Amours de Voyage by Arthur Hugh Clough (Review #2)

Amours de Voyage by Arthur Hugh Clough

Blurb

Amours de Voyage is a novel in verse and is arranged in five cantos, or chapters, as a sequence of letters. It is about a group of English travellers in Italy: Claude, and the Trevellyn family, are caught up in the 1849 political turmoil. The poem mixes the political (‘Sweet it may be, and decorous, perhaps, for the country to die; but,/On the whole, we conclude the Romans won’t do it, and I sha’n’t’) and the personal (‘After all, do I know that I really cared so about her?/Do whatever I will, I cannot call up her image’). The political is important but the personal dilemmas are the crucial ones.

Claude, about to declare himself, retreats, regrets. It is this retreat, his scruples and fastidiousness, that, like a conventional novel, is the core of Amours de Voyage. The poem thus contributed something important to the modern sensibility; it is a portrait of an anti-hero; it is about love and marriage (the difficulties of); and it is about Italy.

Review

I had never heard of Arthur Hugh Clough before but I was really intrigued when I saw this book in Persephone books so I bought it. I have been reading some pretty hefty books recently so last weekend I thought I would read a shorter book as a quick read and this was the book I chose. 

The first thing I loved about this book was the preface by Julian Barnes. Barnes gave a wonderful description of Clough’s life and the background behind this book. It really set the scene well. 

This was quite a different read for me but one that I flew through. I really loved Claude’s thoughts on Rome as he really was very unimpressed with the whole affair and I found his reactions to it quite amusing. The book is a novel in verse and made up of letters. Claude writes to his long suffering friend Eustace and I say long suffering because I think the poor man has a lot of letters of Claude. The other letters are from the Trevellyn sisters to their friend. 

I will be honest the character Claude was not my favourite. He found Rome boring, he was self centred, looked down on people and only found Mary interesting when she had gone. Personally I think Mary was better off without Claude in her life. Mary thought a lot more about Claude than Claude did about Mary. 

Overall, I loved Clough’s writing and I would love to read more of his work but what let it down for me was simply his main character Claude. I just could not deal with Claude’s selfish behaviour sadly. Due to this I give the book 3 out of 5 Dragons. 

🐲🐲🐲

Purchase Links

Book Depository | Bookshop.org | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Arthur Hugh Clough (1819-1861) was an English poet, an educationalist, and the devoted assistant to Florence Nightingale. 

Etsy

The Box of Delights by John Masefield (Review #1)

The Box of Delights by John Masefield

Blurb

When Kay Harker meets a mysterious Punch and Judy man on his way home for Christmas, he little realizes that he is about to be plunged into adventure. The old man entrusts Kay with a strange puzzle box – the Box of Delights – before suddenly disappearing. Kay soon discovers two things: the box can transport him through time and space, and there is a plot to steal it. He must battle heroically against terrifying forces of evil in order to win the day… 

Review

When I met my husband I was introduced to the BBC adaptation of The Box of Delights because it is their Christmas tradition to watch the series every Christmas. Since then I have really wanted to read the book and this Christmas I bought a copy and got reading. 

I will be honest I have read more children’s books as an adult than as a child and this has got to be one of my favourites. I loved this book so much and even though I read it after Christmas it kept me in the Christmas spirit. 

The slang in this book is absolutely adorable and I know it is appropriate for the time it was written but phrases like ‘scrobbled’ and ‘the purple pim’ just made me smile. The characters in this book are also fantastic and even Maria who I can’t stand in the TV adaptation is bearable in the book. 

This book is so beautifully written and every scene and character is so well described that I could easily visualise everything. Abner Brown is a particular favourite of mine, he was such a fantastic baddie. Herne the Hunter and the Lady of the Oak Tree were also wonderful characters and of course Cole Hawlings. 

The one thing I did find concerning was the lack of interest the police had in reports of kidnapping and missing people. Also certain characters went missing and their nearest and dearest did not seem that concerned.

This book is full of magic and wonder and it really had me enthralled and it had so many wonderful scenes in it that aren’t in the TV adaptation. My particular favourite is lunch with the field mouse in the tree. I loved Masefield’s writing and I have ordered the prequel to The Box of Delights, The Midnight Folk to read next because I am not quite ready to see the end of Kay just yet. I loved this book and it was a great first read of 2023. I give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons. 

