by Jane Austen

I do sometimes wonder if this is my favourite Austen novel, after all.

Anne Elliot is clever, discreet, long-suffering – and she has rather a lot to suffer.  Her father, Sir Walter Elliot, is a vain and rather pathetic man, whose company Anne is obliged to keep unless she marries.  Anne has had an offer several years ago, and on the advice of her father and, in particular, her older friend Lady Russell, turned down the man although she was in love with him.  It seems unlikely that she will find another suitor at this stage in her life.

Enter Mr Elliot: a relation with a somewhat dubious past.  Around the same time, her former suitor Captain Wentworth re-enters Anne’s life and seems to be attaching himself to Louisa Musgrave, a young, lively and attractive girl in the neighbourhood and sister-in-law to Anne’s sister.  After a distressing incident in Lyme Regis, where Anne shows her true constancy and the stable, practical nature of her character, Louisa transfers her affections.

Wentworth and Anne meet again in Bath, and are finally reconciled in a delightfully tender moment involving a note hidden in a glove ‘accidentally’ left behind.

Oh – just writing about this, 7 months later, makes me want to read it again!



by Mark Billingham

Recommended and lent to me by Pay Ranson, who has read several of the series of books featuring DI Tom Thorne.

This is an intelligent and well-written detective thriller, with a somewhat far-fetched but nevertheless engaging plot.  One of the characters, Alison Willetts, has locked-in syndrome, and her ‘speech’ punctuates the story. (Her role in identifying the killer is also highly relevant.)

I was reading this at the time a new baby granddaughter arrived, and had to put the book down for 24 hours, so unwilling was I to read about murder and torture while revelling in a new life.

Never keen to read any genre, but especially thrillers, back to back, I will probably wait a while before reading another novel in this series.

The Mayor of Casterbridge

by Thomas Hardy

Not sure that I have much to say about this book.  I enjoyed reading it more than I expected to, but – as with all the Hardy novels I have read – I don’t feel any urge to read it again or to mark it as one of my best-loved books.

What stays with me more than anything are the descriptions of the back streets and villages, the landscape and the harsh lives of ordinary country people.  I do feel that this is Hardy’s strength – and it comes from personal experience and detailed observation.