The Blessing by Nancy Mitford

the blessingHmm…

🙂 😐

As WW2 is beginning, Grace receives a visit from Charles-Edouard, an aristocratic French friend of her fiancé, Hugh. Within a month, poor Hugh has been dumped, Charles-Edouard and Grace have married and C-E has gone off to war. Finding herself pregnant, Grace goes off to live in her father’s country house, and waits seven long years for C-E to return. When he does, he promptly whisks Grace and the child, Sigi, off to France, where he divides his time between his wife and his mistresses. Eventually Grace leaves him, and the big question is will they get back together? Sigi is enjoying having two parents vying to spoil him most, so he sets out to do everything he can to keep them apart…

Pretending to be a satire, it’s actually a nice little fluffy romance of the type where the man is a worthless, faithless leftover from a dying breed, and the woman is a bucolic, intellectually-challenged leftover from another dying breed. Hmm… I’m struggling to think of anything to say about it, really. Not my kind of thing, as it turns out. The “insights” into French society feel about as realistic as Wodehouse’s England, but unfortunately the book lacks either the humour or good-natured charm of his work. I think it’s supposed to be funny though…

I skipped the last 40 pages because, you know, who cares if they get back together?

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

I reckon we all need cheering up after that, so here’s a much more interesting man from a breed that shows little sign of dying out…

 

TBR Thursday 61…

The People’s Choice 8…The Result!

 

Ooh, last week’s poll was so close!! One raced ahead right from the beginning and then suddenly a late surge pushed another into a hairsbreadth of a lead! So exciting! In fact, it was such an epic battle it seems unfair for either of them to lose. So I hereby declare them both to be…

This Week’s Winners…

 

the blessing

The BlurbWith razor-sharp wit, Mitford blends a comedy of manners with culture shock as Grace Allingham, a naive English rose, marries Charles-Edouard de Valhubert, a French aristo who doesn’t believe in fidelity. Both are duped, meantime, by their son Sigismund — the Blessing of the title — a juvenile Machiavelli who mixes Gallic cunning with Saxon thoroughness to become one of Mitford’s most memorable characters. 

Thanks to Disha at Franklenstein for the review that brought this book to my attention.

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snow blind

The BlurbSiglufjörður: an idyllically quiet fishing village in Northern Iceland, where no one locks their doors – accessible only via a small mountain tunnel. Ari Thór Arason: a rookie policeman on his first posting, far from his girlfriend in Reykjavik – with a past that he’s unable to leave behind. When a young woman is found lying half-naked in the snow, bleeding and unconscious, and a highly esteemed, elderly writer falls to his death in the local theatre, Ari is dragged straight into the heart of a community where he can trust no one, and secrets and lies are a way of life.

Thanks to Raven at Raven Crime Reads for the review that brought this one to my attention.

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And thanks to all who voted! It wouldn’t be the People’s Choice without you!

Both books will now be added to my ever-expanding TBR (151!) – now all I have to do is find time to read them!

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Since I’m still desperately trying to finish all the fiction and crime already listed for my 20 Books of Summer challenge, just a couple of factuals that will reach the top of the heap soon…

Factual

 

edmund burkeThis one has been sitting unread on my Kindle for about two years. In fact, those of you who memorise everything I say (What? You don’t??) will be aware that this is its second appearance on a TBR post – but this time I really mean to read it!

The BlurbEdmund Burke is both the greatest and the most underrated political thinker of the past three hundred years. A brilliant 18th-century Irish philosopher and statesman, Burke was a fierce champion of human rights and the Anglo-American constitutional tradition, and a lifelong campaigner against arbitrary power. Revered by great Americans including Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, Burke has been almost forgotten in recent years. But as politician and political philosopher Jesse Norman argues in this penetrating biography, we cannot understand modern politics without him.

Burke won admirers in the American colonies for recognizing their fierce spirit of liberty and for speaking out against British oppression, but his greatest triumph was seeing through the utopian aura of the French Revolution. In repudiating that revolution, Burke laid the basis for much of the robust conservative ideology that remains with us to this day: one that is adaptable and forward-thinking, but also mindful of the debt we owe to past generations and our duty to preserve and uphold the institutions we have inherited. He is the first conservative.

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Atmosphere of HopeCourtesy of NetGalley, one can but hope the contents will be better than the cover…

The Blurb – The publication of this new book is timed for the lead-up to the Climate Change Conference in Paris in December 2015, which aims to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate from all the nations in the world. This book anticipates and will influence the debates.

Time is running out, but catastrophe is not inevitable. Around the world people are now living with the consequences of an altered climate—with intensified and more frequent storms, wildfires, droughts and floods. For some it’s already a question of survival. Drawing on the latest science, Flannery gives a snapshot of the trouble we are in and more crucially, proposes a new way forward, including rapidly progressing clean technologies and a “third way” of soft geo-engineering. Tim Flannery, with his inimitable style, makes this urgent issue compelling and accessible. This is a must-read for anyone interested in our global future.

(Why does that word “geo-engineering” bring on my nervous twitch?)

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NB All blurbs taken from Goodreads or NetGalley.

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

 

TBR Thursday 60 – The People’s Choice…

The People’s Choice 8…

 

The TBR has reached a frightening 151! If that topples over, Tuppence may get brutally squished! So no room to add more… but still you all tempt me, day in, day out. Cruelty, I tell you!