🐲🐲🐲🐲🐲

Purchase Links

Book Depository | Bookshop.org | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

John Masefield (1878-1967) was an English poet and writer, and Poet Laureate from 1930 until 1967. 

Etsy

Warrior Queens and Quiet Revolutionaries by Kate Mosse (Review)

Warrior Queens and Quiet Revolutionaries by Kate Mosse

Blurb

Warrior Queens & Quiet Revolutionaries brings together Kate’s rich and detailed knowledge of unheard and under-heard women’s history, and of how and why women’s achievements have routinely been omitted from the history books. This beautiful illustrated book is both an alternative feminist history of the world and a personal memoir about the nature of women’s struggles to be heard, about how history is made and by whom.

Split into ten sections, each covering a different category of women’s achievements in history, Kate Mosse tells the stories of female inventors and scientists, philanthropists and conservationists, authors and campaigners. It is the most accessible narrative non-fiction with a genuinely diverse, truly global perspective featuring names such as Sophie Scholl, Mary Seacole, Cornelia Sorabji, Helen Suzman, Shirley Chisholm, and Violette Szabo. And in deeply personal passages Kate writes about the life of her great-grandmother, Lily Watson, where she turns detective to find out why she has all but disappeared from the record.

Review

I discovered Kate Mosse this year so when I saw this book come out I bought it straight away. It took me a long time to read this book because I found that I preferred to dip into it when I was in the mood for some nonfiction. 

I found this book absolutely fascinating but at the same time rather frustrating. Just as I discover this fantastic pioneering woman from history the book quickly moves on to another pioneering woman from history. There were certain women that I would have loved to have learned more about. It did mean that I started doing my own research into these interesting characters. 

I will be honest I didn’t really find the sections on Lily, Mosse’s great-grandmother, very interesting and would have happily done without them. I can understand Mosse’s interest in her great-grandmother but it just felt a little bit like she was trying too hard to make her relative who published books and articles known to the general public again as Lily had fallen from everyone’s memory and her books are out of publication. 

This book is an amazing resource to dip into and one that I will return to again and again. I learned so much from this book and found some amazing women from history who I plan to research further. History has always generally been written by men about men so it was refreshing to find a book written by a woman about women from history. I didn’t find this book an easy read because I found it jumped around rather a lot but I still loved it. I give this book 4 out of 5 Dragons. 

🐲🐲🐲🐲

Purchase Links

Book Depository | Bookshop.org | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Kate Mosse is an international bestselling author with sales of more than five million copies in 42 languages. Her fiction includes the novels Labyrinth (2005), Sepulchre (2007), The Winter Ghosts (2009), and Citadel (2012), as well as an acclaimed collection of short stories, The Mistletoe Bride & Other Haunting Tales (2013). Kate’s new novel, The Taxidermist’s Daughter is out now.

Kate is the Co-Founder and Chair of the Board of the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction (previously the Orange Prize) and in June 2013, was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to literature. She lives in Sussex.

Etsy

Christmas Poems by Wendy Cope (Review)

Christmas Poems by Wendy Cope

Blurb

For more than thirty years Wendy Cope has been one of the nation’s most popular and respected poets. Christmas Poems collects together her best festive poems, including anthology favourites such as ‘The Christmas Life’, together with new and previously unpublished work. Cope celebrates the joyful aspects of the season but doesn’t overlook the problems and sadness it can bring. With lively illustrations to accompany the words, it is a book to enjoy this Christmas and in years to come.

Review

I bought this book in October when I was in Bath and I was really excited because I thought this little book would be a perfect festive read in December. At only 48 pages long this did not take me long to read and was a perfect diversion from the Christmas prep. 

As you probably know by now if you have been following me for any length of time I was never a huge poetry fan but since I have been blogging I have been making an effort to get into poetry. Since doing this I have found quite a few favourite poets that I enjoy to read and I am always looking for new poets to read. Wendy Cope is one of these new poets for me. 

