Reading is my oldest and favorite hobby. I literally can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t love to curl up with a good book. Here are my reads for February, 2022.
The Worshipful Lucia (Mapp and Lucia #5), by E.F. Benson – It’s hard to choose a favorite from this sparkling, witty series – but this might be it? Lucia tries on a new identity as a financial guru and is wildly successful, much to Elizabeth Mapp-Flint’s chagrin. Absolutely hilarious, fully reviewed here.
Yummy: A History of Desserts, by Victoria Grace Elliott – I borrowed this adorable graphic history of popular desserts – from ice cream to cookies, to cake, and even macarons – from Peanut. Mom achievement unlocked! It was cute, made me hungry, and I actually learned quite a bit about the history of sweets.
Trouble for Lucia (Mapp and Lucia #6), by E.F. Benson – Sad to say goodbye to Queen Lucia Pillson, Elizabeth Mapp-Flint, and the rest of the quirky and endearing residents of charming Tilling. Lucia, now risen to Mayor of Tilling – with Elizabeth as her Mayoress – is in for a bumpy ride, but Lucia is never down and out for long. Fully reviewed here.
The Man in the Brown Suit (Colonel Race #1), by Agatha Christie – I listened to this early (1920s) standalone thriller on Audible – it was okay, but definitely not up to Christie’s prime standard; the casual sexism and entrenched gender roles did the story no favors, even if it was of its time. I did enjoy seeing the influence of Christie’s around-the-world British Empire Exhibition promotion tour, which she must have either just completed or been in the process of completing as she wrote the book; for instance, her heroine goes surfing in South Africa – something Christie herself did on that trip. (Christie’s letters and photographs from the tour are collected in a fun volume curated by her grandson, Mathew Prichard, called The Grand Tour.)
Diplomatic Passport: More Undiplomatic Diaries 1946-1962, by Charles Ritchie – I wanted to read something travel-related as I embarked on my first international trip in years, and Ritchie seemed like a good travel companion – as a Canadian diplomat, he got around the world rather a lot. I read the first volume of his diaries, which mostly focused on his posting to London during the Blitz, in 2019 and loved them, and these were nearly as engaging. Richie’s career really takes off in this volume, and he spends time at the Canadian Embassy in Paris before going on to be Ambassador to Germany, the United Nations, and eventually the United States. His writing voice is charming and compelling and I loved his stories.
Cluny Brown, by Margery Sharp – Cluny Brown’s problem, at least according to her family, is that she doesn’t know her place. Cluny does things like going to tea at the Ritz, just because she feels like it and has the money, and that’s simply not done for a respectable working class London girl. But Cluny’s attitude to life is: why shouldn’t I? Why shouldn’t she go to tea at the Ritz, if she can afford it? Why shouldn’t she have a martini or accept a party invitation? Cluny’s guardians are at their wits end, so they send her off to “good service” in Devon – hoping she will finally learn her place. Upstairs/downstairs shenanigans ensue, of course, and I think it’s hardly a spoiler to tell you that Cluny does learn her place – but it’s not quite what her relatives have in mind.
A Poem for Every Winter Day, ed. Allie Esiri – I really, really try to stay up to date on reading a poem a day, and Allie Esiri’s seasonal collections are my choice for 2022. In fact, I got woefully behind on this one, but caught up at the end of the month and the poems in here were truly a delight. I bookmarked a few for future reference.
Short month, short reading list! February was interrupted by a vacation, and I never read much when I’m traveling – I prefer to take in the sights, and spend time with my traveling companions; reading is more of an at-home activity. But in the few hours I did actually devote to books this month, I read some good ones. Cluny Brown was a highlight, as was Diplomatic Passport. And of course, any visit to Lucia and Mapp in Tilling is a total joy.
How was your February in books?