Tuesday, March 30, 2021

The Year at Maple Hill Farm by Alice and Martin Provensen - with particular attention to March

Title: The Year at Maple Farm
Authors: Alice and Martin Provensen
Publication: Atheneum, hardcover, 1978
Genre: Picture book
Description: This book chronicles a year on a farm, starting in January during the cold, grey days of winter, through spring and rebirth, the sense of change in the fall air, to the end of the year in December.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

A Snowfall of Silver by Laura Wood - coming of age in Earnest

Title: A Snowfall of Silver
Author: Laura Wood
Publication: Scholastic UK, paperback, 2020
Genre: YA
Setting: 1930s England
Description: Freya, the younger sister of Lou from A Sky Painted Gold, has always wanted to be an actress, so leaves Cornwall dramatically at 18, fortuitously meeting Kit McKay on the train to London.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Do Not Disturb by Claire Douglas – psychological suspense in Wales

Title: Do Not Disturb
Author: Claire Douglas
Publication: Harper Collins, hardcover, 2020
Genre: Suspense
Setting: Present-day Wales
Description: Kirsty Woodhouse and her husband Adrian had always talked about returning to her native Wales to open a guesthouse in the Brecon Beacons, but she accelerated the plan after what happened to Adrian in London.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Mystery on the Isle of Skye by Phyllis A. Whitney

Title: Mystery on the Isle of Skye
Author: Phyllis Whitney
Illustrator: Ezra Jack Keats
Publication: The Westminster Press, hardcover, 1954
Genre: Juvenile Mystery
Setting: Scotland
Description: When a serious illness sends her beloved Grandmother MacLeod to the hospital, Cathy finds herself on the trip of a lifetime to the Isle of Skye with relatives she barely knows – her mother’s brother Jerry, his wife Lila, and two cousins, Don and Punch. Mrs. MacLeod came from Skye and, despite her illness, managed to organize a box of messages and surprises for Cathy to open periodically on her trip, which will help her explore her Scotch heritage and make friends with her cousins.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Death in the Grand Manor by Anne Morice - Reading the Theatre Month

Title: Death in the Grand Manor: Tessa Crichton #1
Author: Anne Morice
Publication: Dean Street Press, April 2021 (originally published in 1970)
Genre: Mystery series
Setting: 20th century England

Description: Actress Tessa Crichton, temporarily between engagements, accepts an invitation to spend a few weeks in the country with her cousin, Toby, and his daughter, Ellen, an observant 11-year-old, while Toby’s second wife Matilda, also an actress, is on tour with a new play. 

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Thicker Than Water by Madeleine Polland - atmospheric suspense in Ireland

Title: Thicker Than Water
Author: Madeleine Polland (1918-2005)
Publication: Pyramid Books, paperback, 1966 (originally published in 1965)
Genre: Fiction/Suspense
Setting: Ireland
Description: When Veronica learns her grandmother, from whom she has been estranged since adolescence, is dying and has asked for her, she leaves London and heads to her deceased father’s childhood Irish home, Hollymount, on the border of Galway and Mayo.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Noel Streatfeild's overlooked series about child actress Gemma Bow

Titles: Gemma, Gemma and Sisters
Author: Noel Streatfield
Publication: Dell Yearling, paperbacks (originally published in 1968)
Genre: Juvenile fiction/series
Setting: 20th century England
Description: Gemma is a child film star, daughter of actress Rowena Bow, but as she approaches adolescence there have been no parts for a while, which frightens her. When her mother is offered a part in America, Gemma is sent to live with cousins she has never met, 150 miles from London.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Any Two Can Play by Elizabeth Cadell

Title: Any Two Can Play
Author: Elizabeth Cadell
Publication: William Morrow, hardcover, 1981
Genre: Fiction
Setting: 20th century England
Description: When Natalie hears her sister-in-law has abandoned both husband and toddler twins, she drops everything to head to Downing, the small town where her brother teaches music at a boarding school.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Black Banner Players, third in the Bannermere series by Geoffrey Trease

Title: Black Banner Players (Bannermere #3)
Author: Geoffrey Trease
Illustrations: Richard Kennedy
Foreword: Jocelyn Payne, Introduction: Sally Dore
Publication: Girls Gone By, trade paperback, 2005 (originally published in 1952)
Genre: Juvenile series
Setting: England, 1950s
Description: Bill Melbury and his friend Tim go to a grammar school that is too old-fashioned to allow the nearby girls’ high school, attended by Bill’s sister Sue and her friend Penny Morchard, to participate in its drama productions.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Six Degrees of Separation - from Phosphorescence to Light a Single Candle

It’s time for #6degrees, inspired by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. We all start at the same place, add six books, and see where we end up.   This month’s starting point is a book Kate really liked, Phosphorescence by an Australian writer Julia Baird, which has a gorgeous cover but has not yet been published in the US.  However, it did make me contemplate different meanings of the word light, which made me think about my favorite author, Elswyth Thane.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

The Swish of the Curtain by Pamela Brown - a book that inspired Maggie Smith and Eileen Atkins

Title: The Swish of the Curtain 
Author: Pamela Brown (1924-1989) 
Publication: Pushkin Press, paperback, 2018 (originally published 1941) 
Genre: Children’s Fiction 
Setting: 20th century England
Description: Lynette and Jeremy Darwin and their friends next door, Sandra and pert nine-year-old Madelaine Fayne, are pleased when a new family with three children roughly their ages moves into the nearby Corner House.

Monday, March 1, 2021

The Rising of the Lark by Ann Moray - a coming of age story set in early 20th century Wales

Title: The Rising of the Lark 
Author: Ann Moray (1909–1981) 
Publication: William Morrow & Co., hardcover, 1964 
Genre: Historical Fiction 
Setting: Early 20th century Wales
Description: Catriona is just nine when this story begins. Orphaned very young, she was brought to Wales where her guardians installed her at a remote estate, under the supervision of an austere governess, Jane Withers.