Monday, February 28, 2011

{review} a world of girls

Rosemary Auchmuty A World of Girls (1992)


The other day I was trying to remember who was expelled from the Chalet School (the setting for a series of books by Elinor Brent-Dyer). The books themselves are packed away but this book was on the shelf. It didn't give me the answer (thank you Google: Thekla von Stift; crime: being too German), but as I dipped into it again I remembered how interesting I had found my previous read. 

Auchmuty examines the elaborate school environments created by Elsie J. Oxenham (the 'Abbey' books), Dorita Fairlie Bruce ('Dimsie'), Elinor M. Brent Dyer ('Chalet School') and Enid Blyton ('St Clares'; 'Malory Towers') and discusses the types of recurring patterns that mark out girls' school stories from the 1920s to the 1960s. Examples of these include 'The Schoolgirl Code', the importance of 'games', the prefect system, types of heroines, the significance of school-girl friendships, role models, the rejection of social distinctions and preparation for adulthood. These books, one finds, offer girls a form of affirmation of the right way to live. There is also an interesting section on the 'sexology' of girls' school stories: crushes, spinster teachers and tomboys. Of Miss Peters in the Malory Towers books ('tall, mannish, with very soft hair and a deep voice'):
The girls liked her, but sometimes they wished she would not treat them as though they were boys. She had a hearty laugh, and a hearty manner.
Our knowing parody is never far from lines such as these:
"So there grew up a real understanding between the form mistress and Bill [aka Wilhelmina], delightful to them both." (Third Year at Malory Towers)
As Auchmuty notes, the 'problem' of spinster teachers - sexual failures or sexual dangers? - plays out in the subtexts of these books, but we should also bear in mind that the majority of teachers were women in the era 1921-1931, with the censuses for those years indicating further that 85% of female teachers were unmarried. This is a reflection, too, on a bar on married women as teachers.  

A World of Girls is filled with much well-chosen material taken from the school stories, and from academic writings on girls' education and feminist topics. Auchmuty's observations are always pertinent and well expressed. This is an intriguing and amusing read and will make you want to go read those school stories again. 

Rating: 8/10.

If you liked this... I'm going to add her book A World of Women: Growing Up in the Girls' School Story to my wish-list.

A World of Women: Growing Up in the Girls' School Story

Saturday, February 26, 2011

{weekend words}

‘Once I start a book I finish it. That was the way one was brought up. Books, bread and butter, mashed potato – one finishes what’s on one’s plate. That’s always been my philosophy.’
Queen Elizabeth II, as imagined by
Alan Bennett (2007)

THE UNCOMMON READER

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

{review} flowers of unnatural hue

Robert Hichens The Green Carnation (1894)
"I heard a bon mot of yours at the Foreign Office last night.
"Indeed. What was it?" 
"Er--really I--oh! it was something about life, you know, with a sort of general application, one of your best."

The Green Carnation (Dodo Press)

