feather_ghyll: Lavendar flowers against white background (Beautiful flower (lavender))
Magic Flutes: Eva Ibbotson Picador 2009

I didn’t get as emotional this time as I did when first reading this, but there was certainly a moment where Tessa is so giving that made me catch my breath.

When looking up the chronology of Ibbotson’s books to see what came after ‘A Countess Below Stairs’, I discovered it was ‘Magic Flutes’, which I think was one of the last of Ibbotson’s books for adults - although it’s to be found on teenage fiction/young adult shelves now - that I came across, and that this book has won the Romantic Novel of the Year award in the early eighties. Now, I can’t claim to have read all the books in contention, but I can see why.

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feather_ghyll: Photograph of L M Montgomery at the seaside (L M Montgomery)
Last week, I went away for a few days and these are some of the books that I read then:

The School on the Moor: Angela Brazil

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Reread: A Countess Below Stairs: Eva Ibbotson

(I think I will reread all my Ibbotsons as a project.)

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Penelope’s Prefects: Judith Carr

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feather_ghyll: drawing of a girl from the 1920s reading a book in a bed/on a couch (Twenties girl reader)
I happened to read two books about two foundlings recently: Blue of the Sea by L. T. Meade and The Star of Kazan by Eva Ibbotson. The former is an example of a potentially good story, failed by a lack of care and, to a modern day reader, rampant and unsustained snobbishness. The latter I can recommend if you want to curl up to a satisfying read.

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feather_ghyll: Black and white photograph of early C20 girl with plait reading (Girl with a plait reading)
A Girl of the Fourth: A. M. Irvine Partridge
(Subtitled The Story of an Unpopular School-Girl)

With this book, the bar has been set for the worst and most lurid book that I’ll read this year, and I have to own I didn’t want to put it down. I had to, of course, because such is life, but it was a compelling and ridiculous read.

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feather_ghyll: Girl reading a book that is resting on her knees (Default)
I have just returned from my first ever trip to Paris, where I was staying at a hotel that did not have Eurosport, sadly, so I couldn't watch the men’s US Open final. I really, really wish I’d been able to see it!

While there, I stumbled upon the famous Shakespeare & Co. That is to say, I meant to go there, but did so accidentally. It’s a cramped shop – too little space between the floor-to-ceiling shelves and too many of us tourists and bibliophiles shuffling through it. I felt obliged to buy something (in English, my French is about good enough to order food I want to eat these days). I popped into several bookshops – some catering for English readers, but quite a few definitely not - just because it's a compulsion of mine.

I visited a lot of touristy places and found quieter formal jardins to recover and in which I could read incongruous books such as the following

The Headland Mystery: Arthur Groom. The Children's Press.

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Madensky Square: Eva Ibbotson. Arrow, 1998.

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The Goats: Brock Cole. Cornerstone Books, 1989.

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feather_ghyll: Back of girl whose gloved hand is holding on to her hat. (Girl in a hat)
Some biographical information on Katherine L. Oldmeadow and a review of Princess Prunella here, which I first read when I was young enough that going to France did seem like a remarkable event to me.

Lyzzybee has written an enthusiastic review of Eva Ibbotson's Journey to the River Sea that doesn’t give too much of the plot away but gives a good idea of what to expect and why you should read it (if you haven’t).

Mystery subgenres explained in the Washington Independent Review of Books.
feather_ghyll: Girl reading a book that is resting on her knees (Default)
Looking back at the last ten posts, I see I've been writing about tennis and non-fiction books, which isn't very representative. I've read quite a few books that I could have reviewed here, but didn't for one reason or another. I say "summer" because it's quite chilly and not one of these books were read on a beach.

Working backwards, here are some overviews of what I've been reading:

Casino for Sale: Caryl Brahms and S.J. Simon. The further adventures of the incomprable Ballet Stroganoff, as Stroganoff buys a casino in the south of France as a setting for his ballet company. Cue murder, balletomania and lots of laughing out loud.

Journey to the River Sea: Eva Ibbotson. The first book for children by Ibbotson that I read and it shares the same quality of 'just rightness' as her other books. It also shares a setting with 'A Company of Swans'.

Aunt Dimity's Good Deed: Nancy Atherton. The cosy series in which Aunt Dimity (a kindly spectral presence in this book) helps solve crimes and relationship woes continues, with the eccentricity of the characters who people this rose-tinted England rising ever higher. I enjoyed it but there's no getting away from the fact that bits of it are really peculiar.

