’t offer  too much in the way of entertainment tonight – practically every channel had a tribute to Terry Wogan and all more or less said the same thing. The best option was a dramatisation of the relationship between Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth 1 told through through the correspondance they maintained for about two decades. It did a pretty fair job of showing the  rivalry between these two and how cunning Elizabeth was towards her cousin.

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 February 1, 2016, in historical fiction and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. ‘The Vanishing Point’ is not McDermid’s best, but certainly not her worst, either. Her Tony Hill series has really bottomed out over the last two or three episodes and I get the feeling she is just writing to keep the publisher happy. Enjoy the next Shardlake, because I think they go down hill as well from that point onward. Perhaps I am just in a foul mood this evening!

  2. I admit I cringed at the mention of an 8-hour flight! I’m not thrilled about flying. I find 2 hours is about my limit. Though in fairness I’ve never given a long flight a shot. (I have osteoarthritis and find the limited maneuvering room to be a joint-stiffening plight.) I think I’ve heard of a couple of these authors, but not certain. Must research… Safe and happy travels! Ah, you’re over in the U.S.? Probably not in my neck of the woods, in the midwest!

  3. I also channel flicked and found the documentary about Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I – I really enjoyed how they conveyed the history through the reading of their letters. A really good, random find 🙂

  4. piningforthewest

    I ended up watching the Mary/Elizabeth thing too. It didn’t really tell me anything I didn’t already know though. As ever I was annoyed that they chose to show Mary as having brown hair, when she was well known for her red hair and good looks and of course she had a French accent.

  5. I just love the Choosing-A-New-Book-Moment. Because I usually have a couple of books on the go, I rarely have ‘nothing to read’ but a couple of times a year, I finish the books I’m reading the same day or thereabouts and I relish picking what’s next.

    • With about 180 books on my TBR shelves I think I can safely say I don’t have that “I don’t have anything to read” panic. It’s almost that having so much choice makes it more difficult to decide.

  6. I really want to check out more of Val McDermid’s work. I enjoyed her modernization of Northanger Abby and just feel like her wit and humor would be great in the mysteries she writes!

  7. I hope the weather holds for you, Karen. Have a good trip.

  8. Really liked the one C J Sansome I read — I should check out the others. Good list, L.

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