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Daughters-in-Law [Paperback] Joanna Trollope (Author) Publisher: Black Swan (5 Jan 2012) Language: English ISBN-10: 0552776408 ISBN-13: 978-0552776400 Both 10



Fallen Grace : Mary Hooper Paperback: 320 pages Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (6 Jun 2011) Language: English ISBN-10: 0747599122 ISBN-13: 978-0747599128 Both 10


Petals in the Ashes: Mary Hooper Paperback: 192 pages Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; 1st Edition edition (5 July 2004) Language: English ISBN-10: 0747564612 ISBN-13: 978-0747564614 Both 10


At the Sign Of the Sugared Plum: Mary Hooper Paperback: 176 pages Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (4 Aug 2003) Language: English ISBN-10: 0747561249 ISBN-13: 978-0747561248 Both 10

Friday Nights by Joanna Trollope Paperback: 416 pages Publisher: Black Swan; Paperback Edition, First Printing edition (1 Jan 2009) ISBN-10: 055277412X ISBN-13: 978-0552774123

Smut: Two Unseemly Stories [Hardcover] by Alan Bennett Hardcover: 192 pages Publisher: Profile Books; First Limited Edition edition (7 April 2011) ISBN-10: 1846685257 ISBN-13: 978-1846685255 Both 10


Adventures on the High Teas: In Search of Middle England Stuart Maconie Paperback: 346 pages Publisher: Ebury Press (4 Mar 2010) ISBN-10: 0091926513 ISBN-13: 978-0091926519


The Uncommon Reader [Hardcover] Alan Bennett (Author) Hardcover: 124 pages Publisher: Faber and Faber; 1st edition (6 Sep 2007) ISBN-10: 1846680492 ISBN-13: 978-1846680496 Both 10

Late Night on Watling Street (Imprint Books) [Paperback] Bill Naughton (Author) Paperback: 192 pages Publisher: Longman (Dec 1969) ISBN-10: 0582233674 ISBN-13: 978-0582233676

Writing Home by Alan Bennett Paperback: 656 pages Publisher: Faber and Faber ISBN-10: 0571232418
ISBN-13: 978-0571232413 Both 10

The Funny Farm by Jackie Moffat Paperback: 288 pages Publisher: Bantam Books ISBN-10: 0553816551 ISBN-13: 978-0553816556

Kiss and Kin (Paperback) by Angela Lambert. Publisher: Black Swan; New edition edition (18 Jun 1998) ISBN-10: 0552997366 ISBN-13: 978-0552997362

The Olive Farm: A Memoir of Life, Love and Olive Oil (Paperback) by Carol Drinkwater Publisher: Abacus (7 Jun 2001) ISBN-10: 0349114749 ISBN-13: 978-0349114743

Three Stories: "Father! Father! Burning Bright", "The Clothes They Stood Up in", "The Laying on of Hands" by Alan Bennett Publisher: Profile Books Ltd; New edition edition (28 Aug 2003) ISBN-10: 186197633X ISBN-13: 978-1861976338 Both 10 - brilliantly funny, had to stop reading it on the train because I was disturbing others by laughing out loud.

Arthur and George (Paperback) by Julian Barnes Publisher: Vintage; New edition edition (6 Jul 2006) ISBN-10: 0099492733 ISBN-13: 978-0099492733 Both 10

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga Paperback: 336 pages Publisher: Atlantic Books (1 Mar 2009) ISBN-10: 1843547228 ISBN-13: 978-1843547228  Beryl 10

Friday Nights (Paperback) by Joanna Trollope (Author) Publisher: Black Swan (1 Jan 2009) ISBN-10: 055277412X ISBN-13: 978-0552774123. Alan 9

The Shabby Paradise (Hardcover) by Eileen Baille (Author) Hardcover Publisher: Hutchinson (1958) ASIN: B001MTWH0O

Said and Done (Paperback) by Roger McGough Paperback: Publisher: Arrow Books Ltd; New edition edition (5 Oct 2006) ISBN-10: 0099478757 ISBN-13: 978-0099478751

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, Harper Perennial; ISBN-10: 0006550681 ISBN-13: 978-0006550686

Lessons in Heartbreak (Paperback) by Cathy Kelly Publisher: Harper (16 Jun 2008) ISBN-13: 978-0007240401

Octavia by Jilly Cooper (Mass Market Paperback - 22 April 2005) Publisher: Corgi Books; Re-issue edition (22 April 2005) ISBN-13: 978-0552152525

Emma By Jane Austen.  Read many times before but re-reading prior to reading Emma in Love (Hardcover) by Emma Tennant Publisher: Fourth Estate (16 Sep 1996) ISBN-13: 978-1857025279

'The Five People You Meet in Heaven' by Mitch Albom. Paperback: 240 pages Publisher: Time Warner Paperbacks (2 Sep 2004) ISBN: 0751536822
(Alan 7). This novel is based upon a superb idea and is capable of provoking a strong emotional response. Those who criticise it for lack of depth I think have a) not noticed how thin the book is and how big the print and b) missed the point that it is to pose the questions not answer them. A quotation from the novel is: "....and that is what heaven is for. For understanding your life on earth." Eddie, the protagonist, has the chance to ask another question, to make another statement and to clarify. Most human beings would doubtless like to be able to do that.