I thought I should read something appropriate while following Oscar Wilde Week at Esoteric London last week.
"These strawberries are very good," he said. "I should finish them, only I hate finishing anything. There is something so commonplace about it. Don't you think so? Commonplace people are always finishing off things, and getting through things. They map out their days, and have special hours for everything. I should like to have special hours for nothing. That would be much more original."
The Green Carnation ("the arsenic flower of an exquisite life") is notorious for cementing Oscar Wilde's fall from grace. Hichens was well acquainted with the circle around Wilde. His satirical take on these late nineteenth century 'Moderns' is pitch-perfect. This is a very funny book if you can forget the terrible aftermath. It is wall-to-wall Wilde-styled nonsensicality; indeed "the art of preposterous conversation" often reads just like Wilde. The effect of this overload of overstyled observations on the most banal topics - along with sweepingly illogical twists on the  Wildean 'habit' of contradiction and unconventionality and originality - serves to render Wildeism ridiculous.
"How curious," said Mr. Amarinth, taking a bun delicately between his plump white fingers. "My temper and my heart are the only two things I never lose! Everything else vanishes. I think the art of losing things is a very subtle art. So few people can lose anything really beautifully. Anybody can find a thing. That is so simple. A crossing sweeper can discover a sixpence lying in the road. It is the crossing sweeper who loses a sixpence who shows real originality."
Wilde is referred to in the text by name ("I shall go and lie down and read Oscar Wilde's 'Decay of Lying.' That always sends me to sleep. It is like himself, all artfulness and no art.") but he is represented in the satire by one Esmé Amarinth ("I was born epigrammatic, and my dying remark will be a paradox") who is inseparable from Lord Reggie Hastings (i.e. Lord Alfred Douglas). It is Lord Reggie's role as an inferior copy of the dazzling original which enables the text to poke its best jabs at the Wilde phenomenon:
Reggie Hastings, at least, was not ashamed. The mantel-piece in his sitting-room bore only photographs of himself, and he explained this fact to inquirers by saying that he worshipped beauty. Reggie was very frank. When he could not be witty, he often told the naked truth; and truth, without any clothes on, frequently passes for epigram. It is daring, and so it seems clever.
Lord Reggie and Esmé go to Surrey for a week of carefully contrived rusticity with the London hostess Mrs. Windsor ("Ah! here is our Bovril! I feel so delightfully vicious when I drink it, so unconventional!"), the theatrical Madame Valtesi ("I always hate to see people drinking when I have finished. It makes me feel like a barmaid.") and the young and highly conventional widow Lady Locke who may or may not marry Lord Reggie:
"What do you think about it, Reggie?" Amarinth said, as they began to discuss their oysters. "Could you commit the madness of matrimony with Lady Locke? You are so wonderful as you are, so complete in yourself, that I scarcely dare to wish it, or anything else for you: and you live so comfortably upon debts, that it might be unwise to risk the possible discomfort of having money.
Lady Locke soons discovers that the handsome Lord Reggie is appallingly self-obsessed and shallow. But is he also wicked?
She still fancied that Lord Reggie was nothing more than a whimsical poseur, bitten by the tarantula of imitation that preys upon weak natures.
But further events leave her unconvinced:
"But do you really object to the green carnation?"
"That depends. Is it a badge?"
"How do you mean?"
"I only saw about a dozen in the Opera House to-night, and all the men who wore them looked the same. They had the same walk, or rather waggle, the same coyly conscious expression, the same wavy motion of the head. When they spoke to each other, they called each other by Christian names. Is it a badge of some club or some society, and is Mr. Amarinth their high priest? They all spoke to him, and seemed to revolve round him like satellites around the sun."
"My dear Emily, it is not a badge at all. They wear it merely to be original."
"And can they only be original in a buttonhole way? Poor fellows."
"You don't understand. They like to draw attention to themselves."
"By their dress? I thought that was the prerogative of women."
"Really, Emily, you are colonial..."
She declines Sir Reggie's proposal ("Esmé said to-day that marriage was a brilliant absurdity. Will you be brilliantly absurd? Will you marry me?"):
It seems to me that Mr. Amarinth has created a cult. Let me call it the cult of the green carnation. I suppose it may be called modern. To me it seems very silly and rather wicked. If you would take that hideous green flower out of your coat, not because I asked you to, but because you hated it honestly, I might answer your question differently. If you could forget what you call art, if you could see life at all with a straight, untrammelled vision, if you could be like a man, instead of like nothing at all in heaven or earth except that dyed flower, I might perhaps care for you in the right way. But your mind is artificially coloured: it comes from the dyer's. It is a green carnation; and I want a natural blossom to wear in my heart."
Masses of epigrams on the commonplace are all marked by the simplistic opposing of whatever society values: "We make vices of our virtues, and virtues of our vices. The former we consider the duty that we owe to others, the latter the duty that we owe to ourselves." 

The text also takes some jabs at the issue of whether Wilde's epigrams were indeed original or borrowed from other languages. 

The Londoners escape to rusticity is as much a fraud as their utterances: "She rustled away with weary grace, rattling delicately a large bunch of keys that didn't open any thing in particular. They were a part of her get up as a country hostess." Everything is a vast fraud:
"That sky is becoming so terribly imitative that I can hardly go on. Why are modern sunsets so intolerably true to Turner?"
[Reggie] was holding up a table-spoon filled with marmalade to catch the light from a stray sunbeam that filtered in through the drawn blinds, and wore a rapt look, a "caught up" look, as Mrs. Windsor would have expressed it. "Good morning," he said softly. "Is not this marmalade Godlike? This marvellous, clear, amber glow, amber with a touch of red in it, almost makes me believe in an after life. Surely, surely marmalade can never die!" "I must have been mistaken," Mrs. Windsor thought, as she expressed her sense of the eternity of jams in general in suitable language.
As I said, a very funny book.

