Sunday, 24 August 2014

What I've been reading

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The History of Mr Polly
by H. G. Wells

narrated by Paul Shelley
"Mr Polly is an ordinary middle-aged man who is tired of his wife's nagging and his dreary job as a gentleman's outfitter in a small town. Faced with the threat of bankruptcy, he concludes that the only way to escape his frustrating existence is by burning his shop to the ground and killing himself."
It took a while to get going - about half of the book, actually, but then things moved forward a bit quicker. Quite different from Wells' science fiction (e.g. The Time Machine, The Invisible Man and War of the Worlds), this is just a simple history of an ordinary chap living a dull life until he burns his house down. It doesn't get a whole lot more exciting after his act of arson, but it's a pleasant read nonetheless.

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Mike and Psmith
by P. G. Wodehouse

narrated by Graham Seed
"Mike is a seriously good cricketer who forms an unlikely alliance with old Etonian Psmith after they both find themselves fish out of water at a new school, Sedleigh. They eventually overcome the hostility of others and their own prejudices to become stars."
Apparently this is one of Wodehouse's earlier works, and it shows. Not as refined, not as funny, not such whimsical use of language as the later books, and the greatest sin from my point of view is that a whole chunk of plot towards the end of the book is re-used in a later Blandings book that I've read quite recently. The reviews also point out that if you're not too familiar with the laws and rituals of cricket, then a lot of it won't make much sense.

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Me Before You
by Jojo Moyes
"Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he's going to put a stop to that."
Although the author is pretty fair minded about setting out opposing arguments for the moral point (avoiding plot spoilers here but you can probably guess what it's about), I have pretty much made up my mind which side I'm on, so the alternative view seemed unconvincing. Quite a few people have recommended this book, and it was a good choice for audio because in print I would have skipped ahead just to find out what happens more quickly. I suppose that means it was a bit long-winded, but I didn't really mind, I was just a bit impatient to see if it ended satisfactorily.

Image of the book cover

Portuguese Irregular Verbs
by Alexander McCall Smith

narrated by Hugh Laurie
"In the unnaturally tall form of Professor Doctor Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld, we are invited to meet a memorable character whose sublime insouciance is a blend of the cultivated pomposity of Frasier Crane and of Inspecteur Clouseau's hapless gaucherie."
There was nothing wrong with this book at all, it was perfectly all right. But there was nothing outstanding about it either, and because of the Germanic background of the main characters, the narrator rightly used a German accent for their dialogue, which felt a bit like mockery. I'm not inclined to seek out the subsequent books in the series, but if you felt like reading this I wouldn't stop you.


  1. We wondered where you were. We even rang your Mum......

    1. I've been very neglectful. I've a couple more lined up, so it shouldn't be such a long wait for the next!


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