Monthly Archives: Jun 2012

Jubilee Ma’am

Some of my reading this month- what little there was – has taken on a royal tinge, in keeping with the recent Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

I’ve been dipping into Andrew Marr’s The Diamond Queen and rediscovered Jeremy Paxman’s On Royalty to put some of the pomp and ceremony into a slightly sceptical, journalistic context. Both are very readable, entertaining reflections on the reign and character of Elizabeth II, with some ‘insider’ access to her staff, houses and family members. Both journalists describe themselves as former republicans so they’re not overly mawkish and sentimental. Both are surprisingly admiring of Elizabeth Windsor herself and the peeks behind the palaces’ closed doors are fascinating.

At the other end of the spectrum, I treated our two children to their own royal reading: Me, The Queen and Christopher by Giles Andrae and Tony Ross for my 7 year old son which he read by himself after lights out (behind closed doors, the Queen likes to dance to disco music in her tracksuit and eat baked beans, with obvious consequences). Peppa Pig Meets the Queen has been a bedtime essential for my 3 and a half year old daughter for the last week; even the Queen must put her wellies on before jumping into muddy puddles, apparently. Richard Brassey’s The Queen is another very informative and well illustrated children’s introduction to the Queen’s life and reign.

And glaring at me from another shelf is Becoming Queen, the early life and reign of England’s only other Diamond Queen, Victoria. Yes Ma’am, I will be with you shortly.

These bibliophilic treats will probably last longer than the bunting around our neighbourhood.

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Posted by on 11/06/2012 in Uncategorized


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Not Enough Murder in My Library!

May’s reading theme of Classic British Detective fiction has extended itself into ‘flaming June’; I simply haven’t allowed myself enough time to enjoy the classic ‘whodunnits’ I have piled up next to my reading chair and bed.

I have had my first tastes of Margery Allingham and Gladys Mitchell; making the aquaintance of Albert Campion and Mrs Lestrange Bradley, both of whom were more unusual, odd and funny than I expected.

I re-read Josephine Tey’s Daughter of Time, tying in with April’s historical theme; reassesing the reputation of Richard III, presented as a psycholocial police investigation from a hospital bed. I have a pile of her other mysteries to dip into another time; I am looking forward to the Franchise Affair in particular.

Margery Allingham’s Sweet Danger was very odd: images remain of a mill, an ancient family, family infighting, a selection of unusually named gentlemen (Dicky Farquharson, anyone?), Campion being much younger than I expected and the hint of romance was a welcome surprise.                 I’m pleased to have at least 4 more on my shelves to try another day.

Mrs Bradley made her first appearence in my reading life in The Mystery of a Butcher’s Shop; and what an odd delight she is! All images of the majestical Diana Rigg were banished with the description of the original wizened, claw-handed, loud-voiced psycholanalyst (and odd-ball) Mrs Bradley. Firmly set in 1930s country life, this was an escapist read; the sound of croquet mallets hitting their wooden balls echoed off the walls of the large house; the country parish priest absent-mindedly pocketed clocks; romances burgeoned among the rosebushes; the whereabouts of a pair of slacks were of vital importance; a ‘Stone of Sacrifice’ held terror for everyone; and the appearance of a decapitated and dismembered human body in the village butcher’s storage was a truly grizzly image that lingers.

I will try to squeeze another mystery into this week before moving onto my next theme (more of that later): The Chinese Shawl by Patricia Wentworth. Another first, Miss Silver appears to be something of a model for Miss Marple with her bag of knitting and knowing looks between the ‘young people’ in the grand old house.

Unlike contemporary crime fiction, such crimes are solved as a logical puzzle; sex and violence are often factors (as by definition, a murder has taken place) but not dwelt upon unnecessarily. The reflection of a bygone era, of a time without technological distractions; of Vicars on bicycles; badminton on the Summer lawn; and a knowledgeable amateur solving a rash of grisly murders are utterly charming. A welcome anecdote to this current ‘age of austerity’ and too much time spent living in the virtual world.

And I didn’t even read one of Christie’s….

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Posted by on 11/06/2012 in Uncategorized