Monday, June 9, 2014

{review} a week of pineapples

*dusts off blog cobwebs*
'Georgy,' Mr Pasmore asks, 'may we come in?' He was already in. 'I’ve brought you two delightful visitors. They have been exploring the possibility of the pineapple. Do you like that? The possibility of? I mean we all know the positivity of, don't we? What we want, oh, what we all so want want want is the possibility of? Georgy, do you believe in the possibility of the pineapple?' (Thea Astley, Hunting the Wild Pineapple)
Last week I only read books with 'pineapple' in the title. This offered a wider variety than one might expect, and I think I did rather well and read some things I might not otherwise have tackled. So what did I read?


 

M. C. Beaton At the Sign of the Golden Pineapple (1987)
Charlotte Webster awoke during the night and lay shivering under her thin blankets. Food. Mountains of food. That’s what she had been dreaming of. A confectioner’s. She could see it now, the golden pineapple over the door, the piles of oranges and pineapples and dainty cakes. The smells of hot chocolate and coffee. Her stomach growled ferociously.
M. C. Beaton is terrifyingly prolific. This Regency series was originally published under the pen name Marion Chesney. I discovered this series thanks to Another Look Book's review of Beaton/Chesney's Minerva, which I thought could fill a Heyer-sized gap in my reading life. It was less-mannered, more overtly - perhaps one might suggest 'unbelievably' - socially boundary-pushing, and rather more risqué than a Heyer, but a fun - and quick - read. Likewise At the Sign of the Golden Pineapple: our heroine ("We are all kept in chains by the fact that we are genteel women") decides to make her own way by opening a confectionery shop/ices-and-tea-room in London with two lady acquaintances from unhappy homes - but can "ladies" ever resume their previous social and marital ambitions after working in a shop? 

The pineapple connection is that a pineapple was an emblem of the confectionery trade in the Georgian era (lots more on this here and a wonderful recreated pineapple 'ice' here). This is a (hmmm... tries to think of some relevant analogies...) wafer-thin read, stuffed sugarplum-like with sweet historical details, and easily digestible in one sitting. Not sure I'm hungry for more of the genre though, but that might be a result of the sugar overdose of read number two...

Betty Neels Pineapple Girl (1977)

  

And Mrs White, with a swift movement worthy of a magician, heaved at something under the blankets and produced a pineapple. ‘Oh!’ said Eloise, startled, and then: ‘Mrs White, what a simply lovely present—thank you, and your husband. I’ve—I’ve never had such a delightful surprise.’ She clasped the fruit to her person...
I've actually read this Mills & Boon before, and written briefly about it. Nurse falls down steps onto handsome foreign doctor while holding a pineapple; doctor replaces pineapple with THREE from Fortnum & Mason; coincidentally, poor nurse meets handsome doctor in foreign parts while on a job; does he love her or is he a bastard ("How could he talk about kippers when only a moment ago he had been kissing her as though he really enjoyed it?")? Will her clothes be good enough ("an elderly velvet dress the colour of a mole")? ... yada yada yada... You get the picture. I'm here for the pineapples, mostly, I guess. The period details (grimy 70s London) are great, and often rendered rather funny by time-passed:
‘Someone gave me a pineapple,’ she informed the table at large, and added apologetically: ‘I would have brought it down with me, but I thought it would have been nice to take home…’ There was a chorus of assent; everyone there knew that Eloise lived in a poky little flat behind the Imperial War Museum—true, it was on the fringe of a quite respectable middle-class district, but with, as it were, an undesirable neighbourhood breathing down its neck...
My favourite line is when the heroine is tossing and turning at night thinking about the mysterious doctor: "a fruitless exercise". I think NOT!

