I think this is the first time since I have started my monthly prompts where I have not finished reading last month's prompt before moving on to the next month! It is a sign of my disorganized life at the moment. In this case, however, the book in question is Susan Hill's book of essays Howards End is on the Landing, which really seems a book that you read at leisure one essay at a time and not in a big unwieldy gulp. (Not to say you don't want to move on to each new essay quickly). I am past the halfway mark and with each essay I am either jotting down titles, pulling books from my own shelves or thinking "I really need to share this here . . .". But I don't like to give it all away and ruin the pleasure of discovery for other readers. So I will just continue my leisurely pace and think about May.
I can't believe May is here, and now is the time when I want the days to slow down. Now that the threat of snow is behind us (though next come rainstorms and all that comes with severe weather), I want to draw the nice days out for as long as I can. In celebration of the world turning green and colorful again it seems fitting that my prompt this month is "House and Garden". I kind of had in mind the book I thought I would read (and I think it will likely be my choice in the end), but when I went to my shelves to browse I came away with an even larger stack than you see here. (Must be reasonable in my choices, right?).
So here are the choices with the starred book the one I am contemplating reading this month. It's still fun to peruse the rest. I want to read them all, of course.
Garden of Lies by Amanda Quick -- My one novel of the stack. It looks like pure escapism and I have had this on my pile for ages. ". . . a gripping novel of intrigue, murder, and unexpected romance set against the backdrop of Victorian London." Not terribly highbrow but it looks like pure fun.
Wild Hares & Hummingbirds: The Natural History of An English Village by Stephen Moss -- I've read and enjoyed Moss before and I am very keen on this one, too. "This ancient country parish has been reclaimed from the sea over many centuries and today the landscape bears witness to its eventful past, and is criss-crossed with watery ditches and broad droves, down which livestock was once taken to market. These are now home to a rich selection of wildlife: rooks and roe deer; sparrows and snowdrops; buzzards, badgers and butterflies; the iconic brown hare and the spectacular hummingbird hawk-moth. As the year unfolds, Moss witnesses the landscape as it passes from deep snow to spring blossom, through the heat haze of summer to the chill winds of autumn; from the first hazel catkins to the swallows returning from Africa; from the sounds of the dawn chorus to the nocturnal mysteries of moths. Wild Hares and Hummingbirds is both the story of a small corner of the West Country and a celebration of the natural world."
The Morville Hours: The Story of a Garden by Katherine Swift -- I remember when this first came out and was hugely popular and everyone seemed to be reading it! (I have the sequel, too). "In 1988 Katherine Swift arrived at the Dower House at Morville to create a garden of her own. This beautifully written, utterly absorbing book is the history of the many people who have lived in the same Shropshire house, tending the same soil, passing down stories over the generations. Spanning thousands of years, The Morville Hours takes the form of a medieval Book of Hours. It is a meditative journey through the seasons, but also a journey of self-exploration. It is a book about finding one's place in the world and putting down roots."
*Merry Hall by Beverley Nichols -- I have Simon at Stuck in a Book to thank for this one and it seems most perfect for this prompt! My library has a number of his books--originals from when they were first published, so the name was not unknown but I had never gotten around to more than looking at them on the shelves. This is the first in a trilogy, though he was a very prolific writer. "Merry Hall is the account of the restoration of a house and garden in post-war England. Though Mr. Nichols's horticultural undertaking is serious, his writing is high-spirited, riotously funny, and, at times, deliciously malicious." My copy appears to be a print on demand, so not as nice as an original print run, but the covers are really lovely.
The Magic Apple Tree: A Country Year by Susan Hill -- I suppose I should give another book/author a chance since I am already immersed in one of Hill's books, but this looks a treat, too. "Looking out from Moon Cottage, Susan Hill records the sights and smells, the people, gardens, animals, births, festivals and deaths that mark the changing-seasons in the small Oxfordshire community."
They all sound so good! I see that my list is all British, though I am sure there must be loads of good books about American house and gardens (if you have read a particularly good one, you know I am always open to book suggestions). The one downside of reading about British nature is not being familiar with the natural geography. I know where things are and can look them up in an atlas, but it's not the same as knowing what the natural environment is like I do in the US. Still, a good writer can transport anyone to where they are writing about.