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Posts Tagged ‘village life’

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I listened to this audiobook while out running (not in one go, that would have been a LONG run!) and I realised something about the difference in enjoyment for me between physical books and audiobooks. When I’m reading a physical book, I want to be absorbed and completely drawn into it – for me, chicklit does not really do this, because it’s so easy to predict what’s going to happen. But when I’m out running, I just want something to distract me, something to occupy my mind. It doesn’t need to be *too* absorbing – it’s doing the same job as listening to music or podcasts does for others. So I enjoyed this book a lot, while acknowledging that if I was reading a physical copy I would not have liked it half as much.

Sophie Mayhew is married to John, a conservative government minister who is widely expected to be the next prime minister. Known in the papers as ‘Sophie the trophy’, her role is to basically look good on her husband’s arms and support him in all he does. It’s a job she does very well – until a story breaks about an affair her husband has had, and she  *doesn’t* toe the line. Instead she tells the papers precisely what she thinks about her husband’s behaviour and decides she needs time to herself. She ends up in the small Yorkshire village of Little Lost, near where she went to school. There, she finds friendship, acceptance and peace. She befriends Tracey, the local publican, who helps her out with somewhere to stay – and Tracey’s brother Elliot, the handsome local vicar, who sets all the local womens’ hearts racing. As Sophie grows closer to Tracey, Elliot and his little boy Luke, she starts to wish she didn’t have to go back to her old life. But reality is calling – will she answer?

Okay. So it’s chicklit, and that means you can probably guess what happens at the end from the scenario above. But getting there is great fun and there are plenty of other parts to this story, which as Tracey’s love life and Elliot’s estranged wife. I liked hearing about Little Lost and enjoyed the way that life in a small village was portrayed, with everyone pulling together and looking out for each other.

John and his family, as well as Sophie’s own family, were with one exception, all horrible. Selfish, critical and arrogant – I can’t believe that she didn’t walk out years earlier!

If you like chicklit, I would recommend this book. For me, the audiobook was extremely well narrated by Coleen Prendergast, who had a voice that perfectly fitted the story (I’m not surprised to learn that she has narrated the audio versions of Johnson’s other books too).

Overall, it’s not really my genre, but it’s one of the best in it’s own genre, and gets a good rating from me.

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This is the fourth book in the Miss Marple series – although I think it is a bit of a stretch to call it a Miss Marple mystery, as Marple herself only appears towards the end of the story and utters a few words of wisdom. However, the book itself is still an interesting and intriguing read.

Jerry and his sister Joanna arrive in the village of Lymstock for a visit while Jerry recovers from an undisclosed accident. Fairly soon they, along with several other villagers, receive an unpleasant anonymous letter. When Mrs Symmington, the recipient of another such letter, commits suicide, the whole village starts to suspect one another…

As always with Agatha Christie, I enjoyed the book and was pleasantly surprised by the ending – I won’t give away any spoilers, but I thought I had sussed the mystery only to be surprised when the truth was revealed. This is what I love about Agatha Christie books – she is always able to surprise me, but she is fair in the way she does it. Not for her is there a sudden antagonist who has not appeared before in the book. Not for her is there a unforeseeable twist – the reader is given ample opportunity to work it out if they only look hard enough, but she is such a clever writer that she usually ends up outwitting her audience.

In any event, and as mentioned before, this is almost a stand-alone mystery – the appearance of Miss Marple is so brief that she is in fact an unnecessary addition to the plot (this is probably why I prefer Poirot, who is such a central character in the novels), but it is no less enjoyable for all that. There are some entirely unbelievable parts – for example, the police officer investigating the crime is more than happy to share his findings with Jerry, despite Jerry being nothing more than a visitor to the village – but for the sake of moving the story along, I am happy to ignore such things.

If you are a fan of Agatha Christie, this one will not disappoint.

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After hitch-hiking around Ireland with a fridge, enlisting the help of Norman Wisdom and Tim Rice to have a one hit wonder, playing the Moldovans at tennis and doing something with a piano in the Pyrenees (not sure what exactly as I haven’t read that particular book yet), Tony Hawks takes on his biggest challenge yet – moving with partner Fran from London, his home for 30 years, and buying a cottage in rural Devon. There, they have to get used to a change of scene, change of lifestyle and change of pace.

