A Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes…and other bookish thoughts

barnesjulian_senseofanendingI recently finished A Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes.  When I realized a movie was in the works for this book I decided to stop procrastinating and get started.  Every once in awhile I like to do a comparison of the book vs film.

Have you read this one?  If so you’ll know the ending and that would just about ruin the movie for me, knowing what was coming.  It’s not a dynamic book in regard to action or mystery but it’s a well written study of an ordinary man’s life and memories.   More importantly, how our memories change with age.

Tony remembered a letter he had written to a friend, it’s tone and language benign and casual. When that original letter is given to him some 40 years later he’s shocked by the vitriolic tome and his thoughts.  That letter changed many things along the way but it’s only revealed how all that worked out near the end.

This mess on the table here is my latest haul from the library. I just started The Alice Network.  It’s a page turner so far.  Himself by Jess Kidd is next, unless my Peter Robinson book is released then I’m jumping on it.

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The weather has been poor with rain every single day.  To get one of our walks in we went to a local mall and roamed it at a pretty good pace.  This particular mall is dying and almost 90% of the stores are closed.  That makes for good walking inside with nearly zero traffic.  Even teens don’t hang out there.

The only bookstore there is a Barnes and Noble so we walked around in there checking out some new titles.  Doug would like the new Neil DeGrasse Tyson book and I would like the latest Susie Steiner mystery.  The Pumpkin Cookbook was also available but as chance has it, I just grabbed it from the library.

Linking up with Joy’s British Isles Friday  for the Sense of an Ending book.  The author, Julian Patrick Barnes, is an English writer.  He won the Man Booker Prize for this book.

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The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

forgotten Garden

This book has more than one story line, there are multiple narratives and I hung on to each and every one. Of the Kate Morton books I have read so far, this is by far the very best one. It’s not predictable and the armchair traveling in this took me to Cornwall and London England, Sydney Australia and New York City. Traveling and mystery – what more could I ask for?!

The story lines all come together in spite of many characters living and dying in different time periods. There is a mystery about one of our main characters named Nell. The book starts in 1913 with Nell as a 4 year old, hiding out aboard ship destined for Australia. A lady she refers to as The Authoress tells her to hide and wait for her. But the lady never returns and young Nell is left alone with her suitcase at a port in Australia.
A port master can’t leave a small child alone so he takes her home for the evening. No one reports her missing, no one comes to claim Nell so eventually the port master and his wife keep her. No formal adoption, they just move away and start fresh.  Years later the Port Master and wife have four daughters and Nell thinks they are all her natural family.

On Nell’s 21st birthday her father (the port master) tells her about how they found her. It’s devastating to lose one’s identity just like that. In a snap Nell feels she doesn’t belong and tries to find out where she does belong.  The story skips back and forth in time so you know what happens with Nell until her death late in life. This introduces us to another major character – her granddaughter Cassandra.

Cassandra is close to her grandmother Nell and after her death she inherits everything. But there is one property she is surprised to find out about. The deed to a house called Cliff Cottage in Cornwall England.

Cassandra’s story starts in 1975 but we jump to 2005 and things get mysterious. She is the one who will search the clues left about Nell’s true identity. I like her character very much and enjoyed her chapters.

The Authoress is revealed as Eliza Makepeace (what a cool name!) and she is an adventurous character. She is also the writer of fairy tales. Her back story is fascinating and weaves into Nell’s story eventually. There are quite a few other characters that play crucial parts but rather than get into it all – please read this one if you are a Kate Morton fan. Twists I didn’t see coming and a good conclusion with mysteries solved.

Some food mentions here but it’s not a foodie book.
Bowls of beef and rosemary stew
Pasta with pine nuts and Gorgonzola cheese
Morgy Broth
Sandwiches (and tea of course)

Roasted chicken and smoked Gouda pressed sandwich.  There’s a bit of leftover spinach in there too.  A simple side salad with grape tomatoes, feta and balsamic vinegar dressing. Oh. Yeah.  This was a treat Cassandra may enjoy at the hotel in Cornwall.

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Are you fans of Kate Morton’s novels?  If so, which are your favorites?  I have read this one as well as The House at Riverton and The Lake House.

