Anne of Windy Willows – by L M Montgomery

28 10 2017

Book four chronologically in Anne’s life, though this one was actually written 20 years after most of the others. A newly engaged Anne moves to Summerside to become principal of a high school and lodges with two widows in a house called “Windy Willows”. A lot of the book is written as her letters to Gilbert, maybe a half and half split with that and general narrative. She spends three years there while Gilbert is at medical school, and doesn’t get off to the easiest start.

The majority of Summerside either seem to be the Pringle family or have some Pringle blood of them of some sort, and they seem to gang up against Anne initially. But Anne being Anne, she finds her way! From there we meet lots of different people over the three years, very few characters get featured the whole way through other than the little girl, little Elizabeth, who lives next door with her Grandmother and “the woman”, who feed and clothe her well enough, but don’t show anything by way of affection, so in time Anne befriends her and that relationship blossoms beautifully! Elizabeth goes by many different names, depending on how she is feeling: Betty, Beth, Elsie, Bess, Elisa and Lisbeth. “But not Lizzie; I can never feel like Lizzie.”

Anne seems to be not a matchmaker as such, but definitely gets involved in pushing a couple of couples forward in their relationship who have for various reasons not got engaged or married yet. Somehow it’s written so that you feel it’s entirely justified and gives each couple a happy ending!

My only real frustration with this book was a couple of times when we meet someone who is meant to be annoying and talking non stop without Anne or anyone getting a word in edge-ways. But the way it’s written you end up reading pages and pages of this irrelevant annoying waffle and actually don’t care! It makes the point well, but did make me want to skip pages at times.

This book was publish 3 years before World War 2, so it was sad to read the following: “It’s impossible to think of Canada ever being at war again. I am so thankful that phase of history is over.”

Of course, these books always provide some wonderful one liners, maybe not as many as in the other books, but still!

  • “I’ve always liked washing dishes. It’s fun to make dirty things clean and shining again.”
  • “[Babies] are what I heard somebody at Redmond call ‘terrific bundles of potentialities’. […] But I think I’m glad Judas’s mother didn’t know he was to be Judas, I hope she never did know.”
  • “If we were all beauties, who would do the work?”
  • “But there’s one consolation: you’ll be spared an awful lot of trouble if you die young.”

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The House of New Beginnings – by Lucy Diamond

25 09 2017

I visited a friend at the start of the month and she’d just finished this book and so passed it on to me. I already had a large reading pile, but was interested and have *some* manners, so after I’d finished my current book, and a very short related book after, I gave this one a go.

It’s unashamedly chick lit, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing! Essentially the book is about the residents of the five flats in Seaview House in Brighton.

  • Flat one is Jo, and her teenage daughter, Bea. Jo becomes quite unwell early on and Bea has a damaged relationship with her Dad that needs sorting out.
  • Flat two is Rosa. She’s recently moved down from London after finding out her boyfriend was not all he seemed and so is looking for a fresh start.
  • Flat three is Georgie and Simon. Simon’s just got a great architect job so he’s moved down from Yorkshire and Georgie has come with him, without much sense of purpose.
  • Flat four is Charlotte. She lost her baby daughter recently, after which her marriage broke down and so she has moved to Brighton to get away from all that.
  • Flat five is Margot. She’s an old, frail lady who’s likes money to be spent “unwisely” and to talk about her impending death as some old ladies enjoy doing!

The book begins as Georgie and Simon move in, and gradually you see these women trying to suss out what their life in Brighton is going to be. They gradually get to know each other too and we just spend time following the highs and lows with them over their first summer in the house.

It’s an easy read and pretty feel good 🙂





Anne of the Island – by L M Montgomery

13 04 2017

After a year’s break it was about time to read number three in this series. Anne is now 18 and heading off to Redmond University on the mainland. The book covers her four years there. She arrives with three from Avonlea – Gilbert, Charlie and Priscilla, and quickly makes friends with a girl called Phil – Stella from Queen’s (I think) also joins them from second year.

