Saturday, July 4, 2020

June Books: English Language and English Villages

Here's the last instalment of my June book list. I spent a lot of time with Miss Read last month. 😀

A Fortunate Grandchild by Miss Read (audiobook read by the author)
When the Miss Read books were recommended to me by a few different people, I looked her up and borrowed a couple from the library. Both were part of her Thrush Green series. A few years later, when I saw an omnibus edition of three of her Fairacre series in a charity shop, I bought it. I liked all of them, so when I saw these audiobooks on the library website, I borrowed them.

Miss Read is the pen name of Dora Saint, who was born in London in 1913. She wrote novels about small village life through the perspective of a schoolteacher named Miss Read. These books are not really plot-driven. They are quiet, pleasant books about the quirky people in these villages at a particular time. This book is a memoir which is much like her novels. In it, she talks about her two grandmothers and her experiences of them. It was interesting to hear about her basic way of life in the early 1900s. The grandmothers had very different sorts of families and lived in quite different circumstances and through the narration, we get a sense of family life in that particular time and place. I enjoyed hearing about what the homes were like, the attitudes of the grandmothers and aunts, what it was like to go on a summer holiday to one grandmother’s house at the seaside, what it was like to travel by train or by steamship, etc. If you’re interested in those sorts of things, this is a pleasant read.

Time Remembered by Miss Read
This is another memoir, this time with a focus on three years (1921-1924) the author spent at a small school in the country. The author was born in London, but as the book begins, we learn that she and her mother have only recently recovered from the Spanish flu and medical advice was to get the family to the country. They relocated to a small village ‘a few train stops’ down from London. Miss Read had been attending a large London school in which her aunt was a teacher and she was amazed when she got to her new school and saw a small building with a headmaster, instead of a headmistress. It did not take long for her to discover that she loved it and she loved living in the country. She says these were among the happiest years of her life.

As she looks back, she both celebrates what it is she loves about rural life (which comes through in all of her novels that I’ve read) and she considers why she does not like being in cities. I could relate to both. I have never loved cities and have no interest in being in them. We’ve been in Ireland for 6 years now and other than being at the airport a couple of times, have never been to Dublin, which is fine with me. I am repelled by the thought of being there, to be honest, so why waste my time? I’d much rather go visit a small village/town and walk around enjoying the slow pace of life. 
This is another interesting glimpse into life in a different time and place. I enjoy her books.

Over the Gate by Miss Read (audiobook read by Gwen Watford)
I enjoyed the memoirs, so after I was done with those, I checked out this Fairacre novel, in which village schoolteacher Miss Read shares stories of village life, but also listens to stories shared with others about things that happened before her arrival. The book was read by Gwen Watford, whose voice sounded familiar. I knew I’d heard it before and then I remembered—she played Dolly Bantry in the Joan Hickson Miss Marple series a few decades ago. She did a good job with the reading and had a wide range, moving between dialects, characters, age groups, etc. This was very enjoyable to listen to.

Affairs at Thrush Green by Miss Read (audiobook read by Gwen Watford)
I wasn’t planning to borrow this right away, but when on the library’s e-audiobook page, I noticed that some of the Miss Read titles that had been available a couple of weeks ago were no longer listed. Since it appeared that these were no longer going to be in the system for whatever reason, I looked at the titles that were left. I’d either read or listened to all but this one, so I borrowed it. I immediately got a message saying it would not be available for renewal, so I listened to it and returned it. The next day, I checked the website and found that it was gone. It’s a shame these books are going away, because they are very pleasant, heartwarming, and amusing. I enjoy small town/village stories with quirky characters and that’s what these are. Gwen Watford was a wonderful reader, too.

The Stories of English by David Crystal
This book was given to me by a friend a few years ago. I quite enjoyed it.

Happy reading!


Brenda said...

Love the Miss Read books. Just got some from the library--they bring the books out and hang on a pole...not sure how much longer they will do that as they open this week. I am not comfortable going inside...They didn't have many of the books, and I don't want the audio ones...I am a visual learner...Have tried to order some on Amazon, but they also don't have tons of them...will see. I also love the Miss Julia series...she is hilarious. Just finished reading that series for the second time. I still review for Netgalley...and Amazon...however, not many good ones right now...take the books.

Shari Burke said...

I've never heard of the Miss Julia series. I'm glad I checked out the Miss Read ones when I did, because they're gone now! I particularly enjoyed her memoirs.

Vicki said...

I haven't heard of those books but the do sound good!

Shari Burke said...

They're very relaxing and heartwarming--no real plot, but lots of quirky characters.

Lowcarb team member said...

I have heard many say they love the Miss Read books, I really must get one from the library soon - if I can.

All the best Jan

Brenda said...

Miss Julia books are by Ann B. Ross. There are characters one likes-others not so much. No violence or language...just funny simple books about a mature protagonist. I read them in 2012 and just reread the series in entirety. Laughed and laughed. My favorite genre-mystery and psychological genre-Woman in the Window...etc. that new genre...but these books entertain...they are about a woman in the South-remembering times of tea parties...which she still does...her husband dies, and she is in for many surprises...just different...enjoy...

JFM/Jan said...

I enjoy audiobooks.
Being read to is somehow comforting to me.
I read to my children and grandchildren when they were growing up.
Have a great day🌷