March was a very different reading month from January and February. I started and quit several books. I ended up reading two books, one of which I really loved.
15. Cold in the Earth - book 1 in the DI Marjory Fleming series
by Aline Templeton
I decided to give Cold in the Earth a try after reading about it here. It had the oddest plot I’ve ever read in a mystery. I don’t want to say what it was because it would give too much away, but it featured a very weird psychological disorder. The book is set during the hoof and mouth disease days of 2001. We had planned to go to England that summer, but decided against it because we had farm animals, and also because we got our milk from a local farm, and just didn’t want to take any chances. The book shows the devastation to animals and to people. So very sad. I tried the second in the series, but found I wasn’t interested enough in the characters to continue on. I can see how the series would be very appealing to many readers - I’m thinking particularly of those who like the Ruth Galloway series by Elly Griffiths. Neither one is for me, though they are both very good. Just not my taste.
16. Deeds Not Words
by Katharine D'Souza
The second book by Katharine D’Souza was as wonderful as her first, Park Life which I wrote about last month. It is again set in Birmingham, England but is a very different story. This time we meet Caroline, a young woman who has come home to Birmingham from London after her marriage broke up. She works as a museum curator at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.
From the outside this seems like a pretty sweet job, but Caroline is understandably not feeling so good about herself after the divorce, and the move back to her childhood city. She wonders if she has always taken the easy path, and hasn't pushed herself enough. Coming home brings her back into the day-to-day life of her family.
The quality of the museum and the familiar, vibrant city had tempted her back to Birmingham, and she'd ignored the inner voice mumbling that it wasn't really a challenge, hardly even a change. Less enticing was that the move brought her back to the same city as her family. They weren't dreadful, just demanding.
Then her grandmother Beth has a fall and ends up in the hospital. She had been 'trying to get a box from the top of her wardrobe and fell from the stool.' This event becomes the catalyst for the whole story. Caroline stumbles upon a family mystery when she picks up the box. A man from Caroline's past comes back into her life. She meets a relative she didn't know existed. All these things combine to bring her into a new future.
The Suffragette movement in Birmingham becomes the focus of Caroline's study as she tries to sort out her family history. While Caroline gets strength and resolve from the suffragists struggles, I was pleased to see that Beth's quieter life which centered around her home and family was also meaningful to the young woman. It is rare in modern life, and literature, that women at home get such appreciation.
There are some really beautiful descriptions of her grandmother's house which fans of Rosamunde Pilcher will love.
She thought again of Beth's home and how items to occupy her hands or mind were placed by each chair: a bag spilling knitting needles and bright skeins of wool by the armchair in the living room, a newspaper folded open to the crossword on the dining table, books on the coffee table or bedside cabinet.
It featured dark wood panelling, beautiful floral patterned tiles, alluring inglenook fireplaces and many rooms with dual aspects through leaded windows containing stained glass insets.
As she flicked through the floral wallpaper-covered exercise book Beth used to copy down favourite recipes Caroline's eyes filled with tears. With the tip of her index finger she traced the familiar handwriting on each page, almost hearing Beth's own voice speak each word. The grease-spotted paper was evidence of how well used the book had been and each page sparked memories of meals in that kitchen throughout her life.
I feel so very fortunate to have discovered Katharine D'Souza from heavenali's blog. Please do read her excellent, detailed review of Deeds Not Words here.
The author has put together a great Pinterest page with postcards depicting scenes from the book.