The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim – a Literary Mixtape


I was prompted to retrieve The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Armin from the depths of the reading stack thanks to Madame Bibi Lophile’s review – the quotes she chose were charming.

I began reading and quickly discovered that it’s a book full of charming. When I’d highlighted my millionth favourite quote I realised a literary mix tape was in order (forgive me the Hall & Oates…).

Rainy Days and Mondays – The Carpenters

It began in a Woman’s Club in London on a February afternoon – an uncomfortable club, and a miserable afternoon… Continue reading




In the eighties, much time was spent making mixtapes. If there was a special party, you made a mixtape. If you went on holiday, you made a road-trip mixtape. If you loved someone, you made a mixtape (and gave it to them if you had the guts…).
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Bookish (and not so bookish) Thoughts

1. I spent last Sunday night in the presence of Her Madgesty. Here are some of my thoughts (in chronological order):

  • What should I wear to a Madge concert? Desperately Seeking Susan biker-chic? Some La Isla Bonita ruffles? Some structured Vogue corsetry? Some Music gangsta-luxe?
  • Certainly a mixed crowd here tonight… *note to self: glad I didn’t date myself by choosing to dress in my favourite Madonna era*
  • Well… No mistaking what THAT stage is supposed to be.

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To Be Read next (actually, this post is about my favourite Madonna songs)


It’s Top Ten Tuesday and the topic this week is Ten Books on Your Spring Autumn TBR List. That’s good except that I went to the Madonna concert on Sunday night and I would rather talk about my top ten Madonna songs. So that’s what I’m going to do. I’ll pair them with one of the eleventy-hundred books in my TBR stack. The rationale behind the pairings will be tenuous, to say the least. Continue reading

The best book soundtracks begin with ABBA


I have a very, very deep love for ABBA. I won’t try to explain it because if you’re not an ABBA fan, you’ll never understand (and why waste my time when I could be singing along to excellent tracks such as Bang a Boomerang?).

I’m not sure if I’m doing this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic right, but I figure if Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid can pose for a photo in tin foil, then anything goes. So, I’ve taken ten ABBA songs and matched them (very loosely) with ten books.

1. My Love, My LifeWilful Disregard by Lena Andersson Continue reading

Mrs Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson


A few days ago I did a book versus film comparison of Winifred Watson’s charming comedy-of-manners, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. There’s lots to say about this book – the Cinderella re-telling, the themes of female friendship; and how to write witty and engaging dialogue.

I’m sure there were parts of the story that were truly scandalous when it was first published – start with the bed-hopping and casual cocaine references within the first dozen pages. There are parts that are scandalous now (racist remarks and comments about keeping women in line aren’t fit for modern audiences) but honestly, mow your damn lawn and sit the hell down* (and keep it in historical perspective while you’re there, peoples).

The film version of the story has possibly my favourite sets of all time (I want Miss LaFosse’s flat). It also has a brilliant soundtrack. But this is about the book so instead of a review, I’m giving some of my favourite passages from the book a new soundtrack.

Alive – Goldfrapp

“Miss Pettigrew had never in her life before dealt with a situation that needed such finesse.” Continue reading

Bookish (and not so bookish) Thoughts

1. The Stella Prize shortlist book group is up and running. We go crazy on Twitter every Monday evening. #fun

2. Read my first 5/5 book for the year – Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum. Get on it peoples.


3. The Baileys Prize 2015 longlist was announced recently. I’ve only read one… Poor show, me.

4. Related: Why the eff wasn’t Hausfrau on that longlist? #travesty Continue reading

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt


I think I said I wasn’t going to make a habit of literary mix tapes… I don’t think a third book review by way of music clips within a month is a habit…

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt is a wonderful book. There are dozens of reviews on Goodreads, nearly all glowing, and with good reason. There’s a gentleness and a naivety to this story that will stay with me. Add in a ‘New York in the eighties’ setting and beautifully explored themes of sibling relationships, loyalty and grief, and you’ve got yourself a great read. 4/5

Private Eyes by Hall & Oates (a little too literal? Perhaps, but an eighties classic).

“Watching people is a good hobby, but you have to be careful about it. You can’t let people catch you staring at them. If people catch you, they treat you like a first-class criminal. And maybe they’re right to do that. Maybe it should be a crime to try to see things about people they don’t want you to see.” Continue reading

Schroder by Amity Gaige


Schroder by Amity Gaige has been languishing in my Netgalley to-be-read stack for ages. I liked the sound of it but the cover was a disconnect – it didn’t really look like a father and daughter story (more like a guy and girl getting it on in a pond – see above and tell me I’m wrong). It would have stayed languishing had it not been for signing up for the Review Pile Reading Challenge and seeing it listed in some ‘Best of 2013’ lists.

Quite frankly, it’s not making any of my favourites lists. It had some good elements – an unreliable narrator, a moral dilemma – but for the most part, the story putts along.

However, there’s one bit that will stay with me. Halfway through the story we meet a character named April. April tells Schroder that she is the subject of a rock song.

“You know, I always wondered where you girls went.”
“What girls?”
“The subjects of love songs.”
“You’re joking, but actually, I tried getting a group together about ten years ago. Lola. Jesse. Roxanne. Roseanna. Don’t forget Layla.”

 It got me thinking, wouldn’t it be cool to say “Hi, I’m Cecilia. As in Simon and Garfunkel’s Cecilia.” And who is Bobby McGee? So, here are my top ten ‘who was the inspiration and where are they now’ songs – Continue reading