But I haven't only read pineapple 'fluff':

 


Thea Astley Hunting the Wild Pineapple (1979)
Once in Fixer’s cabin, one hour, one year, Fixer and I worked out the new coat of arms - a beer can rampant on a social security form couchant. Do we make it different, the people up here?
I don't read as much Australian literature as I feel I ought: I think this is a combination of the feeling that I "ought" (which makes me irrationally stubbornly resistant to doing so); a lack of empathy or resonance with the "bush" (I blame family camping holidays and a loathing of tropical weather), and a love of reading about places not as familiar as the home turf. Perhaps there's a bit of a block too because of difficult reading experiences with Australian lit at school and university? But I do keep trying. 

I can't say that I felt any sense of breakthrough after reading Thea Astley's take on Far North Queensland - hot, wet, uncomfortable, primitive, dangerous - a "soft porn" of a landscape - and filled with the lost and those not wanting to be found. This is a land where social boundaries break easily: "Carl’s fingers have been scratching the spines of Mac’s books. He wants to borrow a couple. I explain they’re not mine, but he’s oblivious to the protocol that goes with possession."

Astley's writing is absolutely superb, although sometimes one feels on the verge of drowning in it. (Whispering Gums discusses why Astley's language can also be confronting.) The book is a series of interlinked short stories about the inhabitants of the tropical Far North. Her descriptions of place can be claustrophobia-inducing - small artificially created physical and metaphorical spaces within which we imprison ourselves, and then the equally terrible world without: "a postcard tropadise (the greens are too green! the blues too blue!)". 

Then there are moments of pure comedy (like the 'hunt' for the wild pineapple of the title) or the little vignettes of everyday life such as the blind date: "He was much older than she had expected. So was she." Elsewhere: "She always appeared formidably silked and hatted and her bust was frightening. ‘Breasts’ is somehow too pretty, too delicate a word to describe that shelf of righteousness on which many a local upstart had foundered."
Mr Waterman was, also, a foundation member of the metric society. He was the first in the district to think in millimetres of rain, kilometres of road, kilograms of body fat and the metric statistics of wanted criminals. When he and Mrs Waterman did their biennial culture junket to Europe, he took enormous pleasure in supplying details for his passport. ‘One point eight five four three metres,’ he wrote against ‘height’; ‘eyes’ – ‘blue’. He would chide his wife mildly. ‘No, dear. No, no. You are one point six four one two metres.’ Against ‘colour of eyes’ she wrote ‘glazed’.
A difficult but valuable read.

Kaori O'Connor Pineapple: A Global History (2013)


Pineapple is great. She is almost too transcendent - a delight if not sinful, yet so like sinning that really a tender conscienced person would do well to pause - too ravishing for mortal taste, she woundeth and excoriateth the lips that approach her - like lovers’ kisses she biteth - she is a pleasure bordering on pain, from the fierceness and insanity of her relish. (Charles Lamb, Essays of Elia [1823])
I have a copy of Fran Beauman's The Pineapple on my shelf, but I decided to read this shorter history first. It's part of a series of books devoted to single foodstuffs - nuts, pancakes, pies, soup, offal, etc. (Incidentally, Pie is by the always fascinating blogger Old Foodie.) Pineapple is basically all you need to know about the pineapple in the short form: where it came from, how it got everywhere, its role as a prestige and royal object, the craziness of growing it in England, the popularization of the fruit through canning, and so on.
Indeed, the gulf between the pineapple’s fame and the difficulty in satisfying curiosity as to its taste came to epitomize the nature of knowledge itself for the serious-minded. In his On Human Understanding, published in 1690, the empiricist philosopher John Locke used the pineapple to argue that true knowledge can only be based on experience. In Locke’s words: If you doubt this, see whether you can by words give anyone who has never tasted pineapple an idea of the taste of that fruit. He may approach a grasp of it by being told of its resemblance to other tastes of which he already has the ideas in his memory, imprinted there by things he has taken into his mouth; but this isn’t giving him that idea by a definition, but merely raising up in him other simple ideas that will still be very different from the true taste of pineapple.
I thought this a very readable book, although I think it dealt rather tentatively (but without omission) with some of the unpleasant aspects of the pineapple trade, for instance the connection with the slave trade. It was also weak, I thought, on the place of the pineapple in Australia. I am looking forward to finding out if Fran Beauman's book is better on this. I am also looking forward to an exhibition on the pineapple's importance to Queensland that will open in Brisbane this year. *plans a little holiday*

