In an unbroken streak of illness, my family is now on our seventh (7th!!) virus in seven weeks– and this time it’s Covid. So I’ve turned heavily to the comfort reads as I’ve tried to parent while also not breathing on my kids, who miraculously seem not to have gotten it yet.
A while ago, my college roommate, who is absolutely infallible as a book recommender, told me I had to read Tea and Sympathetic Magic by Tansy Rayner Roberts. Of course, she was right. Set it an alternate Regency (or possibly early Victorian Era? there’s a very young Queen who’s just acceded to the throne) in an alternate England called the Teacup Isles, with magic and hedgehogs and enchanted croquet and spies and sorcerers, these bite-sized novellas are just what I needed right now and remind me so strongly of the more madcap Pink books. I’ve gone through books 1 and 2, Tea and Sympathetic Magic and The Frost Fair Affair (why, yes, there IS a frost fair on the equivalent of the Thames!), and I have books 3 and 4 lined up for a future time of need. (We still haven’t gotten flu yet, so maybe that will be next week?)
In any event, I highly recommend these to fans of The Mischief of the Mistletoe or the early Bridgertons. My roommate described them as “Sorcery and Cecelia without the epistolary element”, which also works.
After that, it was time for more comfort reads, so I grabbed another book I’ve been saving, Jodi Taylor’s The Something Girl, the sequel to The Nothing Girl in her Frogmorton Farm series. I’m not quite sure how to describe these. Unlike her other series, there’s no time travel or magic or supernatural elements (although there is an invisible talking horse who smells of gingerbread, so I suppose there’s that?). These are more like… oh, contemporary Jane Eyre on pixie sticks? An orphan with a stutter has been intimidated and systematically robbed by her evil and slightly murderous family until she jumps into a marriage of convenience with her gorgeous cousin’s jilted fiance, who takes her off to the family farm which has its own Cold Comfort Farm overtones, where she discovers her true worth and bonds with all the family retainers and livestock. Book II is essentially more of the same, with the addition of a small child, attack chickens, and the return of her murderous family. (There are a couple of Christmas novellas/short stories that look like they have a distinctly Dibley-esque air to them, so I may be adding those to my Kindle this week as well.)
After that, I escaped into the Lancashire countryside with my traditional Christmas reread, Trisha Ashley’s Twelve Days of Christmas, in which housesitter Holly unexpectedly finds herself hosting a giant Christmas house party in a tumbledown manor house. Is it strange that it’s partly the descriptions of all the meals that I adore so much? But it’s also Trisha Ashley at her best when it comes to comic side characters and narrative snark. As I’m facing the reality that our plans will probably (certainly) wind up being canceled as Covid burns through my household one by one, it made me feel somewhat better to get to participate in someone else’s big Christmas house party (in my imagination without breathing on anyone)!
Right now, I have what looks like a super-fun madcap historical mystery lined up to read next, but I’ll fill you in on that next week.
What have you been reading this week?
Wishing everyone a happy, healthy holiday and a peaceful end to the old year!
p.s. my computer tells me that this is our 500th (!!!!!) Weekly Reading Round-Up! Thank you for joining me on my reading journey all these 500 weeks through serious and silly and everything in between! I’m so grateful to have you here with me! Here’s to another 500 more….