Literary Life: April in Review


We’re four months into 2015 and I can’t help but wonder where the time has gone. The years just drip away, don’t they?

I don’t feel as though I have read much this month, I hope to make up for that in May by powering through the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlist. Whilst doing my usual and volunteering for the Brighton Festival. Where April was slow, May is going to be wonderfully busy. I’ll be doing my usual and not posting on bank holiday Monday’s, so there will be no review on the 4th and 25th of May.

Currently Reading:

The Odyssey by Homer
King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider Haggard



I’ve Read:

  1. When You Are Engulfed In Flames by David Sedaris
  2. A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George
  3. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  4. The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice
  5. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson
  6. The Last Pier by Roma Tearne
  7. The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna van Praag

In other news:

It’s the Brighton Festival once again, so as mentioned above I’ll be helping, noting and blogging as usual. You can read my 2013 and 2014 festival experiences to recap.

And here’s a video on this year’s festival:

How was your April? Do anything fun? What did you read? Will you be visiting the Brighton Festival?


Review: A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George

For someone who doesn’t read a large amount of crime fiction, I have an indelible love of crime drama. Scary whodunits, the close-knit teams and sometimes a little tumultuous romance too. It’s grim, and when it’s done well it’s gritty. And, should it be American, it’s plain hilarious.

I’m open to most, but my favourites are Murder, She Wrote; Morse; Lewis; Wallander; Above Suspicion; Midsomer Murders; Diagnosis Murder; Poirot; Miss Marple; Broadchurch; Jonathan Creek and….. The Inspector Lynley Mysteries.

I was (still am) fairly obsessed with The Inspector Lynley Mysteries when I was young/a teen, Barbara Havers was and is my hero. Which brings me to Elizabeth George, author of the titular hero. TV Tommy Lynley is dark haired, fair and down the line. Book Lynley, well, not so much.

Which brings me to Elizabeth George, author of the titular hero. TV Tommy Lynley is dark haired, fair and down the line. Book Lynley, well, not so much.

‘Now into Keldale’s pastoral web of old houses and older secrets comes Scotland Yard Inspector Thomas Lynley, the eighth earl of Asherton. Along with the redoubtable Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers, Lynley has been sent to solve a savage murder that has stunned the peaceful countryside. For fat, unlovely Roberta Teys has been found in her best dress, an axe in her lap, seated in the old stone barn beside her father’s headless corpse. Her first and last words were “I did it. And I’m not sorry.”

Yet as Lynley and Havers wind their way through Keldale’s dark labyrinth of secret scandals and appalling crimes, they uncover a shattering series of revelations that will reverberate through this tranquil English valley—and in their own lives as well.’ GoodReads.

In A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George, Tommy Lynley is a blonde haired Lothario who has slept his way around the met. He’s brilliant, just as his TV counterpart is too, but he’s naughty. I can see why they cleaned up some of his backstory.

The differences from novel to TV are enough that I don’t dislike either and am able to see each as a separate entity from the other. This could be because I watched the TV show first, but I hope it’s because Nathaniel Parker and Sharon Small make Lynley and Havers their own.

Havers, Lynley’s antagonist, is a sharp, disgruntled WPC. Adamant she has been discriminated by the force and determined that Lynley is somehow part of the problem, allowed to saunter around the Met with all his privileges on show. She’s not beautiful, she’s smart, although the attitude to beauty is slightly off and I felt somehow appearance mattered.

Havers is essentially to the novel as she is the readers entry point, the character we identify with. Well, she is for me anyway. She’s from a working class family with a difficult home life, she is an everybody. The rich and privileged are few, without Havers Lynley would be difficult to like.

Havers has a chip on her shoulder, but by the end of the novel you feel as though she and Lynley are at the beginnings of a profitable partnership.

Trigger warning, the book deals with the very serious topic of child abuse and some scenes are traumatic.

What are you favourite detective partnerships?


Being Social [with the help of books]

As a book lover do you:

a) Use books as conversational ice-breakers?
b) Sometimes find yourself overcome with the urge to talk to someone about the book you can see they are reading because you’ve either read or want to read it?
c) Get spoken to because of what you are reading?
d) All of the above?

I realise that being interrupted while you are reading, or interrupting someone else while they are reading, is somewhat impertinent. But, sometimes I’ll see someone reading We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves or some other wonderful book and just feel the need to tell them how wonderful it was to read.

And I’m an introvert. The people avoiding, robot embracing sort of introvert.

waacboI love to enthuse about We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

Books are just the best subject to talk to strangers about, especially when faced with awkward social situations where all you want to do is avoid small talk (I can only pretend to like so many cats). One minute these new people are near strangers and the next you’re debating Shakespeare’s worth. All from books.

If I didn’t love reading I wouldn’t have a blog, bookish internet friends, book festivals to visit, volunteering roles or probably even my job. From one thing sprang a chain of events that have pushed me forward in all sorts of ways.

How has your love of books affected your life? Do you interrupt readers? Do strangers talk to you about what you are reading? What are you reading?