winter garden

Beryl Bainbridge Reading Week: Where the Sun Doesn’t Shine

Winter Garden by Beryl Bainbridge (1980) Douglas Ashburner is going on holiday. He was surprised that his wife of twenty-six years was happy for him to disappear off to the Highlands for a fortnight’s fishing trip. Leaving her in bed, she waves him goodbye with a ‘queenly gesture of farewell’. Little does she know. His Read More

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Shiny Fiction Linkiness

Time to share my Fiction reviews from Issue 8 of Shiny New Books with you – four very different but enjoyable books, click through to read the full reviews, links within the text refer to my previous reviews: The Great Swindle by Pierre Lemaitre Best known for his Verhoeven trilogy, Lemaitre has turned from contemporary fare to the end Read More

Bilodo

The art of haiku and unrequited love…

The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman by Denis Thériault Translated by Liedewy Hawke I‘ve been meaning to read this bittersweet novella ever since Hesperus Press published it in England last autumn. Read now, it made a perfect palate-cleanser between some heavier reads for the new issue of Shiny New Books (out on Thursday 8th Read More

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When the third part of a trilogy falls a little flat …

This post was edited and republished into my blog’s original timeline from my lost posts archive Something Nasty in the Woodshed by Kyril Bonfiglioli You may remember my enthusiasm for the reprints of the first two wickedly funny and totally non-PC Charlie Mortdecai books by Kyril Bonfiglioli last year; if you don’t, see my write-ups: Read More

Get me out of here

Consumer culture gone mad in a warped and very funny novel…

This post was republished into my blog’s original timeline from my lost posts archive. Get Me Out of Here by Henry Sutton Scanning my TBR shelves for something different to read the other week, I alighted on this novel remembering that Kim had loved it! It was time to return to a novel by Henry Read More

Get me out of here

Consumer culture gone mad in a warped and very funny novel…

Get Me Out of Here by Henry Sutton This review has be republished into my original blog timeline from my lost posts archives. Scanning my TBR shelves for something different to read the other week, I alighted on this novel remembering that Kim had loved it! It was time to return to a novel by Henry Read More

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It was surprising how many of us had a Jean Brodie in our schooldays…

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark Published in 1961, Spark’s delicious tale of a teacher who lives vicariously through her selected pupils was our book group’s choice this month. Our discussions were wide-ranging, but we started off by chatting about how real Miss Brodie was – and it turned out that most of Read More

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"This ain't no upwardly mobile freeway … This is the road to hell"

The A26 by Pascal Garnier Quite a few bloggers (notably Stu and recently Guy) have already discovered and loved the novels of Pascal Garnier, the French author of some decidedly bleak, black comedies of the purest noir! Having acquired a couple of them, I picked his short novel The A26 to begin my own exploration. Set in Read More

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Would you do this on holiday?

Lazy Days by Erlend Loe Translated by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw. With its irresistible cover I was always going to pick this book up to examine it. I read the blurb on the flyleaf and discovered that the author, new to me, was Norwegian, and that the book was likely to be quirky and probably Read More

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Book Group Report – Jean Teulé

The Suicide Shop by Jean Teulé Our book group read for July into August was actually a re-read for me. We’d wanted something quick and light as due to our schedules we only had three weeks between meetings instead of our usual four or five. I had read Teulé’s 2007 novel, published in English translation Read More

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The Savages are back …

American Savage by Matt Whyman Last summer I had the pleasure of reading one of the funniest YA novels I’ve yet encountered in Matt Whyman’s The Savages – don’t you just love that cover?  Although it was written as a standalone novel, so many people wondered what happened to the family in it, that Matt Read More

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Always read the small print!

Terms & Conditionsby Robert Glancy Frank has been in a car accident – it turns out it was a bad one, and he’s lost his memory*.  He can’t remember people, but can remember his job**.  He works for the family firm, chaired by his older brother Oscar♦. As he begins to remember things, he realises Read More

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John Buchan meets Umberto Eco via Dan Brown

The Pendragon Legend by Antal Szerb, translated by Len Rix OK – so I put Dan Brown into the title of this post to grab your attention! While I totally agree with the rest of the world that the Da Vinci Code is not great literature, there is no denying that however silly the whole Read More

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Come dine on – oops – with me…

The Savages by Matt Whyman Not since I read the wonderful book, The Radleys by Matt Haig, (reviewed here), have I found a YA novel such fun.  Just look at the cover – you know it’s going to be hilarious.  You can sense that the Savages are a close family – like The Munsters or The Read More

Injury Time

Dinner Parties – A Risky Business!