I read The Green Carnation for 99 cents on my Kindle but it is available all over the place for free (e.g., Gutenberg) Incidentally, I didn't realise that Robert Hichens wrote The Paradine Case (1933) on which was based the Gregory Peck movie of the same name (1947).

Rating: 9/10

If you liked this... read the real thing. Oscar Wilde.

Monday, February 21, 2011

{review} nemesis

I recently pulled Agatha Christie's Nemesis (1971) from the shelf. I've read it a number of times before  (it is a nice follow-on, but not specifically a sequel, to the brilliant A Caribbean Mystery) but I'd never noticed the detail of the dust wrapper on my edition, with its knitted question mark: a long knitted scarf piece as the hook of the question mark and a ball of wool as the point underneath. It is a really gorgeous hot pink and a most striking design:

Image source

I note, incidentally, that this cover has been reissued in a first edition facsimile but doesn't seem to be as hot pink as the original; the knitted effect is more striking tho'.


I couldn't resist another read of Nemesis and, as usual, was in awe of Agatha Christie's ability to tell a story. Her late 1960s-early 1970s books are not to everyone's taste. Christie attempted to embrace the violence and brutality of the era and it is not always with success: for instance, the views expressed in this book on rape are pretty eye-opening. This bit was more amusing:
Miss Marple looked with distaste at the jacket of the book, a naked girl with blood-stained markings...
'Really,' she said, 'I don't like these horrors nowadays.'
...
Miss Marple detached a second book. 'Whatever Happened to Baby Jane,' she read. 'Oh dear, it's a sad world one lives in.'
What I noticed this time - as well as the cover - was how the book gives us little hints at how Miss Marple became Miss Marple; it was almost biographic in places. I wonder if the Whatever Happened to Baby Jane reference was even a bit of a wink towards Miss Marple - Miss Jane Marple. There is also a fair bit of personal voice from the detective, "an elderly, rather scatty, quite ordinary person, physically not very strong, mentally not nearly as alert as she used to be."
'...And, of course, yes, I'm very ordinary. An ordinary rather scatty old lady. And that of course is very good camouflage. Dear me, I wonder if I'm thinking on the right lines. I do,  sometimes, know what people are like...' 
A background picture develops of a Miss Marple who had led a life of sacrifice, caring for elderly parents: 
"I am used to sick people. I have had a good deal to do with them in my time."
It's all rather sad, yet I rather like that Agatha Christie was prepared to let her detective heroes grow old. Anyway, it's a cracking read: Miss Marple, with her "flair for Evil" is given an assignment by a dead man. She has no details of the crime that may have been committed but is sent off on a coach tour of English gardens with a busload of potential suspects. She slowly becomes aware that her travelling companions all hold different pieces of a puzzle that will enable her to set right a miscarriage of justice. For that is Miss Marple's real flair - for justice - and the attribute of Nemesis to a fluffy old lady with a fondness for fluffy pink knits is by no means inapt.

Let Justice roll down like waters
And Righteousness like an everlasting stream.

Rating: 6/10.
If you liked this... A Caribbean Mystery.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

{weekend words}

I'm having a Patricia Wentworth binge at the moment owing to the fact that I am having to do a course for work and I find that it helps my concentration to (re-)read familiar material rather than start something new. So, old detective fiction binge. The early Miss Silver books are very good but there is a gradual decline towards the end. I am reading as many as I can get on my Kindle and the editions offer this one constant factor through the series - a really quite unfortunately worded 'About the Author':

About the Author     
Patricia Wentworth was born in India and after 
writing several romances turned her hand to crime. 
She wrote dozens of bestselling mysteries and 
was recognised as one of the mistresses of classic 
crime. She died in 1961.

Perhaps it was deliberate, but 'turned her hand to crime' makes me smile every time I read it.

My favourite Miss Silver? Probably The Case of William Smith. So far.

The Case of William Smith (A Miss Silver Mystery)

Friday, February 18, 2011

{wishlist}

I wonder if this is any good?


D. J. Taylor (2008)
The Rise & Fall of a Generation

Bright Young People: The Lost Generation of London's Jazz Age

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

{review} the pat hobby stories

F. Scott Fitzgerald The Pat Hobby Stories


My favourite F. Scott Fitzgerald anecdote is that recorded in Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast where EH has to reassure FSF about the size of FSF's penis (it's quoted here).

