Friday 24 November 2023

What I’ve been reading in November

I've read three good books this month! 

I've been waiting to read this book for months now and I finally reached the top of the waiting list at the local library.  On the cover there is a quote from Nigella Lawson which says 'I am devastated to have finished it' - I know how she feels!

I don't think I would have fared too well as a housewife in America in the early 1960s.  I could not have coped with the blind acceptance of inequality between men and women.  Neither did Elizabeth Zott, a highly intelligent chemist who captures the heart of Calvin Evans, a fellow chemist at the Hastings Research Centre.  After a freak accident whilst out walking their dog, Calvin dies, leaving Elizabeth pregnant, alone and unemployed.  (Because of course an unmarried mother could not possibly be allowed to stay in her job). Needing income, Elizabeth begrudgingly agrees to host an afternoon tv cooking show.  Her unusual, scientific approach to cooking gains her an unexpectedly large female following, and the powers that be in the TV studio are not happy that she is not only teaching women to cook, she is daring them to speak up for themselves and challenge the male dominance in 'normal' life.

This was such a good book, it has moments of genuine wry humour and an intricate storyline that gradually unravels as the story reaches its end.  I am so pleased that I have finally read it!

Then it was on to the book club choice of the month, The Last List of Mabel Beaumont by Laura Pearson. 

Mabel Beaumont's husband loved writing lists.  He would leave them for Mabel on a daily basis.  When he dies, she finds one last list which simply says 'Find D'. Mabel knows that he means that she should try to find her childhood best friend, Dot, who suddenly and unexpectedly moved away and cut all contact after the death of her fiancé Bill, who was Mabel's brother. She has not seen her for more than 60 years. 

Mabel's husband, Arthur, felt that Mabel would struggle without him and unbeknown to Mabel put into place a care visiting package to see her through the first few weeks after his death, whenever that may be.  After a small period of denial, Mabel enjoys her visits from Julie and realises how isolated she had become.  The line between carer and friend blur and when Julie hears about Arthur's request to 'Find D' she joins forces with Mabel to help track her down.  Further unlikely friendships evolve for Mabel: Patty the American ballroom dance instructor, Kirsty the young neighbour, and Erin the young shop assistant who is worried about her parents reaction when she tells them she is gay.  Through these tenuous connections the group embark on their mission to find Dot.

I enjoyed this book, it was a gentle read and I grew to love the characters and see how their interest in caring for Mabel in her time of grief changed each one of them by the end of the book.  At the end, the mystery of why Dot disappeared is revealed and showed that no matter what your age, there is still time to take risks and live your best life.

And finally, Husband and Wife by K.L. Slater

Luna and Parker are seriously injured in a dreadful car accident.  Parker's life hangs in the balance.  Their son Barney is staying overnight with Parker's parents, Cal and Nicola as Luna's parents have just returned from a long haul holiday.

The police are investigating the murder of Sarah, a single mother who has been strangled by her own scarf in an alleyway late at night a few weeks ago.  The scarf is missing.  Until Nicola goes to Luna and Parker's house to collect clothes for Barney and finds it in a bag behind their bins.  She now realises why Parker reacted the way he did when she told him that she was going to go to his home to pick up a few bits and pieces for Barney to have while his parents are in hospital.  "Don't.  Go.  There."

Did Parker murder Sarah?  Or did Luna think that he was having an affair with her and kill her in a fit of violent jealousy?  Nicola doesn't know what to think.  She idolises her son and cannot believe that he would be capable of such a crime.  Her husband, who does not have a good relationship with his son, seems to have his suspicions. They both know that Luna has a violent temper and is obsessively jealous.  Who could it be? 

Well, my guesses as to who killed Sarah and why went backwards and forwards.  Each chapter is written from the point of view of the different characters and in different time frames and with each chapter I changed my mind.  I've enjoyed other K L Slater books that I have read and this one was no exception!


♥ Liz ♥ said...

I love, love, loved Lessons in Chemistry. It's the best book I've read in a long time. Also two more good books for me to add to my list. I may have asked Santa for a few of the others you read this year!!

Patio Postcards said...

Thanks Deb for your reviews & recommendations. I've read Lessons in Chemistry & thoroughly enjoyed. The other two books are not currently available at my library, so I've asked for inter-library loan. Fingers crossed.

Ruth said...

I'm so glad you read Lessons in Chemistry - it's a superb book! :) Your other two titles are now on my TBR list.

Barbara Eads said...

I loved Lessons in Chemistry. As for the other two, my library doesn't have them yet. I've added them to the ever-growing iist!!