We still spend time in Green Gables in the holidays, and as far as the book goes, maybe half of the narrative! So there are still wonderful quotes from Davy, to keep the childish delights from Anne in the first book alive and well.

Through the book Anne gets a few marriage proposals, and one serious boyfriend – but no spoilers here! You’ll have to read it! Phil is a little boy crazy, and this is the first time the books really cover that side of things to this level, she’s quite a lot of fun! We also cover a death too soon in this book, which I guess you’d pick up from the quotes below… again, no spoilers.

Picking up the book after such a long gap was tricky in places because it doesn’t really recap, (I’m still not sure who Mr Harrison is who they keep referring to), it would have been nice to have a couple of reminders occasionally!

As before, here are some of my favourite quotes from the book:

  • “We are all servants of some sort, and if the fact that we are faithful can be truthfully inscribed on our tombstones nothing more need be added.”
  • “Oh, I’m not afraid but that I’ll go to heaven, Anne. I’m a church member.”
  • “Heaven must be very beautiful, of course, the Bible says so – but, Anne, it won’t be what I’ve been used to.
  • “Do you think we’ll never laugh in heaven?” – Anne
    “Oh – I – I don’t know, it doesn’t seem just right, somehow. You know it’s rather dreadful to laugh in church.” – Diana
    “But heaven won’t be like church – all the time.” – Anne
    “I hope it ain’t, if it is I don’t want to go.” – Davy
  • “All life lessons are not learned at college.”
  • “I love her best when she is asleep and better still when she is awake.”
  • “I could be sorry for it afterwards, couldn’t I?”
  • “Can’t a man laugh and laugh and be a Christian still?”
    “Oh, men – yes. But I was speaking of Ministers, my dear.”
  • “When I was a girl it wasn’t considered ladylike to know anything about mathematics, but times have changed. I don’t know that it’s all for the better.”
  • “Oh, I dare say we all pray for some things that we really don’t want, if we were only honest enough to look into our hearts, I’ve a notion that such prayers don’t rise very far. I used to pray that I might be enabled to forgive a certain person, but I know now I really didn’t want to forgive her. When I finally got that I did want to I forgave her without having to pray about it.”
  • “I love [cats]. They are so nice and selfish. Dogs are too good and unselfish. They make me feel uncomfortable. But cats are gloriously human.”





Lyrebird – by Cecelia Ahern

25 03 2017

If you read this regularly you’ll know I’m a big fan of Cecelia Ahern. The last adult book she wrote wasn’t a favourite of mine but this one is back on form, back to the days of things that are slightly unreal, not fantasy, but not quite normal!

Lyrebird is actually Laura. She’s lived a very sheltered existence to the point that no one knows she exists, she doesn’t even have a birth certificate. When she was 16 her mother died and so she went to live in a run down cottage on the land her father owns. Ten years on she’s discovered by a team making a documentary about her father and his brother and the life they lived on their farm when they visit after her father’s death.

What I haven’t told you is that Laura is a bit unusual. She makes noises. Perfect imitations of any sound she’s ever heard – from her Gaga’s voice to a chainsaw to someone running their hand over their stubble. Obviously the documentary team are intrigued, and with her father gone they try to find a way to support her in her future – they plan to make a documentary about her life and her extraordinary ability.

A really interesting idea, great mix of characters and a wonderfully told story! Definitely one to read!

Favourite one-liner from the book: “Why can’t people just be really good at something? Why do they have to be the best at something?”





The Testament – by John Grisham

25 01 2017

Yes, you’re right, this is not my normal genre! My Dad recommended it to me first, and I thought, maybe. Then my Mum did, and we generally have a very similar taste in books, so I said I’d give it a go.