I was reminded of the anecdote while reading The Pat Hobby Stories because it is sometimes suggested that they too offer an insight into FSF the man. My edition (Penguin 1962) aids this impression with a most interesting introduction by FSF's publisher/editor at Esquire magazine, Arnold Gingrich, in which he details the conditions under which many of the Pat Hobby stories were produced for the magazine in 1939-40. FSF was a hard taskmaster on those who represented him and rarely considered that he was getting a good deal. His attitude towards his representatives is an eye-opener, as he plays the supportive (and happy to pay up-front) Esquire off against other publications. As Gingrich notes, FSF was "[a]lways most abusive to those who treated him best, though endlessly forebearing to those who treated him badly...". He was also a terror with proofs and changes and continually intervened regarding the order in which the stories were to appear [posthumously] in Esquire (1940-41).

However it is FSF's 'day job' while he was writing the Pat Hobby series which provides the most food for thought. Both FSF and his hero Pat Hobby were script-writers chained to a Hollywood studio system which seemed to regard writers as little more than troublesome hacks. 

FSF had not a few problems himself with the studio system, and one might assume a level of verism in the details, despite the seemingly fantastic troubles in which Pat Hobby finds himself. Pat Hobby is not a likeable character. He is an alcoholic, alimony-shirking multi-divorced gambling womaniser who lives in Hollywood where he is a mostly out-of-work script-writer scrounging to get any work from a studio which has moved on without him. 
Pat was forty-nine. He was a writer but he had never written much, nor even read all the 'originals' he worked from, because it made his head bang to read much. But the good old silent days you got somebody's plot and a smart secretary and gulped benzedrine 'structure' at her six or eight hours every week. The director took care of the gags. After talkies came he always teamed up with some man who wrote dialogue. Some young man who liked to work. (from 'A Man in the Way')
When Pat Hobby does manage to call in a favour or inveigle a sucker into giving him some work then catastrophe always ensues. The Pat Hobby stories are wickedly funny with an almost slap-stick element in their presentation of the amoral hero's constant battle to get himself back on the studio payroll against all odds. A very enjoyable read.
 
Rating: 7/10.

If you liked this… I loved Fitzgerald's collection of stories in Bernice Bobs Her Hair. To get in the mood, listen to either Bessie Smith's 'Nobody in Town Can Bake a Sweet Jelly Roll Like Mine' or Madeleine Peyroux's 'Was I?' ['Was I drunk? Was he handsome? And did momma give me hell?'].

Bernice Bobs Her Hair (Twentieth Century Classics) (v. 4)  Bernice Bobs Her Hair and Other Stories

Monday, February 14, 2011

{review} the evening star

Colette The Evening Star: Recollections (1946; English tr. 1973)


This is such a sad book: the ageing Colette is almost entirely confined to her Paris apartment by physical infirmity. She is also, for much of the memoir, wracked with anxiety about her husband ("my best friend") who is on the run from the Germans in occupied Paris.

The Evening Star (L'Étoile Vesper) is the second volume of Colette's meandering reminiscences and covers Paris during the Nazi occupation and the years immediately following. Colette's war was a painful one - her husband Maurice Goudeket, a Jew, was sent to the Compiègne concentration camp and although released he then spent the rest of the occupation in hiding for fear of further imprisonment (and worse). Every time there was a knock at the door of her apartment in the Palais-Royal, Colette assumed that the axe was about to fall. 

Colette (found here)

Colette was nearly completely confined to her apartment during these years by her failing health but there is no doubt that the confinement of her room was no confinement to her imagination. Certain things did, however, assume a great significance for her. Some of these are rooted in the physical, such as the all-important view from the window into the gardens of the Palais-Royal. Others are in the nature of recurring reflections about, for example, the passing of time per se. Colette is nothing if not consistently self-reflexive: at one point she notes that her publisher is pressuring her to finish her memoirs; but she cannot stop writing and must continue to put down anecdotes both from the past ("My publishers are all younger than I am. On the evidence of their elders who witnessed my beginnings... I believe that their juniors have formed a confused but highly-coloured impression of my life.") and what might be considered minutiae of the present: "Haven't I anything better to write today? I doubt it. No part of this miscellany is intended towards a peroration or an apotheosis." 

