Everything I read in September was in ‘real book’ form. There was a biography, a novel and a compilation of letters.
Ma’am Darling by Craig Brown: In this rather irreverent look at the life and times of Princess Margaret, Brown serves up 99 tales, some funny, some cringeworthy and some simply awful. I never met the Princess in person, but I did see her close up on several occasions – she was tiny and wore too much make up – and I know from when I worked for the Royal family that she was capable of completing the Times crossword during breakfast.
Last Letter Home by Rachel Hore: “On a summer holiday with friends in 2016, young historian Briony Wood becomes fascinated with a wartime story of a ruined villa in the hills behind Naples. There is a family connection: her grandfather had been a British soldier during the Italian campaign of 1943 in that very area. Handed a bundle of letters that were found after the war, Briony sets off to trace the fate of their sender, Sarah Bailey.
In 1938, Sarah returns with her mother and sister from India, in mourning, to take up residence in the Norfolk village of Westbury. There she forms a firm friendship with Paul Hartmann, a young German who has found sanctuary in the local manor house, Westbury Hall. With the outbreak of war, conflicts of loyalty in Westbury deepen.
As Briony researches Sarah’s story, she encounters resentments and secrets still tightly guarded. What happened long ago in the villa in the shadow of Vesuvius, she suspects, still has the power to give terrible pain …”
I enjoyed this and it was a fairly easy read, although I found some of the characters from the wartime section of the book confusing and mixed them up in my mind.
To Obama with Love, Joy, Hate and Despair by Jeanne Marie Laskas: Every day, President Obama received ten thousand letters from ordinary American citizens. Every night, he read ten of them before going to bed. I’m still reading this; I’ve laughed out loud and I’ve cried. People wrote to President Obama from all walks of life, from the length and breadth of the United States and on every topic imaginable. The author has interviewed some of the letter writers so that the reader then has a fuller picture of why they wrote to the president in the first place. Many of his handwritten replies are also included. I think this book would make a great gift.