TBR Thursday 229…

Episode 229

The relentless horror of the TBR continues to grow – up FIVE again, to 218. In my defence (I feel I use that phrase a lot these days…), three of them are unsolicited ones I received from publishers, all of which look interesting, so really, it’s not (all) my fault! I may have to put all the challenges to one side and have a month of reading review copies only to catch up.

Here are a few that should be exercising my brain soon…

Winner of the People’s Choice Poll

The Stranger’s Child by Alan Hollinghurst

We had a runaway winner in last week’s poll, gaining nearly half of all votes cast! And it seems the appropriate choice since it’s the oldest on my TBR. Serena was the runner-up, closely followed by Bloodstream, with poor old JK Rowling trailing in well behind the rest of the field. Thanks to everyone who voted – I shall be reading and reviewing this one by the end of May…

The Blurb says: From the Man Booker Prize–winning author of The Line of Beauty: a magnificent, century-spanning saga about a love triangle that spawns a myth, and a family mystery, across generations.

In the late summer of 1913, George Sawle brings his Cambridge schoolmate – a handsome, aristocratic young poet named Cecil Valance – to his family’s modest home outside London for the weekend. George is enthralled by Cecil, and soon his sixteen-year-old sister, Daphne, is equally besotted by him and the stories he tells about Corley Court, the country estate he is heir to. But what Cecil writes in Daphne’s autograph album will change their and their families’ lives forever: a poem that, after Cecil is killed in the Great War and his reputation burnished, will become a touchstone for a generation, a work recited by every schoolchild in England. Over time, a tragic love story is spun, even as other secrets lie buried – until, decades later, an ambitious biographer threatens to unearth them.

Rich with Hollinghurst’s signature gifts – haunting sensuality, delicious wit and exquisite lyricism – The Stranger’s Child is a tour de force: a masterly novel about the lingering power of desire, how the heart creates its own history, and how legends are made.

* * * * *

Vintage Crime

Death in White Pyjamas & Death Knows No Calendar by John Bude

Courtesy of the British Library. A twofer! I’ve quite enjoyed the couple of John Budes I’ve read previously although he hasn’t so far become one of the stars of the BL collection for me. But he has two chances to convince me in this new volume… they both sound good! And such a great cover again…

The Blurb says: Two of John Bude’s finest Golden Age mysteries return to the limelight.

Death in White Pyjamas: A theatre-owner, a ‘slightly sinister’ producer, a burgeoning playwright and a cast of ego-driven actors have gathered at a country home to read through the promising script for Pigs in Porcelain. Before the production ever reaches the stage, one of their number is found murdered in the grounds wearing what mysteriously seems to be somebody else’s white pyjamas. Enter Inspector Harting and Sergeant Dane to unravel this curious plot.

Death Knows No Calendar: Investigating a deadly shooting with no shooter in a locked artist’s studio, detective fiction enthusiast Major Tom Boddy has a long day ahead of him. With four colourful suspects to scrutinise, and not one but two ‘impossible’ elements of the crime to solve, this extremely rare and thoroughly entertaining mystery is long overdue its return to print. 

* * * * *

Historical Fiction/Folklore

Tyll by Daniel Kehlmann

Courtesy of riverrun at Quercus via NetGalley. Sounds utterly weird and way out of my comfort zone, but I adored Kehlmann’s F: A Novel and suspect if anyone can pull this off, he can…

The Blurb says: He’s a trickster, a player, a jester. His handshake’s like a pact with the devil, his smile like a crack in the clouds; he’s watching you now and he’s gone when you turn. Tyll Ulenspiegel is here!

In a village like every other village in Germany, a scrawny boy balances on a rope between two trees. He’s practising. He practises by the mill, by the blacksmiths; he practises in the forest at night, where the Cold Woman whispers and goblins roam. When he comes out, he will never be the same.

Tyll will escape the ordinary villages. In the mines he will defy death. On the battlefield he will run faster than cannonballs. In the courts he will trick the heads of state. As a travelling entertainer, his journey will take him across the land and into the heart of a never-ending war.

