New Post at Thornfield Hall Redux: “Fabulous Fun: The Lifeline by Hugo Charteris”

I was delighted  to discover the Scottish writer, Hugo Charteris, author of  The Lifeline (1961),  a hilarious novel recently reissued by the publisher Michael Walmer.  

The Lifeline is an unmitigated pleasure.  I relish Charteris’s witty observations about life in a gossipy Scottish village.  The hero, Tulloch Traquhair, a character actor who has been fired from his role as Little John in a Robin Hood TV series, retires to a Scottish village to run the Strathire Arms, a pub he plans to turn into a hotel.  When he debarks from his Rolls Royce, he hypnotizes the villagers with his charisma and a peppering of Gaelic phrases. But his rival  pub owners, Brian Creevie and his vengeful mother, Mildred Creevie, are determined to take Traquhair down.

Read the post here.

New Post at Thornfield Hall Redux: The Surprising Excellence of Rose Macaulay’s “Non-Combatants and Others”

Those of you who are fans of twentieth-century women’s literature will probably have come across Rose Macaulay’s novels in old Virago editions. I love her comic masterpiece,  The Towers of Trebizond, a hilarious chronicle of the trek of a group of English travelers from Istanbul to Trebizond.And now Macaulay’s early books are having a comeback, due to publisher Kate MacDonald’s efforts at Handheld Classics.   And so we finally have a chance to consider Macaulay’s pacifist novel, Non-Combatants and Others.

You can read the rest of this post at:

The Haunted Bookshop and Elsewhere in The Athens of the Midwest

On a visit to Iowa City, we worried about The Haunted Bookshop, a used bookshop named after Christopher Morley’s The Haunted Bookshop, a novel set in a bookshop of the same name. The website said it was open only by appointment.

Had the pandemic killed the bookstore?

Read about it at

Weekend Reading: In Which I Recommend Books

I hope you’re ready to read  “real” books this weekend, because you will get text neck if you don’t get off the phone. You only need the phone to call Uber and you know it. Meanwhile, books are bursting out of mahogany bookcases or bricks-and-boards shelves at your house.

Here are three recommendations for perfect weekend reading.

Read the rest of the post at Thornfield Hall Redux. Here is the link:  

New Post at Thornfield Hall Redux: “2020-2021: Why I Can’t Get My Head Around it”

Life used to be perfect.  We did not know it. We quote Joni Mitchell:  “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”  What I mean to say is, our  lives were at the normal end of the “perfection” spectrum.  We lived contentedly in modest dwellings. In our leisure, we read or went to movies. Sometimes we took a walk.  Occasionally we saw a ball game (peer pressure).  Some of our peers aspired to a suburban house with a three-car garage, but we never understood the appeal of the three-car garage.  Then we met a man who drove straight from his heated garage to a heated underground garage downtown every morning.  He boasted, “I never wear a coat.”

I couldn’t get my head around it.  

Here is the link to the rest of the post at Thornfield Hall Redux.

New Post at Thornfield Hall Redux: Jane Eyre Meets the Sensation Novel: Mrs. Henry Wood’s ‘Anne Hereford’

Charlotte Bronte’s Gothic classic, Jane Eyre, has much in common with Mrs. Henry Wood’s neglected novel Anne Hereford (1868) has much in common with Jane Eyre.  The parallels between the characters are fascinating.

You can read the post here.

New Post at Thornfield Hall Redux: Real Estate Is Not Proust’s Madeleine

In Hilma Wolitzer’s short story, “Sundays,” the narrator must coax her depressed husband Howard out of bed every Sunday morning.  To cheer him up, they drive after breakfast from Queens to the suburbs to tour model homes.  But they would never dream of moving to the suburbs.

I love the Paulie and Howard stories, and I know the feeling of looking down on the suburbs.  Nonetheless, I am enthralled by real estate. “I would love to live there,” I exclaim as I pass a Victorian house with a wraparound porch, or a Mid-Century Modern Home from the ’60s.  Even if the house is for sale, it is just a fantasy. I’m hooked on real estate ads in print and online. though I have no intention of moving.

Here is the link to the post at Thornfield Hall Redux:

Colette’s “Break of Day” and “Letters from Colette”


During a horrendous illness, I turned to Colette, the lyrical French writer best-known for the autobiographical Claudine books. She ghostwrote the series at the bidding of her rakish first husband, Willy, who ran what Colette called a “factory” of  ghostwriters. Two of her other books kept me alive while I was sick, her meditative novel Break of Day, written in her fifties, and Letters from Colette, edited by Robert Phelps.

Here is the link to the post:

A Twentieth-Century Classic: Elizabeth Bowen’s “Friends and Relations”

My reading has been so eclectic this fall that I have fallen behind in my reviews.

One of my favorite reads this fall is Elizabeth Bowen’s stunning Friends and Relations, a twentieth-century masterpiece, and for that reason I was reluctant to “review” it. I felt should reread all of her novels and a biography or two before I put pen to paper. But my job as a blogger, thank goodness, is to appreciate or grumble, so I hope you enjoy this reviewette.

Here is the link to the post at Thornfield Hall Redux:

Nobody Bought My Viragos! And a Look at ‘The Caravaners’ by Elizabeth von Arnim

We went to the Planned Parenthood Book Sale on Half-Price Day. Surely we would find one or two books, we thought. And yet… we did not. 

One happy note:  I found at least 10 Viragos.  Oh, how wonderful, I thought.  Someone will love these.   Then I realized they were my books.  I HAD  DONATED THEM.  I hastily arranged them attractively at the front of the table, so somebody might find them.   

And speaking of Viragos, I will end with a “review” of a favorite Virago, The Caravaners.

Here is the link to this post at Thornfield Hall Redux:

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