Bad weather, good reading: January 2013

Posted: February 2, 2013 in Brazil, England, Historical, Ian Rankin, memes, Norway, Scandinavia, Scotland, Sweden

51WrzjbXCpL._SL500_AA300_pickofthemonth2012I read more books last month than I ever thought possible. The weather kept us in a lot of the time, and many of the books were easy to read, and only one was near 500 pages. There were two non-fiction books as well as six crime fiction:

The Fall of France-The Nazi Invasion of 1940: Julian Jackson

I have read several accounts of this debacle including the classic 1969 book by Alistair Horne, To Lose a Battle: France 1940. I hope the current Franco-British alliance is more successful in their latest adventures in Francophone Africa, but I doubt it.

Interestingly in 1931 Time magazine chose the “calm, masterful” Pierre Laval as Man of the Year. He was Prime Minister of France four times. The collapse of France in 1940, and subsequent armistice, lead to the establishment in unoccupied France of the Vichy regime. After the Allied victory Pierre Laval was found guilty of high treason and executed by firing squad in 1945.

The Real Jane Austen-A life in small things: Paula Byrne

We have just passed the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice so I thought this book was an appropriate read to mark this important date in English literature. The book is full of interesting anecdotes and details about life in the Georgian and Regency period, and many of the sites associated with Jane Austen and mentioned in the book have a special significance for us.

We would frequently stop at the Jane Austen Museum at Chawton, in Hampshire, to break our journey down from London to Gosport visiting my in laws. This was in the early 1980s well before the Colin Firth TV production created a new following for Mr Darcy and Jane Austen’s books. Many years ago my wife lived in Winchester, where Jane lived her last few weeks and is buried in the cathedral. My son went to university in Bath, where Jane lived from 1801-1806 and where she set two of her novels, and I worked in Teignmouth for 15 years, where Jane holidayed in 1802. Our first holiday was at Lyme Regis, where Jane and her family visited in 1803, and 1804, and where Louisa Musgrave falls from some steps on the Cobb in Persuasion. 

Well that’s enough literary stuff for one post. The crime fiction books I read were:

Standing in Another Man’s Grave: Ian Rankin 

Spies of Warsaw: Alan Furst

Blessed Are Those Who Thirst: Anne Holt 

Perfect Hatred: Leighton Gage

Linda, As In The Linda Murder: Leif G.W. Persson  [a review will appear at Euro Crime in due course]

Gone Girl: Gillian Flynn [I will be posting about this phenomenon in the next few days]

Some very good reads but the best by a whisker was Linda, As In The Linda Murder by Leif G.W. Persson. 

  1. Margot Kinberg says:

    Norman – What an interesting variety of books you’ve read! I am duly impressed. To me it’s fascinating to look at events with the benefit of hindsight, so I’m glad you enjoyed the history you read. I’m no political expert but I firmly believe that Edmund Burke was right about those who don’t know history… I look forward to your discussion of Gone Girl.

  2. kathy d. says:

    Great way to spend time during bad weather. I had hoped to do so, but got too busy. I am now awaiting delivery of Blessed are those who Thirst, the third Russell Quant book set in Saskatchewan, and The Sea Detective, written about favorably at RTR.
    I should really read P&P soon. It somehow skipped over me years ago. I like Jane Austen’s wry sense of humor, which draws me in.

    • Norman Price says:

      Kathy, I remember watching Clueless on TV and explaining to my stepdaughter that it was based on Jane Austen’s Emma. My stepdaughter later traced her family back to fighting in Nelson’s navy at Trafalgar creating a link with Jane Austen’s time.

  3. […] View post: Bad weather, good reading: January 2013 – Crime Scraps Review … […]

  4. I remember dragging my other half to that Jane Austen museum on our first trip to the UK – I felt guilty for boring him witless until he dragged me to Hadrian’s wall…and then made us walk/camp along it looking at old rubble for months (well a few days but it felt like months 🙂 ) – so then I dragged him to Bath and we visited every place that claimed even a tenuous connection with Ms Austen

    I’ve not read any of your list of good books but I have several on that ever teetering TBR pile.

    • Norman Price says:

      Bernadette, walking Hadrians Wall sounds good to me. 😉 Dragging other halves round “interesting” sites is an artform. I am still wondering who put a Quilt Museum in Paducah KY strategically placed between Abraham Lincoln Boyhood Home National Memorial in Southern Indiana and Shiloh battlefield*. How many different quilts are there? Lots and lots and lots……..

      * Could be a wife who had been dragged round almost every battle field west of the Mississippi.

  5. kathy d. says:

    Norman, quilting is an art form in the U.S. Some hang in museums. Some are incredibly intricate and creative. Some were made by African-American women in the South showing the trail of the Underground Railroad to freedom.
    Quilting is a very important part of U.S. folk art, history, culture.
    A friend in Sacramento, Calif., is part of a collaborative quilting co-op and some friends here shop at stores that specialize in quilting materials and supplies. They’re made for special occasions and are taken quite seriously.

  6. TracyK says:

    This was a very interesting post. Especially the non-fiction book about the fall of France, since I am reading The Third Reich in Power by Richard J. Evans, which doesn’t get to 1940. And even the comments on quilting.

    I haven’t read any of the crime fiction books that you listed, but I am interested in all of those authors, so I will follow up on the reviews.

    • Norman Price says:

      Thanks Tracy K.
      Richard J. Evans was the expert witness in a libel action in which David Irving sued Professor Deborah Lipstadt and Penguin Books for calling him a Holocaust denier. She wrote an interesting book about the trial- History on Trial: My Day in Court with David Irving in which Professor Evans is a major character.

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