Personal likes and interests


About series of books

I have always liked to read a series of novels. The first series I remember reading was about child detective  ‘Bunkle’ by Margaret Pardoe with Robin his brother and Jill. This was followed by many of the Baroness Orczy ‘Scarlet Pimpernel’ books about Sir Percy and Lady Marguerite Blakeney and their associates against the French revolutionary villain Chauvelin.

I then read  more than once over my lifetime the  6 ‘Barchester’ novels by Anthony Trollope with memorable characters gentle Rev Harding, the boisterous Archdeacon Grantly, the unctuous Dr Slope and uxorious Mrs Proudie and her husband. This lead me via TV series to read and re-read the ‘Palliser’ books with another set of characters that remain in the memory, Planty Pal, the Duke of Omnium, Lady Glencora and Phineas Finn.

In a later similar vein was the 6 books of the  ‘Forsyte Saga’‘. Again TV took me to the books and I became acquainted with  the exploits of Soames, his brother and sisters, and Fleur his daughter, leading me to the last 3 books on the Cherwell family.

TV more recently read  the ‘Poldark‘ series. I wondered what they would be like. After reading book 1, I acquired the remaining  11 and read them during 2016. They were very enjoyable- sufficient for me  sometime to read the series again

The Peter Law series on Lewis and  Enzo Macleod have been enjoyable with their emphasis on background as well as plot.

Hilary Mantel on Thomas Cromwell is a gripping read- looking forward to last in trilogy. Like wise Sansom’s series on SHaldrake and his life from 1536 to 1549 in the 7 books to date are an exceptionally vivid view of Tudor England at the time.

I have recently read a biography of Mary Tudor and am going through Max Adams Aelfred’s World. They are outstandingly well researched and detailed, but do not make for very easy reading.. I hope Hilary Mantel and Sansom both continue in their series. I would love to know what they felt about Mary Tudor and he reign.

Robert Harris is a particular author, whose range is wide. I have finished the third of Cicero series. This was for me the easiest to follow, dealing with Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony , familiar from Shakespeare, but somehow more pointed in th build -up to their deaths.  The main difficulty was in knowing where buildings and places actually were in Rome and why they were significant to Cicero. This bewildered me somewhat. The device of having Tiro writing the biography worked well. I  have only had the Fear Index and  Munich to read of his published novels. I feel he is so good at portraying the background to his narrative. The more strictly historical  books help to conclude the tale he writes with a believable outcome.

For lighter side, I have enjoyed a number of the Hamish Macbeth books based in Sutherland. Easy to recognise characters and easy to follow plots told with ease and charm. I have tried one of the Agatha Raisin series which are mundane in comparison to Hamish.

A book on Rome called A history of Rome in Seven Sackings by  is an interestingly comprehensive historical survey about Rome, from its foundation. It proved helpful in understanding the layers of the city as we are going there in October. I enjoyed the breadth of learning displayed, but it was marred by some inaccuracies about Roman Catholic belief and a certain anti-papalist perceptions.