So, what did I get from my week of 'pineapple' reads? Predictable romance is enhanced by pineapples. Pineapple skin demonstrates the Fibonacci sequence. "In organoleptic terms, the pineapple’s great contribution has been the unique ‘sweet-and-sour’ taste." Pineapples have permeated all levels of society, and now I know why and how. Isn't abacaxi a great word? Pineapples feature in philosophical discourse. I can never holiday anywhere north of Brisbane. I'd really like a pineapple upside-down cake now. Here's one I made earlier...



Tuesday, March 18, 2014

{review} helen macinnes: the hidden target & cloak of darkness

Helen MacInnes The Hidden Target (1980)
Helen MacInnes Cloak of Darkness (1982)

I love Helen MacInnes' books, but I hadn't read (well, re-re-re-read) any for ages as they were packed in a box in the shed. Then I saw there were quite a few available for kindle -- but not, of course, the one about the hippie-trail that was teasing my memory. So, out to the shed... 


(these are the actual, badly photographed covers of my copies: 
the blueish one is foil-striped in silver, blue and white. 
These books have smallest writing I have read for years. 
Almost smaller than this writing...)

These two are actually part of a trilogy featuring the same character, Robert Renwick, and it is probably worth reading them in order, but as a re-reader I didn't feel it mattered this time around. The first one in the trilogy (Prelude to Terror) is very good indeed and has that amazing chest-squeezing mix of espionage terror and romantic torment that MacInnes is magnificent about carrying off. You're never quite sure with MacInnes about whether her protagonists will make it to a happy ending, and she is good at revealing glimpses of absolute darkness that wrack up the tension for the reader. 

Robert Renwick is one of the sort of old-school espionage champs that you really want on your side if you are stuck in the middle of Europe somewhere and something bad is going down. Because the books are set at the end of the 70s and early 80s there's still enough good ol' Cold War villainy around (and some leftovers of WW2), as well as problems with travelling through the continent (anyone nostalgic for when everyone had a different currency? - no, personally not), crossing all those frontiers, and just getting everywhere SO SLOWLY. Then there's the leftovers of the 70s to play with: relics of Baader-Meinhof and anarchists and terrorists plus NATO and Interpol and so on. 

Renwick, American but mostly Europe-based, has set up an agency, tacitly supported by various western intelligence organizations, to gather and analyse intel on terrorism which can then be sent to the relevant agencies. But Renwick is unable to shake off his field agent past, and always ends up out in the field and in great danger. He is a brilliant analyst and it is remarkable that his omniscience never makes one want to shake him until his teeth rattle: he just comes across as remarkably good at his job. 

I love these sort of 'hunt down the baddie' books where there's a real lo-tech feel: no pulling up a satellite -- you've got to get off your bum and go to deepest where-ever and use your binoculars and your bare hands. 

MacInnes is great on detail: in Prelude to Terror, there's a great art history plot going on under all the spy stuff, and plenty of lovely spots like Vienna take centre stage. In The Hidden Target we set off on the hippie-trail from Amsterdam, across Europe, Turkey and over to India in a camper (my idea of hell) with a very smart young woman who finds herself rapidly out of her depth -- could she really be the unwitting companion of one of the most dangerous terrorists of the time, and why does he need her? And in Cloak of Darkness we jump from the Africa to the US then Europe in a race against time to save Renwick from assassination by mysterious forces intent on trafficking weapons to anyone who can pay. Renwick is supported by some great colleagues, and there is always the well-planted seed in MacInnes' plots that someone here is not all they seem. 

