No Holly for Miss Quinn by Miss Read ***
I really enjoyed the first Thrush Green book I came across, and jumped at the chance of reading a lovely orange-spined Christmas story which forms part of another of Miss Read’s series, Fairacre. It seems as though No Holly for Miss Quinn is relatively far on in the series, but each novel is self-contained, so it does not really seem to matter if they are read out of order. This book tells the story of Miriam Quinn, a spinster of sorts, who moves into Holly Cottage with a lovely lady named Joan Benson, following the close deaths of Joan’s husband and mother-in-law. Rather than be left to settle in, Miriam is soon swept away to Norfolk to care for her brother’s children whilst his wife is ordered to stay in hospital over Christmas. The entire book is quaint and quite charming, as I expect the whole series to be. I did not enjoy it as much as I did News from Thrush Green, but it was a nice little read nonetheless.
The Crowded Street by Winifred Holtby ****
I love Holtby’s writing and look forward to each of her novels. The Crowded Street is the second book which she wrote, and it was first published in 1924. The story itself begins in 1900, and is written beautifully. The first chapter particularly is utterly sublime. I love the descriptions which she crafts, and she clearly understands her characters so well. I was rather fond throughout of the protagonist Muriel, particularly when she was young. I very much enjoyed the way in which the plot is split into separate sections to denote time moving forward. The entirety of The Crowded Street is so absorbing.
Holtby is definitely one of my favourite authors on the entire Virago list. Her stories never fail to disappoint, and her characters – particularly the protagonists – are so memorable. Whilst I did not quite adore this as I did The Land of Green Ginger, it is still a marvellous novel.
The Ersatz Elevator by Lemony Snicket ****
I have been warned against using Wikipedia countless times, and usually search out more reliable websites in my quest for information, but this time I failed miserably. Before I ordered The Ersatz Elevator, hoping to continue with my reading of the Series of Unfortunate Events books in order, I quickly looked up the chronological order in which the books were published. I knew that the next book which I needed was the fifth, and Wikipedia told me that The Ersatz Elevator was the fifth published. Naturally, I ordered it. When it arrived however, I found that I had actually purchased the sixth book rather than the fifth. Having put myself on a pre-Christmas book-buying ban, and being too impatient to wait until the new year to supplement my collection with the correct volume, I decided to begin regardless. The books in the series are rather predictable in that you know something troublesome is always going to happen which puts the lives of the Baudelaire orphans in peril, but they will always overcome it in the most clever of ways. The Ersatz Elevator is really very clever, and is certainly the most original plot in the series so far.