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The Amazing Mrs. Pollifax

by Dorothy Gilman, 1970

Laurie recommended. Great, fun book. Wonderful characters and action-packed spy story set in Turkey. Emily Pollifax, elderly lady, works for CIA. Goes to Turkey to rescue an old CIA agent, Magda, and ends up exposing a traitor, Dr. Belleaux, and boosting the courage and confidence of a young Englishman, Colin (whose sister she sat next to on the plane to Istanbul).

The Shell Seekers

by Rosamunde Pilcher, 1987

Story of Penelope and her three children, Olivia, Nancy, Noel, and their lives. Penelope’s Dad, Lawrence Stern, was a painter and The Shell Seekers was one of his paintings – three children on the beach. Penelope joined WREN and met Ambrose got pregnant – married – went home to Cornwall – Porthkerris. Ambrose went to war. He was a jerk. Sophia and Lawrence and Penelope, along with Doris and her 2 boys, live together during the war. Then, Sophia died. (Sophia was Penelope’s mom, much younger than Lawrence Stern. She went to London and was killed in the bombings.) Penelope ad Doris became very close. Penelope has a little girl, Nancy. Then meets Richard Lomax, a young marine, her true love. He dies at D-Day. Penelope eventually goes back to London and lives with Ambrose. Not a good guy. They have 2 more children, Olivia, and then Noel. Ambrose cheats and gambles, eventually leaves Penelope. She’s glad. Olivia is her favorite. Olivia takes a year off to stay in Ibiza with Cosmo. Penelope comes and visits her for a month, along with Cosmo’s daughter, Antonia. Olivia goes back to London after a year. Penelope has a heart attack. Cosmo dies. Antonia comes to live with Penelope and falls in love with Danus, the gardener. Noel and Nancy, all they want is for their mother to sell all her Lawrence Stern paintings so they can have the money. Penelope goes to Cornwall for a week with Danus and Antonia because her children didn’t want to. After they get back, she dies of a heart attack.

A Passage to India

by E.M. Forster, 1924

Hard to follow, hard to understand, but it was about India under British rule (yet another book in that time period!) Main characters: Dr. Aziz, Fielding, Heaslop, Mrs. Moore, Adela Quested, and many of Dr. Aziz’s Indian friends. Everything okay until Aziz takes Mrs. Moore and Miss Quested to Marabar Caves, near Chandrapore, and Miss Quested gets separated and someone attacks her in one of the caves. She blames it on Aziz. He goes to prison. Finally, at trial, Miss Quested admits she has no idea who followed her into the cave and Aziz gets out of prison. Fielding was his English supporter and friend through all but it was never the same. Very poetic, hard to follow writing.

Death in Kashmir

by M.M. Kaye, 1984

(Adam home this day for Thanksgiving!)

Not as good as her other books but still good. Janet Rushton is murdered on ski slopes of Kashmir. Sarah Parrish gets involved in the mystery. Ends up being Hugo – dear old Hugo! He is going to kill Sarah on the houseboat on Lake Dal but Charles saves the day. (Hugo wanted Kashmir to become Communist so Russia would have an easy access to Afghanistan and/or India later on. He was against his own country, Britain.)

Things Fall Apart

by Chinua Achebe, 1958

A story about tribal Africa (Nigeria) and Okonkwo, a warrior, ashamed of his lazy father, mean & angry, and his “clan.” Many superstitions and gods, rules, etc., for living. Grow yams. Missionaries come – His son Nwoye converts. Bad ending – 2nd missionary not good. Okonkwo wants to destroy them all but others won’t. He kills one and then hangs himself. The End.

Foundation’s Edge

by Isaac Asimov, 1982

Fell in love with Trevize. He and Pelorat get exiled and they get a super spaceship. They try to find Earth – Find Gaia in the Sayshell sector. The 1st and 2nd Foundation follow him. Gaia lets Trevize decide who wins. He chooses Gaia. Gaia represented by Bliss, Novi, and Dom. 1st Foundation – Mayor Branno, 2nd Foundation – Gendibal. This was my favorite Foundation book.

Second Foundation

by Isaac Asimov, 1953

First half: The 2nd Foundation defeats the Mule

Second half: The First Foundation thinks they defeated the 2nd Foundation – Arkady was programmed on Trantor as a baby so her encephelograph didn’t show she was controlled so her Dad, Dr. Darrell, didn’t think she was. But in reality, the 2nd Foundation planned it all – so the First Foundation would go back on Seldon Plan.

Foundation and Empire

by Isaac Asimov, 1952

Really good! Magnifico, the clown, is the Mule! Defeats the Foundation by his ability to control men’s emotions. Almost gets Mis to discover the location of the 2nd Foundation but Bayta figures it out that the Clown is the Mule and kills Mis before he can tell. Mule loves Bayta because she truly liked him all on her own. She and Toran, her husband, were his friends – the Mule never controlled her (Bayta’s) emotions. He doesn’t kill them in the end.

