TBR Thursday 170…

Episode 170…

I went off all confident to my TBR spreadsheet, sure that it would have gone down again. Imagine my surprise to see it’s gone up by THREE since the last time I reported, to 227! How did that happen? Still, there’s nothing like a surprise bounce to start the day with a bang…

Here are a few more that should jump off soon…

Classic Fiction

From my Classics Club list. Time to delve into one of the few books on my list that really don’t appeal much. I added this to my TBR years ago, thinking I’d try once again to learn to like Wilkie Collins. But the fact that it’s lingered there untouched for so long says it all, really. With such low expectations, I can only be pleasantly surprised, right? (It’s No Name, in case you can’t make out the tiny title.)

The Blurb says: Magdalen and her sister Norah, beloved daughters of Mr and Mrs Vanstone, find themselves the victims of a catastrophic oversight. Their father has neglected to change his will, and when the girls are suddenly orphaned, their inheritance goes to their uncle. Now penniless, the conventional Norah takes up a position as a governess, but the defiant and tempestuous Magdalen cannot accept the loss of what is rightfully hers and decides to do whatever she can to win it back. With the help of cunning Captain Wragge, she concocts a scheme that involves disguise, deceit and astonishing self-transformation. In this compelling, labyrinthine story Wilkie Collins brilliantly demonstrates the gap between justice and the law, and in the subversive Magdalen he portrays one of the most exhilarating heroines of Victorian fiction.

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Courtesy of Penguin Fig Tree via NetGalley. I’ve never read anything by Claire Fuller before but have often been tempted, and I found the blurb of this one very appealing…

The Blurb says: From the attic of a dilapidated English country house, she sees them — Cara first: dark and beautiful, clinging to a marble fountain of Cupid, and Peter, an Apollo. It is 1969 and they are spending the summer in the rooms below hers while Frances writes a report on the follies in the garden for the absent American owner. But she is distracted. Beneath a floorboard in her bathroom, she discovers a peephole which gives her access to her neighbours’ private lives.

To Frances’ surprise, Cara and Peter are keen to spend time with her. It is the first occasion that she has had anybody to call a friend, and before long they are spending every day together: eating lavish dinners, drinking bottle after bottle of wine, and smoking cigarettes till the ash piles up on the crumbling furniture. Frances is dazzled.

But as the hot summer rolls lazily on, it becomes clear that not everything is right between Cara and Peter. The stories that Cara tells don’t quite add up — and as Frances becomes increasingly entangled in the lives of the glamorous, hedonistic couple, the boundaries between truth and lies, right and wrong, begin to blur. Amid the decadence of that summer, a small crime brings on a bigger one: a crime so terrible that it will brand all their lives forever.

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Courtesy of Random House Cornerstone via NetGalley. I really wasn’t a fan of Birdsong, but I feel I should give Faulks at least one more opportunity to dazzle me. The blurb is appealing, the cover is gorgeous… what could go wrong? Unless he tries to write another sex scene*shudders*

The Blurb says: Here is Paris as you have never seen it before – a city in which every building seems to hold the echo of an unacknowledged past, the shadows of Vichy and Algeria.

American postdoctoral researcher Hannah and runaway Moroccan teenager Tariq have little in common, yet both are susceptible to the daylight ghosts of Paris. Hannah listens to the extraordinary witness of women who were present under the German Occupation; in her desire to understand their lives, and through them her own, she finds a city bursting with clues and connections. Out in the migrant suburbs, Tariq is searching for a mother he barely knew. For him in his innocence, each boulevard, Métro station and street corner is a source of surprise.

In this urgent and deeply moving novel, Faulks deals with questions of empire, grievance and identity. With great originality and a dark humour, Paris Echo asks how much we really need to know if we are to live a valuable life.

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Courtesy of the British Library. The evenings are getting darker and it’s nearly time for the Fretful Porpentine to come out of hibernation, so this should start the spooky season off with a shriek…

The Blurb says: From the once-popular yet unfairly neglected Victorian writer Charlotte Riddell comes a pair of novels which cleverly upholster the familiar furniture of the haunted house story.

In An Uninhabited House, the hauntings are seen through the perspective of the solicitors who hold the deed of the property. Here we find a shrewd comedic skewering of this host of scriveners and clerks, and a realist approach to the consequences of a haunted house how does one let such a property? Slowly the safer world of commerce and law gives way as the encounter with the supernatural entity becomes more and more unavoidable.

In Fairy Water, Riddell again subverts the expectations of the reader, suggesting a complex moral character for her haunting spirit. Her writing style is succinct and witty, rendering the story a spirited and approachable read despite its age.

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NB All blurbs and covers taken from Goodreads, Amazon UK or NetGalley.

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So…what do you think? Do any of these tempt you?

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51 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 170…

  1. I hadn’t realised there was a new Sebastian Faulks book, although he’s appearing at Cheltenham Literary Festival so that should have given me a clue. I’ve read and enjoyed most of his previous ones so I’ll be aiming to add the new one to my own TBR.

    • I only saw it on NetGalley – so far I haven’t heard or seen anything about it elsewhere. I did like his style mostly so even though Birdsong didn’t work as well for me as I hoped, I’m keen to try again. Glad to hear you’ve enjoyed his other stuff – that’s encouraging! 🙂

  2. That jumping fox is delightful! I know how he feels…
    Some interesting tomes here, FF. The blurb for No Name I find ambiguous – it could go one way or the other, really. It’s a promising plot but it hovers on the periphery of cliche. Bitter Orange sounds great and I am strangely drawn to the horror one. Not usually a genre I like, but this seems to be a refreshingly converse take on things and I am intrigued!

  3. Love the fox! I hope he got something or just enjoyed the facewash 🙂
    I have Bitter Orange and am looking forward to it, I enjoyed her other two books. I’m trying to stay on track with reading women in translation in August, I almost have to hide the literary temptresses that threaten to lure me off track.
    I haven’t read a Sebastian Faulks for a while, I did enjoy Human Traces and Engleby.
    Not sure about spooky, but yes, that time of year is fast closing in!

    • Haha! Poor thing! Do you think he laughed? I do 🙂
      Oh that’s good to hear that you’ve enjoyed Claire Fuller before – encouraging! I do like the sound of the blurb. I decided I couldn’t fit in any more challenges so haven’t read any WIT this year – maybe next year I’ll be more organised! The Sebastian Faulks has all the ingredients for me to love it, so here’s hoping. And I can’t wait to get to Haunted Houses – I’m already well into the mood for dark nights and spooky stories… 😀

  4. The Sebastian Faulks has now gone onto my wishlist – I do like his work. Wilkie Collins can be hit and miss. His best known works like Woman in White are superb but he also wrote a few duds like The Dead Secret which I reviewed in 2016. https://bookertalk.com/2016/01/07/the-dead-secret-by-wilkie-collins/ . No Name is one I read decades ago and remember enjoying but now you’ve made me go and look for it on my shelves and think about re-reading

  5. See, that’s the sneaky thing about TBR lists, FictionFan. They grow at night, when you’re sleeping. Or it’s evidence of feline meddling in your reading! 😉 – At any rate, Bitter Orange sounds interesting. I can see how that one appealed to you. I’ll be especially interested in what you think of that.

    • I don’t understand it Margot – I was so sure I’d been good! I must change my passwords… 😉 I love the blurb of Bitter Orange, so fingers crossed I love the book just as much… 😀

    • Haha – poor Mr Fox! I hope he got out with his dignity intact! 😉 I liked but didn’t love The Moonstone, but that was many years ago and there’s no doubt my tastes have changed, so with luck I’ll love this one…

    • Haha – go on, laugh at my pain and misery!! 😉 The good thing is the TBR elves always seem to bring me fab-sounding books! Ooh, I hope we both enjoy it! Marjorie (up above) – ( erm, up above in the comments, I mean not in Heaven… well, at least as far as I know… anyway…) says she loved it! 😀

  6. No Name is nowhere near as good as The Moonstone or The Woman in White, but considerably better than pretty much anything else Collins wrote. I have read it twice now and it did bear a second reading. I have Paris Echo on reserve at the library and will be approaching it with the same trepidation as you – please no sex scenes.

    • Oh, dear, I wan’t even wholly enthralled by The Moonstone or The Woman in White! But it’s decades since I read them and my tastes have definitely changed over the years so I shall hold my breath and dive in. Haha – with Paris Echo at least this time I’m forewarned, so if they approach any bedrooms I shall shut my eyes and sing till it’s over… 😉 Hope we both enjoy it!

    • Good question – haha! Well, it’s because I feel I ought to love Wilkie Collins – he’s exactly my kind of writer and writes my kind of books, so I don’t know why we don’t hit it off. Now that I’m older and wiser, I’ll either love him or at least have a better chance of working out why I don’t…

      I’m seriously in the mood for spooky reading this year, and the porpy can’t wait to get out of his box! 😀 😱

  7. Bitter Orange definitely appeals to me. I’ve never read Fuller either but keep hearing good things. I have a Wilkie Collins on my list too, but not that one. Woman in White. Is that the one you didn’t like?

    • Yes, the combination of positive reviews for her other books and the appealing blurb of this one meant I had to go for it! The Woman in White and The Moonstone are the only two I’ve read, long ago. I wouldn’t say I didn’t like them exactly, but I expected to love them and somehow didn’t quite. But my tastes have changed over the years and I’m hoping I might love him now – he feels like a writer I *ought* to love. Hope you do too – I definitely preferred The Woman to The Moonstone… 😀

  8. I enjoyed No Name – I remember finding it a bit slow at the beginning, but if you stick with it until Captain Wragge appears the story really takes off after that. I’ll be interested to hear more about Paris Echo. I was tempted when I saw it on NetGalley but decided against it.

    • Oh, that’s good to hear! I do feel I *should* love Wilkie Collins – he’s very much my kind of writer – and I don’t know why I don’t. So either I will love this one or at least I should be able to see what it is that stops me. I couldn’t resist Paris Echo – both the blurb and the cover were calling my name… 😀

  9. Sorry to hear things are a little bouncy in the old TBR! I resisted requesting Bitter Orange despite being very taken with the title! I don’t know whether to hope Sebastian Faulks has written you a sex scene or not… I look forward to the review with interest either way.

    • Somehow I’ve found my resistance shield seems to be malfunctioning at the moment… it’s so unlike me too! Hahaha – if he has, I fully intend to shut my eyes this time till it’s over… 😉

    • Oh, good, I’m glad you’ve enjoyed her other stuff – I knew I’d seen praise for her but couldn’t remember where, so it was probably you! I should be starting it soon, I hope… 😀

  10. I think I’ve got No Name in the TBR somewhere, I’ll wait to see if your experience encourages me to dig it out!

    I don’t seem to enjoy Claire Fuller as much as most other people, although I do like her, so I’ll await your experience of Bitter Orange with interest 🙂

    • I’m hoping No Name will work for me but I have my doubts…

      Oh, that’s interesting. I think generally her books haven’t sounded like my kind of thing so much, but the blurb of this one really appeals. I’m intrigues myself to see how I get on with her…

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