Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Christmas Spirit: Two Stories

Finished The Christmas Spirit: Two Stories by Robert Westall. I came across this in my annual search for holiday themed children's chapter books. The two stories are very different. The first involves a boy who receives an ominous warning from a ghost. The second is about a girl who spends Christmas with her uncle, a Bishop who is henpecked and domineered by his evil housekeeper. The stories were enjoyably original and strange. It always surprises me how difficult it is to find holiday fiction for kids. There is no shortage of picture books on the subject.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Harlequin House

Finished Harlequin House by Margery Sharp, published in 1939. Have I mentioned that Sharp is my favorite writer? Her novels are filled with quirky characters living in offbeat situations. Mr. Partridge is a middle-aged, mild mannered man who runs the local lending library. Lisbeth is a beautiful, resourceful, upperclass orphan engaged to a military man. Ronny is Lisbeth's hapless brother who got mixed up in a drug deal and has just been released from jail. Who would expect the three of them to run away and set up house together? As always with Sharp, this was a funny, charming book, filled with characters who will surprise you.

Monday, January 7, 2013

No Fond Return of Love

Finished No Fond Return of Love by Barbara Pym. It deals more with single ladies of a certain age than clergymen this time, although we do see several members of the cloth throughout. Pym herself makes a cameo appearance. Also, one of the characters, scanning a bookshelf sees the title Some Tame Gazelle. Several characters from A Glass of Blessings appear as tourists and are thought to be more like people from a novel than "real" people.

I have to say that of the seven Pym novels I've read, this is my least favorite. The sad, pathetic stalking of the handsome married Aylwin Forbes by Dulcie and Viola seemed not only relentless, but pointless. When Aylwin becomes smitten with Ducie's niece, things just became painful. Pym certainly is adept at portraying the sadness of solitary lives.

Thursday, January 3, 2013