May was a funny month for books. I read, as mentioned here, The Crow Road by Iain Banks. It was a bit of a departure for me but that's never a bad thing. Male author, story set in recent times... I did enjoy it. Not enough to say I'd read it again, and I wouldn't describe it as one of those books you just can't put down, but it was good. Funny in places, interesting characters. I'd say (if I were to mark it out of five, which isn't something I generally do) it's probably a solid three.
Despite The Crow Road being quite a lengthy novel, I finished it in plenty of time and found myself at a bit of a literary loose end. A small amount of my birthday money went on a couple of books but while I was waiting for them to drop through the letterbox I realised I had nothing much to read.
Never a good situation to be in.
Once upon a time I used to pick up interesting old poetry books on my travels. Some I've read, some I haven't. And at the bottom of a dusty pile was 'A Countryman's Anthology'. I'd never even opened it before. I was in for a nice surprise. The pages are beautifully illustrated and the paper is tissue-thin and very delicate. My copy dates from 1946; the poems are themed and dreamily evocative.
My birthday books arrived a few days later: The Darling Buds of May (just because), and Elizabeth Jane Howard's The Light Years.
I've read the Larkin books many times but want to have my own set. The Darling Buds is still an absolute joy to read and I devoured it in three evenings. The food, the countryside, the characters - wonderful bedtime reading (if you don't mind going to sleep hungry and fantasising about fried breakfasts and roast goose).
I wanted to try the Cazalet books as I've heard some of the dramatisations of various chronicles on Woman's Hour. Elizabeth Jane Howard is by all accounts a very good writer and, several pages in, I have to say I'm definitely getting along with The Light Years (despite the daunting list of characters which greets you at the start of the book).
It's right up my street in terms of era (I love anything set in the early to mid-twentieth century) and subject matter (family drama). So yes, back to the familiar. Interesting, really - we're gearing up for the house move back home to the hills and I've returned to my reading comfort zone. Sometimes it's a good thing.
Joining in with Laura's Year in Books.