Sunday, April 21, 2013

What I Read Last Weekend

What I Read Last Weekend . . .

The Two Mrs. Abbotts (Miss Buncle) by D.E. Stevenson -- Historical Fiction 

Barbara Abbott nee Buncle is back in this third volume. World War II is raging but Wandlebury hasn't changed much. The young men are off to war, except for Archie Chevis-Cobbe who is running a farm single-handedly. Barbara has settled into domestic life with Arthur, their two young children and of course, Dorcas. Barbara is still as honest and trusting as ever, making everyone want to confide in her. Her latest, and most unwanted, confidant is Lancreste Marvell. Barbara dislikes the Marvells and doesn't know how to deal with Lancreste's relationship issues. Arthur's nephew Sam has joined up, leaving his bride Jerry behind. Sam is never far from Jerry's thoughts as she tries to run her horse farm, deal with horrible tenants and the regiment camped on her property. She has company in her old companion Markie and new friends come to stay. Jerry decides to play match maker for her still unmarried brother, though he has plans of his own. Most of the story takes place in and around Wandlebury, but we do get to catch up on the inhabitants of Silverstream, thanks to a surprise visitor. I was unsure about reading this book since sequels are never good as the original, but I was delighted to discover that this book holds all the sweet charm of the first two books. Though it's not as funny as Miss Buncle's book, it's still charming. Most of the book is dedicated to Jerry and her sphere with Barbara making only occasional appearances. There's mystery, adventure and romance aplenty, sure to please any reader. I was sorry to see it end and want to know what happened next! The paperback reprint of this book will be available in January or you can get the original from your local library as I did.

Picture Miss Seeton by Heron Carvic -- Historical Mystery

Miss Seeton, spinster and art teacher, is walking home from the opera one evening when she witnesses a young man threatening a young woman in a doorway in a dark alley. Miss Seeton pokes the young man with her umbrella and causes a chain of events she never could have imagined. Miss Seeton takes a holiday in the peaceful village of Plummergen where she has recently inherited property. The village proves to be anything but peaceful what with gossipmongers spreading malicious lies, reclusive authors, chicken thieves and a mysterious club. Miss Seeton bumbles from one mishap to another and the police suspect the incidents are related but only Miss Seeton holds the clue with psychic drawings. This story is not what I expected. I picture a quaint old English village and some sort of local crime but instead, the story takes place in the 1960s and the case involves drug manufacture, abuse and murder. I didn't care for that sort of thing at all. Some of the story is told from the point-of-view of the villains, but the leader of the operation is never revealed. The story ends with a cliffhanger and was very unsatisfactory. The village is populated by too many people who never really become part of the story. Of more importance are the police and there are more than enough of them to keep track of. The story never really pulled me in and Miss Seeton didn't win me over. She's a clueless and foolish umbrella wielding flat character. We don't really know much about her and what's going on inside her head. There isn't really much romance in this book either. There's one very minor romantic subplot that comes out of nowhere at the end. Overall, I did not enjoy this book, would not recommend it to fans of cozy mysteries or English village novels and won't be reading the rest of the series.

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