If you're looking for a classic go at Cold War espionage, then she's well worth a read. You have to take on board that women -- despite female authorship -- have relatively secondary roles and often these are painfully traditional (they are pretty and they need saving, for instance), but certainly in the trilogy some of the woman do have significant roles in the plot (as they do in other of MacInnes' books). The Hidden Target is the most appealing in that sense, and also I think for its really varied scene-setting. It is also fascinating because it is set at a time when the hippie-trail is breaking down: the route is by the end of the 70s particularly dangerous, indeed deadly in parts, and the Afghanistan region is about to entirely disintegrate as the Russians move in. The (presumed) innocence of earlier journeys has been lost forever. 

Surely the hippie-trail is due a revival as a narrative theme: or have I missed this? There is one book that I would compare with The Hidden Target in this regard and that is Charles Mccarry's brilliant take (and astonishingly accomplished debut novel) on a carload of are-they-aren't-they-spies travelling from Europe to the Sudan in the 50s in The Miernik Dossier, one of the best spy stories I have ever read (his Tears of Autumn could well qualify as the best).

Anyway...: Helen MacInnes - great spy-craft, great settings, a spot of romance (but not as soft or happy as Mary Stewart, for instance), and that slight ambiguity about whether good really ever fully vanquishes evil without itself becoming tainted. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

{review} dumps: a plain girl

L. T. Meade Dumps: A Plain Girl (1905)


I am going to tell the story of my life as far as I can; but before I begin I must say that I do wonder why girls, as a rule, have a harder time of it than boys, and why they learn quite early in life to be patient and to give up their own will.
I'm not sure this is a review; more of an extended laugh at one of the best book titles I've encountered for ages. I mean, REALLY, "Dumps: A Plain Girl"? One almost doesn't need to read the book - surely it is quite plain (ho ho) what happens in this one.
...but he said the true name for me ought not to be Rachel, but Dumps, and how could any girl expect to rule over either boys or girls with such a name as Dumps? I suppose I was a little stodgy in my build, but father said I might grow out of that, for my mother was tall.
This is my second read of an L. T. Meade book: I started with A Sweet Girl Graduate, because I am interested in the history of women's colleges (having attended one), and I was hooked on Meade's blend of sickly sentimentality and sober evangelism for educating girls. I chose Dumps because of the title, though I was tossing up about Polly: A New Fashioned Girl. Happily there are plenty of Meade titles out there to keep me going forever (she wrote over 300 books).

So, poor little Dumps. Yes, Dumps is a plain girl. And she lives a rather plain life with her widowed father, who is a genius, but quite poor --
He was also somewhat of a saving turn of mind, and he told me once that he was putting by money in order to help the boys to go to one of the ’varsities by-and-by. He was determined that they should be scholars and gentlemen; and of course I thought this a very praiseworthy ambition of his, and offered to do without a new summer dress. He did not even thank me; he said that he thought I could do quite well with my present clothes for some time to come, and after that I felt my sacrifice had fallen somewhat flat.
-- and her brothers and a faithful but slovenly servant.

Dumps' life is a lonely one:
"And a girl's little brain is meant to keep a house comfortable."
"But, father, I haven't such a little brain; and I think I could do something else."
"Could what?" said father, opening his eyes with horror. "What in the world is more necessary for a girl who is one day to be a woman than to know how to keep a house comfortable?"
"Yes, yes," I said; "I suppose so." I was very easily stopped when father spoke in that high key.
Given Meade's support of feminist causes, I was hopeful that he would be struck by lightning at this point, but no such luck.
I really was a very stranded sort of girl. Hitherto I had had no outlets of any sort; I was just Dumps, a squat, rather plain girl, who knew little or nothing of the world—a neglected sort of girl, I have no doubt; but then I had no mother.
And then... one day a mysterious lady comes to visit, then invites Dumps to stay with her for a holiday, and easily wins the poor girl over with nice clothes and plenty of food and gentle kindnesses. But what lies behind this kindly lady's unexpected generosity? I'm not going to tell you any more, but Dumps has her world-view considerably widened and learns some important lessons about life and herself. Also, we are happy to learn, getting enough to eat really helps with her looks.