'The Island' by Victoria Hislop, Paperback: 480 pages Publisher: Headline Review (10 April 2006) ISBN: 0755309510
(Alan 7). I really enjoyed reading this and would recommend it but I did have reservations. What was well done was the account of leprosy, its effects, treatment and the way the sufferers related to each other. What was not done well was the style which I would describe as 'transactional'. There were attempts to describe scenery in some detail but characterisation was weak throughout. I was also critical of the rate of the passage of time within the novel which varied enormously. The proximity of Spinalonga to Plaka brought poignancy to the book in that it was "so near and yet so far". Parallel and yet separate lives is a feature of the novel. As with other critics I found the way the book finished was also weak.

'Children of a Harsh Winter' by Janet Cohen. Paperback: 448 pages Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd (25 May 1995) ISBN: 0140239014 (Beryl 7)

'Watching the English' by Kate Fox. Paperback: 420 pages Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton Paperbacks (11 April 2005) ISBN: 0340818867 (Beryl 8)

'Harris's List of Covent Garden Ladies' by Hallie Rubenhold. Hardcover: 160 pages Publisher: Tempus Publishing Ltd (1 Oct 2005) ISBN: 0752435469

Gardens Of Delight (Paperback) by Erica James Publisher: Orion; New Ed edition (17 May 2006) ISBN-13: 978-0752877600 (Beryl 7)

'What's It All About?' Michael Cane, Arrow ISBN: 0099218518


'Notes on a Scandal' Zoe Heller, Paperback: 256 pages Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd (4 Mar 2004) ISBN: 0141012250 (Alan 6)

'Love and War in the Apennines' by Eric Newby, Paperback: 224 pages Publisher: Picador (10 May 1996) ISBN: 0330280244 (Alan 10)

Laying the Ghost (Paperback) by Judy Astley Publisher: Black Swan (28 Jan 2008) ISBN-13: 978-0552773218 (Alan 5) I stopped reading it.  Too much of a formula

'Spring Music' by Elvi Rhodes. Paperback: 457 pages Publisher: Corgi Adult (19 Aug 1999) ISBN: 0552146552
(Beryl 7/8) Similar to 'Revenge of the Middle-aged Woman' but more expertly handled and therefore more interesting.

'Revenge of the Middle-aged Woman' by Elizabeth Buchan. Paperback Penguin Books Ltd (28 Mar 2002) ISBN: 0140290087
(Beryl 5) This took me a time to get in to. The first few chapters were prosaic and lacked sparkle. The author seems to be highly acclaimed in literary circles, but I am not sure why.

'How Will I Know' by Sheila O'Flanagan. Paperback: 608 pages ISBN: 0755307593
(Beryl 7)

'Blowing It' by Judy Astley
ISBN 0593056590 Transworld Publishers Ltd
(Both 7) We enjoyed it but wouldn't revisit. Our expression for this pure diversion reading is "Summer daze"

'Seven Sunny Days' by Chris Manby
Paperback ISBN 0340819006 Hodder & Stoughton Ltd, London, United Kingdom
(Both 6)  Amusing "Summer daze" but not as well crafted as Judy Astley

'Rogue Herries' by Hugh Walpole. Paperback Publisher: Pan, 1978 reprint Publication Date: 1978 ISBN: 0330025570
 (Beryl 8)

'Peter the Great: His Life and World' by Robert K. Massie. Paperback: 960 pages Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicholson history (19 April 2001) ISBN: 1842121162
(Beryl 10) See reviews on Amazon.

'Pompeii' by Robert Harris. Paperback: 352 pages Publisher: Arrow (27 Sep 2004) ISBN: 0099282615
(Both 9). Well researched, gripping and fast moving. We have a conviction that history is part of now and the individual actions and motivations of the well drawn characters transcend time. The events, accurately portrayed, may well be set in the period but the human responses are not. We thoroughly enjoyed this and so has each person we have leant it to.


