User Profile

Paul Oldham

Joined 1 year, 4 months ago

This link opens in a pop-up window

Paul Oldham's books

Currently Reading

Stopped Reading

2024 Reading Goal

26% complete! Paul Oldham has read 14 of 52 books.

Dodie Smith: I Capture the Castle 5 stars

I Capture the Castle is the first novel of English author Dodie Smith, written during …

The best book I've read this year

5 stars

It's perhaps appropriate that it's taken until book 51 of 52 to reach the book which will really stay with me. I went to bed last night with the ending buzzing around in my head.

This is a coming of age tale written in the first person by a young girl in a somewhat unlikely setting before the second world war. The style really gets you into Cassandra's head as she's very honest as to her feelings ... even if she sometimes hides them from herself.

It's also notable for the things she's missing but you are not. I won't give away the plot but there are undercurrents in the relationships between the other characters that she simply doesn't see or comprehend.

Anyway recommended, for all sorts of reasons.

Colin Watson: One Man's Meat (The Flaxborough Novels) (Paperback, 1991, Mandarin) 4 stars

Back on form with book 9

3 stars

Still working my way through the Flaxborough novels and this is Watson back on form with a fine performance by Lucy Teatime.

(By the way if you're looking back in my reviews and wonder what became of book 8 'The Naked Nuns' I did start reading that but it's the first of the series I ever read and I've read it too many times now ... although it is a good one.)

Richard Osman: Thursday Murder Club 4 (2023, Diversified Publishing, Random House Large Print) 4 stars

More of the same, which isn't a bad thing

4 stars

Since I wrote the last review I've bought all four of the Thursday Murder Club books but this is the first one I've read on paper, and as a hardback as it's new.

And yes, it is another triumph of style over plot but that's no bad thing when you've got such a likeable set of characters. It's also very sad in parts too, with quite a lot of deaths, for a variety of reasons.

As for the plot, in as much as it matters, I did at least get the plot twist well in advance of its revelation so that was cool.

Anyway another fun read, but do read them in order if you decide to try out The Thursday Murder Club.

Colin Watson: Broomsticks Over Flaxborough (The Flaxborough Novels) (Paperback, 1991, Methuen Publishing Ltd) 3 stars

I knew there was one I didn't like ...

1 star

... and this is it. This is the weakest of the Flaxborough novels I've thus far re-read.

The plot is ... unlikely ... at best. The large chunk devoted to washing powder probably seemed like an excellent satirical take at the time but doesn't age well. Lucy Teatime pops in only briefly and why she's doing what she's now going in not well explained and the whole thing just doesn't hang together well.

Colin Watson: Snobbery with Violence - English crime stories and Their Audience (1979) 3 stars

As much a history of reading habits as it is of crime fiction

3 stars

If you've been following my reading this year you'll know that I'm working my way through Colin Watson's Flaxborough chronicles. Watson also wrote this book, about the early days of crime and thriller fiction and it's an interesting read ... if you can find a copy. It was written in 1971 so it's long out of print. There's copies on eBay but I confess I found an ePub on the Web (strictly illegal as it must still be in copyright but whatever).

It's largely a series of essays on aspects of the genre but it also reveals a lot about how people read books, from Dickens onwards, with particular reference to the golden days of lending libraries between the wars where some writers were churning out books at a fantastic rate. Some names you will have heard of, like Christie, some you may have heard of, like Edgar Wallace (who, …

Walter Carruthers Sellar: 1066 and all that (Paperback, 1984, Magnet) 3 stars

A tongue-in-cheek history of England which takes as its basic tenet the idea that history …

Happy memories

3 stars

I first discovered this book when doing history at school. Our teacher, Mrs Lashley, would finish each part of the history of the country by reading Sellers and Yeatman's version of what she had just taught us. As this book is making continuous, slightly incorrect, references to real events that worked very well and it was very funny.

At the time I bought my own copy in paperback and it's still somewhere in the house however I've since bought it in Folio Society a hardback slip case edition (twice it seems, not sure how that happened, if anyone wants a copy, in mint condition, then do shout!) and it's that which I've just re-read.

Reading it now is odd. I know they're making jokes, but I only dimly recollect the things they're making jokes ago. I repeatedly found myself stopping and Googling to find out, again, about things. But it …

Arthur Ransome: Coots in the North (1988, Random House of Canada Ltd) 4 stars

Both wonderful and frustrating

4 stars

This is only a book for Ransome enthusiasts, but if that's you - and there's a lot of us - then this is a book you need to read as it concludes with the opening four chapters, and some other snippets, of what would have been the thirteenth book of the Swallows and Amazons saga, which Brogan speculatively titles 'Coots in the North'. What there is of it suggests it would have been a fine addition to the novels but it wasn't to be.

The book also features some other, complete, short stories Ransome wrote at various times and some of those are very fine too as are the opening chapters of another novel which he never finished.

Marion Todd: LiestoTell (Paperback) 3 stars

A good read but not so sure about the plot

3 stars

This is the third of the DI Clare Mackay books and it's a fine and easy read. My only reservation is that the central plot behind it is ... implausible, both in execution and final outcome. But it's nicely woven together all the same.

Colin Watson: Charity Ends at Home (Paperback, 2003, Ulverscroft Large Print) 4 stars

A mystery set in the quiet and respectable market town of Flaxborough and featuring the …

Purbright and Teatime - what a team

4 stars

Book 5 of the Flaxborough chronicles and we're now into the late 60s and so there's even the mention of a computer. Watson was really getting into his stride by this book with a pleasing plot and some engaging characters.

Colin Watson: Hopjoy Was Here (Hardcover, 2002, Black Dagger Crime) 4 stars

The third of the Flaxborough novels

3 stars

This one shows its age a bit: references to WWII, Philby and the cold war, a woman described as a nymphomaniac (a term I've not heard in a long while); but it's an entertaining plot with a neat twist in the end. And Colin Watson books are just an easy and entertaining read - I read this one completely today.