The Aeneid by Virgil (translated by by Frederick Ahl)(Review #3)

The Aeneid by Virgil (translated by by Frederick Ahl)

Blurb

After a century of civil strife in Rome and Italy, Virgil wrote the Aeneid to honour the emperor Augustus by praising his legendary ancestor Aeneas. As a patriotic epic imitating Homer, the Aeneid also set out to provide Rome with a literature equal to that of Greece. It tells of Aeneas, survivor of the sack of Troy, and of his seven-year journey: to Carthage, where he falls tragically in love with Queen Dido; then to the underworld,; and finally to Italy, where he founds Rome. It is a story of defeat and exile, of love and war, hailed by Tennyson as ‘the stateliest measure ever moulded by the lips of man’.

Review

I have finally finished this book! When I first started reading it I was in the middle of my Masters and this sadly had to fall by the way side. However, on the 1st January I decided to read one book a day of this book and yesterday (yes I know a day behind) I finally finished. 

The book begins in Carthage where Aeneas tells his journey to Queen Dido starting from  the fall of Troy where Aeneas and the survivors he manages to gather including his father and son flee Troy and begin their 7 year journey to find a new home. Their journey goes from Carthage, to the Underworld and finally Italy his final destination.  

My first thought about this book is what an amazing piece of propaganda. The amount of propaganda in this book really made me laugh but I think the pinnacle of it was in book 7. In book 7 Anchises shows Aeneas all the descendants that will come from his line and it is quite a list. Aeneas is basically the father of all the great leaders of Rome which seems highly improbable. 

My husband kindly treated me to see Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas opera for my birthday which I absolutely loved but I do think Purcell was rather kind to Aeneas. In truth I always found Aeneas to be a bit of an ass. Whilst he is fleeing Troy he accidentally loses his wife, he does go back and look for her but really he shouldn’t have lost her in the first place. Then what he does with Queen Dido is in my opinion absolutely awful. Yes, I know the gods had something to do with it but really the man did not show any remorse at all and was a complete b__.

The last 6 books of the book is where Aeneas and his men, and we presume some women and children as they are briefly mentioned, land in Italy and all hell breaks loose in war. I loved how all the gods get involved and even some nymphs as this really parallels with Homer’s depiction of the war of Troy. In fact Virgil is very clever with his direct links with Homer’s work. When studying my Masters it was always amazing how much the Romans wanted to be as good as the Ancient Greeks. The Romans copied their sculptures, their texts and much more but always keeping their Roman values. 

I really enjoyed this book and it was a great start to 2023 and my plan to read at least one Ancient Greek or Roman text a month. Virgil was a very talented writer who knew how to write an excellent piece of propaganda. I also loved Ahl’s translation but I knew it would be good as he is one of my favourite translators. I happily give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons. 

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Purchase Links

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(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

Publius Vergilius Maro (October 15, 70 BCE – September 21, 19 BCE), usually called Virgil or Vergil /ˈvɜrdʒəl/ in English, was an ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period. He is known for three major works of Latin literature, the Eclogues (or Bucolics), the Georgics, and the epic Aeneid. A number of minor poems, collected in the Appendix Vergiliana, are sometimes attributed to him.

Virgil is traditionally ranked as one of Rome’s greatest poets. His Aeneid has been considered the national epic of ancient Rome from the time of its composition to the present day. Modeled after Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, the Aeneid follows the Trojan refugee Aeneas as he struggles to fulfill his destiny and arrive on the shores of Italy—in Roman mythology the founding act of Rome. Virgil’s work has had wide and deep influence on Western literature, most notably the Divine Comedy of Dante, in which Virgil appears as Dante’s guide through hell and purgatory.

Etsy

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. 

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Purchase Links

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(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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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

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. 

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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 Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse (Review)

The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse

Blurb

World War I robbed England and France of an entire generation of friends, lovers and futures. In Freddie Watson’s case, the battlefields took his beloved brother and, at times, his peace of mind. 

In the winter of 1928, still seeking some kind of resolution, Freddie is travelling through the beautiful but forbidding French Pyrenees. During a snowstorm, his car spins off the mountain road. Freezing and dazed, he stumbles through the woods, emerging in a tiny village, where he finds an inn to wait out the blizzard. There he meets Fabrissa, a lovely young woman also mourning a lost generation. 

Over the course of one night, Fabrissa and Freddie share their stories. By the time dawn breaks, Freddie will have unearthed a tragic mystery that goes back through the centuries, and discovered his own role in the life of this old remote town.

