read_warbler (read_warbler) wrote,

Catching up

Catching up with a few quick reviews today, books I enjoyed but didn't really want to do a full post on. Under the cut, books by David Suchet, Robert McFarlane and Jonathan Aycliffe.

First up, Poirot and Me by David Suchet.

Because I've been reading a few Agatha Christies recently I grabbed this when I saw it on the shelf in the library. It was a light read, probably only of interest to real Poirot afficionados, which I'm probably not although I have enjoyed the Poirot books I've read and of course love David Suchet in the role. The book covers his entire experience from being cast, right through to his last performance. In fact it starts out with him playing Poirot in the episode where he dies... although that was not in fact the last time he played him. I enjoyed all the ups and downs he experienced, although if you believe what you read about actors 'ups and downs' are their lives, but in the end it did become a bit repetive. How he almost never knew if there would be another series made for instance so found it hard to plan for future roles, although this must be an awkward thing, when you've read it ten times you start to roll your eyes a bit. All in all, Mr. Suchet comes over as a lovely man, if a trifle pedantic (he freely admits to having more than a passing resemblance to Poirot), and this was a good bedtime read for me.

Next, The Old Ways by Robert McFarlane.

My problem here is that I've been reading this for months and months and that which I read at the beginning has been Lost in The Mists of Time. So, I'm going to nick part of the synopsis Goodreads has supplied:

Told in Macfarlane's distinctive voice, The Old Ways folds together natural history, cartography, geology, archaeology and literature. His walks take him from the chalk downs of England to the bird islands of the Scottish northwest, from Palestine to the sacred landscapes of Spain and the Himalayas. Along the way he crosses paths with walkers of many kinds — wanderers, pilgrims, guides, and artists. Above all this is a book about walking as a journey inward and the subtle ways we are shaped by the landscapes through which we move. Macfarlane discovers that paths offer not just a means of traversing space, but of feeling, knowing, and thinking.

It was a delightful book. Macfarlanes's style of writing is magical, introspective, informative... very engaging. On balance, I didn't think this was quite as good as Mountains of the Mind but this is possibly because I took so long to read it, perhaps it made it feel a bit interminable. Note to self: read these non-fictions a bit more quickly! The Old Ways was my book 21 for Bev's Mount TBR 2016 challenge.

Lastly, A Shadow on the Wall by Jonathan Aycliffe.

The Rector of Thornham St. Stephen, in Norfolk, Edward Atherton, has died in mysterious circumstances after opening the tomb of the 14th century Abbot of Thornham. His brother, Matthew, approaches unversity don, Richard Asquith, to help him discover more about his brother's death. Asquith has a bit of a reputation for investigating the supernatural. It's not long of course before all kinds of rum doings are unearthed, literally, and things go really badly for everyone involved... or even not involved. I did enjoy this M.R. James style gothic novel. The writing is not of James' quality, but then you wouldn't expect that, it is very readable and after a slow start becomes very creepy indeed. I like the way it meanders all over the place, even venturing to the French Pyrennees at one stage. It is supposed to be a Victorian yarn and that didn't always come over, but that's a common fault with modern authors who set stories in Victorian times and it didn't over bother me. This gothicky style of creepy story is my thing I suppose, and there are *loads* of them in various supernatural anthologies and I would encourage anyone to seek them out. Some of those written by quite obscure authors from the early part of the 20th. century are absolutely 'terrific'... especially female writers. Virago did a couple of superb anthologies which I can't recommend highly enough. This was my 3rd. book for Carl's R.I.P. XI challenge.
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