Shorts & Abandonments July 2022…

A Bunch of Minis…

Since I still seem to have a backlog of books to review, here’s another little batch of minis to help me catch up – two winners and two abandonments…

Rumpole’s Return by John Mortimer

😀 😀 😀 😀

Following a string of lost cases tried in front of Judge Bullingham, Rumpole has taken this as a sign and retired with She Who Must Be Obeyed to live out his twilight years in Florida, at the home of his son and his son’s American wife. However a very little of the Florida lifestyle is sufficient for Rumpole, so when he gets a letter from the lovely Phyllida née Trant (Rumpole prefers to forget her married name) asking his advice about a matter of blood, he sneaks off, flies home, and resumes his career, much to the annoyance of the young man who has moved into his room in chambers in the interim.

The Rumpole books are always entertaining, and this is no exception. All the regular characters appear, and all the running jokes are reprised. While any of the books can be read on its own, they do sometimes rely a little on the reader having some familiarity with the characters and how they’re connected to each other, either from previous books or from the excellent TV series which actually came before the books. I was sorry to find that the wonderful TV Rumpole, the late Leo McKern, had never done narrations for the books, but Robert Hardy made an excellent substitute. The books are matched so closely to the TV series that I could see all the characters in my head, and somehow that really enhanced the audiobook experience. Thoroughly good fun!

Book 7 of 20

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A couple I abandoned…

…and my short and to the point comments on Goodreads, made in the full throes of abandonment grumpiness…

Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote

“Is this really an American classic? I made it through forty minutes of the audiobook. If I ever feel like simulating brain-death I may listen to the other two hours.”

Privilege by Guinevere Glasfurd

“Story didn’t grab me and I was already thinking of abandoning it when the author decided I would like to read about the hero masturbating. She was mistaken. I wouldn’t.”

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The Mating Season by PG Wodehouse

Bertie is due to make a reluctant visit to friends of his Aunt Agatha at Deverill Hall, but there’s one bright gleam on the horizon. His old friend Catsmeat Potter Pirbright (possibly my favourite fictional name in the universe) is putting on a cross-talk act for the local village entertainment and Bertie relishes the chance to don a green beard and hit his fellow performer with an umbrella! But the dark clouds are gathering. Gussie Fink-Nottle is also due at Deverill Hall, at the behest of his fiancée, Madeline Bassett, she who thinks that the stars are God’s daisy chain, but due to an unfortunate incident involving a fountain and a policeman, Gussie has been unavoidably detained at His Majesty’s Pleasure. Should Madeline discover this, the engagement will be off, and Madeline may well decide to marry Bertie instead! So to avoid this dreadful fate, Bertie decides to impersonate Gussie, but when Gussie then escapes his durance vile and turns up, there’s only one solution – Gussie must impersonate Bertie…

Yet another wonderful treat from the master, this one involves most of the characters being disguised as each other, adding to the general mayhem and allowing them all tae see theirsels as ithers see them, as the Bard once said. Bertie is not at all happy at people thinking that he’s the teetotal newt-fancier Gussie, but is amazed to learn that Gussie is equally horrified to be mistaken for the natty boulevardier Bertie considers himself to be. Add in five aunts – five! – and it’s easy to see why Deverill Hall could easily be mistaken for a House of Horror…

On the cue ‘five aunts’ I had given at the knees a trifle, for the thought of being confronted with such a solid gaggle of aunts, even if those of another, was an unnerving one. Reminding myself that in this life it is not aunts that matter, but the courage that one brings to them, I pulled myself together.

Great stuff, and as always the narration by Jonathan Cecil is perfection!

Book 8 of 20

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Win some, lose some! 😉

TBR Thursday 337…

Episode 337

As anticipated, the tennis is playing havoc with my reading, but happily I haven’t had time to acquire many books either. So the TBR is remaining steady on 174…

(I’m behind with reading posts and answering comments too – sorry! I blame this chap!)

Anyway, here are a few more books I’m hoping to catch up with soon… 

Winner of the People’s Choice

Cloudstreet by Tim Winton

Wow, another one vote victory! Cloudstreet and Winter in Madrid ran neck and neck all the way through but in the end Cloudstreet broke the tape! Toni Morrison was never in contention but I suspect that’s because she had two entries which split the pro-Morrison vote. Excellent choice, People – I’m looking forward to it! It will be a September read.