Linking up with Joy’s British Isles Friday  and with Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sunday series. The linkup for this week’s Souper Sunday may be found HERE. Also linking with Heather’s July linkup for Foodie Reads. Check out Foodie Reads at Based on a True Story. You’ll always find good reviews there 😊

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Daughters of Ireland (Book 2) by Santa Montefiore

daughter of ireland pomegranit

When I read The Girl in the Castle  I didn’t know it was book one in a trilogy.  That story ended well and didn’t leave you hanging.  Maybe one little mystery at the end but otherwise, it could have been a stand alone novel.  It was quite a treat to find two more books were planned as I very much enjoyed the characters and plot.

The next book is titled Daughters of Ireland and picks up where book one left off.  The little mystery  at the end of book one explains who bought Castle Deverill.

The main setting is in West Cork Ireland with part of the story set in London and New York City.  We pick up the story of Bridie Doyle, Kitty Deverill and Celia Deverill Mayberry, their paths going different ways but eventually crossing back again.  In childhood they were loving and devoted friends but tragedy stirs up a mess of emotional baggage.  Love, revenge, fear and determination are a constant in this book.

This second book has me screaming for more.  So many story lines weaving together, leaving the reader with great anticipation about what happens next.  The main characters are all about to collide and I expect many fireworks in book three.

If you are a fan of family saga type books you will love this series.  It’s a touch of Downton Abbey along with rural hard living families spanning a time period of 1925 to 1938 (book 2).

Food and drinks are mentioned here and there.  I wanted to represent both social economic divisions so I brought a Pomegranate Martini which would appeal to the Deverill family and Scones with cream and jam for the Doyle and O’Leary families.

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Pomegranate Martini

2oz Vodka
1oz Pomegranate Juice
Splash of Cointreau

Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker full of ice and shake. Strain into a cocktail glass.

I won a copy of this book from Goodreads. Thanks so much!

Linking up with Joy’s British Isles Friday

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Wool Gathering and Armchair Traveling

Sometimes we are able to travel and see more of the world. Other times it’s armchair traveling through books and websites.  When we were able to visit England many years ago I did not seek out the typical touristy souvenirs.

I like to get something unconventional or useful, that way I think back on the trip when it’s put to use.  Charity or thrift shops are great places for me to go.  There was a shop in Cheddar Gorge (maybe it was a Sue Ryder shop),  I picked up this old and well used leather bookmark.  It’s my favorite and I use it constantly.  It brings to mind that shop, the day spent there and the wonderfully chatty lady who ran the shop.

She was telling us how she didn’t like how the “National Trust took our gorge” and complained about Tony Blair.  “Oh course, you have that Clinton fellow” and she also wondered why politicians were always smiling, she asked in a mistrustful way.  But what a delight she was to talk to and she gave us her opinion on so much.  See, I still remember her well.

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Perusing another shop I found this old thermometer.  We still use it.  I wonder who owned it before.

Other travels I have enjoyed, vicariously of course, have been through the excellent site A Bit of Britain.  As I read about places I want to visit I add them to my ever growing list.

  • One of my very favorite posts has a good accounting of Swinside Stone Circle complete with photos.  The scenery is breathtaking and of a great interest to me.   My great great grandparents were married and raised a family in Cumbria, formerly Cumberland county.  I hope one day to roam around Cumbria and see firsthand all the images I have been enjoying through the Internet.

Photo credit: This is from A Bit of Britain, post on Swinside

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Another excellent site is My Yorkshire Dales. Treat yourself to armchair traveling through either of these sites mentioned and you will be trying to figure out how to move there. The winters would be tough…..I may have been in Florida too long for that!

That’s enough wool gathering today.

Linking up with Joy’s British Isles Friday

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The Syndicate for #BriFri

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I have long been a fan of Anthony Andrews so when I saw he was in this mini series called The Syndicate, I had to get it from my library.  It’s 6 episodes total, 1 hour for each episode.

There were evidently two seasons prior to this one but you don’t need to see each season in order to follow along.  For a full summery of this show click HERE.

Basically, each season focuses on lottery winners, how their lives change and a bit of drama and mystery thrown in..  It’s a drama and we very much enjoyed it.  In All or Nothing we meet Lord Hazelwood (Anthony Andrews) and the small staff of Hazelwood Estate.  There was a large staff on this gorgeous estate but due to deepening debt, the staff is down to six people.

These six are loyal to Lord Hazelwood, a very down to earth fellow but Hazelwood’s wife and step-son seem to plot against him to sell the estate.  This changes quickly when the 6 staff members win the lottery.

The estate is stunning as are the landscaped grounds.  It’s filmed in the coastal town of Scarborough.  In real life Hazlewood Manor  is actually Bramham Park country house, located near Wetherby and Leeds in West Yorkshire.