Certain poems within this book I could really relate to. Cope was a primary school teacher for 15 years and a piano player and her reflections on playing for children’s services I can relate to as I teach piano and woodwind in a primary school and know all about the Christmas services and the many renditions of Little Donkey. 

I will be honest there were only a few poems that I really enjoyed in this book because I found quite a few of the poems rather depressing and not very helpful for getting into the festive spirit. However, I like Cope’s style as a poet and will definitely be checking out more of her poems. 

The illustrations in this book are by Michael Kirkham and were excellent and really added to the poems. Without the illustrations the book would have been a lot shorter. 

Overall, I found this little book of poems an accomplished read but not really my cup of tea. It sadly wasn’t the festive read I was looking for but I appreciate the skill of Wendy Cope. I give this book 3 out of 5 Dragons. 

🐲🐲🐲

Purchase Links

Book Depository | Bookshop.org | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the poet

Wendy Cope was educated at Farringtons School, Chislehurst, London and then, after finishing university at St Hilda’s College, Oxford, she worked for 15 years as a primary school teacher in London.

In 1981, she became Arts and Reviews editor for the Inner London Education Authority magazine, ‘Contact’. Five years later she became a freelance writer and was a television critic for ‘The Spectator magazine’ until 1990.

Her first published work ‘Across the City’ was in a limited edition, published by the Priapus Press in 1980 and her first commercial book of poetry was ‘Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis’ in 1986. Since then she has published two further books of poetry and has edited various anthologies of comic verse.

In 1987 she received a Cholmondeley Award for poetry and in 1995 the American Academy of Arts and Letters Michael Braude Award for light verse. In 2007 she was one of the judges for the Man Booker Prize.

In 1998 she was the BBC Radio 4 listeners’ choice to succeed Ted Hughes as Poet Laureate and when Andrew Motion’s term of office ended in 2009 she was once again considered as a replacement.

She was awarded the OBE in the Queen’s 2010 Birthday Honours List.

Etsy

Politically Correct Holiday Stories For an Enlightened Yuletide Season by James Finn Garner (Review)

Politically Correct Holiday Stories For an Enlightened Yuletide Season by James Finn Garner

Blurb

Holiday tales have long delighted and entertained us, but until now they’ve always been burdened with society’s skewed values and mores. Stories that reinforce the stifling class system (Dickens’s A Christmas Carol), legitimise the stereotype of a merry, over-weight patriarchal oppressor (Santa Claus in The Night Before Christmas), and justify the domestication and subjugation of wild animals (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer) abound in the literature and lore of this season. Now James Finn Garner has stepped in to revise and improve these familiar tales to free our social consciousness from the ghost of prejudice past. From the newly revised “Nutcracker” to “Frosty the Persun of Snow”, these stories rekindle the true holiday spirit and redefine the idea of “good will to all men” to include womyn, pre-adults, and companion animals as well.

Review

I picked this up from a National Trust second hand bookshop. When I saw the book I immediately picked it up because I thought it looked like quite a fun read. The book was clearly brand new as well which also added to the appeal. 

At only 99 pages I thought this would be quite a quick read for me but it turned out that it took me a while to read rather than flying through it like I normally would. This is probably because I didn’t really gel with this book and wasn’t so keen to pick it up and read it.

I can understand the appeal of this book because it is political correctness in overdrive and it kind of has a funny appeal to it but after a while it just started to get on my nerves. My favourite story was the retelling of A Christmas Carol. This was because of Scrooge’s fantastic reactions to the spirits that visit him especially the last spirit. In fact I was a little disappointed with the ending because I really wanted Scrooge to act on his new philosophy. 

Rudolph the Nasally Empowered Reindeer was probably my least favourite story as Rudolph was just too irritating. 

Overall, I did enjoy this book but it didn’t really hook me in and didn’t have me as gripped as I expected. This is definitely a book that I could take or leave and I give this book 3 out of 5 Dragons. 

🐲🐲🐲

About the author

James Finn Garner is an American writer and satirist based in Chicago. He is the author of Politically Correct Bedtime Stories, Tea Party Fairy Tales, and Honk Honk, My Darling.

Etsy

The Hemlock Cure by Joanne Burn (Review)

The Hemlock Cure by Joanne Burn

Blurb

A glitteringly dark historical novel of love, persecution, and survival set against the backdrop of one of history’s most terrifying episodes: the Bubonic Plague.