This is indeed a miscellany - it is almost a stream of consciousness in places as Colette's mind skips nimbly about while her arthritic frame remains trapped in her rooms. 
I recall a woman I once used to know... She used to maintain that the preserved love-letter gives no one pleasure, that it can give rise to a thousand irritations, and that, rather than create posthumous difficulties, she had destroyed all her own. . .
'What, all of them?'
She winked her little old lady's eye, which still shone with the colour of a great sapphire.
'No. I've kept one.'
'It must have been a very beautiful letter?
'For me. I know it by heart. Shall I tell it to you?'
She let her gaze, not devoid of majesty, wander over her well-kept gardens, her overflowing kitchen-gardens, her luminous sheets of water, and recited:
'The key will be hanging behind the shutter.'
'What's next?'
'That's all.'
She paused before adding:
'Believe me, it was enough.'
Colette recalls lost friends and lovers, pets, objéts, her writing and reading, childbirth, two world wars and the seemingly endless waiting for the time when it will be safe for her beloved to return home to the little community of the Palais-Royal from "the perfect and classical nightmare of absence".
Fifteen hundred days. A thousand days and then more than five hundred on top of that. As many days and nights as it takes for a child to be born, grow, speak, become an intelligent and ravishing human being; days sufficient for mature blooming creatures to descend, in frightening numbers, into the grave. In fifteen hundred days of war and oppression, of organized destruction, may not a people abandon even hope itself?... Humbly, I am one of those who did nothing but wait.

This melancholy survey of the declining years of a once-glittering and scandal-filled life  is not a happy read but Colette's descriptive powers are certainly far from being in decline and The Evening Star offers moments of great beauty. Don't read it if you're feeling miserable.

Rating: 8/10.
If you liked this: I want to read more Claudine.

 Colette's gravestone  
(Père Lachaise cemetery, Paris). Author, 2009.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

{weekend words}

In today's Guardian there's a piece on the lost art of book editing. Jeanette Winterson offers this wonderful quotation from Virginia Woolf on the topic: 
"all my facts about lighthouses are wrong". 
Lovely.

Friday, February 11, 2011

{wishlist}

Begging to join the groaning shelves this week:

One Fine Day (Virago Modern Classics)

Mollie Panter-Downes (1947)

the Persephone volume of
her wartime short stories.

Good Evening Mrs Craven: The Wartime Stories of Mollie Panter-Downes (Persephone Classics)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

{review} necropolis

Catharine Arnold Necropolis: London and its Dead (2006)

Necropolis: London and Its Dead Necropolis: London and Its Dead

Hmmm... anyone think it ought to be "London and her Dead"?

This is an easy read - a popular history of the burial grounds and cemeteries of London. It contains a good deal of fascinating information presented in an accessible style and is a nice introduction to the mechanics of dealing with the dead in London from pagan times until the here and now. It is by no means a dry academic tome. Arnold has pulled the plums out of her source material and the book is studded with interesting and often gruesome anecdotes such as that told of the body of Katherine de Valois who "lieth here [Westminster Abbey], in a chest or coffin with a loose cover, to be seen and handled of any who will much desire it." (John Weever, 1631).  Consider, too Pepys, in February 1669:
...here we did see, by particular favour, the body of Queen Katherine of Valois; and I had the upper part of her body in my hands and I did kiss her mouth, reflecting upon it that I did kiss a Queen and that it was my birthday, thirty-six years old, that I first kissed a Queen. 
Ewww...
Yuck.
[My comment, not Pepys'!]

One section that I found particular interesting (read 'gruesome') was on the methods of dealing with plague deaths (including those of animals - apparently the average London household had half a dozen cats which had to be slaughtered). It is extraordinary to think how many London landmarks are built on top of plague pits. This has posed some problems for future generations:
At the spot where Brompton Road and Knightsbridge now meet, excavations for the Piccadilly Line between Knightsbridge and South Kensington Underground stations unearthed a pit so dense with human remains that it could not be tunnelled through. This is said to account for the curving nature of the track between the two stations. 
The demise of inner metropolitan burial grounds in the face of huge population growth and the rise of the large (once outer suburban) cemeteries is well covered, with many interesting insights. Arnold's chapters on the Victorians and their dead are particularly strong. I'm still chuckling about the music hall song entitled "They're Moving Grandpa's Grave to Build a Sewer". The dead, we realise from Arnold's book, are still very close to the living in a continuously populated, ever-expanding city like London. 

