A passage to India – E M Forster 

I started reading this as a library book and enjoyed it so much I bought the beautiful Hodder and Staughton edition pictured above.

This is a story about colonial India and how the British and Indian cultures clash and come together during that time.

It’s very much a book of its time and it portrayal of Indians is at times racist, however it’s also very scathing of the British treatment of India and their attitudes so it makes an interesting read. 

The language is poetic and the story ambles a little, it takes a long time to get to the point of the story. However once you realise that it takes about two thirds of the story to get to the main scenes it’s a very book to give you the colour and feel of the time and place it’s set in.

There’s no great plot, no twists or turns or unexpected happenings. It’s quite straightforward and very honest. A good read. 

Death on the Riviera – John Bude 

Another of my British Library Crime classics collection. This one by John Bude, I have several of his books now. Apart from a propensity to litter his books with repetitive Latin words his books are very enjoyable.

This one is less about a murder than you might think from the title and more about counterfeit bank notes. However towards the end of the book the murder of course does happen in a nicely fantastic, improbably, but possibly could just work fashion.

A very enjoyable read and possibly one of my favourite of the collection so far. It manages to capture some of the flavour of the Riviera too and even has a little romance involved. I think my next BLCC may well be another John Bude. 

Aspects of the novel – E M Forster 

This book is actually a series of lectures which were given by Forster at Trinity College, Cambridge in 1927. The lectures are broken down as follows:

  1. Introduction
  2. The story
  3. People
  4. People continued
  5. The plot
  6. Fantasy
  7. Prophecy
  8. Pattern and rhythm
  9. Conclusion

The style is very approachable and chatty. I was worried that this would be quite a full, dry book but it’s actually quite an engaging read in parts.

The book starts well and in people he introduces the famous ’round’ and ‘flat’ characters and some interesting concepts.He ‘s also not above tearing some quite famous authors world to pieces which adds to the interest.

However around fantasy and prophecy it seems to lose it’s its way a bit and become loose and woolly and it never really recovers from there which is a shame.

Nevertheless it’s a good read for any aspiring authors or book critics, or anyone with a love  for E M Forster’s works.

The mystery at Underwood House -Clara Benson

This is the second book in the Angels Marchmont series, this time it is written directly from Angela’s point of view.

I felt like I got to know Angela better in this story. There were interesting snippets about her life, her background, and her personality. It certainly left me feeling like I would like to get to know her better.

The writing was better in this book too, not that it was bad in the first one by any means, but it felt like the author was really getting into her stride.

I’d read a few reviews of both the books and they all said the murderer was less easy to guess in the second book than the first, but I actually guessed who did it in this book quite quickly, along with most of the reason why. It was probably just a lucky guess though and didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the book.

This certainly isn’t high brow reading but if you are lying home at bed I’ll  (like I currently am unfortunately) then these books and a cup of tea sound like heaven. Mine’s  a peppermint tea please…

The murder at Sissingham Hall – Clara Benson

This is the first in the Angela Marchmont Mystery books, a set of detective/crime novels set in the 1920’s.

Despite being a modern book this has all the hallmarks of a classic 1920’s crime novel, a house party, a spurned liver, an affair, an Inspector from Scotland Yard who is shown up by a amateure detective, what’s not to love?

In the whole it’s an enjoyable book. It’s not written from Angela Marchmont’s perspective, in fact she seems to be a secondary character in the book and I don’t feel at the end of the story that I’ve really got to know her at all.

There’s some good personal realationship storylines to the book and the murderer isn’t immediately obvious, and there’s a plot twist.

It’s probably not the most difficult crime novel out there, and I thought the ‘big reveal’ of whodunit was a bit to East. Nevertheless I enjoyed the feel of the story and the setting. It felt a bit Georgette Heyerish to me, (detective not regency) but with a better plot.

I ordered the second one in the series at the same time, so that’s tonight’s reading sorted.

Winter Holiday – Arthur Ransome 

This was my own choice for January reading and it was a bit of light relief after The Power.

This was also the first time since childhood that I have read one of Arthur Ransome’s books and I remembered how much I enjoyed them as a child. Winter Holiday never came my way before, so the story was new to me, although of course some of the characters weren’t.

At 484 pages this is not a young child’s book although there is a strong feel of the famous five about it at times. Children going off and having adventures by themselves, or in this case sometimes with Captain Flint, and getting into all sorts of trouble.

Like the famous five it is very much a book of its time with a certain amount of innate sexism (the girls are there to do the cooking etc) bit less so I think than the famous five.

I don’t think this would be my favourite book of the series, although Dick’s character’s fun, I’m less fond of Dorothea, it almost seems like she was added to the story to show what real ‘little girls’ are like, to highlight how much better Susan, Nancy etc are.

There’s also quite a lot of hanging around in the book. Whilst they do get up to some excitement in the meantime the main part of the adventure is all in the last few chapters, and the tests consists of them waiting for it to happen. This is mostly due to a rogue case of mumps, but does slow the book down a bit.

Despite all this I found the story thoroughly enjoyable and it awakened my love of Swallows and Amazon’s. At some point soon I need to read the series again and discover the few books I didn’t read the first time around.

It does help that I’ve seen some of the books with the most beautiful covers. Whilst I try not to judge a book by its cover it’s hard not to want to read one that looks like this: