TBR Thursday 207…

Episode 207

I’ve been reading up a storm this last week, but the books have continued to arrive in droves meaning that the TBR has only gone down by 1 – to 226. Still, at least that means I’m going in the right direction, eh?

Here are a few more I should be reading soon. In fact, I’ve started a couple of them. Well, in actual fact, I’ve also finished one of them – Sanditon. Must try to synch these posts better…


The Pearl by John Steinbeck

Next up for my 5 x 5 Challenge, to read 5 books from 5 selected authors. I’m ambivalent about Steinbeck – I think he writes like a dream but I find him emotionally manipulative and with a tendency to cross the line between pathos and bathos. I gave 5 stars to The Grapes of Wrath and abandoned Cannery Row. So this one could go either way…

The Blurb says: Like his father and grandfather before him, Kino is a poor diver, gathering pearls from the gulf beds that once brought great wealth to the Kings of Spain and now provide Kino, Juana, and their infant son with meager subsistence. Then, on a day like any other, Kino emerges from the sea with a pearl as large as a sea gull’s egg, as “perfect as the moon.” With the pearl comes hope, the promise of comfort and of security….

A story of classic simplicity, based on a Mexican folk tale, The Pearl explores the secrets of man’s nature, the darkest depths of evil, and the luminous possibilities of love.

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Sanditon by Jane Austen

Courtesy of Oxford World’s Classics. Despite my love affair with Jane Austen, I’ve never read her unfinished novel, Sanditon, so when I saw OWC were publishing a new edition I couldn’t resist. Apparently there’s going to be a new TV adaptation next year, and I always prefer to have read the book first…

The Blurb says: In Sanditon, Jane Austen writes what may well be the first seaside novel: a novel, that is, that explores the mysterious and startling transformations that a stay by the sea can work on individuals and relationships. Sanditon is a fictitious place on England’s south coast and the obsession of local landowner Mr Thomas Parker. He means to transform this humble fishing village into a fashionable health resort to rival its famous neighbours of Brighton and Eastbourne.

The seaside holiday was invented in the eighteenth century, with resorts springing up along England’s extensive coastline to take advantage of the craze for salt-water bathing. For Jane Austen, a keen bather, the seaside was a place where the female body might enjoy unusual permitted freedom. In Persuasion, the novel she finished only months before she began Sanditon, the sea and coast elicit rare moments of sensuous delight. In this her final, unfinished work, the dying writer sets aside her familiar subject matter, the country village with its settled community, for the transient and eccentric assortment of people who drift to the new resort, the town built upon sand. If the ground beneath her characters’ feet appears less secure, Austen’s own vision is opening out. Light and funny, Sanditon is her most experimental and poignant work.

* * * * *

Vintage Crime Shorts

Bodies from the Library 2 edited by Tony Medawar

Courtesy of HarperCollins. This one popped unexpectedly through my letterbox a couple of weeks ago. It sounds great, and so me, with lots of my favourite Golden Age authors included and loads more for me to meet for the first time…

The Blurb says: This second volume is a showcase for popular figures of the Golden Age, in stories that even their most ardent fans will not be aware of. It includes uncollected and unpublished stories by acclaimed queens and kings of crime fiction, from Helen Simpson, Ethel Lina White, E.C.R. Lorac, Christianna Brand, Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers, to S.S. Van Dine, Jonathan Latimer, Clayton Rawson, Cyril Alington and Antony and Peter Shaffer (writing as Peter Antony).

This book also features two highly readable radio scripts by Margery Allingham (involving Jack the Ripper) and John Rhode, plus two full-length novellas – one from a rare magazine by Q Patrick, the other an unpublished Gervase Fen mystery by Edmund Crispin, written at the height of his career. It concludes with another remarkable discovery: ‘The Locked Room’ by Dorothy L. Sayers, a never-before-published case for Lord Peter Wimsey!

