Sunday, June 3, 2018

Books I Finished in May

My husband developed a back problem just as things started to become manageable and I thought I could get back to 'serious' reading, which, for me, means reading a lot of books including some classics.

He's had back problems for several years, but about three weeks ago, something very painful happened, but we don't know what.  Off to the orthopedic surgeon, but we already know that back surgery seldom helps, physical therapy, two other doctors for other issues.  Drugs for the back pain can sometimes make the other issues worse.  It's very hard on him because he's a 'doer' and needs to be doing something  -  or sleeping.

My husband is not typically very descriptive, so we've developed the 'Ache', 'Pain', or 'Excruciating' scale to help.  Today there's too much Excruciating.  A call to the On Call doctor at the orthopedic place wasn't helpful, basically, wait to see how he feels tomorrow (Monday).  I'm playing nurse and I'm not cut out for it.

But waiting for him during his hour long P/T sessions has given me time to read, if I can ignore all the other patients and relatives of patients in the room.  So these are the books I read in May:

The Secret Adversary  -  Agatha Christie

The Brandons  -  Angela Thirkell

The Lark and the Laurel  -  Barbara Willard

The Humane Gardener  -  Nancy Lawson

Calamity at Harwood  -  George Bellairs

The Globe Hollow Mystery  -  Hannah Gartland

I enjoyed The Secret Adversary very much.  I don't think I've read a Christie for quite a while.  Miss Marple is my favorite and this is a Tommy and Tuppence mystery.  Hercule annoys me, but I'll give him another go since I bought several Poirots at the library sale.

I'm developing a fondness for George Bellairs.  I have more than several of his as e-books on my Kindle.  I think this is the third I've read and enjoyed.  A haunted house!  Several murders!  Exciting!

I bought The Globe Hollow Mystery at the library sale.  It caught my eye because of the title and the fact that it was an old hardbound book.  I love old mysteries and this was a corker.  A crotchety old uncle dies in a fire, leaving his estate to a nephew who's returned after having been reported dead in the war (WWI).  He's cut his niece out entirely, very spiteful.  But there's a web of deceit to untangle before the truth is discovered.  It's all very mysterious.  I can't find out anything about the author except that it seems this may be one of her two only books.

Do I need to say anything about The Brandons?  If you're a Thirkell fan, as I am, I don't.  Tony Moreland has grown up but is still a force to be reckoned with.  Meanwhile, it seems all men fall in love with the widow Mrs. Brandon.  She's lovely, she's kind.   There's romance, there's minor conflict, there are gardens, there are books.  Thirkell's novels always make me feel that there's a calm, peaceful world out there somewhere, so maybe there's hope.

I liked The Humane Gardener very much.  In Massachusetts, I was a Conservation Commissioner and I've been an animal welfare advocate for thirty years or so.  Since I moved to Lancaster, I've joined a native plants / wildlife habitat garden group.  You can see why The Humane Gardener was perfect for me.  I truly hope that more people can find and enjoy the peace between species.

I'll not say much at all about The Lark and the Laurel because I just wasn't into it.  Maybe it's me because I know others adore this series.  It just seemed it was written for children, and maybe it was and that's why I didn't like it much.  But it was a short book, so I didn't waste much time on it.

There were at least three books that I started and discarded.  I was feeling impatient and could see no reason to force myself to finish them.  I want to be entertained or I want to read about something or someone interesting.  I was about 100 pages into one of them before I almost threw it across the room.

So, here's hoping that Excruciating and Pain get downgraded to Ache or, better, No Aches or Pains and that we can have our lives back.  My heart goes out to anyone suffering and to those who care for them.  Thank goodness for the sanctuary of books!


  1. It sounds like reading has been a bit of a sanity saver for you. I hope that by now he is back down to 'ache' or less - for both your sakes!
    The Brandons is the only one on your list that I've read, but there are a few that I quite fancy reading.

    1. Knock wood, he's doing better. We think he may have had an acute reaction to a drug the doctor prescribed to help him sleep better. It says it can cause 'tense muscles', which, to me, sounds like possible muscle spasms. But, as I said, waiting for him during PT gives me time to read.

  2. I hope Jack's back starts to feel better soon! James has back problems too so i can completely sympathize! The Humane Gardener looks awesome!

    1. The good news is that Jack's starting to figure out what makes his back feel better and what makes it feel worse. The problem is that everything he likes to do makes it feel worse. But I've just happy that he's feeling well enough to do some things.
      I think you'd like The Humane Gardener. I thought it was interesting.

  3. Sorry to hear about your husband's back problems. I have comparatively minor knee pain right now which is not that bad but present most of the time, and I can imagine his back pain is so much more a problem.

    I liked Tommy and Tuppence and The Secret Adversary. At first I found Poirot irritating, but eventually I got to like him better. I still have lots of Christie books I have not read though.

    I am interested in George Bellairs but haven't tried any of his books yet. He did write a good number of them.

    1. I'm wondering if I should read the Bellairs books in order. One of the ones I read, Death in High Provence, featured Littlejohn's wife, but the one I just finished didn't. Death in High Provence came much later in the series. I like when wives help solve the mysteries.
      Jack's back is now in the Ache stage, so we're glad of that. He's still hurting, but he made the majority of the food for friends we had over last night. I made the lemon drizzle cake!

  4. Glad Jack is feeling better! Nice list of books for May. I read many Christie’s in high school but don’t remember much or which ones. I’ve started reading more Christie this year and collecting them. You can always count on her for a good read. I like Miss Marple best too. Although I am enjoying her stand alone ones a great deal. Also have one she wrote as Mary Westmacott with three books in it. Looking forward to that one! Read one Bellairs and didn’t care for it, but will give him another try as I have a couple more on my Kindle app.

    1. I think a lot of us must have read Christie as teenagers. The good thing about not remembering the plots of books is that you can read them over and over and over again! One benefit of old age? Or of having too many things to try to remember!

  5. That's a great and varied list. Barbara Willard's books were indeed written for children; I liked them as a child and still have them but haven't re-read them. I'm glad The Brandons is good as I have it coming up in August!

    1. Sorry about the delay in responding. Google has been messing up lately, not just my blog.
      Anyway, I think you'll like The Brandons. I've come to rely on Thirkell for a nice calming read.