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Paul Oldham

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2023 Reading Goal

48% complete! Paul Oldham has read 25 of 52 books.

The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul (Paperback, 1988, Pan Books) 4 stars

When a passenger check-in desk at Terminal Two, Heathrow Airport, shot up through the roof …

Rambling, and disappointing

2 stars

I bought this book for a second time (it turned out, although I still can't find my original copy but it is allegedly lurking somewhere in the house) and read it after a recommendation from someone on Mastodon but as I read it I remembered how disappointed I'd been the first time.

Fundamentally I think there's an interesting plot idea here but Adams' unravelling of it is confusing and assumes the reader knows as much as he does about Norse mythology and hence he can't be arsed to explain.

Rachel's Holiday (EBook, 2006, HarperCollins) 4 stars

The fast lane is much too slow for twenty-seven-year-old Rachel Walsh, who is always the …

Working backwards ...

4 stars

Having read the second Rachel story the library offered me the first so I gave it a go and, again, I found it enjoyable and a pretty compelling read.

The conclusion to 'Again, Rachel' now makes more sense but I have to say that yet again the ending wasn't really the one I wanted.

Mapp and Lucia 5 stars

Mapp and Lucia is a 1931 comic novel written by E. F. Benson. It is …

Take Two Hen Lobsters

5 stars

Book four of EF Benson's series of Mapp and Lucia novels is the one which finally brings them together. It's easy to look at the previous books from here and think that this was always Fred's intention but my suspicion is that the idea of bringing them together only came to him after he's written the two previous Lucia books and 'Miss Mapp'.

Whatever, the joining of these two characters provides the spice that was missing from the previous books in that they both, finally, have an adversary worthy of each other.

It is a gorgeous book. A real period piece about life among the independently wealthy middle classes between the wars and it's full of little episodes all of which come together to a magnificent conclusion.

reviewed Lucia in London

Lucia in London 5 stars

Lucia in London is a 1927 comic novel written by E. F. Benson. It is …

I am, always, a Luciaphil

5 stars

I've read EF Benson's Mapp and Lucia novels, and also books by other authors featuring our two heroines, so many times but it's always a pleasure to revisit them.

This is book three of Benson's chronicle. It's the last before Mapp and Lucia finally meet and is in some ways the odd one out in the set in that it's set in neither Riseholme nor Tilling but (mainly) in London and the other characters are a lot more knowing than in the other novels in that they regard Lucia as an amusement rather than one of nature's forces.

But it's still a fine read and I wouldn't dream of skipping it as part of my current re-reading of the whole set.

Next up is 'Mapp and Lucia' and then the sparks will really start to fly ... but that's for another day.

Baggage (2022, Canongate Books) 1 star

I think you have to like Alan more

1 star

I borrowed this book from my library as an e-book and I confess I struggled with it. About 80% of the way through I finally gave and just scrolled through the rest (mainly to see if there was any reference to 'The Good Wife' ... I didn't find any).

I think my title sums it up: if you like Cumming you'll probably forgive his style of writing, but in the end I just found it tiresome.

Better Off Dead (2001) 3 stars

Book 5 in the Casey Jones detective series

Easy reading and an engaging lead character

3 stars

I’m a sucker for female private detective novels and I’ve got five of Tracy Monger’s Casey Jones novels, of which this is fifth (I’ve recently re-read 1 through 4). And yes, before you ask, our hero is aware of that TV series … and there’s a very brief reference to it in an earlier book.

Casey is a southern gal who works as a private detective carrying a fake licence as she has a criminal record, has a boyfriend who is paralyzed from the waist down (long story, see previous books) but still has sexy times with him, and others, and is surrounded by a collection of interesting characters who crop up through the books.

This one is about a series of rapes and murders set around Duke University and features a bigger and more diverse host of characters than normal but it romps along towards a suitably implausible outcome …

Lost Moray and Nairn (Hardcover, 2010, Birlinn Ltd) 2 stars

In desperate need of some maps

2 stars

I picked up this book somewhere a while ago now but finally made the effort to give it a proper read today and it's disappointing. For a start, as someone who lives in Nairn there really is very little on Nairn, despite the title. One chapter and just odd mentions before and after.

If you live in one of the communities mentioned: Nairn, Elgin, Forres, Burghead etc then the section on that community will be of interest but the complete lack of maps, which would give context to each chapter, really doesn't help making it a disappointing read overall and I ended up skip reading most of the other chapters as I had little context.

I can't help feeling there is a good book to be written on this subject, and a lot of the basic research is here, but this isn't the book.

Daniel Defoe's Rail Journey (2017, Sandstone Press Limited) 4 stars

Two pensioners travel the railways of the UK accompanied by Daniel Dafoe and other historical …

A surreal odyssey through modern Britain

4 stars

This book is sub-titled “a surreal odyssey through modern Britain” and that seems apt. On the surface it’s a record of how two retired Scots, the author and his friend John, rode every mile of all the railways in the mainland UK (and also on the Isle of Wight) but if that’s the book you’re looking for then this is not it. John is the railway nerd and it’s clear he planned the expedition and knows much about the railways, but of his knowledge you hear only passing references.

The author is on a rather different journey. For a start he engages with about 250 other passengers to discover their stories. That in itself would be interesting enough but there’s a surreal element overlaying this all.

For a start the two are accompanied throughout their journeys by Daniel Defoe, who keeps escaping from the pages of his book (and the …