Tony and Fran embrace their new surroundings and new neighbours, and meet the challenges that are thrown at them with enthusiasm and gusto (if not always unqualified success). When they discover that Fran is pregnant, Tony realises that there is time for just one more challenge – cycling coast-to-coast with a micro pig named Titch.

I have always enjoyed Tony Hawks’ books and this one was no exception. At many times it is laugh-out-loud funny – and I do mean literally – laugh-out-loud. I found myself bursting into giggles on a number of occasions (the scene where Tony attends a Zumba class had me in stitches). He also adds in his own thoughts about the environment and man’s effect on it, and impending fatherhood. The book ends on a sweet note which I am reluctant to spoil for other readers, so I won’t!

Overall, if you have enjoyed Hawks’ other books, I am sure you will enjoy this one too. If you have never read him before, don’t delay any longer! This is extremely enjoyable, funny and heart-warming. Oh – and I adored the micro pig Titch!

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This is not the first time I’ve read this book, but it is the first time I’ve read it since I started blogging about the books I read, and so I haven’t written a review of it before.  I LOVE this book, and will say from the outset that I doubt I can do it the justice it deserves (so you just ought to read Emma for yourself!)

Emma Woodhouse is a spoiled, snobbish, but ultimately well-meaning young woman, who – wrongly – believes herself to be a talented matchmaker.  She has no interest in marrying herself, as she would never want to leave her widowed, worrisome father, but she is determined to make couples among her friends.  She  decides that the local vicar, Mr Elton, would make the perfect husband for her naive young friend Harriet, and sets about getting them together; a plan which rapidly turns into a disaster.  Meanwhile, the whole village of Highbury is excited by the arrival of two visitors – Frank Churchill, the son of Emma’s friend Mr Weston, and who enjoys a flirtation with Emma; and Jane Fairfax, an elegant and quiet young lady – the niece of Miss Bates, a kind-hearted but (to Emma anyway), somewhat wittering villager.  As the story proceeds, secrets are revealed, relationships are put  under the microscope, and Emma learns a lot about herself.

So that’s the bare bones of the plot.  There’s more, lots more, but I’m reluctant to reveal it, and anyway Emma is so much more than just it’s plot.  What I really love about it is the humour – because this is really a very funny book – and the insight into human nature.  Each character is so well drawn and described – from the insufferable Mrs Elton, with her inflated sense of her own importance, to the kind-hearted and indiscreet Mr Weston, and even the lesser characters, such as Emma’s sister’s husband, John Knightley, with his dislike of social interaction, and irritation at well, most other characters, you do feel like you know these people.

Emma herself is precocious, judgemental, sometimes unkind, and often completely obtuse to what’s happening right in front of her, but for all that, I still really like the character.  She displays unending kindness and loyalty towards her father, where many would get annoyed or exasperated with him, she is able to recognise her own flaws, and she is charitable towards the needy in her village.

I cannot talk about this book without mentioning Mr Knightley.  He is Emma’s brother-in-law (his brother is married to her sister), and good friend, as well as often the voice of reason and conscience.  He is also my favourite Austen hero – I’d take a Knightley over a Darcy every time.  Mr Knightley is compassionate, sensible, honest, and very fond of Emma, but certainly not afraid of telling her off when she behaves in a way that is beneath her.

For all of these reasons and many more, Emma is not only my favourite Austen novel, but also one of my very favourite books of all time.  I wholeheartedly recommend it.

(For more information about Jane Austen, please click here.)

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Click here for my review of the 1972 mini-series adaptation of Emma, starring Doran Godwin.

Click here for my review of the 1996 film adaptation of Emma, starring Gwyneth Paltrow.

Click here for my review of the 1996 television film adaptation of Emma, starring Kate Beckinsale.

Click here for my review of the 2009 mini-series adaptation of Emma, starring Romola Garai.

Click here for my review of Clueless, the 1995 film adaptation of Emma, starring Alicia Silverstone.

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