'To the Hermitage' by Malcolm Bradbury. Paperback: 512 pages ISBN: 0330376632
(Beryl 6) I couldn't agree with Evelyn Waugh that this was the funniest book every written. I think you had to be aware of the intrigues of academia.

'Talk to the Hand: The Utter Bloody Rudeness of Everyday Life (or Six Good Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt the Door)' by Lynne Truss. Hardcover: 214 pages ISBN: 1861979339
(Beryl) 9 Good, but not as fascinating to me as 'Eats Shoots and Leaves'

'The Man Who Made Husbands Jealous' by Jilly Cooper. Paperback: 736 pages Publisher: Corgi Adult (2 Jun 2003) ISBN: 0552150584
(Beryl 7)

'The Shadow of the Wind' by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Paperback: 512 pages Publisher: Phoenix Press (5 Oct 2005) ISBN: 0753820250
(Beryl 10)

'Head Over Heels: WITH Perfect Timing' by Jill Mansell. Paperback Publisher: Headline Book Publishing Ltd (Nov 2004) ISBN: 0755326695
(Beryl 7)

'The Learning Curve' by Melissa Nathan. Paperback: 560 pages Publisher: Arrow (3 Aug 2006) ISBN: 009950426X
(Beryl 7)  An amusing lighthearted story about a primary school including the Machiavellian politics and rivalries of a small staff room. Melissa Nathan keeps the interest to the end by making everything appear to go hopelessly, unfairly wrong for the heroine until the tangle is resolved in the final few pages. Not a new idea but an effective one.

'Bordeaux Housewives' by Daisy Waugh Paperback: 400 pages Publisher: HarperCollins (7 Aug 2006) ISBN: 0007168209
(Beryl 7) The beginning was not arresting but the tale improved as it continued. Apart from the tangled personal relationships there was a more serious theme which was, albeit mildly, thought provoking. Quite an array of goodies and baddies.

'The Ex-wife's Survival Guide' by Debby Holt. Paperback: 336 pages Publisher: Pocket Books (6 Feb 2006) ISBN: 1416502467

'Amanda's Wedding' by Jenny Colgan Paperback: 374 pages Publisher: HarperCollins (17 Jan 2000) ISBN: 0006531768

'Without a City Wall' by Melvyn Bragg. Paperback: 336 pages Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd (25 Jun 1970) ISBN: 0140031065
(Beryl 6) Quite pedestrian plot but good descriptive passages of Lake District Scenery.

'Hunting Unicorns' by Bella Pollen. Paperback: 256 pages Publisher: Pan (2 Jan 2004) ISBN: 0330411578

'No Place For A Woman' by Donna Hay. Paperback: 336 pages Publisher: Orion (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd ) (26 Jul 2006) ISBN: 0752877089
(Beryl 8). An unusual topic. Well written.

'44 Scotland Street' by Alexander McCall Smith. Paperback: 336 pages Publisher: Abacus (11 Aug 2005) ISBN: 0349118973
(Beryl 6)


'The Mayor of Casterbridge' by Thomas Hardy. Paperback: 448 pages Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd (27 Mar 2003) ISBN: 0141439785
(Beryl)(Re-read) 10.

'Never Say Never' by Linda Hill. Paperback: 224 pages Publisher: Bella Books (7 May 2004) ISBN: 1931513678
(Beryl 7)

'The Sunday Philosophy Club' by Alexander McCall Smith. Paperback: 304 pages Publisher: Abacus (13 Jun 2005) ISBN: 0349118698
(Beryl 7)

'Chocolat' by Joanne Harris. Paperback: 319 pages Publisher: Black Swan (2 Mar 2000) ISBN: 0552998486
(Beryl 8)

'The Ex-wife's Survival Guide' by Debby Holt. Paperback: 336 pages Publisher: Pocket Books (6 Feb 2006) ISBN: 1416502467

'Amanda's Wedding' by Jenny Colgan Paperback: 374 pages Publisher: HarperCollins (17 Jan 2000) ISBN: 0006531768
(Beryl 7)

'The Watsons' by Jane Austen and others.
Various editions
(Beryl 7) The first four chapters are clearly Austen but less mature than her later novels. Also unrevised. Later chapters are amusing. In essence the plot is true to Jane Austen but the language is different and some of the sentiments expressed do not match those of the original author.

'The Other Boleyn Girl' by Philippa Gregory published by HarperCollins ISBN: 0-00-651400-6
(Alan) Gave up with this by page 170. Became irked by the selfishness of Henry 8th. I will go back to it when I have found out a little more about the man himself.

'The Virgin’s Lover' by Philippa Gregory published by HarperCollins ISBN: 0-00-714731-7
(Beryl 8) I knew much of the story but the role of Lord Burleigh was a surprise, but most believable.


