44 Scotland Street – Alexander McCall Smith: The novel depicts the (extra)ordinary lives of a group of people whose paths cross in Edinburgh. At first, the characters seem far-fetched and unreal, then you begin to recognise their undesirable traits in the people around you, and then, oh horror, perhaps there’s a bit of them in you. For me, this was entertaining and enjoyable, in the way that all his novels are.
Jennings Goes To School – Anthony Buckeridge: I loved the Jennings books when I was a child. I remember chuckling as I read about Jennings’ exploits. Consequently, I was glad to discover that they had been reprinted. Then I became a bit worried. This particular book, the first in the series, was written in 1947 (long before I was born) and I must have read it in the 1970s. I wasn’t going to enjoy it now – times have changed, I’ve changed – it was dated then, I should have left it in the past, right? Wrong, I was laughing out loud by the end of the first chapter, much to the disgust of my teenage children.
Travels With My Aunt – Graham Greene: Retired bank manager, Henry Pullen, who has replaced years of dedication to his job by dedication to this dahlia patch, is leading a predictable existence. Then he meets his Aunt Augusta at his mother’s funeral and his life takes a new and uncharacteristic turn. This was another entertaining read.
Lucky Jim – Kingsley Amis: I’ve been trying to read some of those classic novels that everyone talks about but it was the wrong time for me to read this. I couldn’t engage with it and gave up towards the end. I’ll come back to it when the timing’s better.
Notes from an Exhibition – Patrick Gale: This novel explores the impact of a mother’s death on the lives of her husband and adult children and intertwines the past with the present, moving backwards and forwards in time. The ‘notes’ are from an exhibition of her art and life. For me, this was an interesting and enjoyable exploration of the impact of childhood events on adult life.