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Archive Entries for September 2020

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Wednesday September 30, 2020

Books in September

  • The Word is Murder, and The Sentence is Death
    by Anthony Horowitz [Read by Rory Kinnear]
    I almost can't exaggerate how much I love this author. One could say that with his inventive construction for these books and the Magpie Murders, that he is indulging in writing "gimmicks" but I think he executes all his work with such skill and brilliance that all I can say is "bring on some more".
    In this series we find the author (Anthony - not Tony) has written himself into the story, which then becomes something of a biography giving him free rein to include delightful anecdotes and episodes based around real events - as well as many episodes that I fervently hope and expect are far from real. It is woven together seamlessly, mixing fact and fiction so that you are easily able to suspend any disbelief. The book is excellently read by Rory Kinnear who sounds very similar to Horowitz which adds to the deception.
    His main character (if not himself) is a definitely fictional and not very likeable but also ... strange... and therefore very interesting. Ex-detective Daniel Hawthorne is "ex" of the Met and now a "consulting detective" - draw your own comparisons. Anthony describes himself in the narrative with his emotions and reactions exposed in a very appealing and apparently open way revealing all his flaws and sense of self-importance - which of course is a form of false modesty but nonetheless appealing...
    The final words of the second book are another sheer delight to one who is not an author and with no understanding of writing as a craft. He describes himself in his scene feeling low; Hawthorne then predicts how he'll describe the scene including the dismal weather; Hawthorne leaves, and Anthony proceeds to descibe the scene anew in way which we all now know to be "the pathetic fallacy".
    During the course of the book, opening up an author's life, we come to know the "three book deal". I hope this will be true to life with regard to these books - in fact I hope he can continue with this theme beyond 3 without spoiling the effect of the novelty of the idea. But I think this author is very good at the discipline of quitting while he is ahead.
    BOM-TheWordIsMurder.jpg BOM-TheSentenceIsDeath.jpg
    I have to add a note here that not all readers are as smitten as I and find Horowitz's descriptions of his life as a successful writer, and all the anecdotes, to be simply tedious smug self-aggrandisement. They would prefer just to stick to the murder story.
    I can see that point of view - you do have to have a pre-existing affection for the author - but overall I think they are missing the point.

  • The Birdwatcher by William Shaw [read by Roger Davis] BOM-TheBirdwatcher.jpg
    Another really excellent thriller recommended in the Guardian reviews. The book alternates between time lines, which is a structure that I find slightly irritating, because it acts as a kind punctuation mark in the pace of each separate plot line; however, this is intentional of course and is very effective. A couple of what must rate as my favourite books have employed this (not uncommon) technique.
    The policeman "hero" is our birdwatcher, and I particularly like that this is presented in a truly realistic way. It's his hobby, and he goes out whenever he can as part of his normal life - it does not become the major point of the drama, and is not presented as an exceptional thing depite being very much present throughout.
    Somewhat poignant though overall upbeat ending.

  • The Birds Fall Down by Rebecca West
    BOM-TheBirdsFallDown.jpg A novel centred on Count Nikolai Diakonov, a Russian exile in Paris during the beginning of the Twentieth Century, who, as a senior minister in the Russian government had been suddenly stripped of his position and exiled to France, along with his family. However the story is told by his 18 year old privileged grand-daughter and is almost a coming of age story as she tries to understand love and the various relationships she sees around her. She is manipulated by her own intense emotions engendered by threats to her and her grandfather's life, which culminates in a rather critical and ultimately lethal misunderstanding of the double-agent's feelings and intentions towards her.
    I found it a pretty challenging read.
    West states it is founded on historical events but not very specifically it seems. She had a fascination with treason and traitors, as well as Russia, which is explored in a number of her books. I was interested to note that Anthony Horowitz reveals in his books above that he is reading A New Meaning of Treason as part of his research for the post-war episodes of Foyle's War.

  • Early Riser by Jasper Fforde [read by David Rintoul] BOM-EarlyRiser.jpg
    By contrast this was a sheer light hearted "romp" and very easy to read. I have not physically read many books on the page of late and had fogotten what a delight it is to do so. Fforde has created a whole new imaginary world, parallel to our own, and set plausibly into the England (or Wales) we know and (some of us - Wales that is) live in.
    Every Winter, the human population hibernates.
    During those bitterly cold four months, the nation is a snow-draped landscape of desolate loneliness, and devoid of human activity.
    But so long as you remember to wrap up warmly, you'll be fine.

Posted on September 30, 2020 at 10:54 PM. Category: Books of the Month. | Comments (0)

Monday September 28, 2020

I made Jam

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Rob collected some mystery plums while out with his butterfly group, and finally managed to give them to me when we met up for his birthday. Not too many but they made three pots.

Posted on September 28, 2020 at 10:34 AM. Category: Kitchen and food. | Comments (0)

Tuesday September 22, 2020

Sue's Garden

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It's Open Gardens day, which has gone ahead - though not "as usual". To conform with the regulations, our local horticultural society have implemented an appointment scheme for visits, one way systems to walk around - and of course no tea and refreshments are on offer.

We chose Sue's garden as she is a well-known local horticulturalist and always has a lovely display on show. Over a period of many years she has taken her garden from a true wasteland to this wonderful garden retreat.

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Posted on September 22, 2020 at 10:33 AM. Category: Days Out. | Comments (0)