It is 1665 and the women of Eyam village keep many secrets. Especially Isabel and Mae.

Isabel Frith, the village midwife, walks a dangerous line with her herbs and remedies. There are men in the village who speak of witchcraft, and Isabel has a past to hide. So she tells nobody her fears about the pious, reclusive apothecary, on whom she is keeping a watchful eye.

Mae, the apothecary’s youngest daughter, dreads her father’s rage if he discovers what she keeps from him: her feelings for Rafe, Isabel’s ward, or the fact that she studies from her father’s books at night.

But others have secrets too. Secrets darker than any of them could have imagined.

When Mae makes a horrifying discovery, Isabel is the only person she can turn to. But helping Mae will place them both in unimaginable peril. Meanwhile another danger is on its way from London. One that threatens to engulf them all. . . 

Review

I found this book whilst browsing in Toppings and Company whilst in Bath a couple of months ago. I had never come across Joanne Burn before but seeing this book on display I was attracted by the title and the blurb and decided to give the book a read. I am so pleased I decided to read this book because I absolutely loved it. 

This book is based on true events that happened during the plague in 1666. The village of Eyam quarantined itself in an attempt to stop the plague spreading. They sacrificed their own lives to try and save others. Certain characters within this book are also based on real characters from the village as well. 

I must admit to begin with I was a little confused with who was telling the story but I soon worked out the different voices and thought it was really cleverly done. I won’t say any more about the different narrators because I don’t want to spoil it for people. 

Mae is a confused young girl who lives in fear of her father but at the same time desperately wants to prove to her father that she is worthy of his pride and can be useful to him. To escape her rather tense life at home she visits her friend Isabel who is the village midwife and whose family welcomes Mae as one of their own. At Isabel’s she feels loved and welcome and of course there is also Rafe who is the ward of Isabel and her husband. Mae has feelings for Rafe but due to her age she is confused and can’t quite make sense of these feelings. 

This book is full of secrets. Mae has secrets she keeps from her father, Isabel has secrets she keeps from public view and Wulfric has secrets he only tells his diary and God. The whole village is full of secrets and as the story progresses we begin to see glimpses of these secrets and what they mean for the characters. 

The book is beautifully written and I will be honest I couldn’t put it down. The book kept me on tenterhooks all the way through and I loved every page. It is probably one of my favourite reads for 2022. I will be definitely reading Joanne Burn’s first novel and any further books. I give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons. 

🐲🐲🐲🐲🐲

Purchase Links

Book Depository | Bookshop.org | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Joanne Burn was born in Northampton in 1973, and now lives in the Peak District where she works as a writing coach. Her first novel, Petals and Stones, was published in 2018. The Hemlock Cure is her second novel.

Etsy

Christmas Is Coming: Traditions from Around the World by Monika Utnik-Strugala (Review)

Christmas Is Coming: Traditions from Around the World by Monika Utnik-Strugala

Blurb

The perfect book for long wintery evenings—not just under the Christmas tree!

Why do we decorate Christmas trees? Do all children receive gifts on the same day?

Come find out as Monika Utnik-Strugala captures the smells, tastes, and unforgettable traditions about the most popular, exciting, contemplative, and unqiue Christmas customs and legends from around the world. Find out why celebrate Christmas on December 25th, who invented the first glass ornament, why people build nativity scenes, and more!

A truly international collection of legends and traditions are included in the volume such as –  Glögg, Kutia, Lutefisk, Jansson’s Temptation, Julskinka, Bûche de Noël, Hallaca, Kourabiedes, Christmas Pudding, Panettone, Christmas carols, talking animals, and The Nutcracker!

With the atmospheric illustrations by Ewa Poklewska-Koziello, this is an ideal companion for the Christmas season.

Review

I bought this book December 2021 but I didn’t manage to read it before the end of December so I decided to save it for this year instead. I usually start my Christmas books on the 1st December but today I couldn’t resist starting my Christmas reading list. Turns out I also couldn’t put this book down and read it in one day!

