Books read in February

Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin is a first for me, a novel in verse, and I must admit that when I started reading it I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy it due to the fact that it was basically a very, very long poem rather than a straightforward novel, but once I got into it I started to forget about that being a problem and it became one of the books strengths. I quite enjoyed it in the end but don’t know if I could ever read another novel in verse for a while at least. I didn’t like the titular character at all, and I am not sure that you are meant to as he is a bit of bastard to a lot of other characters (in particular Tatyana and Lensky) in the story but doesn’t seem to realise that he is being that way and seems to revel in it which makes him even more unlikable in my opinion.

Adventures with the Wife in Space by Neil Perryman is a companion book to the wonderful website of the same name where a Doctor Who fan watched every episode of the classic series (and the television movie) with his wife and blogged the experience. The book contains some of this blog but for the most part is about the authors life as a Doctor Who fan and about relationships and interests and the choices that one makes in their life. It is all there in this book. I think that even if you were not a Doctor Who fan that you could find an awful lot to like about this book but it works better read by a fan of the series who can spot the references contained within the text, some more obvious than others and actually empathise with the author at certain times in the shows history. Highly recommended for lots and lots of reasons.

Blotto, Twinks and the Dead Dowager Duchess is the second book featuring the honourables Devereux and Honoria Lyminster or Blotto and Twinks as they are better known. In this book they are at the house of a fellow aristocratic family and all Blotto wants to do is to go home when the Dowager Duchess of the family that they are visiting is found dead killed by a pitchfork in the middle of the lawn. Blotto and Twinks are immediately on the case and the rest of the story involves the pair trying to discover who did the deadly deed taking them to Cornwall, the Scottish Highlands and the House of Lords on their way.

Blotto, Twinks and the Rodents of the Riveria sees two priceless paintings stolen from Tawcester Towers and the intrepid duo decamp to Paris and then the Riveria itself trying to stop a mad plan for world domination involving large genetically altered rats. This books has lots of jokes about the art world and about the French in general with all of the French characters being complete and utter stereotypes, especially the artists.

Blotto, Twinks and the Bootleggers Moll sees the Dowager Duchess pairing up Blotto with the daughter of a meat-packing magnate from America who turns out to be a bit of a gangster, bootlegger and all round bad guy. This book is a total parody of the gangster films of the 1920s and 1930s with lots of similar looking heavies carrying violin cases at all times making Blotto think that they are all preparing for an impromptu concert at a moment’s notice. If you have seen any of those sorts of movies then you will get most of the jokes in this book. Also most of the gangsters seem to have the same names as varieties of pasta!

Blotto, Twinks and the Riddle of the Sphinx is the most recent tale of derring do featuring the Lyminster siblings and is another rip-roaring read which deals with the ideas of socialism, Egyptology and hotel building which I am sure you will agree is an interesting mixture of subject matter. This time we get all of the standards from stories about people who open sarcophagi of the ancient kings of Egpyt and what befalls them and also after numerous attempts to marry him off Blotto meets his ideal woman who likes his twin pleasures of Cricket and Hunting.

Mad Girl’s Love Song: Sylvia Plath and Life Before Ted is a book about the early life of the poet and novelist Sylvia Plath before she married the former poet laureate Ted Hughes, a part of her life which isn’t often written about in books about her, rather concentrating on her life after she met Hughes, which even though that is when she did most of her major works, is only a small part of her life story, which is told here in this book. The book is quite interesting but sometimes it isn’t that well written but it was fascinating to read about her early years as that gives an indication in the person she would grow into who was sadly so destructive yet so talented.

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