Selected and introduced by Tony Medawar, who also provides fascinating pen portraits of each author, Bodies in the Library 2 is an indispensable collection for any bookshelf.

* * * * *

New Fiction

Night for Day by Patrick Flanery

Courtesy of Atlantic Books. Patrick Flanery is right at the top of my list of favourite contemporary authors, writing fiction with strong political themes mixed with a deep understanding of humanity. He’s won my Book of the Year Award twice, for Absolution and Fallen Land, (which I think is a Great American Novel). So this has to be in the running for my most anticipated read of the year…

The Blurb says: Los Angeles, 1950. Over the course of a single day, two friends grapple with the moral and professional uncertainties of the escalating Communist witch-hunt in Hollywood. Director John Marsh races to convince his actress wife not to turn informant for the House Committee on Un-American Activities, while leftist screenwriter Desmond Frank confronts the possibility of exile to live and work without fear of being blacklisted. As Marsh and Frank struggle to complete shooting on their film She Turned Away, which updates the myth of Orpheus to the gritty noir underworld of post-war Los Angeles, the chaos of their private lives pushes them towards a climactic confrontation with complicity, jealousy, and fear.

Night for Day conjures a feverish vision of one of the country’s most notorious periods of national crisis, illuminating the eternal dilemma of both art and politics: how to make the world anew. At once a definitively American novel, echoing Philip Roth and Raymond Chandler, it also nods to the mythic landscapes of Dante and the iconoclastic playfulness of James Joyce. With as much to say about the early years of the Cold War as about the political and social divisions that continue to divide the country today, Night for Day is expansive in scope and yet tenderly intimate, exploring the subtleties of belonging and the enormity of exile—not only from one’s country but also from one’s self.

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

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

34 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 207…

    • I’ve just been reading the Grimm’s fairy tales, so my mind is attuned to fable at the moment – hopefully that means I’m in the right mood for this. I have a mixed response to Steinbeck so I’m always a bit wary whenever I start a new one…

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I really hope you’ll like The Pearl, FictionFan. I’ve always liked Steinbeck’s work a lot, so I admit to bias. Even so, I think it’s a good ‘un. And you can’t go far wrong with an Austen, now can you?? Bodies From the Library looks great, too. I mean, how’s anyone to resist that temptation? Of course your TBR rose!


    • I hope so too, Margot. I know my adverse reaction to Cannery Row was more to do with my state of mind when I tried to read it than the book itself and I will re-try it someday. But there’s no doubt about the quality of his prose and I’m always a sucker for great prose! Sanditon was fun – what a shame she didn’t get the chance to write the full thing. And Bodies from the Library looks great! I’m loving all these vintage anthologies… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ooh, yes, you must offer him cake too! I’m really keen to see the adaptation – Andrew Davies has done some of my all-time favourites, although he’s also left me scratching my head occasionally, like over the backstory he write for Oliver Twist. It’ll be fun to see how he develops the plot – there’s so much room left for him to play with, since the actual Austen bit is sadly so short…


  2. Woo Hoo, safe again! I missed reading The Pearl in high school (thankfully) — and no sense rectifying that now. The Flanery sounds too depressing, and I’ve not been able to get into much Austen either. But on a positive note, I love your meme!!


    • Haha – the only Steinbeck that was forced on us at school was Of Mice and Men which made me cry more than any other book I’ve read, I think! Flanery will be brilliant – I’ll try to catch you when I review it. 😉 And not Austen??? But… Darcy!!! Hahaha – isn’t the puppy adorable?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m tempted by Bodies From the Library 2 – I’ve been itching to read some Agatha Christie lately!
    I read The Pearl years ago… I’ll be interested to hear what you think about it. 😉 For what it’s worth, I really enjoyed East of Eden by Steinbeck. Is it on your list?


