Showing posts from August, 2015

The Scold's Bridle by Minette Walters

The mark of a good yarn is surely when dust starts to accumulate on the furniture and the dishes start to pile up by the sink. I have just finished reading a whodunnit which had this effect upon me.

The Scold's Bridle by Minette Walters is a murder mystery in which the elderly victim is found naked in her bath, an apparent suicide, wearing a scold's bridle that has been festooned with nettles and daisies. The protagonist in this tale is Sarah, the young and naive village doctor, who at one point has the finger of suspicion pointed in her direction. The book is well written and well characterised, liberally sprinkled with Shakespearean references and quotes. My only criticism is that the physical pain inflicted on people who were forced to wear the particular instrument of punishment featured in the book seemed to be overlooked (though I suppose that drawing attention to this may have turned the book into a horror story, and I wouldn't have carried on reading) .

The Scold'…

Neville Shute:Round The Bend

I'm still reading my way through the collection of books that we found in my father's loft when clearing his house. My bedtime reading this week was Round The Bend by Neville Shute.

Round The Bend was written in 1951, shortly after the author emigrated from England to Australia. The themes of the novel include racism and the importance of private enterprise. The background of the narrative is the establishment of an air freight business in the Far East in the years after cessation of WWII hostilities. It is written in the form of a first-person biography by the narrator Tom Cutter, but the central character gradually throughout the course of the narrative becomes Constantine Shaklin, a Russian/Chinese aircraft engineer who unwittingly becomes the centre of a religious cult that is based on the merit of good work, and which transcends existing religions. I found some aspects of the opening chapters quite surprising in so far as terminology used by some of the characters t…

An Impossible Marriage

Occasionally I become aware of yawning gaps in my knowledge. This week, still reading my way through the books that I found in my father's loft, I came across a copy of Pamela Hansford Johnson's An Impossible Marriage, published in 1955 for The Companion Book Club.

I had never before come across the author and was impressed and intrigued by the book to the extent that I delved into the internet. I found to my surprise that Pamela Hansford Johnson once enjoyed what we might nowadays call celebrity status. In fact, her life was so interesting that a biography has recently been written about her - 'Pamela Hansford Johnson: Her Life, Works and Times', by Wendy Pollard.

Ms. Pollard divorced her first husband in 1949 in order to marry the novelist C.P. Snow and eventually became Baroness Snow. The couple are described in the Spectator's leader to a review of Wendy Pollard's biography as Literature's least attractive power couple. I won't go into detail of here…