If you’re looking for a good book as the evenings get darker, here are my recommendations for the month. I’ve tried to include something for everyone. Do check back next month for more.
The Ivy Tree by Mary Stewart
James picked this up for me from a charity book stall. I’d never come across Mary Stewart before – although a quick glance at the book jacket revealed she was actually a prolific author of many thrillers and historical novels. Most of these were written between the 1950s and the 1980s, which probably explains why I hadn’t come across them before.
The Ivy Tree (1961) is a gripping work of light suspense. When I say light suspense, I suppose I mean a romantic thriller. It reminded me of Daphne du Maurier. It’s a tale of jealousy, impersonation, love and intrigue. The characters are intriguing – quite unlikeable at times – and there are plenty of twists and turns.
I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, but it centres on a chance encounter, through which our heroine is drawn into the life of complicated family estate. Set in Northumberland, in the shadow of Hadrian’s Wall, I think it’s supposed to be vaguely contemporary – at times it felt like the 1930s, others the 1950s.
It’s quite a long book but stick with it. I couldn’t turn the final pages fast enough as certain truths began to dawn on me. All in all, it’s a great read for Autumn.
If you’re after a bit of non-fiction then I recommend French Children Don’t Throw Food by Pamela Druckerman.
It’s a witty and very readable account of the author’s experiences as an American (married to an Englishman) bringing up her children in Paris. The contrast between the calm, slightly detached, style of French parenting compared with the sometimes fussy helicopter parenting of the Anglo-Americans made me smile.
I learnt some new things, and recognised a few techniques that we did with our boys when they were young, which really worked for us. Some of the advice – especially about sleeping – is really very useful and I haven’t really seen it elsewhere. I would definitely recommend first-time mothers read this while pregnant. It’s definitely one I wish I’d read.
A few other recommendations in brief…
At a Distance by Raffaella Barker. I’m a big fan of RB and I loved reading this unusual – and moving – story.
The Complete Richard Hannay by John Buchan. James is currently enjoying re-reading these gripping tales of Edwardian espionage. This collection includes the most famous of the Richard Hannay books, the Thirty Nine Steps. Our Penguin edition is out of print, but it’s worth trying to get it second-hand. Or you could try the Wordsworth edition I’ve linked to above. They’re also available to download for free here.
Autumn Story by Jill Barklem. A classic Brambly Hedge tale from my childhood. At 6 and 4, my boys are just the right age to appreciate the complex drawings in these wonderfully illustrated books.
What books are you loving at the moment? I’d love hear what you’re reading – just say hello in the comments below!