Monday, 15 February 2021

QuickLit February 2021

 Linking up with Modern Mrs Darcy as usual for quick book reviews. 

Well, having declared that my 2021 goal was to read fewer books, more mindfully, I clocked up a record seven for January. In my defense, one was begun in December, and one was a beta novel that I read during working hours (I loved it, I wish I could reveal all!). Here's the five that count as January's leisure reading:

Barbara Pym - No Fond Return of Love

I deliberately saved this to get the new year off to a happy reading start, because I am addicted to Pym's mid-twentieth century comedies of manners. Jilted Dulcie throws herself into matchmaking between her new friend, Viola, and the self-centred academic Aylwin, who is also arrogant enough to think he can enchant Dulcie's young niece. Amid the comedy of genteel stalking and the foibles of academia is a wry look at the attitudes emerging career women faced in the 1950s (and some fun internal references to Pym's other novels).

Charlotte and Mr Collins. Credit:

Molly Greely - The Clergyman's Wife

I'm not big on literary spinoffs, but I was intrigued by the idea of imagining how the Pride and Prejudice marriage of Charlotte and Mr Collins panned out. Charlotte has accepted the marriage of convenience that so disappointed her friend Elizabeth - until she meets a man who seems to be her soulmate. A sensitive, lyrical contemplation of the choices Regency women faced made this an unexpected companion novel to No Fond Return of Love.

Joan Lindsay - Picnic at Hanging Rock

Vaguely remembering the disturbing tone of the film version of this book from many years ago, I gave myself prior permission to put it down anytime it began to scare me - but I managed to get through it. On Valentine's day 1900, a group of schoolgirls and their teachers visit Hanging Rock in Victoria, Australia. Several of them vanish, never to return, and the story traces the ripple effect through the community. Hovering in the background is the sense of an ancient, aboriginal force that the 'civilised' British community is unable to suppress. Note: if you must have resolution, you will not like this novel.

The 1975 film. Credit:

Dorothy L. Sayers - Murder Must Advertise and Have His Carcass

Two Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries in a row! In the first, Lord Peter goes undercover at an advertising agency to investigate the suspicious falling death of an employee. Sayers herself worked in advertising at one point, so a bonus is the insider's-view satire of the industry, that still has surprising resonance today.

Have His Carcass is the second Harriet Vane mystery. On a walking holiday, Harriet discovers a corpse on the beach with his throat cut. Is it suicide, as the police assume, the work of Bolsheviks, as his much-older fiancée insists, or something else altogether? I had already seen the TV version of this novel, but it still had me hooked.

The cold weather seems to be gripping both sides of the Atlantic, so I hope you are cosying up with some good books this month!

A P.S. After embarking on the fourth back-to-back reading of Bunnicula to my five year-old, I hopped on line and ordered the complete series. I hope this will keep him satiated for a bit.