Sunday, 15 May 2011

Recipe for Scandal by Debby Holt

Life is gently plodding along for Alberta Granger; living in Bath with her partner, Tony and son, Jacob. The catering business keeps her busy, and the only cloud is the general lack of contact by her high achieving daughter, Hannah.

But Bertie’s world is shattered by the death of her father, the well-known politician, Lord Trussler, in scandalous circumstances. Revelations about her mother, also hit the press and it causes her to question how well she knew the men in her life.

I’ve ready a couple of other books by this author and found them to be easy, light reads. There’s nothing wrong with this one but my main frustration is that nothing happened in the first hundred pages and so I didn’t care when the plot started to move. Generally, the characterisation wasn’t strong enough to make me interested; Alberta is one of the most dull and least self-aware characters I’ve come across for a while and I couldn’t see why she was so interesting to so many people. The tribulations of Hannah’s life were dull and Jacob had the most potential but was quickly shunted off to France (why?!).

The scandal and subsequent “outings” weren’t particularly shocking and although would, understandably create a family crisis, I didn’t find it particularly believable.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Dark Road to Darjeeling by Deanna Raybourn

The fourth of the Lady Julia Grey series, although now she's married to Brisbane, the name's a bit misleading!  I love this series, mainly because it helped fill a small part of the huge hole left by the Amelia Peabody books.  The similarities lie in a strong Victorian female lead and a dashing husband and the general tongue in cheek tone will probably sit well with Amelia fans!  Being a way into the series, this book is probably not the best introduction; although it doesn't rely on previous knowledge, it will help.
Julia and Brisbane are enjoying an extended honeymoon, when two of Julia's siblings arrive and convince her to travel to India with them to help Portia's old flame, Jane Cavendish, out of a sticky situation.  Jane is pregnant, recently widowed and extremely nervous amidst fears that her husband was murdered.  Whilst living on a remote tea plantation the toxic situation isn't helped by the weird and wonderful neighbours surrounding the plantation. 
It's a fair paced mystery that continues the tempestuous relationship between the newly weds.  There's also further revelations about Nicholas Brisbane's family history.  As before the humour is provided by the feuding Marches.  My main criticism is that Brisbane is missing for large parts of the book and it just seems to flow better when he's there!  There also seemed to be some setting up in preparation for future books, which is cheering as I look forward to more (and there's one out this summer!) but again seemed to slow the action down a bit.
Overall, a great read and good fun!

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Truth to Tell by Mavis Cheek

With her husband constantly harping on about the dishonesty of politicians, Nina Porter questions her own level of truthfulness in everyday life; why does put up with doing things she doesn't want to? How can she allow her best friend to remain oblivious to the faults in her odious lover?  Nina's decision to avoid the small lies we all tell to smooth life over leads to martial discord and an uncomfortable few days on her own when she refuses to accompany her husband on a business trip.
Is it possible to lead a totally truthful life? An unexpected trip to Venice offers temptations that will be difficult to own up to and friends and family fail to see the benefits of always telling the truth.
Over time I've read the odd Mavis Cheek book and have generally found them to be enjoyable.  I was a bit "meh" about this one, mainly because I couldn't see the point, or am I being stupid and that was the point?!!...we all know that we aren't truthful the whole time and usually it's to ease social wheels and avoid hurting others feelings.  Nina was neither likable or interesting and I didn't really warm to any of the other characters.  Even Venice didn't make the whole thing any more appealing.
It wasn't awful, just not for me.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Seagulls in the Attic by Tessa Hainsworth

Second book by this author detailing her downsize from high powered executive for "The Body Shop" to Cornwall postie in a picturesque seaside village.  It's more of the same really...but a cosy, easy read, that makes such a huge change seem really appealing.
Mainly consists of a variety of small episodes about animals, gardening and misunderstandings where a uptowner (even in her second year in Cornwall) gets things badly wrong. Not a lot happens, but the scenery is lovingly described and she and her family obviously enjoy their new life.
A very pleasant read and gives you lifestyle envy, but her fascination with foraging remains a total no for me!