So…time for another look at some of the great reviews around the blogosphere, and for you to help me choose which one of these books deserves to be added to my TBR. (You may look on this as a way to add one more book to my list, but I see it more as a way to keep another four off it!) An extremely difficult choice, I think…

So which one will you vote for? Which of these tantalising books deserves a place? The winner will be announced next Thursday…

With my usual grateful thanks to all the reviewers who’ve intrigued and inspired me over the last few weeks, here are:

The Contenders…

 

a tangled webbThe BlurbTwo feuding families will go to surprising lengths to secure a prized heirloom…

It all begins with Great Aunt Becky and her infamous prized possession: a legendary heirloom jug. After her death, everyone wants it. But the name of the new owner won’t be revealed for one year. In the next twelve months, scandals, quarrels and love affairs abound–with the jug at the center of it all. Then comes the night when Aunt Becky’s wishes will be revealed…and the family is in for the biggest surprise of all.

Rose says: “A Tangled Web is a much more grown up story than the Anne books. Aunty Becky dies and the story unfolds with a great many twists and turns. Creating this must have been like a spider weaving a web, with interlinked pieces all over the place until the very end, when all of the stories are satisfactorily resolved. A Tangled Web is one of my favourite books by LM Montgomery. It is sarcastic and witty and brilliant and it is extremely satisfying to get to the bottom of the mysteries, especially finding out why Joscelyn and Hugh’s marriage foundered. If you enjoyed the Anne books you should read this book.

See the full review at Rose Reads Novels

*******

snow blindThe Blurb – Siglufjörður: an idyllically quiet fishing village in Northern Iceland, where no one locks their doors – accessible only via a small mountain tunnel. Ari Thór Arason: a rookie policeman on his first posting, far from his girlfriend in Reykjavik – with a past that he’s unable to leave behind. When a young woman is found lying half-naked in the snow, bleeding and unconscious, and a highly esteemed, elderly writer falls to his death in the local theatre, Ari is dragged straight into the heart of a community where he can trust no one, and secrets and lies are a way of life.

Raven says: The book takes on the real feel of a locked room mystery, with a finite group of possible perpetrators of the violent crimes, in this case a severe physical assault and a suspicious death, and giving the reader a puzzling conundrum as we attempt to identify the guilty party or parties ourselves. Speaking as a crime reader, this is always one of the essential thrills of this nature of crime book, playing detective and navigating the red herrings along the way.”

See the full review at Raven Crime Reads

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london belongs to meThe Blurb – It is 1938 and the prospect of war hangs over every London inhabitant. But the city doesn’t stop. Everywhere people continue to work, drink, fall in love, fight and struggle to get on in life. At the lodging-house at No.10 Dulcimer Street, Kennington, the buttoned-up clerk Mr Josser returns home with the clock he has received as a retirement gift. The other residents include faded actress Connie; tinned food-loving Mr Puddy; widowed landlady Mrs Vizzard (whose head is turned by her new lodger, a self-styled ‘Professor of Spiritualism’); and flashy young mechanic Percy Boon, whose foray into stolen cars descends into something much, much worse …

Lady Fancifull says: “it fairly whirls absorbingly along, with a terrific mix of memorable, believable ‘characters’ – all pretty well ordinary working class Londoners. There is crime, – a central crime, and we know who did it, – there are romances, some of which are doomed to fail, others of which are more hopeful – there is seediness, there is deception, class-consciousness, socialism and fascism on the streets, penury, near-penury, greed, spiritualism, fake and possibly not quite  – and oodles of affection for London itself, for ordinary people living ordinary lives, and displaying all the wonderful combination of nobility, generosity and mean-mindedness which we all do, all-mashed up together.

See the full review at Lady Fancifull

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the blessingThe Blurb – With razor-sharp wit, Mitford blends a comedy of manners with culture shock as Grace Allingham, a naive English rose, marries Charles-Edouard de Valhubert, a French aristo who doesn’t believe in fidelity. Both are duped, meantime, by their son Sigismund — the Blessing of the title — a juvenile Machiavelli who mixes Gallic cunning with Saxon thoroughness to become one of Mitford’s most memorable characters.

Disha says: While Grace loses her patience with her skirt-chasing husband and separates from him, moving back to England – their son Sigi soon realises that he benefits more from having his parents apart and does everything in his power to keep it so. Full of wit and colourful characters, it is impossible not to be amazed by the clandestine goings-on of post-war European glitterati. In the end, in the war of elegance between the French and English, the English always win. But then of course, this is a book written in English by an English woman. But I’m sure she knew what she was talking about.

See the full review at Franklenstein

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this godforsaken placeThe BlurbThe year is 1885 and Abigail Peacock is resisting what seems to be an inevitable future—a sensible career as a teacher and marriage to the earnestly attentive local storeowner. But then she buys a rifle, and everything changes.

This Godforsaken Place is the absorbing tale of one tenacious woman’s journey set against the dramatic backdrop of the Canadian Wilderness and American Wild West. Told by four narrators—including Annie Oakley and Gabriel Dumont—Abigail’s story brings the high stakes of the New World into startling focus.

TJ @ MyBookStrings says: Armed with a gun, a charming horse, and a vague sense of newfound freedom, Abigail sets out to travel to the United States to find Buffalo Bill Cody and become friends with Annie Oakley. She accomplishes both and gets hired to be a helper in Bill’s Wild West Show, moving to New York City and even to England with the show. However, things become complicated when Shea Wyatt is accused of murder, and Abigail has to decide exactly how far she is willing to go to get justice.”

See the full review at My Book Strings

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NB All blurbs and covers are taken from Goodreads.

As usual I love the sound of all of these so…over to you! Choose just one or as many as you like – the book with most votes will be this week’s winner and added to my TBR…

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Hope you pick a good one! 😉