The thing that attracted me to this book was the gorgeous illustrations by Ewa Poklewska-Koziello. Every page contains beautiful illustrations which really help make the book come alive. 

The book starts at the start of Advent and ends with Epiphany on 6th January. The book explains the traditions that different countries follow on the run up to Christmas, during Christmas and after Christmas. 

I will be honest but I found that certain countries had a lot more attention than others. Considering the book is meant to be from around the world a lot of the traditions mentioned are from Poland and Russia which I suppose is because of the author’s background. 

I think this is a great book for children and adults but the occasional errors in the text did put me off and the repeated sentence was an error that really should have been picked up. In all honesty what made this book for me was the gorgeous illustrations and without the illustrations I would be giving this book a much lower rating. I give this book 4 out of 5 Dragons. 

🐲🐲🐲🐲

Purchase Links

Book Depository | Bookshop.org | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Monika Utnik-Strugala studied romance studies at the University of Warsaw in Poland and is a lifestyle and design journalist. She made her debut with a children’s book about Italian culture. In Italy she likes to spend her free time in her beloved country house. 

Etsy

The Mystery of the Blue Train by Agatha Christie (Review)

The Mystery of the Blue Train by Agatha Christie 

Blurb

‘I want a change. To be in the midst of things – exciting things – even if I’m only the looker-on. You know, things don’t happen in St Mary Mead.’

When the luxurious Blue Train arrives at Nice, a guard attempts to wake Ruth Kettering from her slumbers. But she will never wake again – for a heavy blow has killed her, disfiguring her features almost beyond recognition. What is more, her precious rubies are missing.

The prime suspect is Ruth’s estranged husband, Derek. Yet Poirot is not convinced, so he stages an eerie re-enactment of the journey, complete with the murderer on board…

Review

I read quite a lot of this book sat on a very fancy train and yes I chose to read this book because I knew I would be sat on said train.

I must be honest I remembered seeing this one on TV but the TV version is nowhere near as good as the book. The TV versions just never get Poirot right or should I say Papa Poirot! 

Christie starts to set the scene with Van Aldin getting the renowned rubies and giving them to his daughter Ruth Kettering. Once Ruth gets on to the Blue train things soon take a sinister turn. Ruth is found dead in her cabin with her head so badly smashed in she is unrecognisable and the rubies are gone. Then Poirot appears on the scene to help the French police solve the crime because as he happily tells people he is possibly the greatest detective in the world. 

As the story progresses there are a lot of red herrings that the reader and Poirot have to work through and with this story Poirot doesn’t have his usual Hastings to rely on and bounce ideas off. However, Poirot does find a new sidekick to help him solve the crime. Miss Grey has been a companion most of her adult life and now she has come into a fortune she is free and wants her life to start so she leaves the quiet little village of St Mary Mead and goes on the Blue Train to start her first adventure. Poirot befriends Miss Grey and they work together to get the answers they need. 

I really enjoyed how this story developed and how Poirot worked through all the clues and also used some careful guesswork to get the answers he needed. All this builds up to the very dramatic ending which has you sitting at the edge of your seat. I would have liked to have seen a bit more of Miss Grey as I really liked her character but I really enjoyed how she and Poirot interacted. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and could not put it down so I give it the full 5 out of 5 Dragons. 

🐲🐲🐲🐲🐲

Purchase Links

Book Depository | Bookshop.org | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Agatha Christie (1890-1976) was an English writer known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections. She also wrote the world’s longest running play, The Mousetrap. She also wrote 6 novels under the name Mary Westmacott.

Etsy

Under the Greenwood Tree by Thomas Hardy (Review)

Under the Greenwood Tree by Thomas Hardy 

Blurb

Under the Greenwood Tree is Hardy’s most bright, confident and optimistic novel. This delightful portrayal of a picturesque rural society, tinged with gentle humour and quiet irony, established Hardy as a writer.

However, the novel is not merely a charming rural idyll. The double-plot, in which the love story of Dick Dewey and Fancy Day is inter-related with a tragic chapter in the history of Mellstock Choir, hints at the poignant disappearance of a long-lived and highly-valued traditional way of life.

Review

Thomas Hardy is one of my favourite authors and I am hoping to one day manage to read all of his novels. This book had been sat on my TBR pile for way too long so I decided it was high time to read this book. 