The Blurb says: Hailed as a classic, Tim Winton’s masterful family saga is both a paean to working-class Australians and an unflinching examination of the human heart’s capacity for sorrow, joy, and endless gradations in between. An award-winning work, Cloudstreet exemplifies the brilliant ability of fiction to captivate and inspire.

Struggling to rebuild their lives after being touched by disaster, the Pickle family, who’ve inherited a big house called Cloudstreet in a suburb of Perth, take in the God-fearing Lambs as tenants. The Lambs have suffered their own catastrophes, and determined to survive, they open up a grocery on the ground floor. From 1944 to 1964, the shared experiences of the two overpopulated clans — running the gamut from drunkenness, adultery, and death to resurrection, marriage, and birth — bond them to each other and to the bustling, haunted house in ways no one could have anticipated.

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Historical Fiction 

Privilege by Guinevere Glasfurd

Courtesy of John Murray via NetGalley. I enjoyed Glasfurd’s first novel, The Year Without Summer, so I’m hoping this one will be just as good. Certainly sounds interesting…

The Blurb says: After her father is disgraced, Delphine Vimond is cast out of her home in Rouen and flees to Paris. Into her life tumbles Chancery Smith, apprentice printer sent from London to discover the mysterious author of potentially incendiary papers marked only D . In a battle of wits with the French censor, Henri Gilbert, Delphine and Chancery set off in a frantic search for D ‘s author. But who is D and does D even exist?

Privilege is a story of adventure and mishap set against the turmoil of mid-18th century France at odds with the absolute power of the King who is determined to suppress opposition on pain of death. At a time when books required royal privilege before they could be published – a system enforced by the Chief Censor and a network of spies – many were censored or banned, and their authors harshly punished. Books that fell foul of the system were published outside France and smuggled back in at great risk.

Costa-shortlisted author Guinevere Glasfurd has conjured a vibrant world of entitlement and danger, where the right to live and think freely could come at the highest cost.

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Wodehouse on Audio

The Mating Season by PG Wodehouse narrated by Jonathan Cecil

Another batch for the #20(Audio)BooksOfSummer challenge! Can’t go wrong with Wodehouse! And Jonathan Cecil is the perfect narrator for the Jeeves and Wooster books. A bit of light relief to keep my spirits up through the challenge!

The Blurb says: At Deverill Hall, an idyllic Tudor manor in the picture-perfect village of King’s Deverill, impostors are in the air. The prime example is man-about-town Bertie Wooster, doing a good turn to Gussie Fink-Nottle by impersonating him while he enjoys fourteen days away from society after being caught taking an unscheduled dip in the fountains of Trafalgar Square. Bertie is of course one of nature’s gentlemen, but the stakes are high: if all is revealed, there’s a danger that Gussie’s simpering fiancée Madeline may turn her wide eyes on Bertie instead.

It’s a brilliant plan – until Gussie himself turns up, imitating Bertram Wooster. After that, only the massive brain of Jeeves (himself in disguise) can set things right.

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Eliot on Audio

Silas Marner by George Eliot narrated by Andrew Sachs

Fortified with Wodehouse, I hope to have the strength to get through this one, which is one of those books I feel I should read more than actually wanting to. One for my Classics Club list, and on the upside, it’s reasonably short!

The Blurb says:  Falsely accused, cut off from his past, Silas the weaver is reduced to a spider-like existence, endlessly weaving his web and hoarding his gold. Meanwhile, Godfrey Cass, son of the squire, contracts a secret marriage. While the village celebrates Christmas and New Year, two apparently inexplicable events occur. Silas loses his gold and finds a child on his hearth. The imaginative control George Eliot displays as her narrative gradually reveals causes and connections has rarely been surpassed.

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Rumpole on Audio

Rumpole’s Return by John Mortimer read by Robert Hardy

I suspect I’ll need a bit of a mood lift after Silas Marner! Rumpole is always fun, and while I’d have liked Leo McKern to narrate them (the actor who played Rumpole on TV), I love Robert Hardy and think he’ll be an excellent substitute…

The Blurb says: Has Rumpole hung up his wig for good? Can it be? Yes, the beloved barrister is now retired (though far from retiring) and gently ripening to a rosy hue in the Florida sunshine. But a colleague’s casual request for advice on a difficult case sends him winging back across the Atlantic, and before he’s through, our hero will come up against a fanatical religious cult and a mysterious letter written in blood.

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

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So…what do you think? Are you tempted?