Reading notes, week 21

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May 28: A School Story by El Staplador. Miss Marple/Miss Silver vignette with a guest appearance by Miss Climpson. (I didn’t recognise Ada Doom though I did recognise her line.)

Phyllis, a Twin by Dorothy Whitehill. Nice school (not boarding school) story with an actual adventure in it. It’s #2 of something Gutenberg doesn’t have #1 of but that’s no problem, though I would like to read #1 sometime.

May 27: Death on the Way by Freeman Wills Crofts. Definitely on an Inspector French binge. This is a strange one, all about railway engineering (the author worked as a railway engineer for a while), with disconcerting jumping-about POV and secondary characters I have a hard time telling apart, even the person who eventually turns out to have dunnit.

May 26: Pictures in the Pavement and Magic in the Rain by El Staplador. Really good Mary Poppins fanfic. Makes me confident that I got mine right.

Death at Buckland Grange by El Staplador. Novella-length Miss Marple fanfic. It’s pre-canon, with Jane Marple as a young woman already showing the beginning of her later skills.

May 25: The 12:30 from Croydon by Freeman Wills Crofts. It’s an Inspector French book but the good inspector doesn’t appear until halfway through. Well, I’ve read Poirots like that. Most of the book is from the POV of the murderer, but we get to understand and even somewhat sympathise with him. Reviewers complain about the roundup postscript, but that’s precisely the kind of thing I like, and French finally gets to be Chief Inspector in the end! Don’t understand the title at all, though, unless it refers to the plane in the first chapter.

May 24: Piranesi by Susanna Clarke, which a friend sent me after we discussed it. I thought it might not be a book for me (Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell wasn’t) but it started out captivating (and see Pete’s comment below). After getting confirmation from the giver that it wasn’t stealth postapocalyptic, because it had some signs of that, like it was the British Museum or something like that after global warming had flooded London, I continued reading it and it’s made explicit on page 89 (of 245, so fairly late) that it is, rather, a sort of magic realism instead. It get less strange instead of more strange, which is a pity in a way, but there’s a tentative good ending.

May 23: Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett, after we saw the animated film (which I liked more than this reviewer did). Reread after more than 20 years, I think, and it’s almost a completely new book. Perhaps I should go for some other early ones when I feel like Pratchett.

Index of reading notes is here.

  1. Pete Bleackley

    Personally, I loved Piranesi. While there are some similarities with Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, its a very different story – more of an ontological mystery. There are things that you suspect before the naive narrator understands, and other bits whose significance you come to understand in the light of later events.

    Reply

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