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moonlightreader

Moonlight Reader

Currently reading

Jane And Prudence (VMC)
Barbara Pym, Jilly Cooper
Few Eggs and No Oranges: The Diaries of Vere Hodgson 1940-45
Vere Hodgson, Jenny Hartley

Please do me a favor

If you are still active on BL and if you are in our backup GR group, please head over there and post in the new thread, titled "Please check in!"

 

I am trying to get a head count together and make sure that I have exchanged current contact information for anyone who wants to keep in touch.

It is not my intent to incite panic

However.

 

I received an email from Themis-Athena 32 minutes ago. She is unable to log in right now. She advises that the BL domain expired today.

 

No idea what will happen next, if anything. If it isn't renewed, eventually the site will go down for good.

 

So, here are a few resources:

 

This link will enable you to request membership to a back-up GR group: BL Expats

 

You may also email me at thedeadauthorsclub@gmail.com if we go down permanently.

 

This has happened before and BL renewed the domain. But if there is stuff here that you can't recover, you should save it somewhere else just to be safe.

The Last Buddy Read of the Pandemic

Cat Among the Pigeons - Agatha Christie

And, of course, it must be a Poirot. Please join us to read (or reread) Cat Among The Pigeons, first published by Collins Crime Club in 1959. This is the 34th outing for Monsieur Poirot and his egg-shaped head, although his entry into the action of the book comes quite late. 

 

Cat Among the Pigeons combines some of the best of Dame Agatha's thriller tendencies with a solid mystery, set in a girl's boarding school. It features some fantastic side characters, including the wonderful Miss Bulstrode, played to perfection in the first-rate BBC adaptation by Harriet Walters, as well as Julia Upjohn, a school girl who is a bit of a live wire. 

 

This is high-order comfort reading for me, and for my fellow Agathytes. Join us for this last buddy read next Saturday, May 9, if you are interested in reading along with us!

Status Check: Buddy Reading the Pandemic

A recap of the Pandemic Buddy Reads:

 

3/21/2020: Towards Zero by Agatha Christie

3/28/2020: Case Closed by Patricia Wentworth

4/3/2020: No Wind of Blame by Georgette Heyer

4/11/2020: Scales of Justice by Ngaio Marsh

4/18/2020: True Grit by Charles Portis

4/25/2020: Tenant For Death by Cyril Hare

5/2/2020: Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey

 

We've rounded out the first list, and the second list, too. The question at this point is whether we've got more reads in us, or should we call it good and done.

 

This has been amazing, no matter what we decide!

Portrait of a Murderer?

The Daughter Of Time - Josephine Tey

This was an excellent book - if there was one downside, it's that it is so revered and adored that my expectations were extremely high. It didn't quite meet them.

 

Nonetheless, for a book that takes place entirely inside of a hospital room, what Tey did here is quite remarkable. And it's all that much more remarkable because the heart of the book is basically grocery lists and dressmaker accounts from the 15th century. Her debunking of history - not merely the primary question relating to the fate of Richard III's two nephews in the Tower, but the whole of our uncritical acceptance of myth as fact (what she calls Tonypandy)- was awesome.

 

What a tragedy that there is so little Tey.

 

I think that my favorite Tey is still my first Tey, Brat Farrar. But, like Christie, I'll be able to answer that question more definitively after I've read them all, at least twice.

Reading progress update: I've read 1 out of 224 pages.

The Daughter Of Time - Josephine Tey I'm so excited for our next buddy read!

This seemed scarily relevant to me today

‘I wish it need not have happened in my time,’ said Frodo.

‘So do I,’ said Gandalf, ‘and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us. And already, Frodo, our time is beginning to look black. The Enemy is fast becoming very strong. His plans are far from ripe, I think, but they are ripening. We shall be hard put to it. We should be very hard put to it, even if it were not for this dreadful chance.

 

I know that Tolkien wasn't talking about either the coronavirus or Donald Trump or the rise (again) of fascism, but damn if it doesn't feel like he could've been.

 
 

A wonderful read (and reread)

The Enchanted April - Elizabeth von Arnim

I've read The Enchanted April before, probably 20 years ago, and then again about 6 years ago. It's hard to justice to the delightfulness that is this book in a review. I'll just, briefly, give it a try.

 

Written during the interwar period, the book has a surprisingly modern feel. The main protagonist, Lotty, is the struggling wife of a solicitor, Mellersh Wilkiins, Lotty is not at all the sort of wife that Mellersh wanted - he wanted someone with the right social skills to help his career along. I spent much of the book wondering what on earth could have possessed Mellersh to marry her given her unsuitability.

 

We also have Rose Arbuthnot, who is married to an extremely successful author of fictionalized biographies of king's courtesans. Rose is deeply religious, and is bothered by the fact that her husband's financial success has been built on "sin". This somewhat irrational preoccupation, along with either a miscarriage or the death of a very young child, has destroyed the relationship between husband and wife.

 

The book begins when Lotty sees an advertisement in the newspaper to lease a castle in Italy for the month of April, which is addressed "to those who appreciate wistaria and sunshine..." Lotty and Rose, strangers to one another, are drawn to the advertisement and resolve to take the castle and spend the month of April in Italy. In order to decrease their costs further, they advertise for two additional women to join them.