I have a few quibbles. As I say, this is not an academic tome, but I would have liked a few more references (for example, the passage quoted above on the underground has no reference to the source). I thought there was quite a lot of reliance on Mrs. Isabella Holmes' 1896 survey of the burial grounds of London. In some places there were some irritating 'filler' statements (designed to move the narrative from one subject to another by enlisting the aid of an inapt comparison), some superfluities (do we really need it spelled out that Mrs. Henry Wood was "far from politically correct"?), an odd sentence that wasn't a sentence and - horror! - some dodgy Latin which a quick googling would have sorted out.

But it was, as I said, an easy and fascinating read and it has given me quite a taste for some more death-related reading.

Rating: 6/10.

If you liked this... A really well done book on strategies for dealing with mass death  in history is Drew Gilpin Faust's This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War. I highly recommend this book and I must review it soon. I read Audrey Niffenegger's Her Fearful Symmetry while I was reading Arnold's book and enjoyed having a bit more information about the development of cemeteries like Highgate. 

This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War (Vintage Civil War Library)  Her Fearful Symmetry

{READ IN 2017}

  • 48.
  • MAY
  • 47.
  • 46. Strange Ending - E. R. Punshon
  • 45. The Attending Truth - E. R. Punshon
  • 44. The Golden Dagger - E. R. Punshon
  • 43. The Secret Search - E. R. Punshon
  • 42. Spook Street - Mick Herron
  • 41. Real Tigers - Mick Herron
  • 40. Dead Lions - Mick Herron
  • 39. Slow Horses - Mick Herron
  • APRIL
  • 38. Everybody Always Tells - E. R. Punshon
  • 37. So Many Doors - E. R. Punshon
  • 36. The Girl with All the Gifts - M. R. Carey
  • 35. A Scream in Soho - John G. Brandon
  • 34. A Murder is Arranged - Basil Thomson
  • 33. The Milliner's Hat Mystery - Basil Thomson
  • 32. Who Killed Stella Pomeroy? - Basil Thomson
  • 31. The Dartmoor Enigma - Basil Thomson
  • 30. The Case of the Dead Diplomat - Basil Thomson
  • 29. The Case of Naomi Clynes - Basil Thomson
  • 28. Richardson Scores Again - Basil Thomson
  • 27. A Deadly Thaw - Sarah Ward
  • MARCH
  • 26. The Spy Paramount - E. Phillips Oppenheim
  • 25. The Great Impersonation - E. Phillips Oppenheim
  • 24. Ragdoll - Daniel Cole
  • 23. The Case of Sir Adam Braid - Molly Thynne
  • 22. The Ministry of Fear - Graham Greene
  • 21. The Draycott Murder Mystery - Molly Thynne
  • 20. The Murder on the Enriqueta - Molly Thynne
  • 19. The Nowhere Man - Gregg Hurwitz
  • 18. He Dies and Makes No Sign - Molly Thynne
  • FEBRUARY
  • 17. Death in the Dentist's Chair - Molly Thynne
  • 16. The Crime at the 'Noah's Ark' - Molly Thynne
  • 15. Harriet the Spy - Louise Fitzhugh
  • 14. Night School - Lee Child
  • 13. The Dancing Bear - Frances Faviell
  • 12. The Reluctant Cannibals - Ian Flitcroft
  • 11. Fear Stalks the Village - Ethel Lina White
  • 10. The Plot - Irving Wallace
  • JANUARY
  • 9. Understood Betsy - Dorothy Canfield Fisher
  • 8. Give the Devil his Due - Sulari Gentill
  • 7. A Murder Unmentioned - Sulari Gentill
  • 6. Dead Until Dark - Charlaine Harris
  • 5. Gentlemen Formerly Dressed - Sulari Gentill
  • 4. While She Sleeps - Ethel Lina White
  • 3. A Chelsea Concerto - Frances Faviell
  • 2. Kipps: The Story of a Simple Soul - H. G. Wells
  • 1. Heft - Liz Moore

