Saturday, July 26, 2014

Books read 2014 #3

Having been back in my last books read update and read a book I enjoyed back in the Dark Ages when I was young, I found second-hand copies of some books I enjoyed as a teenager via Abebooks.

#11 Liz Berry Mel 
It turned out that I had managed to remember Mel and The China garden as one book, which isn't the case, although having now re-read both of them I remember why I enjoyed both. Funny what the brain remembers 20 years down the line, isn't it?
Mel is about somebody called, funnily enough, Mel, a 17 year old whose Mum has just had a breakdown and who decides to redecorate their house over the summer. Which doesn't sound that exciting, but I found it quite inspirational at the time, I seem to remember. So, it's about a seventeen-year-old who turns her life around and sorts out her career, and does it on her own (although there a couple of love interests, she isn't dependent on them, which makes for a refreshing change in books) with a bit of help from her friends. I seem to have completely missed the predatory school teacher though when I originally read it!

#12 Liz Berry The China garden
The China garden also features a teenager, Clare, who moves with her mother to an ancient English estate, where strange things start to happen. She slowly unlocks the secret behind the myths around the place, and discovers the meaning of the China gardens. I found this totally compelling as a teenager, and loved the mixture of mystery and history woven into the story. Funnily enough it arrived on time to take on holiday with us in June, and it turned out we were heading to the same sort of area in which the novel is set!

#13 100 gardening questions answered
This is a compilation of gardening questions from Gardeners' World magazine, which the OH saw in WHSmith and bought for me. It's grouped into sections covering In your garden, techniques and problems and I've found it quite useful to dip in and out of.

#14 Liz Trenow The forgotten seamstress
I saw a copy of this book in a bookshop on holiday and thought it sounded interesting, but I get most of my fiction from the library (sorry, bookshop) so I popped online and reserved a copy to read when I got home again. A woman called Caroline discovers a quilt in her mother's attic and tries to find out more about it. Caroline's modern day story (fairly chick lit standard of girl in a mess looking for boy, finds boy, but with added quilting) is interspersed with the story of Maria, who created the quilt and who worked at Buckingham Palace and, ahem, caught the eye of the Prince of Wales. It is quite predictable, but it's a good read and I enjoyed the quilting stuff, although I don't know how realistic that is as I'm not a quilter myself...

#15 Julian Fellowes Past Imperfect
This was a chance find at the library, as it was on a display near the self-issue terminal as I took another book out and I ended up taking this out as well. It covers two periods of time, the Season in the 1960s, looked at from the perspective of someone who knows that way of life is coming to an end, and forty years later as the characters consider the consequences of their actions then. It took a while to get into it, and the ending wasn't altogether a surprise, but I found all the class snobbery amusing, with plenty of detail included. The story revolves around the central character, who is contacted by his enemy of forty years earlier, who is now dying. It turns out that this man conceived a child back then and now needs to track down his heir to leave his fortune to.

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