Books, life the universe

Friday, 31 October 2008


A few days ago I finished what I thought was a quite unpleasant serial killer crime novel -Andrew Pyper's The Killing Circle. It wasn't a book I would have picked out myself but it was something I was offered under the Amazon Vine programme so I decided to give it a go. It's set in Toronto and features Patrick Rush, a small time journalist and widower with a small son called Sam. Patrick joins a writing circle because he wants to write a novel. He becomes obsessed with the other members of the circle and tapes some of the meetings to listen to later. He also becomes obsessed with the story which one of the group is working on. As the book progresses it becomes very difficult to tell what is real and what is imaginary. What does seem real is that a serial killer is stalking the members of the writing circle. I found I just got annoyed with the narrator - Patrick - and wanted to shake him and tell him to pull himself together. If you want dark, well written, serial killer crime then this may be one for you. It didn't do it for me.

On the other hand I really enjoyed Footfall - Christine Poulson -set in Cambridge and the surrounding countryside. Cassandra James - Cambridge lecturer, is trying to finish her book about sisters in 19th century fiction when she hears of the death of her friend Una in suspicious circumstances. Reluctantly she becomes involved in the subsequent investigation because Una had written to her just before she died saying she had suspicions of someone she had trusted. Una's will leaves her huge collection of books to Cassandra's college and this stirs up some academic rivalries. Meanwhile someone seems to be going round Cambridge impersonating Cassandra. Well written with interesting characters. It reminded me of Jill Paton Walsh's Imogen Quy series. I recommend it if you like crime in academia.

I've also finished Polly Howat's Ghosts and Legends of Lincolnshire and the Fens - fascinating if you're interested in this area as I am. It featured the usual collection of green and white ladies as ghosts haunting museums pubs and churches. The author had tried to find people living who had experienced these strange happenings and the book includes a useful list of Lincolnshire dialect words. It's a useful addition to my collection of books on Lincolnshire and the Fens.

I am currently working my way through Noreen Marshall's Dictionary of Children's Clothes - very interesting it is too and brings back many memories from my childhood. Reading about liberty bodices I could clearly remember my mother saying to my grandmother that she refused to dress me in them because she'd hated wearing them herself. I think it was something to do with the buttons which smelt of rubber! I was also reminded of my school dresses which had tucks in the waist and the side seams so that you could just undo a row of stitching and the garment was instantly bigger. Put that together with generous hems and the dress would last two or three years. Do they still make children's clothes like that? My dresses when I was little were often made out of my mother's and when the bodices became too small the skirts were worn as skirts. Of course when completely unwearable the fabric was used as cleaning cloths. The book by the way is very well produced with lots of colour photographs not just of clothes but of things like old knitting patterns. I shall be posting a full review of it on Amazon probably in the next couple of days.

More books tomorrow probably


NAM said...

Wow - thank you, Jilly! To be honest the book's been a bit sunk within the parallel costume exhibition so far, but will (I hope ) go on for a lot longer.

Liberty bodices? The museum hosted a Costume Society study day last Saturday week which included a talk by one of the Leicester Museums curators on the subject: he commented that it was definitely one of those things that always got a strong reaction in anyone over fifty - they either loved or hated them. I was a very accepting kind of child, so I didn't go so far as to hate them, but I disliked the texture of the buttons as much as anything, especially when they got crumbly. Better than corsets, though!

Jilly said...

Just rememberd whilst reading your comment that I used to wear pale pink hand knitted vests in ribbing with a very narrow lace edging round the neckline! Funny how these things come back to you.

NAM said...

Yes, this is the sort of thing that made me say that fifties childhood was a sort of re-run of thirties childhood. And I could put a hand on a pattern for same in the museum's collection with no difficulty!

I disremember who said it (it sounds Ambrose Bierce-ish but would be too modern) but I always loved the definition of a vest as something children are required to wear when their mothers feel the cold...