Sunday Salon

Snapshot January 2016

Happy New Year!


First of all a big thank you to all of you who’ve followed this blog over the last year, sharing your reactions, asking questions and giving advice. Without you this whole blogging lark would be a very miserable experience.

Now what was I up to as I opened my new calendar to the first page?


I’ve landed myself in a spot I don’t enjoy where I have multiple books on the go. Two I can manage if they are vastly different genres (one fiction, one non fiction for example) or if one is in hard copy and the other on the e reader. But three is testing my limit.

Lookat Me

NorwegianwoodA place called winter









I started reading Jennifer Egan’s Look At Me early in December but this story of a model’s identity issue after she is smashed up in a car accident, didn’t feel the right thing to be reading during our family Christmas retreat. The snowy landscape on the cover of Murakami’s Norwegian Wood seemed far more apt (even though there was no snow around and the weather on Christmas Day was more like spring). And things were going really well despite not being given much opportunity to read – there was always someone who wanted to play charades or dish out yet more cake. And then I got into a panic yesterday because I realised the book club meeting is next week and I hadn’t even opened the chosen title. Which is why I’ve had to abandon the first two novels and to pick up Patrick Gale’s shortlisted Costa prize novel A Place Called Winter.  It don’t hate it but I don’t love it either and would much rather be reading Murakami…..


Sarah Walters is one of those names I’ve seen  around a lot but never felt that motivated to read. But I spotted an audio recording in the library of her most recent novel Paying Guests and decided to give it a go. Not convinced I would enjoy reading it but it’s certainly a good one for the car as I’ve been scurrying around recently. This one is set in London in the early years after the end of World War 1 when a genteel lady and her daughter are forced to take in lodgers to make ends meet. The arrival of Len and Lily as ‘paying guests’ disrupts the household but no-one could have predicted it would all end in a sensational court case. Walters does a superb job of conveying the period detail where just to take a bath involves considerable effort and the streets are full of out of work ex-servicemen.


TV is not allowed at our family Christmas gatherings so we had to wait for our return home to catch up with the BBC’s adaptation of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. It was much trailed because of its star-studded cast. But I found it disappointing – very slow and ponderous.


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

17 thoughts on “Snapshot January 2016

  • Reminds me I need to read some Murakami this year, I have a couple of his on my shelf!

  • Thank you, and I wish you health and happiness in 2016 too 🙂 I wanted to watch And Then There Were None but wasn’t able to; sounds like I perhaps didn’t miss much after all! I did enjoy Sherlock: The Abominable Bride on New Years day though.

    • we watched Sherlock last night – the production values were high and it was very inventive. but I also found it totally confusing

      • Aw I’m sorry to hear you found it confusing. Had watched the previous series? I know a family friend, who wasn’t acquainted with the rest of series, struggled to keep up too.

        • it was our first viewing – previously Id only seen snatches – so probably that did not help at all

        • Yeah I’d seen the all the series before so at least I knew which parts were real and in his mind!

  • I can manage multiple books but like you, need them to be different genres or very different stories. I had two Irish-miseries on the go at one stage and had to top one – getting all my Finlays, Siobhans and Patricks mixed up!

    • Love that category of Irish misery – I haven’t seen that in the bookshops yet but you could be on to something there

  • Having sorted the book shelves to see just what I wanted to tackle over the next three months with the self-imposed book-buying ban, I have started the new Patrick Gale today too and share your opinion: so far am finding it rather sluggish compared to previous works and there’s something odd about the use of language. Maybe because he is trying historical rather than contemporary? Not hating it either but feeling disappointed and all the more sure that Kate Atkinson should be the worthy winner of the Costa prize. Time will tell…

  • Oh no. I’ve had my eye on A Place Called Winter – I hope it gets better for you!

  • I quite liked And Then There Were None other than the last 5 minutes which I thought were ridiculous but I hated Sherlock – that I found spectacularly irritating and dull. It was as if they thought it was enough simply to take it back in time. It wasn’t and what was all that ridiculous stuff about the suffragettes being dressed up in KKK hoods? Completely bonkers.

  • I missed out on the Christie over the holiday period as well and was thinking about catching up during the week but not sure when I would have the time. Now I think I’ll not bother. If I need to revisit it I’ll get a copy of the book.

  • I’ve never been interested in Sarah Waters’ books even though they seem to be a big hit with many readers.

  • I avoided the Christie over Christmas because it just looked too glossy and vapid (and I’ll be treating the War and Peace adaptation the same way – I can’t bear great literature to be treated as just another costume drama!) Glad to hear I didn’t miss anything! 🙂

  • I’m not good at reading multiple books at one time either. This month, though, I’ll be trying it as I’ll be participating in a readalong that lasts until February. At least, there’s no pressure to be done with it within a day or even a week and I’ll probably enjoying a fiction break when I’m not reading it (Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow). Sorry to hear about And Then There Were None being such a disappointment. Agatha Christie is one of my favorite mystery authors, and I don’t like to hear of her work not being adapted well. 🙁

    • The best adaptation of Christie’s work I’ve seen is the series starring Joan Hickson as Miss Marple. Outstanding if you haven’t seen it already


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