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What I’m Reading: Episode 32, March 2021

Spring is making an appearance in the hedgerows and gardens and the birds are busy building their nests. It makes the walks that we’re allowed under lockdown restrictions, even more of a joy. Non essential shops (which include bookstores) should be re-opening in April so if that happens and we get the go ahead to meet up with a friend for a coffee and a natter, then I shall be one happy bunny.

Until then, I’ll continue to crack on with some of the titles from my stack of owned-but-unread books, supplemented by the few (ahem) new acquisitions.

What I just finished reading

Family Money by Nina Bawden was a purchase from a charity shop back in those long ago days when we could actually go into a bookshop. It was such a low price that I overcame my aversion to covers based on television or film adaptations. This one is a still from a 1997 television series starring Claire Bloom. I’ve no idea whether the tv version does justice to this wonderful novel about a mature woman whose desire for an independent life is put under strain when she witnesses a murder, giving her children a great excuse to start planning her life.

March marks the Wales Reading Month, otherwise known as Dewithon21, hosted by Paula at Paula’s Jottings. From my rather large collection of books by authors born in or living in Wales, I picked Not Thomas by Sara Gethin, a disturbing novel of child neglect as seen through the eyes of a five year old boy. As I said in my review, this one needs to be read with the aid of a large box of tissues to. hand.

And finally, a debut novel which is the first in a crime fiction series based in Scotland. Murder at the Mela by Leela Soma gives crime a new twist with a Detective Inspector who is the first Asian senior officer in Glasgow. The novel is set against a background of tensions in the city’s Asian communities and suspicions the murder of a young girl could be racially motivated.

What I’m reading now

I have three books on the go at the moment.

I’m reading The Last September by Elizabeth Bowen for Irish Reading Month hosted by Cathy at 746books. It’s a 1929 novel set in a country mansion at the time when the movement for Irish independence has escalated into ambushes and arrests. At the mansion, the family and their guests enjoy tennis parties, dances and flirtations but deep down they know that the end of British rule is imminent. I’m really enjoying the way Bowen creates the atmosphere of this country house and a way of life that is on its way out.

Home Fire was a book club choice last year but I messed up the dates so I never got to read it. I’m now listening to an audio version (it makes ironing much more tolerable!). It took a while to get going but I’n now hooked on this tale about the conflicting loyalties experienced by the offspring of a  jihadist father.

This month’s book club choice is The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, a debut novel by Natasha Pulley. I’ve only got as far as page 30 so too early to give any opinions on this year. The Victorian setting is appealing but I’m hoping that the “magical” element I’ve heard about isn’t too prevalent.

As you’ll all know by now, I prefer the “on a whim” method of deciding what to read next but there are two books that I know for definite will feature in April. One is The Hiding Game by Naomi Wood which is the April book club choice. I’m really glad our voting went this way because I’ve had my eye on this book for a while. It’s set in Germany at a time of escalating political tensions but what really got me interested is the fact it focuses on members of the Bauhaus art school. Art themes are always winners for me.

April brings the next reading week hosted by Karen at kaggsy’sbookishramblings and Simon at stuckinabook. The 1936 club is scheduled for 12-18 April and since I want to avoid a last minute scramble to find something to read, I’ve already done a trawl through my TBR.

I’ve come up with The General by C S Forester which is a portrait of Herbert Curzon, a World War One British officer. Forester tells the story of how the man rose to fame, and at what cost to himself and to the men under his command. Forester apparently gives a more balanced portrayal of this kind of officer from the version we’re accustomed to seeing of incompetent leaders recklessly leading men to their deaths.   The officers, suggests Forester were not inherently wicked but they were products of their time, fighting a war in the only way they knew.

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