Saturday, 2 January 2010

December reads

Despite the need to prepare for Christmas, I managed my usual book a week read; December's included Mitch Albom's The Five People you meet in Heaven,Bethan Roberts The Good Plain Cook, Katie Fforde's The Wedding Season and a crime story by M C Beaton, Death of a Macho Man, and one cook book by Norman Tebbit, The Game Cook. All of them borrowed from a local branch library, as I'm a fairly constant user. The Game Cook is a book of recipes for cooking a wide variety of game and came about from a conversation the author had with his butcher, as to why people bought tasteless chicken in supermarkets when they could buy a tasty, completely free-range pheasant for less from the butcher. The recipes look straightforward and hints as what to serve with them are given. There are also delightful mezzotint illustrations of the animals, birds and fish. Certainly a useful book for anyone who has ready access to a variety of game and an encouragement to others to try and be a bit more varied in our diet.

The M C Beaton, Death of a Macho Man is one of a series of crime stories featuring Scots policeman Hamish McBeth. There was a TV series based on these stories some time ago, starring Robert Carlyle as the laid-back police constable. I enjoyed the series, but hadn't read any of the books until now and liked this one as a good page-turner, but a fairly undemanding read.

Katie Fforde's The Wedding Season is a similar type of read, as comforting as a warm bath or cup of hot chocolate. You know deep down that the main female characters will end up happily with the dashing men they spend so much time and energy avoiding throughout the twists and turns of the plot; this one is based on the life of a wedding planner and gives a behind the scenes look at the organisation of weddings large and small.

Bethan Roberts Good Plain Cook was a different read. The story is set in a rural Sussex village, where a wealthy American, her English lover and her daughter have rented a small cottage and hired a local girl as cook. The story presents both points of view, that of Kitty the local girl and also that of Ellen Steinberg, her lover Mr Crane as well as her daughter Geenie's. The story reveals the behaviour of the eccentric and bohemian Ellen, who likes to sunbathe in the nudeand encourages her daughter to do the same, while contrasting it with Kitty's efforts to become thegood plain cook which she claimed to be when she answered the advertisement for the job. I thoroughly enjoyed this read, as it revealed a world of which I was unaware, but interested in. There was sympathy for the predicaments each of the characters found themselves in, even though many were of their own making.

The Five People You Meet in Heaven, by Mitch Albom was a different read. The story of Eddie a maintenance man at a seaside funfair, it tells you about his life, how he arrived in Heaven, the people he meets there and the part each has played in his life. The idea is simple but effective, but I found some parts a bit repetetive and the general use of quite short sentences a bit jarring. There was also for me a feeling that the idea was a bit sentimental. Discussing this with my reading group, was interesting, as most enjoyed the book a bit more than I apparently did, although Idid enjoy it enough to finish it.

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