Archive for the ‘Eva Rice’ Category

Cherry Blossom by Robert Donnan

Cherry Blossom by Robert Donnan

Every spring, I get distracted.  It is, after all, a very distracting season.  Longer days, brighter days, and certainly more colourful days pull me outside, away from my books and my computer.  Unintentionally, I take a break from blogging.  This year that spring break came earlier than usual, as did the good weather.  It has been a marvellous couple of weeks, spent soaking in the sunshine and walking under cherry blossoms, but now I’m back.

When I stop blogging for a bit, not a lot happens.  I’ve noticed quite a few other bloggers pondering their blogging futures recently but I used none of my time off to contemplate any existential questions about blogging.  For a few weeks, I gave you the bare minimum of content and went off and had fun doing other things.  Now I am back.  I assume we are all good with this arrangement?  Goodness knows there are enough other amazing book blogs out there to keep you busy while I’m away!

But my blogging break also overlapped with a reading break and when I don’t read, everything feels very, very strange.  It wasn’t a long break – only ten days or so – but to me (and to many of you, I suspect) that is an extraordinary length of time to go without picking up a book.  I read newspapers and magazines and far, far too many things on the internet but no books.  I still went to the library, still cheerfully picked books up, but I wasn’t excited enough to start reading them.  Thankfully, my reading hiatus came to an end a few days ago and I’m now happily back into reading mode (and hopefully soon will be back in reviewing mode because goodness knows I have a lot of books to catch you up on).

Kate HardyI eased myself back into reading with Kate Hardy by D.E. Stevenson, which is pleasant and slight – just the thing to start off with after a break.  Published in 1947, it is about a successful female author who buys a house in a small village and moves there, sight unseen.  It doesn’t take long for her to settle into her new home and to find herself with not one but two potential love interests.  One of these men is struggling with civilian life after a very successful army career propelled him far beyond the prospects he was born with while the other is kind and thoughtful but a little bit helpless.  The straightforward Kate tries to help both men sort out their lives, while also dealing with villagers, family members, and assorted other visitors.  It is not DES’s most memorable book but it is nice and enjoyable.

The Misinterpretation of Tara JuppI then quickly moved on to The Misinterpretation of Tara Jupp by Eva Rice, which was published earlier this year and eagerly anticipated by those of us who loved Rice’s earlier novel, The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets.  I am thrilled to say that this is just as good and, to me at least, maybe even a little bit better.  It follows Tara Jupp from her childhood in rural Cornwall during the 1950s to the dazzling early 1960s music scene in London, where, with her amazing voice and the right connections, she quickly becomes a star.

There are some odd bits – Tara is asked to sing “Say a Prayer for Me Tonight” from Gigi at a wedding, which gets more inappropriate the more I think about it – and some slightly too self-conscious moments, like when two characters discuss a book being written by another character, “one of those novels where real historical people pop up and get involved with the characters he’s invented”, right before hanging out with The Rolling Stones.  Mostly though, it is just a very fun story about how fame is manufactured.  Characters from The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets appear, some with more prominent roles than others, but prior knowledge is not necessary to enjoy the story.

Rice is so good with the details and she creates two worlds – both in London and in Cornwall – peopled by extraordinarily intriguing people.  I was especially enthralled by the Jupp family.  The father, a powerfully stern vicar, has two passions in life: God and tennis.  Tara’s closest sister Lucy, who accompanies her when she goes to stay in London, is beautiful but with the capacity to surprise those who would judge her by her appearance alone: her great passion in life is the history of country houses.  The other siblings sadly fade into the background – there is too much going on here to fit them all in – but I would love to hear more from them.  I shall keep my fingers crossed in the hopes that they’ll appear in Rice’s next book.

Since then I’ve read The English Air by D.E. Stevenson (easily my favourite of her books so far and deserving of its own full post) and have started on It Ends With Revelations by Dodie Smith, which looks promising.  It is such a relief and a delight to be reading again!

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