At first sight, this book is about Troy Phelan, an elderly billionaire. But when he jumps out of the window after signing a last minute will, we realise we won’t be spending much time with him. This last will writes out his six debt-ridden children who were all expecting to do rather well out of his death, and instead leaves his fortune to an illegitimate daughter who is a missionary in the depths of Brazil, whom no one has heard of until this point.

The story actually turns out to be about Nate O’Riley, fresh out of rehab, he is sent by Phelan’s lawyer to Brazil to try and find this Rachel, get her to let them act for her, and prevent the awful Phelan children from getting their hands on the fortune and frittering it away. The book is full of drama as they have to travel to find her by boats up rivers, through crazy storms, and there’s even a bout of Dengue fever to deal with…

I think the thing that struck me most about this book is how well the Christian side of it is portrayed. Rachel is a missionary, she talks about her faith in a very real way, not twee, not cliche. Through his time with her, and with a Vicar he meets back in the states, Nate comes to a point where he prays, and wants to know more about God. It’s written in such a respectful way that you don’t hear much of these days. Very impressed.

I was worried it’d be a bit heavy but it was a pretty easy read in the end, definitely gripping. That said, I did see the ending coming – sometimes when you look at how little of the book is left you realise that really it can only go one way.

the-testament





The Versions of Us – by Laura Barnett

30 07 2016

The front cover cites Elle Magazine as saying this is “One Day meets Sliding Doors” and I couldn’t have put it better myself.

Eva is a student at Cambridge University in 1958 and is cycling to a lecture but swerves to avoid a dog while Jim looks on.

  • Version 1 – as she swerves she goes over a nail and gets a puncture and Jim comes to her aid
  • Version 2 – the dog changed direction and so she just stopped to gather herself, then continued after Jim asked if she was ok
  • Version 3 – as she swerves she loses balance and falls off, again Jim comes over to help

And from these, we have three parallel stories that we pop in on at varying points over the next 56 years.

The beginning is hard to get into until each of the three threads have become a little more distinct and easy to separate out, but once you get to that point it really is a good read. We see marriages to different people, relationships with different characters, some who pop up in more than one version, and some who are only in one. We don’t always pop in at the same point, but occasionally all three come together to one event, but you read it happening in different ways with different people and allegiances, eg a brother’s birthday, a parent’s funeral (not a spoiler, we’re spanning half a century here!).

I know of one person who read this book in a different order – reading all of version 1 first, then all of version 2, then all of version 3. I’d love to do this if I didn’t have so much else to read as I’d really be interested to see how each thread flows on its own!

It’s quite interesting to cover than length of time in a book as well, the throwaway comments about fashions and hairstyles, as well as the first time facebook gets a mention right at the end almost feeling too new-fangled!

After a tricky start I really liked this. The first half took me about 3 weeks, the second half was less than a week I reckon! I often find that’s the way with books, but with this one more so.

the versions of us





The Marble Collector – by Cecelia Ahern

7 05 2016

Another trip through an airport, another early paperback!

Sabrina is a mum with a young family, and her Dad, Fergus, is in a home/hospital sort of place following a stroke that’s left his memory damaged. The book is set over one day for Sabrina, who tells us her side of the story, whilst Fergus writes from all ages from childhood through to the day Sabrina is living.

It was hard to follow in places – with each chapter you had to remind yourself who was talking, and if it was Fergus, then work out when on earth it was!

I wouldn’t say this was my favourite of her books, but still a good read as Sabrina spends a day trying to work out and investigating what secret it is that her dad’s been hiding from his entire family for his whole life – marbles!

Favourite quotes from this book:

  • “The eye directs the brain, the brain directs the hand. Don’t forget that. Always keep an eye on the target, Fergus, and your brain will make it happen.”
  • “When you’re dead you’d think you’d want to just enjoy being dead without having to worry about the people you left behind. Worrying is for the living.”
  • “The best way to be the best you can be is to be dead.”
  • “Perhaps it’s true that you never know yourself until someone else truly knows you.”

the marble collector