A prince’s doomed acceptance of the Bohemian throne has European armies lurching brutally for dominion and now the Winter King casts a sunless pall. Between the quests of fat counts, witch-hunters and scheming queens, Tyll dances his mocking fugue; exposing the folly of kings and the wisdom of fools.

With macabre humour and moving humanity, Daniel Kehlmann lifts this legend from medieval German folklore and enters him on the stage of the Thirty Years’ War. When citizens become the playthings of politics and puppetry, Tyll, in his demonic grace and his thirst for freedom, is the very spirit of rebellion – a cork in water, a laugh in the dark, a hero for all time.

* * * * *

Wodehouse on Audio

Joy in the Morning by PG Wodehouse

Time to top up my happiness quotient with a little trip to Wodehouse world in the company of Bertie Wooster, Jeeves and the perfect narrator for these stories, Jonathan Cecil. I’ve already started listening to this and am remembering the reason the word “guffaw” was invented…  

The Blurb says: Trapped in rural Steeple Bumpleigh, a man less stalwart than Bertie Wooster would probably give way at the knees.

For among those present were Florence Craye, to whom Bertie had once been engaged and her new fiance ‘Stilton’ Cheesewright, who sees Bertie as a snake in the grass. And that biggest blot on the landscape, Edwin the Boy Scout, who is busy doing acts of kindness out of sheer malevolence.

All Bertie’s forebodings are fully justified. For in his efforts to oil the wheels of commerce, promote the course of true love and avoid the consequences of a vendetta, he becomes the prey of all and sundry. In fact only Jeeves can save him…

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

So…what do you think? Are you tempted?

48 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 229…

  1. Tyll is on my Amazon wishlist, because I read quite a lot (of weighty university type tomes!) about the 30 Years’ War when I was a student and can never find novels about it, but I’m waiting for the price to come down. If you read it, please say whether it’s worth buying or not 🙂 !


    • I’m ashamed to say I know nothing abut the 30 Years’ War, so I’m hoping the book will still make sense to me without that background knowledge. I’ve only seen one review of it so far, which was very positive, so I have high hopes! We shall see… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Words can not sufficiently express the sheer glee and joy I’m feeling right now. I’d like to thank the universe for brightening up my dreary and miserable Thursday morning. I shall now venture into the great outdoors to hunt down an even grander gesture of sacrifice to lay at the altar of the book gods.

    (By the way, I do enjoy those British Library Crime Classics but the book that’s tempting me the most this week is your audiobook!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahaha – words cannot express my feelings of utter despair! But I’m glad it makes you happy – I’ll try to remember that the next time a pile of books topples over and bashes me (or the cats) on the head! 🤬

      These Jeeves audiobooks are fantastic! The narrator, Jonathan Cecil, is so good at all the different voices, but especially Bertie. A quick fifteen minute burst every so often brings the sunshine into the most dismal day… 😀

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I really liked The Cornish Coast Murder (I read it during a very atmospheric storm that matched the one in the novel, which helped), but haven’t been able to get into Death on the Riviera, which is the other John Bude novel that I’ve tried to read – so I will be interested to hear what you make of these two.


    • I haven’t read The Cornish Coast Murder, though I have a feeling it might be lingering somewhere on the TBR. I quite liked Death on the Riviera but without loving it, which is how I’ve felt about all three of the ones I’ve read so far. But the blurbs of these ones appeal to me, so I have my fingers crossed that maybe this time he’ll win me over! 😀


  4. Tyll is on my TBR pile, but then I am a bit of a sucker for the history of Central Europe. And I really don’t know why I never seem to be on the list for review copies of the British Library’s vintage crime series – it’s exactly my cup of tea. But then, they probably know I will end up buying a fair share of them sooner or later!


    • Tyll does sound odd, but intriguingly so, and he’s such a great writer – I have high hopes! Ha! I can’t exactly remember how I got onto the BL’s list but I think quite a lot of begging was involved – on my part, not theirs. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I wouldn’t worry too much about the TBR. You’ve done better than I have this week, as I set myself a new challenge the other day which I have a feeling will probably take me at least 5 years to complete judging by the length of some of the books on it and my reading pace these days, but I would like to be proven wrong.
    I always find stories about plays and actors funny for some reason, so I would probably quite like Death in White Pyjamas. I seem to remember that particular Wodehouse also, the name Stiltan Cheesewright certainly rings a bell. They’re complete nonsense of course, but hilarious, and brilliant as audiobooks.


