In which Ruth ponders her holiday reading

Did I tell you I’d found a new crime writer whose books are just fabulous? I heard about her from several clergy friends – all women and all from over the pond. The author is Louise Penny and the series of books which I’ve been enjoying are the Inspector Gamache series. So far, I’ve read the first four: Still Life; Dead Cold; The Cruellest Month; and The Murder Stone. They are set in the delightful village of Three Pines in Quebec which is a bit like Midsummer in that many people seem to get murdered there. I kind of want to go there but would be very wary, if you know what I mean. The characters are so real that you feel as if you know them and poetry-loving Inspector Gamache and his wife are just delicious. And the food! Every meal is mouthwatering and there really should be a recipe book brought out soon. There’s not much in the way of churchy stuff but lots of human life is there to be pondered. (By the way, I didn’t read them all in this holiday – just two of them!) Each book is a stand-alone story but it is best to read them in order as the characters develop over time.

I’ve also read The Four Last Things by Andrew Taylor. It is the first in the Roth trilogy but I’m not sure I’ll rush to get the next ones. It is churchy but rather dated now. A little girl is kidnapped from her childminder. Her mother is a curate and father a policeman and the book explores their strained relationship and what a missing child does to your faith in God. The rest of the book explores Angel and Eddie, the kidnappers, and what has brought them to this place. Rather grisly and the church doesn’t fare very well. Perhaps this is more realistic than I’d like to think.

I also read Extraordinary People by Peter May (of the Lewis Trilogy which I loved). This is the first in the Enzo Macleod books, a Scottish forensic expert living in Paris. If you know Paris you will probably love this book. I’ve been but don’t know it well enough so found the constant use of street names a bit of a pain. (However, I realise if it was set in Edinburgh I would probably be delighted so make your own mind up on that one.) Lots of clever clues which of course he manages to solve just in time which reminded me a wee bit of The Da Vinci Code. Good characters and good mystery. Not sure I need to read the rest of the series though. Back to Inspector Gamache for me.

Acts and OmissionsAnd finally I have started Acts and Omissions by Catherine Fox which was waiting for me when I got home. I read all her books when they first came out and absolutely loved them. Being married to a clergyman she knows the church and all its foibles and this is no different. This book actually began as a weekly blog but I didn’t enjoy having to wait each week for the next chapter so am thrilled that it is now in print. It is hilarious and wonderfully observed. If you love the church you will love this. More when I finish it…

I finished The Chessmen!

This was my fear with the New Year Resolution. That a book would come out that I’ve been waiting for for ages. A book that I wouldn’t hesitate to 1-click on Amazon and have it the next day. Now that I’m not buying fiction (did I mention that?) I knew that I’d either have to beg, borrow or go to the library and wait.

And so it was with The Chessmen,  the third in the Lewis trilogy by Peter May. But one of my little flock gave me a signed copy as a gift last week which was so sweet. She’s getting straight into heaven, that one!

For a while I wasn’t so sure about this book. There seemed to be a lot of descriptions of Lewis countryside, seaside, and skyside, and not too much happening in the excitement stakes. Having said that, the writing is beautiful and the descriptions wonderful.  The story went back and forth in years and helped set the scene for the present and that was done well and I didn’t get confused. However, about half way through it all picked up a pace and I ended up loving it. Couldn’t put it down in the end. 4 stars.

Tomorrow I go off on my annual Retreat. Silent Retreat. And I’m dreading it. No, I am living in hope that the Retreat Leader will say at the beginning: Welcome to the Clergy Retreat. This retreat we are going to have conversation at meal times and in the mornings. Thereafter we will be silent. And my heart will sing. Until such times, I am taking my Kindle with a zillion books to read.

21 days later, Ruth has a wobble

Montserrat So how is your New Year Resolution going, Ruth, I hear you cry?  (That is, not to buy any new fiction this year.)  Have you teetered yet and given in? Have you 1-clicked by mistake and ordered the latest blockbuster novel? Have you succumbed to the supermarket’s ‘2 for £7’ or the stupidly cheap Kindle surprises that are emailed every day?

Well, thank you for asking, but no I haven’t. I nearly have. Often. 12 days in and I thought I was doing terribly well until it was pointed out that it was ONLY 12 days. Now at 21 days I see that I have added over a dozen books to my Amazon Wish List. I have wobbled a few times, teetered on the brink of purchasing but so far I have resisted womanfully. I can’t believe how hard it has been not to buy a book. Even a wander round the charity shop had to be severely curtailed when I realised I daren’t go near the bookshelves.

Our last Book Group choice was one I had on my bookshelf so that was okay. Our next one, I happened to have ordered months ago on my Kindle when it was cheap. I’ve also read a couple off my shelf since New Year. (And Lord knows I have plenty more from which to choose.)

Then, the most delicious thing of all happened. I had wondered how I was going to read books that I had been eagerly awaiting. Join the library, I was told. Then there is Mothering Sunday and the aforementioned Wish List, and my birthday of course. However, last week I was going to a church meeting when the Vestry Secretary mentioned that she had a wee pressie for me. And she did indeed. She handed over The Chessmen by Peter May, the third in the Lewis trilogy. And not just that – it was hardback! AND it wasn’t on loan. AND it was signed TO ME by the author!!!! How cool is that? What a star my VS is. Love her to bits.

Now if every month is going to be like this, then I don’t think it will be quite so bad after all.