Review

After reading my first Mosse book a few weeks ago I knew I had to read more of her books. Thankfully, my TBR trolley had a Mosse book sat on it which I am ashamed to say has been sat on there for over a year. I really wish I had started reading Mosse’s books earlier as I could not put this book down. 

Freddie is a lost soul. The death of Freddie’s brother has affected him deeply and instead of getting better his grief has slowly got worse. This has left him wandering around Europe trying to find some way to cope with his loss. This ends up with Freddie losing control of his car whilst in a snowstorm in France and ending up in a tiny village called Nulle which is very strange. 

The village is isolated and the hotel Freddie finds currently has no guests because it is not the season but the landlady airs the room and tries everything she can to make Freddie feel comfortable, including inviting him to a village get together. At this get together Freddie meets the stunning Fabrissa. Fabrissa is another lost soul and she decides to tell her story to Freddie. 

As Freddie and Fabrissa exchange their stories you begin to feel the emotion of both stories but as Fabrissa starts to tell her story you realise that it is a lot darker and that something is not quite right. 

The story is beautifully written and I absolutely loved the descriptions. It is written in first person and Mosse has done a brilliant job of getting the personality and character of Freddie across. This would have been a fantastic read for the spooky season but I am pleased that I read it this month as Autumn arrives as it felt like the perfect book for the season change. I can’t wait to read my next Mosse book and I give this brilliant book 5 out of 5 Dragons.

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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

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The Black Mountain by Kate Mosse (Review)

The Black Mountain by Kate Mosse

Blurb

It is May, 1706. Ana, a young Spanish woman, lives in a small town on the north-west coast of Tenerife with her mother and twin younger brothers. The town is in the shadow of a mighty volcano, which legend says has the devil living inside it. However, there has been no eruption for thousands of years and no one believes it is a threat.

One day, Ana notices that the air feels strange and heavy, that the birds have stopped singing. Tending the family vineyard, a sudden strange tremor in the earth frightens her. Very soon it will be a race against time for Ana to help persuade the town that they are in danger and should flee before the volcano erupts and destroys their world. Will they listen? And Ana herself faces another danger . . .

Review

I will be honest I have a quite a collection of unread Kate Mosse books. I see one of her books and think that looks good and buy it but never read it. However, after reading this book I will be rectifying that situation. This is definitely my favourite Quick Reads book that I have read so far. 

The story is fast paced and although predictable I still really enjoyed it. The main character Ana has a lot on her shoulders for someone so young, she tends the family vineyard, tries to keep an eye on her younger twin brothers and helps and looks after her mom. If life wasn’t hard enough for Ana now there are strange things happening with the mountain her family’s vineyard and home is on but that is not the only danger. 

Thankfully, Ana has some remarkable friends in the form of Widow Silva, Antonio and Rudi. Antonio is a mysterious man who nobody knows much about but Ana knows she can trust him because her father trusted him. Widow Silva makes her living smoking fish on the beach but she also keeps an eye on Rudi who is a young boy sadly crippled because he was born too early. Rudi is my favourite character and is truly adorable, he starts off so shy and vulnerable but slowly you see his true nature and you can’t help but smile every time he is mentioned. 

I loved this book and read it one sitting and yes I know there could have been more character development but it is deliberately a short novel so lacks the space for the extra development. In a way I think that helped because it kept the novel fast paced. I loved Kate Mosse’s writing and will definitely be reading more of her books soon, although I realise a lot of her books are a lot longer than this one which is only 136 pages. I give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons. 

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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

If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to make a donation I would be very grateful. Thank you

The Empty House by Rosamunde Pilcher (Review)

The Empty House by Rosamunde Pilcher

Blurb

Virginia Keile has a secret dream. To have a second chance at loving the tall, handsome Cornish farmer she met – and foolishly lost – the heady summer she was a debutante. Life has taught Virginia a great deal in twenty-seven years – about wedding a titled bachelor picked out by her mother, about a lonely marriage that ended in her husband’s accidental death, and about nearly losing her children to her husband’s mother and bossy Nanny. Now she has come back to picturesque Cornwall to rent a battered seaside cottage. For herself and for the children. And to discover if this time she can fill an empty house with love.

Review

Pilcher is one of my all time favourite authors but I still haven’t read all of her books. This one was on offer on the Kindle so I bought it for my holiday. 

