Weekly Reading Round-Up

I’ve been wallowing in 1970s gothics all this week.

My college roommate, the best of all possible roommates in the best of all possible worlds, sent me one of her wonderful book care packages of findings gleaned from used bookstores. When I came across a pile of crackling paperbacks, all by someone named Isabelle Holland, with a sticky on them that said, “These, I want back”, I knew that those had to be the cream of the crop.

In the best 1970s gothic style, the covers all feature alarmed women standing at the edge of a cliff or by an ominous house. Nearly all involve a Return to the Old Family Mansion Where a Dreadful Thing Happened. Almost all feature independent-minded 70s heroines clad in miniskirts and boots giving up their publishing jobs (they all work in publishing) to hare off to the aforesaid Hated Family Homestead.

They’re great fun.

So far, I’ve read Tower Abbey (naturally, I picked that one up first– how could one resist both “tower” and “abbey”? I’m sure Miss Gwen would have used that for her own title if only she had thought of it first), Trelawny (my favorite so far), Kilgaren, and The De Maury Papers. There are still four left, but I may take a break from brooding heroes and delve into some of the other books in the package, which included a fine collection of Laurie King’s other (aka non-Mary Russell) mystery series.

What have you been reading?


  1. jeffrey on August 10, 2012 at 8:06 am

    I finally finished The Black Moth, one of the earliest if not the earliest novel by Georgette Heyer. How young was she when this was written? Seventeen? I enjoyed it as I have everyone of her other novels that I have read. She started out gooooood and went straight up from there! What a treasure all of her stories are….

  2. Ashley on August 10, 2012 at 8:26 am

    This week I am reading “Zemindar” by Valerie Fitzgerald (I googled “books like The Far Pavilions” to find that one – it’s great!) and the new “A Lady Never Lies” by Juliana Gray.

  3. Linda on August 10, 2012 at 10:04 am

    I am nearing the end of River of Destiny by Barbara Erskine. A fabulous read with 3 time lines. She has masterfully kept the action in high gear throughout. Each time line is flagged by a drawing so that the reader knows it’s time to shift gears. I highly recommend this book. It was hard to find in the USA but worth the search.

  4. Joanne M. on August 10, 2012 at 10:34 am

    Great reading by everyone here this week!! I cut my teeth on those old 70’s gothics.

    Ashley — I hope you love Zemindar. And I’m reading Juliana Gray’s A Lady Never Lies right now. (If anyone read Overseas by Beatriz Williams and loved it, then Juliana Gray is another nome de plume.)

    Linda, I’m a big fan of Barbara Erskine, too, and I can’t wait to get her latest, River of Destiny.

  5. Joanne M. on August 10, 2012 at 10:37 am

    Er, make that “nom” de plume…not enough coffee in my system yet.

  6. Kristen A. on August 10, 2012 at 11:36 am

    I finished How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran, which was wonderful and which I highly recommend.

    Then I read Whispers Underground by Ben Aaronovitch, the latest in the Peter Grant series. It’s sort of Harry Dresden in London by way of the police procedural instead of the PI angle, but Peter’s voice and geek cred are very Dresden. I pitch this series to every Dresden Files fan I can get to stand still long enough.

    Which brings me to Ghost Story, by Jim Butcher, which as a paperback reader I could finally get my hands on this week.

  7. Yvette R on August 10, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    Yes, Jeffrey, The Black Moth was her first book, and you may be right about her age when she wrote it. At most she was 18 or 19. She even has all of the technical details down about fencing. All of those terms that she is using would tell anyone with basic knowledge exactly how the fencers were standing and holding their foils. She was a master of story telling.
    And this week, I finally read Mary Balogh’s The Proposal. It was wonderful!

  8. Gina on August 10, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    I just finished The Clocks by Agatha Christie, and I have to say, I wanted to be more impressed by the great Hercule Poirot. He doesn’t really seem to do much, does he? And holding back information like he did is just plain obnoxious. I don’t know, he just wasn’t what I expected.

    Is Miss Marple any better? Or are there better Poirot novels?

  9. Alice on August 10, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    Just finished “Scarlet” by A.C Gaughen. It was fabulous! Another twist on the classic Robin Hood tale, but the best EVER! She gave all of the characters such emotional depth and the main character was tough yet vulnerable. There are rumors of a sequel and I am keeping my fingers crossed! Gina, I am with you on Poirot. Found him far too irritating. I am a big fan of Agatha Christie’s books that do not feature Miss Marple or Poirot. Favorite one is “Death Upon the Nile.” Different but excellent!

  10. Elizabeth (aka Miss Eliza) on August 10, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    I’d recommend Sparkling Cyanide, I found that one fascinating, and no Poirot or Miss Marple.

    I read a comic based on the show Warehouse 13, love the show, hated the comic. After that I finished Cherie Priest’s Bonshaker, which was a very good zombie/steampunk book if you’re interested in that. Now I’ve moved on to Paul Magrs’s 4th Brenda and Effie book, which is exceedingly horror gothic this time around, about a cursed film from the 60s that is being remade.

  11. Amy N. on August 10, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    After wrapping up “Washington Square” I’ve bravely begun to work my way through a non-fiction book about Lafayette. So far he’s the toast of the American Revolution but what I’m most interested in knowing is what happens during the French Revolution.

  12. Katie on August 10, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    I read The Fallen Angel by Daniel Silva. This series of books is a mix of suspense and espionage. They are very will written and exciting to read. I couldn’t sleep at night after I got about half way through for wondering what was going to happen.
    I also read Silk is for Seduction by Loretta Chase. This was the first book written by Chase that I had ever read and it was great! Loved that the heroine wasn’t a titled innocent but a tough, strong woman that found her happily ever after.
    I disagree about Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple! There are lots of books with these characters and I hope you will give them another chance before you rule them out completely! Poirot is one of my all time favorite fictional characters! In some books, his style may be a bit annoying but in others, he is absolutely brillant. As far as Agatha Christie books that don’t involve Poirot or Miss Marple, And Then There Were None or Ten Little Indians is the best!

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