Happy belated Saint Patrick’s Day! I hope everyone enjoyed the great Irish saint’s feast day.
I occasionally share with you book recommendations and learned on last month’s blog tour for Cast for Murder that readers like to know what’s on an author’s reading list. Here then are some titles I’ve recently enjoyed.
I just finished An Irish Country Practice, the latest in Patrick Taylor’s Irish Country series. I love Taylor’s work and always read his newest offering around Saint Patrick’s Day. The series is set in the 1960’s in Ballybucklebo, a small village in Northern Ireland. In his last few books, Taylor alternated between the past and present of main character Fingal O’Reilly’s life. Though those stories were enjoyable (and rich in Irish history), I’m pleased An Irish Country Practice takes place fully in 1967 and involves many of the characters I’ve grown to love (that includes Arthur, O’Reilly’s Labrador retriever). There are joys and sorrows across the pages and, as always in this warmhearted series, the villagers come together to support each other. I highly recommend you check out this book and the entire series.
I also recently read what I call my Old Man Widower Trilogy (though none of the characters is really that old, at least to me). I started with Phaedra Patrick’s The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper. I loved this book. Arthur, almost seventy, is an Englishman who has been a widower for a year. He spends most of his time puttering around his house, talking to a plant he’s named Frederica, and missing his late wife, Miriam. After he finds a charm bracelet among Miriam’s possessions, a piece of jewelry Arthur has never seen, his curiosity launches him on a journey (including a misadventure with a tiger) to learn the secrets of Miriam’s past. Arthur learns much about himself, too, and the people closest to him. I cheered for and was inspired by him. It’s only March, but I bet this will be one of my favorite reads of the year.
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson features another Englishman, the sixty-eight-year-old Major Ernest Pettigrew. He has been a widower for six years and is mourning the recent passing of his brother when he suddenly finds himself attracted to shopkeeper Jasmina Ali. Though she is British-born, Jasmina isn’t fully accepted in the village because of her Pakistani heritage. The romance blooms slowly as the couple faces prejudice from both family and villagers, notably at an ill-advised party at the local country club. I rooted for Major Pettigrew and Jasmina as individuals and a couple, and wanted to punch several of the other characters for their offensive behavior. This is a charming, original love story, a tale that still lingers in my mind.
It took me a while to warm to A Man Called Ove and author Fredrik Backman’s writing style. Ove lacks the sweetness of Arthur Pepper and the appeal of Major Pettigrew. He’s gruff, stubborn, and impatient, traits that have alienated him from his neighbors and friends. Like his new neighbor Parvaneh, I hung in there with Ove and was rewarded with a lovely story about a man who has a generous heart. Ove takes care of those around him in his own way and wants no fanfare for it. I wasn’t so sure about this book at the start, but I’m all in now and eager to see the well-reviewed, award-winning film adaptation.
How about you? What books are currently on your nightstand? I love to receive book recommendations as much as I enjoy giving them.
Have a great week. Spring officially begins on Tuesday, though I think Mother Nature still has a bit of winter weather to dole out.