The Big Catch Up

I have so many posts to catch up, they were begun and saved as drafts and then 2012 ran away and left me wondering where it had gone.

Catch Up #1



A good read, the story of Idina Sackville, the woman who inspired “White Mischief”.

The book is written by her great Granddaughter. The story of this infamous woman had been airbrushed from the family history, and the quest to retrieve the Bolter became a lifelong obsession for Frances. Idina Sackville was a Bolter. Women who left their marriages in the social earthquake that struck the British upper classes following the First World War were tagged with this moniker and with its connotations of scandal and thrill.

To her family, possibly, Idina Sackville was a ‘bolter’, but she was also a tragic figure of a young woman whose life was broken by the catastrophes of 1914-18. It is in its evocation of these seismic years that Frances Osborne’s book becomes truly interesting.

‘In an age of wicked women,’ writes Osborne, ‘Idina pushed the bounds of behaviour to extremes.’ How can we not read on?

Throughout the book,  however, it’s clear that Idina is a woman who simply needed to be loved, who was treated unfairly by the rules of her society, and whose life gives us a perfect lens for looking at this period in history for women.

After her death, a tender portrait of her first husband was found by her bedside. In reporting this touching detail, we can see that Frances Osborne has probably made her peace at last.



For us Jack Reacher fans, this explains the why of the man who makes Chuck Norris, Rambo, The Terminator and Bear Grills look like boy scouts, is wandering America with naught but a few dollars in his pocket, the shirt on his back, some well worn boots and, a toothbrush

We go to Carter Crossing, Mississippi, way back in 1997. A lonely railroad track. A crime scene. A cover up. A young woman is dead, and solid evidence points to a soldier at a nearby military base. But that soldier has powerful friends in Washington.

“This is a genesis story, harking back to the moment at which he really becomes Reacher, giving up his career as a military cop and turning into a fair but firm (extremely firm) vigilante and drifter. In this adventure, he starts off by going into training for his future life, going undercover, growing his hair long, stopping shaving, and adopting his minimalist way with luggage, packing only a toothbrush.”     Andy Martin

This is a gripping tale, full of suspense, intrigue and double dealings. I loved it, but then I am a sucker for Jack Reacher.

Why oh why Tom Cruise? He is far too short, too baby faced and all round too smooth. A young Clint Eastwood, a sort of “Dirty Harry” Clint Eastwood, now that is more my idea of Jack.



gone girl goodreads com

It is a  warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary, when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River.

I began reading with some sceptisism thinking, “oh this is that Lacey Peterson story, I know what is going to happen!” yawn. And as I carried on reading it appeared to be heading in that direction. The first half of the book is told from Nick’s perspective and that is where it leads you, in the same direction Scott Peterson took.

So, feeling very smug and thinking let’s see how this pans out I started on the second half, Amy’s perspective. Was I ever in for a shock, this is when the book really takes a 360 turn and becomes un-put-downable.

If you enjoy a good psychological thriller you will like this one.



The wonderful tale of Catherine of Aragon. who came from her glorious enlightened, colourful Spain at the age of 16 , to a cold, dank, drab England to marry Arthur Tudor and so become Queen of England as had been her destiny from the age of four when she was betrothed to him.

“I am Catalina, Princess of Spain, daughter of the two greatest monarchs the world has ever known…and I will be Queen of England.”

It is a story of a woman we tend to know very little about. We know her as the thorn in Henry’s side when he set his sights on Anne Boleyn. This is a tender love story and a tale of immense fortitude and eventually puzzling yet inevitable rejection.

I am a Phillippa Gregory fan and am never disappointed. Her research is thorough and the tales are woven in intricate detail, often revealing facets that History did not deem to be important.


AT LAST, there it is done!

fall of giants after many interruptions it is done.

Fall of Giants

A wonderful tale of intertwined families and friends spanning Europe and America during the years leading up to and including the First World war. If you are a fan of Downton Abbey this is a wonderful companion piece for the series. Dealing with the same time period and the same political, social and economic issues, only on a much grander scale. Although it is a a full 984 pages, you never feel daunted by the sheer volume of the book. It sails along keeping you involved and interested. There are wonderful characters each reflecting perfectly his or her place in the social strata of the era.

I cannot wait to read the second in the Trilogy – “Winter of the World” which will deal with the years leading up to and including the Second World War.


And, for my absolute favourite book of the moment………

cutting-for-stone1Every now and again you read a book that you finish with a very heavy heart, this is one of those. I felt bereft when I finished, I would no longer be sharing my days with ShivaMarion, no longer part of the Missing Hospital family and no more beautiful writing to transport me to Ethiopia and eventually New York and Boston.

The book had the grand feel of a John Irving novel, the characters all a bit larger than life and the situations often comically bizarre, the wonderful writing, the vivid, graphic descriptions of places and people, all which linger long after the book is finished.

“Empathy for our frail human condition resonates throughout Abraham Verghese’s Cutting for Stone. By tracing the development of a narrator unlike any other in our literature-from his nearly mythic beginnings in Ethiopia to his immigrant life in contemporary America, Verghese demonstrates that the supreme skill of a physician lies not in his hands but in his heart. No contemporary novelist has written so well about the human body. Cutting for Stone is an amazing and moving achievement which reminds us of the miracle of being alive.” Tom Grimes, author of A Stone of the Heart

It is not hard for me to say if you only read one book this year, read this. It is the type of book and style of writing that appeal to me, but, I do not think it is everyone’s cup of tea. I loved the strange circumstances of ShivaMarion’s birth, the wonderful love Hemma has for the boys and for dear Gosh, I reveled in life at Missing and the passing parade of patients and employees. The medical knowledge and graphic descriptions of surgery enthralled me, but again not to everyone’s taste.

I am going to link to Goodreads reviews for “Cutting for Stone”, you will be able to read a mixed bag of opinions and reviews and then decide whether you read this book or not.

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