Friday, August 31, 2012

Book Review - Absent in the Spring

Absent in the SpringAbsent in the Spring by Mary Westmacott

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A happily married English woman with 3 grown children is stranded on a trip home from Iraq and is at a station in the desert in the middle of nowhere. The food is meagre and poor, she quickly reads her two books and there is nothing more to do but take walks.

After several days of alone, she has what I would call an epiphany and sees the ways she has always behaved with her family, urging them under her control. She seems to be given a second chance at asking forgiveness of them and making life more positive.

She is so relieved when she is finally home and is convicted that she should make amends as soon as possible.

I will not spoil it by writing about what occurs. This was an excellent look at a life not well lived, and being shown how to correct it for the better. It is a lesson to be learned for any of us.

I would actually like to re title this as "Absent in Her Head" as it seems as though she was not cognizant of her own character traits. This is my 2nd Christie fiction book and I was surprised and delighted at the story line and it's affect.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Book Review - The Uninvited Guests

The Uninvited GuestsThe Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

As one who does not read the previews much before reading the book, I was a bit surprised at where this story ended up from where it began.

What seems to be a very proper English family is upended when a group of travelers from a train accident show up at their home on the night of the oldest daughter's birthday. The father has gone to the city in hopes of working a financial miracle to save their home.

Without giving away too much, the evening takes some very strange turns as the stranded travelers seek food and comfort and a strange man shows up at the door.

Then things get quite bizarre but with all turning right at the end. Rather strange and supernatural.

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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Book Review - Some Old Lover's Ghost

Some Old Lover's GhostSome Old Lover's Ghost by Judith Lennox

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Starting in the year 1912 in England and spanning until current day, this book was rather a saga of families torn apart by a rape of a young maid by her wealthy master and the baby it produced, as well as the destruction and anguish of two world wars.

Now in her 80's, Tilda, employs Rebecca to write her biography, with the hidden desire that she might unravel one great mystery of the family. The story segues from old to current times, weaving a story of deception and pain. At the same time, Rebecca's story is also one of pain and hurt, as she continues to find her way as a young writer.

The characters are well formed, although there seems to be much jumping to conclusions on many of their parts, that only leads to more doubt and confusion in their relationships.

All the plot lines tied up neatly at the end, and not a page too soon, as this was a bit long at 474 pages.

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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Book Review - The Soldier's Wife

The Soldier's WifeThe Soldier's Wife by Joanna Trollope

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The inner workings of a British soldiers' family are on display in this very insightful story. Dan is home from from Afghanistan, at least physically, although his emotions are still very much with his men as he seeks to assist them in acclimating back to their home life. Wife Alexa and three daughters are left to continue on their own, as Dan cannot seem to reconnect as needed.

The couples' parents and grandparents give the family lots of space at first, but then combine to offer their support and help when they realize life is not all it should be.

Alexa is a strong woman who loves her husband and children deeply, but who would still like to use her life skills in another career. This seems impossible due to the demands of an Army life.

After weeks of turmoil, the couple finally come to some conclusions about their lives and what is most important to both of them.

Trollope always writes within her characters a full range of emotions and her stories are compelling. I learned so much about how the lives on both sides of the equation of military life are affected from wartime and all the baggage it brings with it.

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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Book Review - Wodehouse is the Best Medicine

Wodehouse Is The Best MedicineWodehouse Is The Best Medicine by P.G. Wodehouse

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Funny, clever short stories with that British spin always makes for a good read. Contrived plots filled with quirky characters and it all comes right in the end.

If you love humorous writing and especially British humor, you will love these stories.

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Friday, August 17, 2012

Book Review - The Burden

The BurdenThe Burden by Mary Westmacott

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have owned this paperback forever, (it sold for 45 cents!!)but just never read it although I am a HUGE Christie fan.

The story begins simply with Laura being quite jealous of new baby sister, Shirley. After a near tragedy, Laura becomes smitten with Shirley and devotes her life to her care, nearly smothering her with love. Shirley marries Henry and the plot becomes more involved.

Other characters in the story are Baldy, their neighbor who is influential in both the girls lives, and two other men, both love interests.

I dislike giving away too much in a review, so will suffice to say, that although there was major sadness in this book, it was very worthwhile reading. The characters are mostly likable and all challenging in their views on life.

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Book Review - Elegy for Eddie

Elegy for Eddie (Maisie Dobbs #9)Elegy for Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reading each book in this series featuring Masie Dobbs, is rather like re-uniting with an old friend, catching up on her life and being given insight into how her mind works. It is not necessary to read all the previous books, but I would recommend it to receive the fullest view of Masie and her life.

This book, set in 1938 London, has Masie investigating the death of a young man known to her since childhood. She owns great skill in her work and always seems to know what to do and also what she can do to help others, sometimes regretting her actions.

Masie is a very introspective woman and it is fascinating to see how her mind operates. She is focused, but yet still unsure of what she wants for her life in the long run. Having inherited money after a childhood of very limited means, she has more options opened to her. Having lost her first true love in World War I, she is now in a relationship with James who loves her dearly.

A theme of the story concerns the rise of Hitler and his unparalleled thirst for power and evil.

This series is always a page turner and makes you long to know what next will happen with Masie.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Book Review - The New House

The New HouseThe New House by Lettice Cooper

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Written in 1934 and set in those days, this story revolves around a family who faces "removal" to a new home due to the death of the father and more limited resources. Its' 319 pages cleverly consists of three parts: Morning, Noon and Night.

What might be utterly boring becomes insightful gleanings from each family member as their thoughts and conversations meander between the present day and past ones. We are given glimpses into the inner workings of their personalities and are either charmed by them or repelled.

I found myself agreeing with various thoughts and cheering on one of the characters to buck up and become more of her own person. I also saw myself in a more negative tone with some of their thoughts.

Although the times and customs are quite different now, I would call this book ageless, as it deals at heart with the constant human condition of relationships in families.

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