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Mount - Cooper, Jilly
Am I Normal Yet? - Bourne, Holly
The Pigeon Tunnel - Le Carre, John
Town in Bloom - Smith, Dodie
Emily - Cooper, Jilly
Blindfold - Wentworth, Patricia
Whats a Girl Gotta Do - Bourne, Holly
Truly Madly Guilty - Moriarty, Liane
August is a Wicked Month - O'Brien, Edna
American Housewife - Ellis, Helen
A Change of Heir - Innes, Michael
The Day of the Storm - Pilcher, Rosamunde
A Tale of Two Families - Smith, Dodie
Mistletoe and Murder - Stevens, Robin
Outrageous Fortune - Wentworth, Patricia
The Hope Family Calendar - Gayle, Mike
Wishful Drinking - Fisher, Carrie
Something Light - Sharp, Margery
The Flowering Thorn - Sharp, Margery

A new Jilly Cooper and an old one. Mount was everything JC usually is, but actually with rather less non-consensual sexual activity than many of her other books, which was a pleasant surprise. it also featured a description of a couple as "his wife had put on weight, and his son had died in Afghanistan". Two momentous occasions coupled there. Emily was quite different, much less bonking and more fairly straightforward semi-misery novel, but as usual with a man that is clearly meant to be broken yet devastatingly desirable, but I find just horrid - boring and shouty and no redeeming features at all.

The Holly Bourne books are feminist young adult books, which is a good thing. Each follows a different girl in the friendship group who have formed the "Spinsters' Club". The first one I read was about a girl who has OCD, and previously been hospitalised. I thought it was a really good depition of mental illness, and shame around it. The second is a girl who is more loud, bossy, destined for Oxbridge and fed up with sexism at college. She makes a documentary about her efforts to challenge every bit of sexism she sees for a few weeks, trying to do it with humour. I liked this one less, partly because the filmmaker is a set up for a rather tedious love story (oh he is so arrogant, oh he dismisses feminism, oh but I lurve him), and also because it includes (as many mainstream feminist books do) a line about not wanting to be the shouty ranty type of feminist that hates men. That's the very best type of feminist!

Having read the Karla trilogy I wanted to read Le Carre's memories of the real-life events inspiring the books. I especially enjoyed the occasions where people - sometimes quite important people who might have been expected to know better - decided Le Carre was best placed to advise on actual current international incidents and intelligence, and he had to work out how to extricate himself without embarrassment to either party, or accidentally advising idiocy.

Town in Bloom was rather lovely - a girl with little discernable acting talent moves to London to go on the stage. She doesn't manage it, but amuses an actor-manager of a theatre and gets a job as a secretary - eventually becoming his lover. She saves him from his wife divorcing him by claiming to have been a besotted fan - but then her "friend" uses dirty tricks against her and manages to make the actor divorce his wife for her. So she has other adventures. The Two Families were struggling quite hard with quasi-incest to be one family. Brothers married sisters, and the richer pair take a house in the country. The poorer pair move into the cottage in their land, and they all live together, basically. Meanwhile the eldest children of each are "in love" and intend to marry (despite being double cousins) the younger children are basically best friends, the grandmother of one side and the grandfather of another side are around and conspiring, and then one sister, who has always been in love with the other brother in a quiet way, has her feelings revealed and the other brother believes that he reciprocates. Odd. Bucolic, but odd.

Two Patricia Wentworths from Furrowed Middlebrow. Blindfold features three girls all of whom it gradually transpires might be an heiress to a great fortune, and who are connected in odd ways, including being maids at a house where there is a mysterious and looming black hole behind a large mirror. Outrageous Fortune was unfortunately nothing like the great NZ tTV series of the same name. A man wakes up in hospital following a shipwreck, and his wife collects him and tells him that he's stolen emeralds. He has no memory of this, or anything, and gradually pieces everything together, realises he didn't, and works out who did and how.

