I’ve been incredibly lax on the blog this month, but with the scorching weather and some rubbish health issues to boot, I’ve struggled to have the motivation to read – or do very much of anything in fact – these past few weeks. I did manage to get through two books in early July though that I should have reviewed long before now.
This is a book I feel I should have read years and years ago.
After reading Wuthering Heights in my teens for my Advanced Higher English (A Level equivalent in Scotland) portfolio and finding it one of the most depressing books I’d ever encountered, I avoided the Brontës’ works for years. After watching the brilliant drama To Walk Invisible last year , which told the sisters’ story, I decided it was about time I got up to speed and duly added Jane Eyre and Agnes Grey to my to-read list.
I have something of a complex relationship with Sherlock Holmes pastiches – sometimes I really enjoy them, sometimes I’m completely ambivalent, sometimes I loathe them – but invariably I pick them apart with the relish of a pedant. Partly it’s because I’m too much of a book snob for my own good, but largely it’s due to the fact that Sherlock Holmes is a series so close to my heart that, although I always want more stories, I have almost unreasonably high standards when it comes to other people playing in the sandpit.
In the last ten days or so, I’ve got through three very different pastiches that between them showcase some of the best elements of Holmes imitations and also some of the reoccurring niggles I have with them. Here is a brief summary of what I thought about them – I will keep it spoiler free for any Holmes fans looking for a new mystery to enjoy.
This month, for the first time in my life, I joined a book club. It’s not something I’ve ever quite felt brave enough to do before – I’m anything but a social butterfly and I’m aware that being socially awkward and having fairly esoteric taste in books might not always endear me to other people. However, a friend from work was starting one and I thought I would at least give one meeting a try.
I’ve written on this blog before about just how much I love Dad’s Army (and various other classic comedies), but this new post is really for two reasons. Firstly, it was prompted by the Royal Mail’s new set of Dad’s Army stamps to celebrate the show’s 50th anniversary: each member of the platoon as well as their old adversary Mr Hodges is represented, along with a key catchphrase. I think it’s a lovely way to commemorate a show which has so much become part of our comedy culture.
Though it wasn’t actually planned, it feels wholly appropriate that I have finished reading Emmeline Pankhurst’s autobiographical account of the suffrage movement today, as thousands of women have marched in UK cities to commemorate the centenary of finally being awarded the vote. I am certain she would have approved of these parades!
Millicent Fawcett, Emmeline Pankhurst, Christabel Pankhurst, Emily Wilding Davison… these are names all synonymous with the battle for women’s suffrage. The name of Lady Constance Lytton is perhaps less well known to the general public, but she was just as committed to the cause and suffered just as much in fight to win the vote as her more famous comrades.
This biography by Lyndsey Jenkins does a marvellous job of explaining how a titled lady and the daughter of a former Viceroy of India came to be incarcerated in Holloway Prison and staged one of the most famous hunger strikes of the suffragette campaign. It chronicles her childhood and early life, her domestic concerns, her difficult relationship with her mother as well as her remarkable career as a suffragette.
I have a seriously British sense of humour: dry, sarcastic and occasionally more than a little silly. Consequently, I don’t click with a lot contemporary comedy shows, especially American ones. I love stand-up comedy and go to shows whenever I generally can, but what I love to watch more than practically anything else are classic British sitcoms.
Whatever else you can say about the British, my God we can make terrifically funny shows! So many of them are timeless; decades old and yet still pertinent and still hilarious. In fact, of the top five shows I’ve chosen to highlight, three were made before I was born. What makes them so special though is that they never lose their impact. I’ve seen them all dozens of times and yet each episode can still make me laugh – and that is what I think the hallmark of the best comedy is.
Last week I managed to get through a couple of relatively short books as a respite from marking dissertations and marketing reports. Given that one was written as an imagined sequel to the other, it made sense to review them together.
Is it worth warning for spoilers when one of the books is over a century old? Well, just in case, there will be spoilers in both of these reviews because it’s impossible to fully discuss them without giving the key plot points away!
This was very much a cover-orientated choice for me. I saw the words ‘Orient Express’ and ‘Agatha Christie’ and immediately decided it was the sort of thing I must inevitably enjoy. I anticipated that it would involve Agatha Christie encountering a real murder on her journey aboard the famous train. As it turns out, it’s not a murder mystery at all. It is however, a rather enjoyable read!