December 29th, 2011

book and cup

#127 Death Comes to Pemberley - P D James (2011)

The year is 1803, and Darcy and Elizabeth have been married for six years. There are now two handsome and healthy sons in the nursery, Elizabeth's beloved sister Jane and her husband Bingley live nearby and the orderly world of Pemberley seems unassailable. But all this is threatened when, on the eve of the annual autumn ball, the guests are preparing to retire for the night when a chaise appears, rocking down the path from Pemberley's wild woodland. As it pulls up, Lydia Wickham - Elizabeth's younger, unreliable sister - stumbles out screaming that her husband has been murdered. Inspired by a lifelong passion for the work of Jane Austen, PD James masterfully recreates the world of Pride and Prejudice, and combines it with the excitement and suspense of a brilliantly-crafted crime story. Death Comes to Pemberley is a distinguished work of fiction, from one of the best-loved, most- read writers of our time.

I have read Pride and Prejudice abbout 3 times, and seen various TV adaptations too. It is a story I am very familiar with, the characters people I almost feel I know. So although I was really looking forward to reading this novel, I didn't expect to find exact replicas of Jane Austen's characters - and I didn't. It was lovely to be back among the characters of Pride and Prejudice, and to have a good old fashioned mystery thrown in to the mix - well for me what's not to like? However readers expecting a complete recreation of Austen's world will be disappointed. P D James is not Jane Austen, nor I am sure would she claim to be. I haven't read many books by P D James - maybe 2 or 3 a long time ago and so I am not sure how complex her plots tend to be, but I did think this one was pretty obvious. Without giving away any spoilers - I who am usually no good at working these things out - guessed two thirds of the why's and wherefors. Having said all that this is a damn good read, and I loved being in the Austenesque world, with these characters again.

I may now read Murder at Mansfield Park on my kindle this week in order to join in with a competition I spotted on twitter - but as I need to read it by the 8th or 9th of Jan and I have a book club read to read first it could be tight.
book and cup

#128 Season of Secrets - Sally Nicholls (2010)

On a wild and stormy night Molly runs away from her grandparent's house. Her dad has sent her to live there until he Sorts Thing Out at home. In the howling darkness, Molly sees a desperate figure running for his life from a terrifying midnight hunt. He has come to help her. But why? And who is he? SEASON OF SECRETS weaves the tale of a heartbroken child and an age-old legend into a haunting story of love, healing and strange magic.

This was the latest of our book group selections. Certainly it's not a book I would have picked otherwise. It was presented to us as a YA book, it isn't - it is a children's book, an older children's book perhaps but a children's book nonetheless. Nothing wrong with children's books of course, nothing wrong with adults reading them. I think I just struggle reviewing things for which I am not the target audience.

Having said that I thought it was an enjoyable little read. Well written with a sympathetic narrative voice in the recently bereaved Molly. 'Season of secrets' weaves the magical myths which surround ancient tales of The Green Man, with the changing seasons and the grief anger and vulnerability of two young girls who having lost their mother, have been sent away by their father.
I read this in a few hours today (either side of an exhaustive massive shopping trip) and found it a charming easy to curl up with read on an appropriately rainy/blustery day.
I am sure a 12/13 year old girl would love this slightly sad family drama with a hint of magic.


He spent much of his junior and senior year as a reserve for a tradition-rich college program going through a rough spell. He obtained a tryout for a professional team and spent the first few years of his career as a reserve for a tradition-rich program going through a rough spell.  His name, though, continues to surprise number-crunchers who would like to quantify the value of professional quarterbacks.  Search the records, though, and only one has earned the jewelry noted in the post title.  On to Book Review No. 36.  Keith Dunnavant is a long-time sports journalist, and his America's Quarterback: Bart Starr and the Rise of the National Football League leaves the unanswered social science questions, and there are many, to others.  But as such works go, it is not unabashedly hagiographic (an ill the genre is oft subject to) and it weaves a number of strands, including the adversity in the Starr family's life (a favored younger brother develops a tetanus infection, a promising son runs with the wrong crowd), the emergence of broadcast television and NFL Films concurrent with the Packers' title runs, and the changes in the national mood that coincided with those runs.  There are too many typographical errors to suit me, and the definitive social science investigation of the causal or collinear relationships between civil rights, the counter-culture, and the flamboyant athlete remain for some other researcher.  (A more famous Alabama alumnus would not have been as celebrated in the third Super Bowl absent a strong infusion of "do your own thing, man" into the supposedly stodgy culture of professional football.)  The book will reward careful study for the sports fan. Do your own comparison and contrast of Bart Starr and Brett Favre.  The latter has the stronger throwing arm; the former is more careful.  And reflect on Bart Starr's repeated shoulder injuries.  The book traces those events to a tackle by Atlanta's Tommy Nobis during Vince Lombardi's final season.

(Cross-posted to Cold Spring Shops.)
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