Saturday, July 20, 2013

I’m round the heel and swirling down the foot.


Mary Lou sent me P.D. James’ list – here it is:

Tragedy at Law, by Cyril Hare (1943)
● The Franchise Affair, by Josephine Tey (1949)
● The Moving Toyshop, by Edmund Crispin (1946)
● Murder Must Advertise, by Dorothy L. Sayers (1933)
● Dissolution, by C.J. Sansom (2003)

I think I’ve read them all except Sansom, so that goes on my list. Too often, looking in a bookshop for Catherine Sampson’s latest, I have found it not there and the space occupied by C.J. Sansom. I sort of resent him or her as a result, and have never read a syllable. But with an endorsement like that…

MaureenTakoma, I found (so to speak) “Talking About Detective Fiction” yesterday, before I got your comment, by googling “P.D. James Edmund Crispin”. It sounds as if it’s free to one’s Kindle, and I really ought to try to get it if only to consolidate the skills I acquired when I converted the .doc manuscript granddaughter Hellie sent me, into a real Kindle book.

(But today’s job is to figure out how to read a .docx attachment on my antiquated equipment.)

And, Kristie, I like your idea of producing a top-ten must-read list of my own. And it would be a LIST – the feature recommended by that silly article I read recently, about how to make your blog better. Does it have to be just thrillers? Perhaps two lists.

I’ll study the shelves when we get to Kirkmichael next week. A lifetime’s accumulation of light reading is mostly housed there. But I think I also want to do – perhaps a separate list –  Major Books that turn out not to be boring. Pride & Prejudice, Il Gattopardo, Trollope. The secret with him is to get past Barchester and Phineas Finn and all that stuff, out into the open air. You’d be surprised how good “The American Senator” is, and I’m greatly looking forward to “Orley Farm” at the moment. “Castle Richmond”, set in Ireland during the potato famine, is far from his best but the background is unforgettable.


I like the look of Amy Herzog’s Nantasket pattern. I also like the sound of her new venture, not yet launched – a website where you can go and open an account and type in your embarrassing measurements, and your gauge, and choose a pattern-type from a wide range. The software then generates a custom-fit pattern for you on the Herzog principles, and only then do you pay for it. Starting up in the autumn. We shall see.


Yesterday I discovered flatbread. You will be astonished – 80 years old and she didn’t know about flatbread? I can’t remember how I stumbled across it. The recipe is utterly simple – google, and you’ll even find it on cooking-for-students websites. And utterly biblical – that story about the prophet or angel who went to visit an old woman who had only some meal and some oil, so she made him a pancake and he arranged that she should have an ever-flowing supply of meal and oil so that she could go on making flatbread forever.

That’s the recipe (plus a bit of salt and some warm water). No leavening whatsoever. Dry-fry in a small pan. Then you can add some pizza-type toppings and put it in the oven for a while. I did that, but I don’t think toppings were available to the old woman in the Bible.


  1. dissolution is the first of five in the "shardlake" series by sansom. I read them all and felt for the main character and his problems. I always check out, to find out which book comes first or if there are more by the author/in a series...
    happy reading
    Bettina (from ireland, where it is far too hot for my liking)

  2. Yes please - two lists would be even better! :-)

  3. Anonymous10:36 PM

    I am beta-testing Amy Herzog's CustomFit software in August, and am greatly looking forward to it. I also love Allingham and Tey. I must try Crispin and Sayers.


  4. Anonymous12:41 AM

    Dissolution, and all of the othe Sansom's should be must reads on your list, but do all the Matthew Sharlakes first. He is an oddly excellent companion to Hilary'll find out why when you read them! The last time we went to London, we trudged around with a copy of his map of Tudor London stuck in our guidebook...bliss for a history buff!