Tuesday, 17 December 2013

What I've been reading

Image of the book cover

The Rendezvous and Other Stories
by Daphne du Maurier
"The stories in this collection, some written before du Maurier published her first novel, reflect many human emotions: romance, disenchantment, fantasy, nostalgia, ambition, irony, the longing for adventure."
They were a varied bunch of stories, none outstandingly good or memorable, but sharply drawn and beautifully atmospheric. I'm sure I used to enjoy short stories, but these didn't really hit the spot.

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The Love Letter
by Fiona Walker
"When Allegra North parted from first love Francis after a decade together, she poured all her regret into a letter. He didn't reply. A year later, her job brings her back to the beautiful Devon coast where romance first blossomed."
The tenth of my 12 Books of Christmas, and I'm sure nobody will be surprised that I didn't enjoy it. It was, however, much better than most of the others, perhaps even the best yet, but still so far into the territory of Chick Lit that it couldn't be retrieved by the decent standard of the writing. A lot of characters are introduced, all of whom have complicated relationships with each other, and I couldn't be bothered to read back and untangle them all. It went on for ever, the eponymous love letter hardly featured, and I was relieved when it was all over.

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Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch
by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

narrated by Stephen Briggs
"The armies of Good and Evil are amassing, the Four Bikers of the apocalypse are revving up, and everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except that a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon are not particularly looking forward to the coming rapture, having thoroughly enjoyed life on earth amongst the mortals."
Another disappointment - the effect of Terry Pratchett in audiobook form seems to have worn off. I found it too difficult to follow what was going on and who all the characters were. There seemed to be less cleverness in the story, or if it was there, I missed it. And it was a pity that the young characters sounded like they had been lifted from Just William, and seemed hopelessly out of date.

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The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
by Anne Bronte

narrated by Alex Jennings and Jenny Agutter
"Helen Graham has returned to Wildfell Hall in flight from a disastrous marriage. Exiled to the desolate moorland mansion, she adopts an assumed name and earns her living as a painter."
In contrast with my recent choices of reading, this seemed exceptionally good. Despite being set in a period where social life and mores differ significantly from our own, it provided a realistic story with believable people, although I didn't find any of them particularly attractive. Against a background of the best of classic literature, however, I expect it is not quite as exceptional as it seemed on this occasion.

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