Monday, December 25, 2006

44. The Trellis and the Seed by Jan Karon

ISBN 0-670-89289-0 - Penguin Group, 2003

A parable about how patience and quiet confidence can help achieve great things.

43. Shepherd's Abiding by Jan Karon

ISBN 0-670-03120-8 - Penguin Group, 2003
Father Timothy Kavanagh, of Mitford, North Carolina, discovers an antique Nativity scene that, with patience and care, could be restored to a thing of beauty. He secretly spends much of his free time at Oxford Antiques researching, cleaning, repairing and painting so that he can suprise his wife with a wonderful gift on Christmas Day.
Folk in the town of Mitford are preparing for the holidays in their varied ways. A host of familiar characters from the series are as delightfully heartwarming as in the previous seven books.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

42. Tara Road by Maeve Binchy

ISBN 0-7528-1447-8 Audiobook - Orion, 1998
Set in Dublin and suburban Connecticut, this novel follows the interwoven lives of two women: Irish Ria Lynch, whose philandering husband has left her and her two children for a pregnant 22 year old waif and American Marilyn Vine who cannot come to grips with the tragic death of her teenage son. By a quirk of fate he two women, who had never met, exchange homes for two months that summer and their lives will never be the same.
It was made into a film, released in 2005, starring Olivia Williams and Andie MacDowell as Ria and Marilyn respectively.

41. The Christmas Mouse by Miss Read

ISBN 0 14 00.4178 8 - Penguin, 1973

Charming tale of a mother and daughter, both widowed, and two young grandaughters over the Christmas season. On Christmas Eve, Mrs Berry deals with two startling visiterswith kindness and old fashioned common sense: a vagrant field mouse and a young boy, with mouselike features, who has run away from his foster home.

Friday, December 22, 2006

40. Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea by Gary Kinder

ISBN 0-87113-717-8 Audio Book - Random House, 1998

Compelling yarn about the 1980s recovery of the cargo of the SS Central America , often referred to as the "Ship of Gold" by Tommy Thompson and the Columbus-America Discovery Group . "In September 1857, the SS Central America, a side-wheel steamer carrying nearly six hundred passengers returning from the California Gold Rush, foundered in a hurricane and sank two hundred miles off the Carolina coast. Over four hundred lives and twenty-one tons of California gold were lost. It was the worst peacetime disaster at sea in American history, a tragedy that remained lost in legend for over a century."
The value of the recovered treasure is inestimable - the gold alone being worth over $200 million US. The artifacts which include personal papers and belongings of the passengers and crew are priceless when one considers their historical significance.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

39. Village Christmas by Miss Read

ISBN 0 14 007047 8 - Penguin, 1966
Elderly spinster sisters, Mary and Margaret Waters don't quite know what to make of their new neighbours the Emerys. The young mother of three girls and "one on the way", causes a stir in the village with her ebullient and friendly ways. It takes an emergency on Christmas Day to get the Fairacre villagers to rally round and finally welcome and appreciate the newcomers.

Miss Read - Dora Jessie Saint (b. 17 April 1913), best known by the pen name Miss Read, is an English novelist, by profession a schoolmistress. She wrote a series of novels from 1956 to 1996. Her work centred on two fictional English villages, Fairacre and Thrush Green. The principal character in the Fairacre books, "Miss Read", is an unmarried schoolteacher in a small village school, an acerbic and yet compassionate observer of village life. Miss Read's novels are wry regional social comedies, laced with gentle humour and subtle social commentary. Miss Read is also a keen observer of nature and the changing seasons. Source:

Sunday, December 17, 2006

38. Tied up in Tinsel by Ngaio Marsh

ISBN 0 00 613215 4 - Fontana/Collins 1972
Hilary Bill-Tasman has hired staff for his English country mansion straight out of some of Britain's most notorious prisons - Wormwood Scrubs, Broadmoor and the (fictional?) Vale. Each man served time for a single murder/manslaughter and has adapted to a life in service to varying degrees. Superintendant Roderick Alleyn's wife Troy is at Halberd's Manor to paint Hilary's portrait over the Christmas Holiday and so is on the scene when Moult, visiting Colonel Forrester's much maligned manservant goes missing.
From Marsh, Dame Ngaio (nī'ō) , 1899–1982, New Zealand detective story writer. She was an art student, actress, and theatrical producer before her first novel, A Man Lay Dead, was published in 1934. Her many mystery novels, acute in characterization and literate in style, reflect her knowledge of the art studio and the theater. They include Artists in Crime (1938), Died in the Wool (1945), False Scent (1959), Killer Dolphin (1966), Last Ditch (1978), Photo Finish (1980), and her last book, Light Thickens, published posthumously (1982). She was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1966.

Monday, December 11, 2006

37. Mike and Psmith by P.G. Wodehouse

ISBN 0140124470 - A & C Black, 1909
You'd have to know a lot about the technical aspects of cricket to get the full shilling out of this typical Wodehouse yarn set at Sedleigh, a boys' school.
"Mike (1909) (originally published as two separate serials, Jackson Junior, set at Wrykyn school and not featuring Psmith, and The Lost Lambs, set at Sedleigh and introducing Psmith. The Lost Lambs was later republished as Enter Psmith (1935) and Mike and Psmith (1953).) " Source:
Wodehouse wrote three other comic novels that feature Psmith and Mike:
Psmith in the City (1910), Psmith, Journalist (1915), &Leave it to Psmith (1923) . They both feature in the Blandings series of novels as Mike Jackson married Phyliss Keeble, daughter of Joseph Keeble and step-daughter of his second wife Lady Constance Keeble - Lord Emsworth's bossiest sister and chatelaine at the castle.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

36. Michael Faraday: Man of Simplicity by James Kendall

Faber and Faber, 1955
A biography of Michael Faraday that attempts to strike a balance between his personal and public lives. Much is made of the early influence of Sir Humphry Davy and Faraday's work at the Royal Institution. Interesting to read about his associations with other eminent scientists of his day which include: Ampère, Volta & Schönbein.
Faraday was a Sandemanian and his Christian values shaped his work ethic and social interactions. " This sect was named after Robert Sandeman, son-in-law and successor to John Glas, who was deposed by the Presbyterianan Courts in 1728 because he taught that the Church should be subject to no league or covenant, but be governed only by the doctrines of Christ and His Apostles. The Bible alone contained all that was necessary for salvation. Several tiny congregations were formed in Scotland and in England. Shortly after Faraday's death, [that] the London membership did not exceed twenty families, mostly quite poor." pp 170. "He (Faraday) held the position of elder, however, only for three years and a half. Trouble struck him in a most extraordinary way, as Thompson relates, ' One Sunday he was absent from church. When it was discovered that his absence was due to his having been "commanded' to dine with the Queen at Windsor, and that so far from expressing penitence, he was prepared to defend his action, his office became vacant. He was even cut off from ordinary membership. Nevertheless, he continued for years to attend meetings just as before." pp 172