Review 1889: Apricot Sky

Mrs. MacAlvey is looking forward to a happy summer in her home in the Scottish Highlands. Her three grandchildren who live there are home from school. Her daughter Raine is getting married to Ian Garvine, the younger brother of the local laird, and her daughter Cleo is returning from eight years in the United States. Mrs. MacAlvey also expects guests, and she loves entertaining.

Primrose, one of the grandchildren, thinks Scotland is heaven. She is ready to run wild with her brothers all summer.

Cleo seems to have left home because she was hopelessly in love with Larrich, Neil Garvine, and at first sight of him she realizes she’s not over it. However, she was too homesick to remain in the States. Neil seems more interested, though, in Inga, a young widow whom everyone but Cleo seems to love.

I really loved this novel, and its descriptions made me want to visit the Highlands even more than I already did. It’s about an eventful summer in the life of an attractive, easy-going family in 1948. The characters are likable, it is funny and has a romance, and it’s a lot of fun.

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Review 1873: Juggernaut

Esther Rowe is a Canadian nurse who has just finished delivering a patient in Cannes and finds herself having to make a decision. Will she return to snowy New York or try to find a job in beautiful, warm Cannes? She decides on Cannes and soon accepts a post with Dr. Sartorius even though he seems intimidating.

Celebrating her new job by getting a drink at an expensive café, she overhears a conversation between a young man and a beautiful woman. He is telling her he has a job in Argentina, and she doesn’t want him to go. Later, the woman comes to Dr. Sartorius’s office for an injection. She is Lady Clifford, the much younger wife of Sir Charles Clifford, a wealthy manufacturer.

Not long after Esther starts working for Dr. Sartorius, he informs her that he is closing his practice to care for Sir Clifford, who is suffering from typhoid along with other ailments. However, he invites her to come along as the day nurse.

She hasn’t worked there long when she beings noticing odd things. Lady Clifford doesn’t pay much attention to her husband but insists on giving him his milk every day. The house is frequented by Arthur Holliday, the young man Esther saw with Lady Clifford at the café. Roger Clifford, Lord Clifford’s son, arrives unexpectedly after Lord Clifford suffers a downturn. He never received the cable sent to summon him home.

Although it isn’t very hard to figure out what’s going on in the Clifford house, Esther is a strong, feisty heroine and the novel depends more on psychology than the complex plots more usual in 1928, when Juggernaut was written. Also, there is an understated romance, and the last 50 or so pages are extremely suspenseful. Juggernaut is Campbell’s first book, and I am looking forward to more.

I received a copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for a free and fair review.

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A Small Haul from Dean Street Press

Last Friday, I reviewed The Weather at Tregulla by Stella Gibbons, which had been published as part of the Furrowed Middlebrow series by Dean Street Press. So far, I have enjoyed almost every one of the novels I’ve read from that series.

Much to my surprise, I received a comment from Dean Street Press thanking me for a lovely review. I responded by saying “Send more books!” although they hadn’t actually sent the one I reviewed. Two days later, a package arrived, containing these interesting looking classic crime novels.

More fun reading to be had!

Review 1625: The Secret of Greylands

The Secret of Greylands is 219 pages long, and I realized the secret about 200 pages before the main characters did. Nevertheless, I found it an entertaining gothic novel, atmospheric and with a likable heroine.

Lady Cynthia Letchingham flees her new marriage when she finds out her husband ruined her best friend. She has nowhere to go, but she recently received a curious letter from her older cousin Hannah asking her to visit, so she goes to Hannah’s home at Greylands.

Hannah has married a much younger man, Mr. Gillman, who tries to send Cynthia away when she arrives, only to become a little more welcoming after he finds out she is friendless and hasn’t seen her cousin since she was a little girl. He doesn’t allow her to see Hannah, who he says has fallen and is paralyzed in bed, until the arrival of another cousin, Sybil. Cynthia has to admit Sybil looks a lot like Hannah when she finally meets her.

Hannah seems excitable and demanding but not fearful as she was in her letter except of having her door unlocked. Nevertheless, Cynthia can’t help feeling something is amiss, as she confides to the neighbor, Mr. Heriot.

There are plenty of hints about the true state of affairs at Greylands, including an outspoken parrot, a neglected pet, mysterious goings on at night, and Hannah’s hands, but the characters can’t quite put two and two together. However, it’s a fun read, and I enjoyed it. This is another good older (1924) mystery from Dean Street Press.

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My Latest Haul

Last month I was busy writing to publishers to request review copies of their newest books. Just this week, I reaped the rewards of a few emails with shipments from some of my favorite British publishers! I can’t wait to dip into these. In fact, I already have, reading Dangerous Ages right away.

The books I received are as follows:

From the new British Library Women Writers series, I received My Husband Simon by Molly Panter-Downes and Dangerous Ages by Rose Macaulay.

The Furroughed Middlebrow series of Dean Street Press sent me Somewhere in England by Carola Oman and Beneath the Village Moon by Romilly Cavan.

From Persephone Press, I received One Woman’s Year by Stella Martin Currey.