To start with I absolutely loved this book and could not put it down. I think what drew me into this book so much was the church musicians. As a church organist and a musician myself I found the church musicians fascinating and I also found it sad as the church traditions were slowly being eroded away by a forward thinking vicar who is not quite so considerate of his congregation but is very happy to blame the church wardens for his decisions. Having recently read Scenes of Clerical Life by George Eliot I found quite a few parallels between the two books. 

I also loved how the church band are very anti clarinets and clarinet players. As a reluctant clarinet player myself I found this hilarious! I also loved how they use Dumbledore as an insult, turns out Dumbledore doesn’t just mean bumblebee. 

The other plot in this book is the love story of Dick and Fancy. Dick is a hard working lad who falls instantly head over heels for Fancy and in that moment decides to make himself worthy of her. In all honesty Fancy is not worthy of Dick, she is clearly very spoiled and quite frankly vain and shallow. Dick on the other hand will walk for miles in the rain to be a pallbearer for a friend’s funeral, Dick will go out of his way to help people and is honest and kind hearted. 

I struggled after a while with this book. I disliked Fancy’s character which didn’t help because I really wanted people to see her true character. I also struggled with the local dialect. Having to constantly read the local dialect slowed things down for me and made reading a bit of a hard slog. Overall, I liked the plot line of the church musicians, although I did find it sad but the storyline of Dick and Fancy I could have happily done without. I give this book 3 out of 5 Dragons. 

🐲🐲🐲

Purchase Links

Book Depository | Bookshop.org | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) was an English novelist and poet. A Victorian realist in the tradition of George Eliot. He was highly critical of much in Victorian society, especially on the declining status of rural people in Britain.

Etsy

The Big Four by Agatha Christie (Review)

The Big Four by Agatha Christie

Blurb

A ruthless international cartel seeks world domination…

Framed in the doorway of Poirot’s bedroom stood an uninvited guest, coated from head to foot in dust. The man’s gaunt face stared for a moment, then he swayed and fell.

Who was he? Was he suffering from shock or just exhaustion? Above all, what was the significance of the figure 4, scribbled over and over again on a sheet of paper? Poirot finds himself plunged into a world of international intrigue, risking his life to uncover the truth about `Number Four’.

Review

I haven’t read many Agatha Christie novels this year which is bad because I am trying to read all of her novels in order of publication so this one has been on my TBR pile for a very long time. 

My first impression of this book was wow what a lot of characters! Christie is a master of juggling many plot lines and lots of characters but this book is overflowing with characters. I know Christie liked to include a lot of characters because this was perfect for creating red herrings but it seemed like every chapter there were another new load of characters to get to grips with. To be honest I struggled at times to keep up with all the characters in this book but I think I managed it. 

In this story Hastings has returned which I am very pleased about because he always makes me laugh. He is always convinced he knows more than Poirot but of course he has no idea at all. It is also very clear that Poirot has been missing his good friend Hastings. 

The story begins with a strange man somehow turning up in Poirot’s bedroom and collapsing but not before giving Poirot a vital clue which will set the scene for the rest of the book. As the story continues Poirot finds just how far the Big Four are willing to go to take control of the world. The story sees Poirot travelling all over the place and encountering any number of characters from Professors to Government officials, from Criminals to Nobility. 

The one thing I did find with this story was it didn’t flow like Christie’s usual books and it felt at times like it was pieced together. After some research I found out that this book was actually made up of 12 short stories that Christie had written and published in a magazine. This made a lot of sense for me because once I knew I realised that this was why I struggled with the pace of the book and sheer amount of characters. 

Although I felt the amount of characters was overkill and struggled with the lack of fluency with the story I still thoroughly enjoyed it and couldn’t put it down. Poirot was on his usual fine form and Hastings was still his bumbling self and I loved every minute of it. I give this book 4 out of 5 Dragons. 

🐲🐲🐲🐲

Purchase Links

Book Depository | Bookshop.org | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Agatha Christie (1890-1976) was an English writer known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections. She also wrote the world’s longest running play, The Mousetrap. She also wrote 6 novels under the name Mary Westmacott.

Etsy