And I don't think I can end without mentioning Dumps' first friend, the blue-stocking Augusta:
"Do let us walk about," I said, “and let us be chums, if you don’t mind."
"Chums?" said Augusta, turning her dreamy, wonderful eyes upon my face.
"Yes," I said.
"But chums have tastes in common," was her next remark.
"Well, you are very fond of books, are you not?" I said.
"Fond of books!" cried Augusta. "Fond of books! I love them. But that is not the right word: I reverence them; I have a passion for them." She looked hurriedly round her. "I shall never marry," she continued in a low whisper, "but I shall surround myself with books - the books of the great departed; their words, their thoughts, shall fill my brain and my heart. I shall be satisfied; nothing else will satisfy me but books, books, books!"
So, not great literature by any means, but an entertaining, often sad, rather sentimental bit of fiction. Dumps was a bit whingy (though she certainly had grounds for that!), and I didn't think it was as satisfying as A Sweet Girl Graduate - where there is also a lot of rather melodramatic and silly action but the theme of the importance of educating girls is never lost. 

Incidentally, Jane at fleur in her world has also recently reviewed another Meade title, A World of Girls. I have also been following a couple of blogs which constantly offer new lost wonders to explore, and I'd single out redeeming qualities and leaves and pages - there are so many great free e-treasures out there that I many never need to buy a book again. 