I enjoyed this book but sadly I didn’t gel with the main character Virginia. Virginia has spent her entire life so far being pushed around and told what to do, either by her mother, her husband, her mother in law and the family Nanny. Virginia is very good at making excuses, she has a lot of excuses for why she didn’t try to get back into touch with Eustace, she has excuses for why she doesn’t look after her own children and many more besides. To be honest I really disliked Virginia because she was such a weak character. 

Virginia really made her mother out as a baddie but actually I can see some of the reasons behind her mothers actions. Yes, she was also a bit of nightmare but overall she wanted the best for her daughter and wanted to protect her from a man who was a good deal older than her daughter. But Virginia as usual made it out as all her mothers fault rather than taking the blame herself. 

The book really paints Virginia as a victim but to be honest I have little sympathy for her. I also didn’t really like Eustace as he was rude and a bit of a bully. The thing that saved this story for me was Pilcher’s amazing descriptions and nobody can create an atmosphere like Pilcher. Pilcher’s writing is excellent but sadly I just didn’t get along with her characters. Overall, my rating is 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

Rosamunde Pilcher was born on the 22nd September 1924 in Cornwall. She began writing when she was 7 and published her first short story at the age of 15. From 1943 to 1946 she served with the Women’s Royal Naval Service. In 1946 she married her Graham Hope Pilcher and they moved to Dundee, Scotland together. In 1949 Pilcher’s first novel was published under the pseudonym Jane Fraser, she went on to publish a further ten novels under that name. In 1955 she published her first novel under her own name, by 1965 she had dropped the pseudonym entirely. Pilcher retired from writing in 2000, two years later she received her OBE.

Etsy

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The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell (Review)

The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell

Blurb

Meet Shaun Bythell, bookshop owner, bibliophile, and misanthrope extraordinaire. He lives and works in The Bookshop, Wigtown, whose crooked shelves contain anything from a sixteenth-century Bible to a first-edition Agatha Christie. A booklover’s paradise? Well, almost…

In Shaun’s honest and wryly hilarious diaries, he reveals the highs and lows of life in the book trade, as he contends with eccentric customers, bin-foraging employees, and a perennially empty till. Along the way, he’ll take you on buying trips to old estates and auction houses, recommend lost classics – and introduce you to the thrill of the unexpected find.

Review

I will be honest I have always rather fancied owning and running a bookshop, even though I know it would be hard work and I would probably be constantly worried about finances. However, I would be very happy to be surrounded by books all day. 

I must admit I was rather surprised by this book. I picked it up at my church which has many second hand books for sale and thought it looked good fun. What I wasn’t expecting was the wit, humour and sometimes sadness within this book. 

Bythell’s diary of his book shop adventures for one year was a real eye opener and very funny. Bythell’s shop seems to attract some very weird employees with the most eccentric being Nicky. I’m not entirely sure why Bythell put up with Nicky as she seemed more of hindrance to business rather than a help. I would not have had the patience Bythell has with Nicky or in fact half of his staff. Bythell at times seems to be the only sane one at the shop and that is saying something. 

One of the things I really liked with the diary entries was the daily updates of takings and customers. It was really interesting to see how the time of year affected the amount of customers and takings. I also really enjoyed seeing how there are certain returning customers who are clearly returning regularly and ordering random books because they are loyal to the shop and don’t want to see it go under. 

As the diary entries go on we see what a witty and humorous character Bythell is and how he clearly uses humour as his coping mechanism because without it he would clearly either cry or completely lose it with certain members of public. The element I found sad was seeing how the book trade had changed so much over the years and the damage Amazon was having on the second hand book shops. It was sad to see how the life of the second hand book shop was having to adapt to survive and even that adapting might not save it. 

Wigtown has been on my list of places to go since I was a teenager and I very nearly went with my parents but ill health had to shorten our trip sadly so Wigtown was saved for another day. After reading this book I want to go even more and will be pestering my husband for a holiday there very soon. I will definitely be reading more of Bythell’s book and I give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons. 

🐲🐲🐲🐲🐲

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About the author 

Shaun Bythell is the owner of The Bookshop in Wigtown, Scotland’s National Book Town, and also one of the organisers of the Wigtown Festival.

When not working amongst The Bookshop’s mile of shelving, Shaun’s hobbies include eavesdropping on customers, uploading book-themed re-workings of Sugarhill Gang songs to YouTube and shooting Amazon Kindles in the wild.

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