    • Ooh, what’s your challenge? I do feel that people who do book challenges really ought to have book blogs – it’s a bookworld law, or will be when I’m Queen! 😉

      I love mysteries set in and around theatre world too – there’s so much opportunity for eccentric characters and drama! The Wodehouse audiobooks really ought to be available on the NHS – they’re far more effective than any anti-depressant could ever be. All the books are the same, but that’s half their charm! No brainwork required… 😀


      • I’ve made up a list of novels I really should have read by now, but have been putting off for one reason or another. The list is principly a mishmash of the Guardian’s 100 greatest novels, and various other similar lists. It will force me to read stuff like Moby Dick and a fair few of the French and Russian greats, not to mention a few 18th century brittish tomes which have left something of a gap in my literary education. I see other bloggers have attempted similar undertakings, so I will think of my own spin on it, as I thought it might be a good springboard for my own blog when I get it sorted.

        Liked by 1 person

        • NOT MOBY DICK!!!! Hahaha – were my Moby Dick struggles before you joined me? I think so – I had so much fun being rude about that book! I’ve missed having a real hate book since then – Steinbeck tried his best but even he couldn’t compete. 😉 Haha, seriously, though, that sounds like a great plan and I’m looking forward to you joining the blogosphere. Sounds like your list would be perfect for joining up o the Classics Club too, which is a great way to meet other classics lovers.


  6. Now, see, FictionFan, I blame those publishers entirely! Well, them and the postie who brought those books, knowing full well the state of your TBR. How are you supposed to defend against a conspiracy like that?! As to the books coming up…the Budes look interesting. I’ve read a bit by him and enjoyed it; it’ll be interesting to see what you think.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. At least you have rational excuses. My overflowing TBR/wishlist is the result of nothing more than lack of willpower!! That BL vintage crime twofer sure looks tempting!! (and it should go without saying… great cover)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m really trying to exert willpower but some weeks it just doesn’t seem to work! 😉 The first of the Budes is going very well so far, I’m delighted to say – and yes, I think the cover is one of their best. But then I think that about nearly every one…

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Looks like you’ve got some good ones here, FF — no wonder your poor TBR is expanding! The twofer and Tyll sound most intriguing. Yes, you have permission to put the challenges on the back burner for a bit and tackle some of these — it’s for a lofty cause, you know!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha – I’ve just been sorting out my reading list and it’s become clear my targets for this year don’t stand a chance – and it’s only February! 😂 Oh well, at least they all look entertaining… 😀


    • I’m completely addicted to these BL books and the covers play a huge part in that. Which is odd because I’m not normally attracted by covers. I’ve started Death in White Pyjamas now and it’s going very well so far… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Excuses, excuses 😉 . No, seriously, I think it’s a good thing to acquire more books. Can you imagine loosing the interest in books and stop getting new ones? Where would we be then? No, I see it is a good and healthy sign!

    Pleased to see The Stranger’s Child as the winner, but honestly all of this week’s books sound good and I have proper book envy of Wodehouse on audio!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ve never read Hollinghurst, but he’s definitely one of those authors I ‘should’ read. I can’t remember now if I voted for him or not, I don’t think I did. I’m just relieved your not reading the J.K. Rowling 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • At least if the Hollinghurst goes horribly wrong, I’ll be able to blame all of you… 😉 I’m looking forward to Tyll – I’ve only read one of his books and a couple of short stories but I’ve loved all of them, so fingers crossed!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Looking forward to your review of The Stranger’s Child. Not sure I’m tempted by any of these others. I’m maintaining a firm firewall between me and more books….unless you figure out a way to trebuchet an infectious tome over the wall……

    Liked by 1 person

    • This one definitely has very mixed reviews – some loved it, some seemed to find it incredibly dull. I think that’s why it’s been lingering so long, but maybe I’ll be one of the “love it” camp. Maybe…


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