I got a bit bored with how Truly Madly Guilty kept not explaining What Had Happened at the barbeque, but once it became more apparent I enjoyed it more. I'd had August is a Wicked Month out of the library at least three times before managing to actually read it. It was worth it. I dislike short stories generally, so was not expecting to enjoy Housewife, but I thought it was great. I especially liked the email exchanges regarding decoration of a hallway between two stubborn and quite mad women. A Change of Heir was much funnier than I had anticipated - loved especially the gradual reveals that everyone around him Knew All, and his attempts to remember "his" own childhood.

I have been reading my way through the earlier Rosamunde Pilcher and now I think I have all the ingredients down pat - Cornwall, an artist or several, a previously unknown family connection, some degree of neglect in childhood, happy reunion/relationship at the end. Still enjoying them all so far, and looking forward to more.

I put off reading the non-school Wells and Wong mysteries for a while as I was mostly interested in the girlsowniness, but actually I think I like Mistletoe and Murder better not being in school. I liked Hazel much more not squashed ito English schoolgirlness, and her meeting other people of colour and slowly changing her relationship with Daisy, not so much in its being, but in her approach to and understanding of its being.

The Hope Family Calendar is told in two narrators, which I do not much enjoy. But these were actually quite good, a widower with thw girls, and his mother in law who has been living with them for the past year helping out. In order to make him reconnect with his children instead of burying himself in work she moves to Australia for 6 months. And then she gets her own story about love and the past as well, not just being his MIL/live-in nanny.

I read Carrie Fisher's novels way before I saw her in any thing, and Wishful Drinking was writing I remembered. I especially enjoyed her descriptions of her parents' (many) marriages, how her mother put on her "Debbie Reynolds" body/persona, and her snippets about acting.

More Margery Sharps after [livejournal.com profile] spiralsheep's posts about them. Something Light follows a dog photographer who decides that she needs to get married. (That this is financially driven is nicely underpinning it.) She attempts a very rich man who likes her companionship, an old childhood flame who just wants her to admire his interior decoration, a widower who controls his children, and finally a man who takes her for free meals is her saviour. Lovely and witty, with a nice line in women's compression by the society around them. The Flowering Thorn is about a society (ish) woman who adopts a child largely thorugh stubbornness, and moves to the country to be able to look after him. She gradually stops being a Londoner who temporarily lives in the country and has her meals sent down from Fortnum and Mason and shuns village company, and becomes a friend of the vicar's wife, who is a real "country type", via losing her London friends and good riddance to them as well.

Date: 2017-03-08 05:02 pm (UTC)
ext_22860: Dr Who in a t-shirt reading 'trust me, I'm a Doctor' (Default)
From: [identity profile] coughingbear.livejournal.com
I like most of those early Coopers (well, I've not re-read any of them for ages), but I Emily is awful.

Did you know there is going to be a new Smiley novel? About Peter Guillam.

Date: 2017-03-08 09:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] slemslempike.livejournal.com
I saw it online today! Really looking forward to reading it when it comes out.

Date: 2017-03-09 07:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yiskah.livejournal.com
Huh, I actually found Mount more problematic than previous Jilly Coopers (I found the dynamic between Taggie and Rupert really disturbing, especially as they seem to be intended to be seen as ~dream couple~). However that's probably because I've been reading the Rutshire Chronicles since I was in my early teens and am increasingly woke as I get older, rather than the books getting worse. (I also find the classism and high toryism more and more grating.)

Date: 2017-03-09 09:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] slemslempike.livejournal.com
Probably - I read them in my late twenties/early thirties for the first time, so I hadn't been the ideal stage to buy into Taggie/Rupert when I first met them. Yes, the classism is abhorrent - what did you make of Class? I was actually surprised by how sympathetic she was able to be to the comprehensive lot.

Date: 2017-03-09 10:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yiskah.livejournal.com
Is that the one where the comprehensive school starts to share facilities with the public school? I think that may be my favourite of all her books, aside from the ones I mostly like due to nostalgia. (I like all the music ones as well.)

Date: 2017-03-09 02:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] slemslempike.livejournal.com
Yes, that's right, with Jana the headteacher and Feral Jackson. Even for Jilly Cooper, calling a child Feral is not subtle. I have a soft spot for Jump! because I like Etta finding love as an older woman.

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