Saturday, May 26, 2012

Books 15, 16, 17 and 18

You see, I have been reading, just not blogging, so I'm going to shove all of the four books I have read recently into one catch up post. I'm still a little behind on my 52 books in 52 weeks, but not disastrously so.

Book 15: N is for Not Fade Away: the Life and Music of Buddy Holly (John Gribbin)

A Kindle offer which I picked up because I'm a long time fan of Buddy Holly's music but didn't know anything about him beyond the version of his story shown in the stage show. I like John Gribbin too, who usually writes very readable books about science and the history of science. Buddy Holly comes across in the book as a genuinely nice, likeable young man of enormous talent. Such a tragedy that he died so young.

Book 16: Bucks, Beds and Bricks (Jean Blane Flannery)

This one was a local history Kindle find. The title refers to the counties of Buckinghamshire (Bucks), Bedfordshire (Beds) and the brick making industry which has been a feature in this area from a very early date (villages named Brickhill were mentioned in Domesday Book in the 11th century). I was hoping to find out more about the brick industry but that turned out to be essentially incidental to a straightforward childhood memoir - the author's father worked for the London Brick Company during her 1940s and 50s childhood. The book was still an interesting read as many of the places she mentions are familiar to me and it brought back many childhood memories. Life was easier by the 1960s but there was also much that hadn't changed, at least in the homes of older relatives if not our own.

Book 17: O is for Our Man in Orlando (Hugh Hunter) 

I found this searching Amazon's Kindle store rather randomly for a book with O in the title! I think I was looking under a "travel" heading and this one turned up. Hugh Hunter spent a number of years as the British Consul in Florida, dealing with the various crises suffered by Britons abroad, ranging from lost passports to imprisonment on death row for murder - apparently more British subjects get arrested in Florida than anywhere else in the world outside the UK. It was generally and interesting and entertaining read, though the author's style grated at times and I wasn't at all impressed with his casual treatment of his girlfriend!

Book 18: Cockney Girl (Gilda Moss Haber)

Like Bucks, Beds and Bricks this book turned out not to be what I expected. I downloaded it because I am interested in the Jewish East End where Tevye lived as a child and thought this biography of a Jewish Girl growing up in Bethnal Green in the 1930s and 40s would give me an insight into Jewish life at that time. In fact, for most of her childhood the author had little contact with the Jewish community, except through her religiously observant but distant maternal grandparents. Her parents were Jewish but non-practicing, and her family was acutely disfunctional with a mother whose own parents had shown her no affection and who was herself unable to show any affection for her child. Gilda was frequently sent away from home and at one time was abandoned in an orphanage for months with nothing more than occasional letters from her mother. She spent the entire war as a refugee in East Anglia, again with little contact with her family, until she finally found a measure of love and acceptance in a home for displaced Jewish children (all the others were refugees from Hitler's Europe). Overall it was a rather sad book. I read to the end but was left with a sense of unfinished business as there was no real explanation of why the relationships within her family were so cold, or whether they were ever resolved.

2 comments:

Missus Wookie said...

More Brits are arrested in Florida than anywhere else? Really - even Ibiza or similar? Misbehaving in Disney World??? Manic Mouse Moments? Hmm...

The Bookworm said...

So he said! And I guess he should know. I think it is a combination of size of place + tourists + expats.