Injury Time by Beryl Bainbridge Dinner parties… Love ’em, loathe ’em – but from the mid 1970s to perhaps as far as the late 1990s they were a symbol of the middle classes. The kitchen-sink drama moved into the Dining Room. Acceptance of your position in the hierarchy by giving dinner parties was soon replaced by Read More

harriet said

Two Naughty Schoolgirls…

Harriet Said by Beryl Bainbridge Harriet Said was Beryl’s first  work written in the late 1950s.  However it ended up as her third published novel, as its darkness struggled to find a publisher initially.  It is the story of two teenaged schoolgirls and what they got up to one summer holiday… The two girls are an Read More

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Muriel Spark Reading Week – The Girls of Slender Means

 It’s Muriel Spark Reading Week, hosted by Simon and Harriet. Do visit their blogs to see a plethora of reviews and links to what we’ve all been reading. I’ve not read a Spark novel since 2008 when I really enjoyed The Ballad Of Peckham Rye.  I chose another of her 1960s novels for MSRW… * * Read More

Girls of Slender Means

Muriel Spark Reading Week 2012

  This post was republished into my blog’s original timeline from my lost posts archive. It’s Muriel Spark Reading Week, hosted by Simon and Harriet. Do visit their blogs to see a plethora of reviews and links to what we’ve all been reading. I’ve not read a Spark novel since 2008 when I really enjoyed The Ballad Of Peckham Rye. Read More

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Cosy Weirdness in Whitby

Never the Brideand Something Borrowed by Paul Magrs Just before I started this blog, I read a book that gave me a sustained bout of chuckling all the way through. On the face of it, Never the Bride was a cosy mystery set in Whitby, with two old ladies doing the sleuthing… But underneath it’s Read More

Bottle Factory Outing

Bottling Things Up, or Bottling Out?

The Bottle Factory Outing by Beryl Bainbridge A couple of weeks ago, Simon at Savidge Reads chose three books he was going to read before his imminent thirtieth birthday, (and he asked for more recommendations for forty books to read before he is forty.) One of the three was based on a suggestion of mine Read More

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Another quirky fable of men and their work

A Cruel Bird Came to the Nest and Looked in by Magnus Mills Don’t you just love the cover of this book?  Having just finished reading it, I love it even more, as it encapsulates the kingdom within its pages perfectly. I can identify its buildings including ‘The Cake’ – the dome-topped concert hall (middle Read More

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A Busman’s Holiday …

The Maintenance of Headwayby Magnus Mills I’ve read and loved three of Mills’s previous novels – especially All Quiet on the Orient Express, (review here).  They’re deadpan, full of black humour, and expound upon the trials and tribulations of the ordinary working man.   He’s dealt with fence installers, odd jobbers, and White Van Man; Read More

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Class wars in the suburbs – just ‘champion’ …

The Champion by Tim Binding Tim Binding is one of those authors of whom I’ve been aware for a while, and I’ve even got a couple of his books in my TBR piles, but never read any of them.  The publicity blurb for his latest published earlier this year, said ‘The Champion pulsates with black humour Read More

sisters-brothers

My book of the year so far…

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt If I had to make a movie pitch for this book, it would be the Coen brothers do The Blues Brothers crossed with Deadwood, HBO’s fantastic wild west series, and that encapsulates it in a nutshell for me, save to say that the combination is an absolute winner. The Blues Brothers also just happens to Read More

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What happens when the woman of your dreams becomes a reality?

I’ve been saving a few reviews to post until I’m ready to start talking about vampires in my Season of the Living Dead. So today it’s time to introduce you to: Miss Hargreaves by Frank Baker Norman and his friend Henry are on holiday in Ireland. They duck into a church to shelter from the Read More

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The Pets by Bragi Olafsson

Last year I read some Halldor Laxness, and found the Icelandic humour distinctly hard to get. This contemporary novel by Bragi Olafsson (formerly in the Sugarcubes with Björk) was much less oblique, but despite its relative brevity took some time to get going. When it did though, it became the stuff of pure farce which Read More

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Moviewatch: In Bruges- It’s effing hilarious!

This film was absolutely fantastic from start to finish. Wildly original, quirky, very violent yet wickedly funny with some brilliant sick jokes. Oh, by the way, it happens to show off Bruges quite beautifully. Colin Farrell and Ralph Fiennes I knew, but couldn’t quite place Brendan Gleeson at first – then it dawned on me Read More

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A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

This is a brilliant novel, but one I found it difficult to enjoy. The title, appropriately for a parody of America’s deep south in the 1960s, comes from master satirist Jonathan Swift and is a perfect description of the book. The author has assembled a cast of grotesques, from aged crones to spoilt housewives, and Read More