Elizabeth Jenkins : Dr. Gully’s Story

Elizabeth Jenkins was probably best known for her 1958 biography of Elizabeth the First, Elizabeth the Great, in which the New York Times said she achieved ‘ a psychological dimension to her portrait that other historians had scanted,’ but I, like most of us, missed it. I only came upon Elizabeth Jenkins through a review of The Tortoise and the Hare on Jacqui’s blog. She gives high praise to this novel which she likens to a modern take on Jane Austen. But I would add, a Jane Austen  who does not shrink from intimate details of life and marriage and with a wonderful sensibility for the workings of deceit and manipulation. Continue reading Elizabeth Jenkins : Dr. Gully’s Story

Rhododendron Pie : Margery Sharp

Margery Sharp is best known for her series The Rescuers, witty and delightful tales about heroic mice among whom we find Miss Bianca and Bernard. The books were made into some Disney films, which probably made money for their author, if not doing justice to her subtle and amusing writing. Rhododendron Pie is her first novel, long out of print and written in one month when she was twenty-five. Continue reading Rhododendron Pie : Margery Sharp

Simply Messing Around in Books

The last week has been busy, so I have enjoyed some amusing and undemanding reading: a couple of new names and an old favourite. The new names couldn’t be more different in approach. One is set in a small English town in the 1950’s where some of the criminal activities involve sending money in the post to purchase dubious goods. The other takes place in modern Dublin and is firmly in the 21 st century with blogs, vlogs, Googling and mobile phones. The old favourite is P D James Devices and Desires and is as good now as it was thirty-three years ago when I first read it. Continue reading Simply Messing Around in Books

Women Growing Old

April is my birthday month and as T. S Eliot says

April is the cruellest month,

Breeding lilacs out of the dead land,

Mixing memory and desire….

I can’t add, as he does, ‘stirring dull roots with spring rain’, because April is autumn here and the leaves are falling, but whenever these anniversaries occur, I tend to reflect on my life. How many more birthdays will I see, how long will I remain strong and energetic? It is useful to think upon these matters, for, as Marcus Aurelius said, ‘We are all creatures of a day.’ It was for this reason I took on my self-appointed task for this month; reading inspiring books by or about old women. Could I learn something that would assist me to grow older with wisdom? Continue reading Women Growing Old