    • I’ll be starting Bodies from the Library soon and I must say the range of authors looks great! Yes, East of Eden should be coming up soon, but I seem to have suddenly been inundated by review books (again!) so it keeps getting pushed back. Hopefully before the end of the year though…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The crime shorts, of course! But (thanks to you) I’ve already added too many things to my wishlist AND my TBR pile to add anything else. (at least for another few days) 😉


  5. I enjoyed Sanditon back in the year dot but I was fairly recently disappointed with The Pearl and I usually love Steinbeck.


      • You are a tease! I’m busting to know what you think of Sanditon and where you think the story would have gone. Plus, you’ll have to go back to A Cure For All Diseases by Reginald Hill, which you recommended to me.


        • Hahaha! I’ll try to shove it up the list so my review goes out soon. Yes, I was thinking of doing a re-read now that I’d get the references, but I’m kinda trying to re-read the series in order and it’s not for ages yet. And you know me… I never cheat! 😉

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Yup, I’ll take a job lot please. All of the above plus the puppies 😄
    You’re slightly scaring me with this mixed recpetion to Steinbeck who thus far (and believe me that is not very far at all) has been astounding. Is my bubble to be burst soon I ask myself? 😱 Sanditon… must get to that before the autumn. I can do it …. 💪😄


    • Haha! The puppies are adorable, aren’t they? But don’t tell Tommy and Tuppence I said so! 😾😾

      I love Steinbeck’s prose – sometimes it’s sublimely good. But I find he plays cheap tricks to evoke an emotional response – the old “dead dog” syndrome – so sometimes he makes me angry. I’ve felt that way since I read Of Mice and Men aged 13, so at least I’m consistent! 😉 Sanditon is so short you can easily read it in a couple of hours max – you can do this!!


  7. I absolutely loved Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men and I keep meaning to read more of his works. Will be interested to hear your view on The Pearl. And now I really need to move on, I have been watching those puppies like five times already…


    • It’s at least umpty-nine years since I read Of Mice and Men, so my only real memory of it now is how much it made me cry! But I read The Grapes of Wrath a couple of years ago, and had a real love/hate relationship with it – highly recommended though, some of the prose is sublime. So fingers crossed for The Pearl. Hahaha – the puppies are adorable, aren’t they? I might have to trade my cats in… 😉


  8. Have to say that Night for Day is tempting. Have never read Flanery. Sounds like that needs to change. Also, that’s quite a scandalous cover for an Austen book. It could be tempting, but I once read one of Hemingway’s “posthumously finished” books, Garden of Eden, and found it awful. So I’m not sure what Austen would think about pulling this one unfinished from the mire.


    • Hmm… to be honest I’m struggling to get into Night for Day at the moment, though it’s early days. But if I was recommending a Flanery novel to you, it would definitely be Fallen Land, which I think counts as a Great American Novel that should have been used as a warning of the soon-to-follow Trumpian horror story. I’m always wary of unfinished novels too, but I did enjoy Sanditon – what there is of it, anyway, which isn’t a lot. No-one had finished my copy, but I must admit I could see the temptation…

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m tempted by Sanditon, as it seems to have been a bit of a new direction for Austen, but I’m never sure whether to read incomplete novels. It’s why I haven’t got round to Dickens’s Edwin Drood yet. I take it Austen didn’t get very far? I see what you mean about Steinbeck sometimes manipulating the reader to feel a particular emotional response. He’s an author I need to be in the mood for, so I reckon I’ll give the Pearl a miss for now.


    • I usually avoid unfinished novels too but I wanted to read this before the Andrew Davies TV adaptation comes out, so I’ll know what’s Austen and what’s Davies. Review tomorrow, but *spoiler* I did enjoy it but obviously was left unsatisfied. Yes, I have a real love/hate thing going on with Steinbeck – his prose can be sublime, but his manipulation and sometimes his attitudes make me so angry. The Pearl might go either way – five stars or one…


  10. I can’t, I mustn’t, contemplate any more books But I do have Sanditon in a collection so I may consider that… Our son, who is a film grip, was originally asked to be involved in the TV adaptation of this, but instead returned to Doc Martin for his third series with them.


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