Monday, 5 August 2013
What Have I Been Reading..?
Two of the best books I've read this summer absorbed many hours late in July. My friend Rosie brought me Jenny Colgan's 'The Loveliest Chocolate shop in Paris,' knowing that I would love it. It's ten years exactly since Jeremy and I had our first holiday on the Left Bank (and I spent the whole time reading James Baldwin's 'Another Country' and Jacqueline Susann's 'The Love Machine.') and in lieu of our returning this year Jenny Colgan's novel is a welcome substitute. It's a very heady, romantic, sweet-but-never-too-sweet concoction and I loved every moment of it. It's like when we learn about the black pepper in the most sophisticated chocolates - there's a sharpness and a darkness in the mix that makes it just right.
Then I was onto Harriet Evans's 'Happily Ever After' which I loved as a pure, unadulterated romp - but again, with some surprisingly dark twists and turns and some just wonderful characterisation. I was *gasping* to know what was going to go off next.
And since then - and because all my recent reading has consisted of very recent books - I have decided to go back, and dig deeper into my endless bookcases of To-Be-Read-at-a-Later-Date-Novels. Harriet Evans's book made me want to read Georgette Heyer (as did Julie Cohen's 'The Summer of Living Dangerously', about this time last year.) and so I dug out a (as it turns out) first edition hardback I picked up in a vintage shop in Stockport last November. 'The Grand Sophy' has kept me entertained this weekend. Which other novel has a complicated denouement with everyone pairing off and dozens of ducklings scattering around their feet? I loved all the ridiculous exchanges and set-pieces and Sophy herself - threatening loan sharks with pistols and driving her carriage like Boudicca through the fanciest streets in London, causing uproar everywhere. 'Don't be such a cake,' might well become a catchphrase round here...
And now I'm in the middle of the very earliest adventures of Leslie Charteris's the Saint. Back in 1930, during the three linked adventures that form 'Enter the Saint' Simon Templar was much camper than he'd be even in the 1960s. Back in pre-War Soho he's calling all the villains 'ducky' and 'dearie', making up rude limericks and refusing to take anyone very seriously at all. Much more like John Steed than Bond, really. I'm reading a wonderful Pan copy - though I'm tempted by the brand new re-issues I've noticed... Perhaps they'll have more comfortably-sized print..?
Here below is Monday's Book Loot. The charity shop round the corner from us is an Aladdin's cave for the mouldering and the macabre.
So... what are you reading..?