{READ IN 2014}

  • [K = Kindle]
  • 125.
  • 124.
  • 123.
  • 122.
  • 121.
  • 120.
  • 119. The Spider Sapphire Mystery [Nancy Drew] - Carolyn Keene [K]
  • 118. The Clue in the Crossword Cipher [Nancy Drew] - Carolyn Keene [K]
  • 117. The Mystery of the 99 Steps [Nancy Drew] - Carolyn Keene [K]
  • 116. The Phantom of Pine Hill [Nancy Drew] - Carolyn Keene [K]
  • 115. The Clue of the Whistling Bagpipes [Nancy Drew] - Carolyn Keene [K]
  • 114. The Moonstone Castle Mystery [Nancy Drew] - Carolyn Keene [K]
  • 113. The Clue of the Dancing Puppet [Nancy Drew] - Carolyn Keene [K]
  • 112. The Mystery of the Fire Dragon [Nancy Drew] - Carolyn Keene [K]
  • 111. The Clue in the Old Stagecoach [Nancy Drew] - Carolyn Keene [K]
  • 110. The Secret of the Golden Pavilion [Nancy Drew] - Carolyn Keene [K]
  • 109. The Haunted Showboat [Nancy Drew] - Carolyn Keene [K]
  • 108. The Hidden Window Mystery [Nancy Drew] - Carolyn Keene [K]
  • 107. The Witch Tree Symbol [Nancy Drew] - Carolyn Keene [K]
  • 106. The Scarlet Slipper Mystery [Nancy Drew] - Carolyn Keene [K]
  • 105. The Ringmaster's Secret [Nancy Drew] - Carolyn Keene [K]
  • 104. The Clue of the Velvet Mask [Nancy Drew] - Carolyn Keene [K]
  • 103. The Mystery at the Ski Jump [Nancy Drew] - Carolyn Keene [K]
  • 102. The Clue of the Black Keys [Nancy Drew] - Carolyn Keene [K]
  • 101. The Secret of the Wooden Lady [Nancy Drew] - Carolyn Keene [K]
  • 100. The Clue of the Leaning Chimney [Nancy Drew] - Carolyn Keene [K]
  • 99. The Ghost of Blackwood Hall [Nancy Drew] - Carolyn Keene [K]
  • 98. The Clue in the Old Album [Nancy Drew] - Carolyn Keene [K]
  • 97. The Mystery of the Tolling Bell [Nancy Drew] - Carolyn Keene [K]
  • 96. The Clue in the Crumbling Wall [Nancy Drew] - Carolyn Keene [K]
  • 95. The Secret in the Old Attic [Nancy Drew] - Carolyn Keene [K]
  • 94. The Clue in the Jewel Box [Nancy Drew] - Carolyn Keene [K]
  • 93. The Quest of the Missing Map [Nancy Drew] - Carolyn Keene [K]
  • 92. The Mystery at the Moss-Covered Mansion [Nancy Drew] - Carolyn Keene [K]
  • 91. The Mystery of the Brass-Bound Trunk [Nancy Drew] - Carolyn Keene [K]
  • 90. The Clue of the Tapping Heels [Nancy Drew] - Carolyn Keene [K]
  • 89. The Haunted Bridge [Nancy Drew] - Carolyn Keene [K]
  • 88. The Whispering Statue [Nancy Drew] - Carolyn Keene [K]
  • 87. The Mystery of the Ivory Charm [Nancy Drew] - Carolyn Keene [K]
  • 86. The Message in the Hollow Oak [Nancy Drew] - Carolyn Keene [K]
  • 85. The Clue of the Broken Locket [Nancy Drew] - Carolyn Keene [K]
  • 84. The Password to Larkspur Lane [Nancy Drew] - Carolyn Keene [K]
  • 83. The Sign of the Twisted Candles [Nancy Drew] - Carolyn Keene [K]
  • 82. Nancy's Mysterious Letter [Nancy Drew] - Carolyn Keene [K]
  • 81. The Clue in the Diary [Nancy Drew] - Carolyn Keene [K]
  • 80. The Secret of Red Gate Farm [Nancy Drew] - Carolyn Keene [K]
  • 79. The Secret of Shadow Ranch [Nancy Drew] - Carolyn Keene [K]
  • 78. The Mystery at Lilac Inn [Nancy Drew] - Carolyn Keene [K]
  • 77. The Bungalow Mystery [Nancy Drew] - Carolyn Keene [K]
  • 76. The Hidden Staircase [Nancy Drew] - Carolyn Keene [K]
  • 75. The Secret of the Old Clock [Nancy Drew] - Carolyn Keene [K]
  • 74. Pineapple: A Global History - Kaori O'Connor [K]
  • 73. Pineapple Girl - Betty Neals [re-read; K]
  • 72. Hunting the Wild Pineapple - Thea Astley [K]
  • 71. At the Sign of the Golden Pineapple - M.C. Beaton [K]
  • 70. Minerva - Marion Chesney (aka M.C. Beaton) [K]
  • 69. The Pendragon Legend - Antal Szerb [K]
  • 68. North from Rome - Helen MacInnes [re-read]
  • 67. Modesty Blaise - Peter O'Donnell