 

This book is as effervescent as champagne and as insubstantial as a soap bubble. San Salvatore, the castle, is delightful. The changes that come over the four women as they luxuriate in the gardens overlooking the Mediterranean Sea come at different paces, but they do arrive. Lotty loses her careworn outlook, Rose lightens up, Caroline finds peace, and Mrs. Fischer, the most calcified of the bunch who has spent decades pining for the past, embraces life again. 

 

“All down the stone steps on either side were periwinkles in full flower, and she could now see what it was that had caught at her the night before and brushed, wet and scented, across her face. It was wistaria. Wistaria and sunshine . . . she remembered the advertisement. Here indeed were both in profusion. The wistaria was tumbling over itself in its excess of life, its prodigality of flowering; and where the pergola ended the sun blazed on scarlet geraniums, bushes of them, and nasturtiums in great heaps, and marigolds so brilliant that they seemed to be burning, and red and pink snapdragons, all outdoing each other in bright, fierce colour. The ground behind these flaming things dropped away in terraces to the sea, each terrace a little orchard, where among the olives grew vines on trellises, and fig-trees, and peach-trees, and cherry-trees. The cherry-trees and peach-trees were in blossom--lovely showers of white and deep rose-colour among the trembling delicacy of the olives; the fig-leaves were just big enough to smell of figs, the vine-buds were only beginning to show. And beneath these trees were groups of blue and purple irises, and bushes of lavender, and grey, sharp cactuses, and the grass was thick with dandelions and daisies, and right down at the bottom was the sea. Colour seemed flung down anyhow, anywhere; every sort of colour piled up in heaps, pouring along in rivers....”

 

This is a perfect book to read in April, when my garden has just started to come back to life.

 

I have Elizabeth and her German Garden on my TBR cart. It feels like a good time to read it.

Read-a-thon so far

The Enchanted April - Elizabeth von Arnim After the Funeral - Agatha Christie Tenant for Death - Cyril Hare

Well, my low-key read-a-thon has resulted three books so far, and I also made a batch of delicious homemade chocolate chip cookies.

Reading progress update: I've read 212 out of 286 pages.

After the Funeral - Agatha Christie

Hercule Poirot, undercover:

 

Fortunately this queer little foreigner did not seem to know much English. Quite often he did not understand what you said to him, and when everyone was speaking more or less at once he seemed completely at sea. He appeared to be interested only in refugees and postwar conditions, and his vocabulary only included those subjects. Ordinary chit-chat appeared to bewilder him. More or less forgotten by all, Hercule Poirot leant back in his chair, sipped his coffee and observed, as a cat may observe the twitterings and comings and goings of a flock of birds. The cat is not ready yet to make its spring.

Reading progress update: I've read 206 out of 286 pages.

After the Funeral - Agatha Christie

Back to finish up this one before I embark on a new read-a-thon book!

Motives aplenty

Tenant for Death - Cyril Hare

This was a bit sparse, but I still didn't figure it out. I got part of it right - and I wonder at how long it took Inspector Mallett to realize what seemed to be fairly obvious. 

 

I liked Mallett and would definitely read another book in his series. I do feel like the book was somehow lacking in something, although I can't quite put my finger on it.

Reading progress update: I've read 47%.

Tenant for Death - Cyril Hare

A curious mystery. I have thoughts:

 

 

Mr. James was Mr. Ballentine in disguise all along, although I still don't know who killed him. I don't think it was Harper, although his behavior is suspicious as all get out.

 

(show spoiler)

 

 

 

Read-a-thon: Opening Survey

As is often the case, I got a bit of a late start - my start time is 5:00 a.m., and that's just not happening. I started at around 7:00 a.m. with this week's Pandemic Buddy Read, Tenant For Death.

 

Opening Survey!

 

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? Oregon


2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? Good question. I think I'm most looking forward to revisiting The Enchanted April.


3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? Guacamole - I have an avocado that has reached perfect ripeness waiting for me. 


4) Tell us a little something about yourself! When the restaurants reopen, I want to visit a favorite restaurant for a plate of dirty fries: pork cracklings, fried sage, Parmesan cheese and grilled peppers. I've been craving them for three weeks.


5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? I always do a low-key read-a-thon. My goal is to read about 15 hours. I don't think I'll do anything differently, but I have promised to make a batch of chocolate chip cookies at some point today, so I'll be taking a break to bake. 

Reading progress update: I've read 10%.

A Man Lay Dead - Ngaio Marsh

Look what popped up in my library queue! Downloaded and started...

 

(Had to fix the book - I posted the wrong one!)

#FridayReads 4.24.2020

After the Funeral - Agatha Christie Few Eggs and No Oranges: The Diaries of Vere Hodgson 1940-45 - Vere Hodgson, Jenny Hartley

I finished the Daniel Silva book yesterday, so today I'm just reading After the Funeral by Agatha Christie and A Few Eggs and No Oranges by Vere Hodgson.

 

Here is my Dewey stack for tomorrow!