{READ IN 2016}

  • (K = Kindle; rr = re-read)
  • DECEMBER
  • 92. Richardson's First Case - Basil Thomson [K]
  • 91. The Alington Inheritance - Patricia Wentworth [K; rr]
  • 90. Orphan X - Gregg Hurwitz [K]
  • 89. The House of Godwinsson [Bobby Owen 24] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 88. Music Tells All [Bobby Owen 24] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 87. Helen Passes By [Bobby Owen 23] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • NOVEMBER
  • 86. It Might Lead Anywhere [Bobby Owen 22] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 85. There's a Reason for Everything [Bobby Owen 21] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 84. Secrets Can't Be Kept [Bobby Owen 20] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • OCTOBER
  • 83. Night's Cloak [Bobby Owen 19] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 82. The Conqueror Inn [Bobby Owen 18] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 81. The Diabolic Candelabra [Bobby Owen 17] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 80. The Dark Garden [Bobby Owen 16] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • SEPTEMBER
  • 79. Picture Miss Seeton - Heron Carvic [K]
  • 78. Down Under (Benbow Smith 4) - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 77. Walk with Care (Benbow Smith 3) - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 76. Danger Calling (Benbow Smith 2) - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 75. Fool Errant (Benbow Smith 1) - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 74. The Annam Jewel - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 73. Mr Zero - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 72. Will o' the Wisp - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 71. Red Shadow - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 70. Pursuit of a Parcel (Lamb 3) - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 69. Who Pays the Piper (Lamb 2) - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 68. The Blind Side (Lamb 1) - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 67. Outrageous Fortune - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 66. The Amazing Chance - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 65. Red Stefan - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • AUGUST
  • 64. The Coldstone - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 63. Anne Belinda - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 62. The Black Cabinet - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 61. Hue & Cry - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 60. The Skin Collector - Jeffery Deaver [K]
  • 59. The Kill Room - Jeffery Deaver [K]
  • 58. Nothing Venture - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 57. Kingdom Lost - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 56. Beggar's Choice - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 55. Hole and Corner - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 54. Touch and Go - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 53. The Red Lacquer Case - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 52. Run! - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 51. Fear by Night - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • JULY
  • 50. The Dower House Mystery - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 49. The Astonishing Adventure of Jane Smith - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 48. Weekend with Death - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 47. Blindfold - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 46. Silence in Court - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 45. Acts of the Assassins - Richard Beard [K]
  • JUNE
  • 44. Hack - Kieran Crowley [K]
  • 43. The Portable Veblen - Elizabeth McKenzie [K]
  • 42. The Spirit Murder Mystery - Robin Forsythe [K]
  • MAY
  • 41. The Ginger Cat Mystery - Robin Forsythe [K]
  • 40. The Pleasure Cruise Mystery - Robin Forsythe [K]
  • 39. The Polo Ground Murder - Robin Forsythe [K]
  • APRIL
  • 38. The Outsider - Jason Dean [K]
  • 37. The Hunter's Oath - Jason Dean [K]
  • 36. Missing or Murdered - Robin Forsythe [K]
  • 35. The Beetle - Richard Marsh [K]
  • MARCH
  • 34. A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell 1) - Deanna Raybourn [K]
  • 33. The Chimera Vector - Nathan M. Farrugia [K]
  • 32. An Infamous Army - Georgette Heyer [K]
  • 31. Mr Bazalgette's Agent - Leonard Merrick
  • 30. Don't Tell - Karen Rose [K]
  • 29. Say Goodbye - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 28. Gone - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 27. The Killing Hour - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 26. The Next Accident - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 25. The Third Victim - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • FEBRUARY
  • 24. The Perfect Husband - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 23. Find Her - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 22. Fear Nothing - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 21. Catch Me - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 20. Love You More - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 19. Live to Tell - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 18. The Neighbour - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 17. Hide - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 16. Alone - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 15. The Humans - Matt Haig [K]
  • 14. Utopian Man - Lisa Lang
  • 13. Love Insurance - Earl Derr Biggers [K]
  • JANUARY
  • 12. The Ignition Effect - Viv Ronnebeck [K]
  • 11. My Brilliant Career - Miles Franklin [K]
  • 10. Dangerous & Unseemly - K. B. Owen [K]
  • 9. In Bitter Chill - Sarah Ward [K[
  • 8. Half a Crown - Jo Walton [K]
  • 7. Ha'penny - Jo Walton [K]
  • 6. Hilda Wade: A Woman with Tenacity of Purpose - Grant Allen [K]
  • 5. The Case of William Smith - Patricia Wentworth [K; rr]
  • 4. Blue Murder - Harriet Rutland [K]
  • 3. Bleeding Hooks - Harriet Rutland [K]
  • 2. Knock, Murderer, Knock! - Harriet Rutland [K]
  • 1. Ten Star Clues [Bobby Owen 15] - E. R. Punshon [K]