  • 66. The Circular Staircase - Mary Roberts Rinehart [K]
  • 65. The West End Front: The Wartime Secrets of London's Grand Hotels - Matthew Sweet
  • 64. Louisiana - Frances Hodgson Burnett [K]
  • 63. The Lost Prince - Frances Hodgson Burnett [K]
  • 62. T. Tembarom - Frances Hodgson Burnett [K]
  • 61. Lucy Carmichael - Margaret Kennedy [K]
  • 60. Love Lessons: A Wartime Journal - Joan Wyndham
  • 59. The Venetian Affair - Helen MacInnes [re-read]
  • 58. The Double Image - Helen MacInnes [re-read]
  • 57. Venetia - Georgette Heyer [re-read; K]
  • 56. Poison in the Pen - Patricia Wentworth [re-read; K]
  • 55. Ladies Bane - Patricia Wentworth [re-read?]
  • 54. Spotlight [a.k.a. Wicked Uncle] - Patricia Wentworth
  • 53. The Benevent Treasure - Patricia Wentworth [re-read; K]
  • 52. The Catherine-Wheel - Patricia Wentworth [re-read; K]
  • 51. The Alington Inheritance - Patricia Wentworth [re-read; K]
  • 50. The Key - Patricia Wentworth [re-read; K]
  • 49. The Watersplash - Patricia Wentworth [re-read; K]
  • 48. Miss Silver Comes to Stay - Patricia Wentworth [re-read; K]
  • 47. The Ivory Dagger - Patricia Wentworth [re-read; K]
  • 46. Miss Silver Intervenes - Patricia Wentworth [re-read; K]
  • 45. Pilgrim's Rest - Patricia Wentworth [re-read; K]
  • 44. The Traveller Returns - Patricia Wentworth [re-read; K]
  • 43. The Case is Closed - Patricia Wentworth [re-read; K]
  • 42. Vanishing Point - Patricia Wentworth [re-read; K]
  • 41. The Chinese Shawl - Patricia Wentworth [re-read; K]
  • 40. Through the Wall - Patricia Wentworth [re-read; K]
  • 39. Lonesome Road - Patricia Wentworth [re-read; K]
  • 38. The Runaways [Linnets & Valerians] - Elizabeth Goudge [K]
  • 37. The Blinded Man [Misterioso]- Arne Dahl [K]
  • 36. Cloak of Darkness - Helen MacInnes [re-read]
  • 35. The Hidden Target - Helen MacInnes [re-read]
  • 34. Sprig Muslin - Georgette Heyer [re-read; K]
  • 33. The Corinthian - Georgette Heyer [re-read; K]
  • 32. The Talisman Ring - Georgette Heyer [re-read; K]
  • 31. The Unknown Ajax - Georgette Heyer [re-read; K]
  • 30. The Quiet Gentleman - Georgette Heyer [re-read; K]
  • 29. Unnatural Death - Dorothy L. Sayers [re-read; K]
  • 28. Want to Play - P. J. Tracy [re-read; K]
  • 27. The ABC Murders - Agatha Christie [re-read; K]
  • 26. Out of the Past - Patricia Wentworth [re-read; K]
  • 25. The Listening Eye - Patricia Wentworth [re-read; K]
  • 24. Brewster's Millions - George Barr McCutcheon [K]
  • 23. A Fair Barbarian - Frances Hodgson Burnett [K]
  • 22. Gimlet: King of the Commandos - Capt. W. E. Johns [re-read]
  • 21. Out of Circulation - Miranda James [K]
  • 20. Beautiful Ruins - Jess Walter [K]
  • 19. The Blank Wall - Elisabeth Sanxay Holding [K]
  • 18. Dumps: A Plain Girl - L. T. Meade [K]
  • 17. The Inconvenient Duchess - Christine Merrill [K]
  • 16. Biggles Takes it Rough - Capt. W.E. Johns
  • 15. Pnin - Vladimir Nabokov [K]
  • 14. The Silver Linings Playbook - Matthew Quick [K]
  • 13. Eleanor & Park - Rainbow Rowell [K]
  • 12. The Case of William Smith - Patricia Wentworth [re-read; K]
  • 11. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm - Kate Douglas Wiggin [K]
  • 10. A Sweet Girl Graduate - L.T. Meade [K]
  • 9. A College Girl - Mrs. George de Horne Vaizey [K]
  • 8. The Woman Who Did - Grant Allen [K]
  • 7. The Golden Child - Penelope Fitzgerald [K]
  • 6. Her Father's Name - Florence Marryat [K]
  • 5. They Do It With Mirrors - Agatha Christie [re-read; K]
  • 4. Hallowe'en Party - Agatha Christie [re-read; K]
  • 3. Cards on the Table - Agatha Christie [re-read; K]
  • 2. Dumb Witness - Agatha Christie [re-read; K]
  • 1. Fer-de-Lance - Rex Stout [K]