Morality for Beautiful Girls

by Alexander McCall Smith, 2001

More #1 Ladies Detective Agency – My favorite so far! #3

Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni is depressed. Mma Ramotswe gets him to the orphanage where he is well taken care of. Mma Ramotswe solves the mystery of the brother poisoning – not killed just sick – it was the cook, not the wife – he did not want to be a cook, he wanted to be with cattle. Mma Makutsi gets promoted to Asst Manager of the garage and turns it and the 2 apprentices around – they become very hard workers and lots of business. Mma Makutsi earns the detective agency 2000 pula when she solves the question of who is the most deserving girl to win a beauty pageant.

The Rapture of Canaan

by Sheri Reynolds, 1995

Grandpa Herman’s Church of Fire & Brimstone & God’s Almighty Baptizing Wind – he rules his extended family – makes the sermons and the rules and punishment for sinning, like living in a cellar for 40 days, sleeping in a grave overnight, getting dunked. Ninah & James are prayer partners. Ninah gets pregnant, James drowns himself. Ninah’s baby is born with hands together as if praying. Ninah cuts them apart, changes others, frees them. (Strange, strange book.)

Wild Mountain Thyme

by Rosamunde Pilcher, 1978

What a great book! Victoria, Oliver, & Thomas go to Benchoile in Scotland-meet the Dunbeath’s Roddy, John – John & Victoria end up together at the end, Oliver a playwright – but oh – what a jerk! Stole Thomas from the Archer’s, hooks back up with Victoria – leaves them both. Roddy’s stable house burns – John saves Thomas, loves Victoria. (I can’t remember ANY of this story on 4/5/2020. I’m typing just what my book report back in 2007 said.)

The Far Pavilions

by M.M. Kaye, 1978

Over 900 pages – set in 1800s – India & Afghanistan. British rule India – Ash, Juli, Wally – EPIC – Ash main character from birth to young man. What a life! What he went through, not accepted by Britain or India. His thoughts and ideas could have saved 1000s of lives – they wouldn’t listen to him. Still he told them (Cavagnaro, etc.). They invaded Afghanistan – won one battle – forced Amir to set up a mission – ended up getting slaughtered – just as Ash warned. Afghan people don’t want any other country ruling them. Hate the infidels. And this was just the last 100 pages – went all through his trip with 2 princesses to Bhithor – the evil kingdom – falls in love with Juli, his childhood friend in the palace. Years later, he rescues her, marries her, takes her to Kabul, then escapes Kabul to find their own valley in the mountains – the Far Pavilions.

The Caine Mutiny

by Herman Wouk, 1951 (Pulitzer Prize winner for 1951)

One of the best books I have ever read! Willie Keith, WWII Navy, serves Queeg, a poltroon (wretched coward), end up taking over ship in a typhoon, court-martialed. Keefer chickens out – lies – on witness stand. Looks good – gets ship (the Caine) and he’s almost as bad as Queeg. Willie grows up – rich, spoiled Princeton Kid – loves May Wynn & finally gets it. What a fantastic writer – a fantastic book!!!

A Walk in Wolf Wood

by Mary Stewart, 1980

A children’s book not just for children. John & Margaret go on a picnic in Bavaria w/parents. While parents are napping, they go exploring in the forest. Come upon a cabin in the woods, meet a man who is a “werwolf” and embark upon an adventure to save him, Mardian, from the evil spell that Almeric has put on him.

Thunder On the Right

by Mary Stewart, 1957

Set in French Pyranees – 2 cousins, Gillian & Jennifer. Jennifer goes to convent to find Gillian – mystery – she’s dead – but Jennifer figures it out – it was someone else. Jennifer finds her finally – w/help of Stephen.

Lost Horizon

by James Hilton, 1933

“Shangri-La – Conway – is it real? Lamasery – Lama – He died – centuries old – picked Conway to succeed him. Conway left with Mallinson. What happened to Mallinson? He died? He was the skeptic. Conway started to believe him. Left with Lo-Tsen, the little Manchu they both loved. Sounds like the whole thing was true. She aged and dropped him off (Conway) at a convent. Then I think he made his way back.”

You can tell I didn’t really know about this book when I wrote the above in 2007. I am writing this in 2019, 12 years after reading it, and my memory tells me I didn’t like this book.

This Rough Magic

by Mary Stewart, 1964

Lucy visits her sister on the Isle of Corfu. A dolphin swims with her – she and Max save it, fall in love, solve the mystery of the near death of Spiro and the death of Yanni (not a main character). What beautifully written details – the walk down through pine forest, stream, rose garden, to the sea. Loved it!

Scarlet Feather

by Maeve Binchy, 2001

Irish-Dublin-Tom & Cathy start dream catering business and they are the best. They both are with others (Marcella & Neil) but end up together at the end. Yahoo! Neil is a jerk and so is his family – the Mitchell’s. Marcella wants to be a model but at 25, finds out she’s too old, except for porn. Maud & Simon – twin 9 year olds adopted by Cathy’s Mom (Lizzie) and Dad (Muttie). Muttie bets on horses – all his life. Ends up winning an accumulator on Christmas day – 130,000 pounds!!! (Walter – the evil cousin – don’t forget about him!)