The Intelligence Corps Saves the Island: M. Frow. (A sequel to 'The Intelligence Corps and Anna', which I see I didn't review.) The intelligence corps are two sets of twins and a dog. There are echoes of Swallows and Amazons and the Famous Five to this book, set at the end of a summer holiday in south-west Wales during the second world war. I wouldn't really recommend this, but I would the other three.
feather_ghyll: Book shop store front, text reading 'wear the old coat, buy the new book.' (Book not coat)
Since last posting more of my books from my parents' house have come to mine, including a Jeffrey Archer that wasn't mine and went straight into the charity shop bag. I hope to finish filling a second bag before the end of the week, as limited space is making me more ruthless. Not ruthless enough for my mother, and when I think of all the books that are still at theirs, I know that she's right with my head. I'm on the hunt for a bookshelf for a nook upstairs as one I was lent has been returned to its owner. I'm planning to get a taller one, which should help a little with the book piles.

Furthermore, I read Never Let Me Go in advance of the release of the film adaptation. It has haunted me and put me off reading school stories for a little. I then read Magic Flutes by Eva Ibbotson, who has passed away (I was alerted by [livejournal.com profile] callmemadam). I only started reading her books very recently, but I've loved all of them. In fact, Magic Flutes's Tessa brought me to tears twice and I don't easily cry (or like opera). Something about her selflessness touched me. So, I am saddened at the news of her creator.
feather_ghyll: Black and white body shot a row of ballet dancers (Ballet girls)
Another review having to be written because of the icon!?

A Company of Swans: Eva Ibbotson. Young Picador. 2008 reprint.

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A note about tagging. I've dubbed this 'historical setting: Edwardian', taking that era in the loose sense of 'up to World War I' (thanks Wikipedia).
feather_ghyll: Black and white body shot a row of ballet dancers (Ballet girls)
In the ideal world of my intentions, there would be full reviews of all these books, but I have to admit that, under current circumstances, there is no way that I can do them justice, so it's better to clear the desks with some quick overviews.

The Third Class at Miss Kaye's: Angela Brazil: I didn't realise when I read it quite how early a book this was, although I picked up on the references to (the lack of) plumbing and transport. In fact, it's only something like the second of Brazil's school stories, and comes off like The Fortunes of Phillippa meets For the Sake of the School. One of the more notable things about the story of how dreamy only child, Sylvia, becomes a normalised schoolgirl, is the role that the headmistress, Miss Kaye, plays. Brazil could have titled this The Third Class at Heathercliffe House, but the reference to Miss Kaye is crucial. She's in the wise Hilda Annersly mould and even more obviously influential - and a contrast to A Worth-while Term, which has a novice headteacher, somewhat in the mould of Madge Bettany, although author Judy Irwin come off the worst in any comparison with Brent-Dyer. For one thing, the book seems to be set in an alternate universe where the question mark was never invented.

Cicely, who is in her early twenties, inherits a school from a woman she befriended on a cruise during the outbreak of the second world war. As you do. Said friend didn't disclose that she was very sick to Cicely, who finds herself in charge of a small, select and slack school after said friend dies. Can she turn it around?

More entertaining, and surprising to me, was Mollie Chappell's Endearing Young Charms, which is a romance, though not that far removed from her books for older girls. I only knew Chappell as a children's writer - she comes off as somewhere between Oxenham and Streatfeild in tone, and this book certainly has charm. I'll be looking out for more of her romances.

Also amusing was Jane Shaw's Fourpenny Fair. Penny's a heroine by accident, her kind heart not being married with much sense, and her accidents are usually pretty funny. Even funnier was A Bullet in the ballet by Simon and Brahms, hence the icon. Definitely not a children's book, it's a comic murder mystery, with Inspector Quill of Scotland Yard trying to solve a murder, which of course becomes a series of murders, with the hinderance of the Stroganov Ballet Company, who live ballet, breathe ballet and try to be helpful to the nice police inspector who has never seen even the most well-known ballets and is trying to find the assassin of the ballet dancers who can breathe no more. By the end, I was literally roaring with laughter, you know, loud, hearty laughter. This is the first in a series and I'll be looking out for the rest.

Ethel Talbot's Ranger Rose was fortunately not terrible (which Talbot can be), but slight in some ways, although it's theme and Rose's journey were trying to tackle big issues. Weird ending though, and disappointing handling of the big final scene.

Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging is out in the cinemas this week. I won't be going to see it, despite having read the first two books, which I didn't find that funny. Coming soon is Emma 'Nancy Drew' Roberts in Wild Child, where a Malibu brat is sent to an English boarding school, where her dead father used to play quidditch her dead mother used to play lacrosse. The trailer looks as though it's trying for something between the Paris Hilton/Nicole Ritchie TV show, the Trebizon books and the recent St Trinian revamp, which I avoided. Unless if the reviews change my mind, which I doubt, I'll be avoiding this too.


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October 2017



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