It’s a good drama and I will certainly try and find the first two seasons.  Mark Addy stars in one of those seasons.  I liked him in The Full Monty as well as Game of Thrones.  This is another excellent show from Acorn TV.

Linking up with Joy’s British Isles Friday.  

Join in!  You don’t need to post on Fridays, just link up at her site on Fridays.

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Living the Dream by Lauren Berry

living the dreamWhat a delicious romp through London.

Living the Dream by Lauren Berry is an entertaining book and I look forward to more by this new author.   What attracted me about this book was the description and the setting in London.

“Living the Dream is a cheeky, charming debut about twenty-something best friends in London navigating their careers and love lives past post-collegiate turmoil and into adulthood with lots of pints along the way.”

Sounded like a fun romp through London.  Certainly I am much older than our main characters – Clementine Twist and Emma Derringer – but I read for entertainment and traveling vicariously via books so this was perfect.  I can still relate to their frustrations in the workplace, looking for a job, enjoying a pub/bar get together with girlfriends and their youthful outlook on life in general.  Clementine is just back from New York after getting her degree in film.  She wants to be a scriptwriter and is apparently a good writer.  She just needs that big break and a paycheck so she can move out of her mum and stepfather’s home.

Emma has a job and while she has no enthusiasm for the work, she is awaiting her break as a writer for magazines.  The frustrations she goes through with her boss Adrian and interviews with pompous editors at magazines is spot on.  You can feel her frustrations.

Lauren Berry is the founding editor of satirical feminist ‘zine KnockBack and has been writing for and about women since 2005. Her work has been featured in Easy LivingGuardianObserver and Independent. She was born, raised and works in North London. Living the Dream is her first novel.

I won an advanced reader’s copy of this book from LibraryThing.  All opinions are my own and I was not compensated.

Linking up with:
Joy’s British Isles Friday

British Book Challenge at Tales of Yesterday

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The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

secretThe Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett is about a lonely and spoiled little girl book whose life changes when she is sent to England to live with her uncle.

Mary Lennox is spoiled and contrary 10 year old living a life no child should have to endure. She lives in India but has no involvement or love from her parents. They have left her care to servants and she never knew discipline or love or friendship. Thus, she was a horrible and ill-tempered tyrant of a child. When her parents die from cholera she is sent to live in her uncle’s manor in Yorkshire.

Her uncle has issues of his own, always staying by himself as he is in permanent mourning for his beautiful deceased wife. He is also a hunchback and feared that his only child, a son named Colin, would develop a hunchback as well. He never interacts with Colin and the child is kept pretty much locked away. Since Colin is never out of doors or running about as young boys should, he is weak and sickly.

Mary discovers him one day – each child was completely unaware of the other in this large lonely mansion. This is the beginning of a friendship for them although they do have their rocky moments and shouting matches. Their developing friendship is beneficial to them both as Colin eventually goes outside and starts to live as a young boy should. Mary in turn softens her demeanor and learns about giving and friendship and love.

What I liked about this old classic was reading about the Yorkshire moors. I also liked how Mary would refer to herself as getting fatter as her appetite improved and she put some flesh on her bones. In India it was so hot that she languished, never played and ate little. The heat was so great she didn’t have an appetite. But the descriptor as “getting fatter” was a positive in language and literature in the era this book was published. Today being called fat is a shaming mechanism.  That’s a shame right there.

When Mary first arrived at her uncle’s manor she met a servant named Martha. Martha plays a good role in this story and is helpful in getting Mary to examine her life. Martha asks Mary is she likes the moor and Mary replies that she hates it. “That’s because tha’rt not used to it,” Martha said in her Yorkshire accent, “Tha’ thinks it’s too big an’ bare now. It’s fair and lovely in Spring and Summer when gorse and broom an’ heather’s in flower. It smells of honey and there’s lots of fresh air,….”
Mary comes to love the moors.

Food mentions are brief. Colin comments “I do wish the slices of ham were thicker, and one muffin each is not enough for any one.”
Colin and Mary have breakfasts of homemade bread and fresh butter, snow white eggs, raspberry jam and clotted cream.

That makes me want to make bread.  I had not made a Sage and Onion bread in a long time  – this one seemed right for this book.  Recipe may be found at Squirrel Head Manor.

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Linking up with:
Joy’s British Isles Friday

Based on a True Story (May’s Foodie Reads)

British Book Challenge at Tales of Yesterday

2017 Monthly Motif Challenge

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