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No 1 Ladies - Elephant

Four books

I'm so far behind with reviews it's not funny. On the other hand I have finished two challenges over the last few days, including the 25 book 'library' one, so it's not all bad. Perhaps I can do a brief summary of the four books in need of review and then start afresh.

One of the books I finished was Howards End is on the Landing by Susan Hill. I loved it to pieces but am not doing a review until I've had a chance to sit down and read it all over again. There was so much of interest, so much that inspired me in this book about books, that I feel I just can't do it justice until I've gone through it again. In the meantime here's my favourite quote from the chapter explaining how Hill simply doesn't get Jane Austen:

My younger daughter learned to love Jane Austen from the BBC television adaptation starring Colin Firth and a clutch of other fine actors. She watched it so many times that she knew it by heart and could hardly be deterred from reciting entire scenes for our entertainment, until, like Mary, she had delighted us long enough.

I just can't read that without giggling. Wonderful book and I am so thrilled I own it and can dip into it whenever the fancy takes me.

I read this next one because my grandaughter recommended it - it was No Such Thing as Dragons by Philip Reeve. I'm a huge Reeve fan - his Mortal Engines series is one of the best YA sci fi series around in my opinion - but I think this one was just a wee bit young for me. I can quite see how any 8 to 12 year old would love it though, with its interesting young characters and dragon hunt on the mountains in the depths of winter. It's also beautifully illustrated with a cover that is stunning. How lucky my grandaughter is to be a child now when children's books are experiencing an amazing upsurge in popularity with some brilliant writers flexing their muscles and producing some wonderful books.

Last week we had family here for half-term and I really thought I would have no time for reading at all. So I chose book six in Alexander McCall Smith's Mma Ramotswe series, In the Company of Cheerful Ladies, as a book that is easy reading for the few moments I might have.

I haven't read one of these in a while - last year I think - but the joy of them is that you can pick one and up and in no time at all you're immersed in life on Zebra Drive and Tokleng Road in Gabarone, Botswana. I'm not even sure I would call them detective novels. There are small mysteries, yes, and people's problems and family problems and problems with the folk who work at Speedy Motors and The No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. But the books are much more about the people in them than the crimes, fascinating as those are. In this book Mma Ramotswe knocks over a cyclist and gains a new employee for her husband. Her assistant, Mma Makutsi, takes up dancing lessons and finds romance, and Mma Ramotswe's cruel ex-husband, Note, returns. Doesn't sound like an awful lot of action I know, but somehow or other McCall Smith has a way of writing that makes it all so fascinating that you can't put the book down and when you do, you can't wait to pick it up again (those of us that like the books I mean, I know plenty do not :-)).

So I got through that book in no time flat, despite having visitors, and grabbed the next one to read - Blue Shoes and Happiness. In this one Mma Makutsi and Phuti Radiphuti are engaged but has she jeopardised the engagement by telling him she's a feminist? And Mma Ramotswe has worries of her own too. What's going on at the Mokolodi Game Reserve? Is it witchcraft or something else? And then there's a case of blackmail to solve... and an even stickier problem - should she go on a diet?

Wonderful. Absolutely wonderful. I only have three more of these to read so need to consider which of his series to read next. I have the first Isobel Dalhousie book, The Sunday Philosophy Club, from the library and am hoping that might be my kind of thing, but I also own The 2 1/2 Pillars of Wisdom, an omnibus which looks interesting too. We'll see. I'm just so glad that McCall Smith has plenty of other books and series for me to try because I'd really hate to have nothing new to read from this delightful author.


The Susan Hill will have to go on my list although our library doesn't have it yet. I need to read a book by someone who doesn't 'get' Jane Austen. :D
It's a very new book but well worth grabbing from the library if they get it. As to Austen, I'm not at all sure I don't prefer the dramatisations to the actual books. LOL.
The comment about Susan Hill's daughter "...like Mary, she had delighted us long enough," had me giggling too.

Not too many people are willing to admit they don't "get" Jane Austen, so Ms. Hill's honesty ought to make it an interesting read. (One of the people who commented on "Sense And Sensibility" at an online bulletin board thought it was a "big gyp" that Marianne got stuck with boring old Col. Brandon instead of her "True Love:" handsome, spontaneous, FUN Willoughby...I only hope he was being facetious...)
There are dry little comments like that all through the book - which is probably why I like it so much.

Sadly, quite a few of these people actually mean what they say. A scary thing...