'The Queen’s Fool' by Philippa Gregory published by HarperCollins ISBN: 0-00-714729-5
(Beryl 8). Intriguing and intricate plot. A Jewish girl becomes a "page" to Queen Mary and then to Robert Dudley. Another story that emphasises the dangers of the Tudor's courts.

'Wideacre' by Philippa Gregory published by HarperCollins ISBN 0-00-651461-8
(Beryl 4) I found the content of this novel abhorrent and couldn't face the sequel.

Harper Collins web site:

Philippa Gregory's web site:

'The Queen Of Subtleties' by Suzannah Dunn published by Harper Perennial ISBN: 0-00-713938-1
(Beryl 7) Fractured narrative. An interesting story written from the point of view of Henry VIII's confectioner, Anne Bolyn, whilst she is in the Tower. Mainly narrative - not much description.

Many thanks to Judith for buying it for us. Following on from the conversation we had you might be interested in looking at 'The Viceroy's Daughters' - see above - next time you come to stay.

'Rock Me Gently' by Judith Kelly published by Bloomsbury. ISBN: 0 7475 7629 7
(Beryl 9) The true story of a convent childhood. Not a comfortable read.

'The Girl with the Pearl Earring' by Tracy Chevalier published by HarperCollins ISBN: 0-00-651320-4
(Both 9)  We both really enjoyed this. We thought it was sensitively written with some first rate description. The novel contained enough information for the story be to told and there was some excellent characterisation. Having heard how much we enjoyed the novel some friends lent us a video of the film which we did not enjoy. Overstated and crude compared to the novel.

'The Lady And The Unicorn' by Tracy Chevalier published by Harper Collins ISBN: 0-00-714091-6
(Both 9) I enjoyed this perhaps even more than '
The Girl with the Pearl Earring', it was more closely woven and although simple in terms of structure and style there were still pleasing surprises. I particularly liked going back to the tapestries printed in the book to look at the details mentioned in the narrative. I look forward to reading the rest of her novels.

'Falling Angels' by Tracy Chevalier, Paperback: 416 pages Publisher: HarperCollins (3 Jul 2006) ISBN: 0007217234 (Both 7) Well researched but not as entertaining as her other works.

'The Virgin Blue' by Tracy Chevalier, Paperback: 312 pages Publisher: HarperCollins (4 Nov 2002) ISBN: 0007108273 (Both  10) Her best so far. Superb structure and gripping geographical, historical and personal journey. It has a classic chase and the changing viewpoints in alternate chapters, which become alternate paragraphs, add to the excitement.

Web site


'Enduring Love' by Ian McEwan published by Vintage. ISBN: 0 09 927568 5

Gripped by the first chapter as the reviews say but interest dwindled as the novel went on. After finishing it I felt conned. Not exactly a waste of time but I could have been doing something else. (Alan 6)

'The Forest' by Edward Rutherfurd published by Arrow Books. ISBN: 0 09 927907 X

'Exerts a hypnotic charm' wrote one reviewer and indeed it did. Not to be rushed, savoured each time it was picked up. Details compared to books about history being read at the same time and geographical details checked on maps and by visiting places during a holiday in the New Forest. Fascinating reading and I look forward to the others.  (Alan 8)

This web site has some notes and comments about the book.

'Russka' by Edward Rutherfurd, Paperback: 1040 pages Publisher: Arrow (4 Jun 1992) ISBN: 0099635208
(Beryl 9)

'London' by Edward Rutherfurd, Paperback: 784 pages Publisher: Arrow (7 May 1998) ISBN: 0099201917
(Both 9)

'The Clerkenwell Tales' by Peter Ackroyd published by ISBN: 1-4000-7595-5

Not as gripping a thriller as some reviewers seemed to think. Certainly 'pungent' as one reviewer described it. Undoubtedly a thorough knowledge of London and its past. Look forward to having the time to read more of his work. See here for more about the author.

'Brother & Sister' by Joanna Trollope, Bloomsbury Publishing 2004. ISBN 9780747570431

I read this at a time when there was a lot of discussion in the press about the issue and so it seemed not just relevant but very important. Having been married to someone who was adopted I have had small peeks into the haunting obsessiveness that lurks and have also had a glimpse of the inability to both face and or shake off the effects of the truth. So, this novel gripped me whilst reading it but also, because I have read:  'Girl From The South', 'Marrying The Mistress', 'Next Of Kin', 'The Best Of Friends', 'A Spanish Lover', 'The Men And The Girls', 'The Rector's Wife', 'A Passionate Man', 'The Choir', there was a comfortable familiarity about many of the characters.  (Alan 9).

Excellent website for further reading here.