Review: Charlotte Fairlie by D.E. Stevenson


My Interest

After messing up #DeanStreetDecember, I had to redeem myself for #readindies!  This one was on my Kindle and sounded fun, so…..Not only redeeming myself, but “rescuing” an impulse Kindle buy and actually reading it. Once again though, I am struggling with print reading. Never mind! #DeanStreetPress gets most of my indie money and they never disappoint.

Thanks to Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings for hosing #readindies month. (WordPress isn’t liking hyperlinks, so here is the link:


The Story

“Far in the distance there were purple hills, their outlines softened by haze. All the colours were clean–like the colours in a brand new paintbox–and the sunshie was so strong that the very air seemed to glitter….”

Girls boarding school headmistress Charlotte is leading a predictably drab life. An old harpy of a teacher on her nerves, platonic almost work dates with a local headmaster, and all the drama only a group of women aged 8 to death, shut up in a school together can deliver.

“Charlotte saw a tall man with a brown face and hazel eyes…his hair was the colour of old mahogany, dark reddish brown, with copper tints where the sun had caught it….he was full of life and vigour….He was in full rig to-night, with kilt and silver buttoned doublet and lace falls at neck and wrists….he wore his finery with same unconscious ease as the old faded kilt…and patched tweed jacket which he wore upon the hill.”

But Charlotte does take an interest in her students. One girl,       comes from a local home with a very odd father. Another, Tessa MacRynne, in a on an island off Scotland–the island is her father’s estate. When it comes to pass that Charlotte is to spend part of her holiday on the island with the two girls and the local girl’s young brothers, her life starts to improve. One reason for this is Rory–the Red MacRynne!

My Thoughts

Probably because I was forced to spend 40 hours a week at a desk surrounded by out-of-control, cliquish women, I actually must say I found the first part of this book….sssslllooowww. I got very tired of the old shrew.  Sir Joseph was right, she was “An obnoxious female” indeed! Thankfully, once Charlotte stepped off the plane and into the boat (I love how in the UK everything is a “yacht”) to go across to Targ–the island estate, had time allowed I’d have finished it in one sitting. Exactly the sort of book I needed at that moment–greatly helped by a big Scotsman named Rory (a favorite name of mine since before the Gilmore Girls made it a girls name).

And then there’s that last little gift….what boy wouldn’t want to grow up to be the “factor” on a Laird’s island estate? Too swoony.

The tedious beginning (there is setting the atmosphere and then there is making it so real you can’t escape it–a lost art today) was annoying, but Targ and the world that existed upon it more than compensated.

Charlotte Fairlie by D.E. Stevenson. For once I read the print (Kindle) version, which is only $2.99  Link to book–Wordpress is not liking hyperlinks.

Is it my imagination or is Rory (on the book’s cover above) wearing the Lord of the Isle tartan which someone else is modeling below? 

Photo from by Tim Graham of Tim Graham Photo Library [Wordpress is being weird with hyperlinks]


Photograph: Tim Graham/Tim Graham Photo Library found HERE


Read Indies Month Review: My Father’s House: A Novel by Joseph O’Connor


My Interest

So much to attract my attention here! Getting the “good guys” away from the Nazis! A priest! Rome & the Vatican! Sign me up! That it is from an Independent Publisher and

Thank you to blogger What Cathy Read Next for alerting me to this book. Won’t you click to read her review, too, and leave her a nice comment? We bloggers live off comments!

Thank you to Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings for hosting the event!

The Story

“…doing it feels the burden it is”

This wss book is inspired by the heroic, real life Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty.

World War II is rumbling on. in 1943-1944, the Nazis are in control of Rome. Many people have fled across the painted line that denotes Vatican City–a sovereign country within the city of Rome. O’Flaherty, aided by a band of friends from all walks of life and a variety of countries of origin, form an underground escape network for Allied POWS or Jews. They meet and cover their meetings–actually held one-on-one between Hugh and one person, while rehearsing as a choir.

“…the many-roomed emptiness”

Like Daisy Jones and the Six, this book uses “documentary” chapters featuring “interviews” later in life with some of the principal characters. Through these we learn much more about the characters, how they knew Hugh and what their lives became.

My Thoughts

I was drawn in immediately to this story. I had never heard of this author, who is Irish, but I will definitely read more by him. In fact, it says this is part one of a trilogy, The Rome Escape Line Trilogy, so that is very exciting. The characters were so real. O’Connor is a very astute student of human nature. His turn of phrase–I’ve quoted my two favorite little lines, is wonderful. O’Connor’s Hugh is a master at the game of cat and mouse and the final twist was not one I saw coming! He was so adept at seeing the “game” and getting the playbook just right before handing out the assigned plays–he could coach the Super Bowl winning team.

FYI: Though I finished it too early, another reader could use this for Reading Ireland Month, hosted by another wonderful blogger, and another Cathy–this time Cathy at 746 Books. The print version of this book is from Europa Editions. I listened to the audio version. I will be trying out a few more of this indie publishers titles.

My Verdict


My Father’s House: A Novel by Joseph O’Connor



Reading Ireland Month

Cathy at 746 Books is again hosting the wonderful Reading Ireland Month challenge next month in March. I discovered the utterly amazing novel, Milkman: A Novel by Anna Burns, by participating in this challenge. I like this type event for one great reason: I discover wonderful book I wouldn’t have found otherwise.

This year, Cathy has the following (optional) themed weeks:

Themed Weeks (if you want)

Intro Week:    1 – 5 March 

Irish Classics Week: 6 -12 March

Contemporary Irish Week: 13 – 19 March

Short Story Week: 20 – 26 March

Non- Fiction Week: 27 – 31 March          

If you need some inspiration, check out Cathy’s list of 100 Irish Novels and 100 Novels by Irish Women Writers. Why not join in with A Year with William Trevor and treat yourself to one of his short story collections or novels?

Please be sure to use these hashtags on your posts/tweets/whatever: #readingirelandmonth23 or #begorrathon23

What I May Read/Listen to


I’ve requested Say Nothing on audio from the library. I had it when it first came out, but it didn’t suit the moment and I sent it back–I’m like that. Foster-I hope so! Some Brian Moore again, too. This one (and a few others) are on sale here in the U.S. for Kindle for $2.99 which, with my new job paying so little, is a very helpful price. The Doctor’s Wife.


What I’ve Read in Past Years

My VERY VERY VERY favorite


The Kindle version is now included in Kindle Unlimited if you have a subscription. I listened to it–I highly recommend listening to it. Milkman: A Novel by Anna Burns was my favorite novel of that year.



Currently, Amazon has the audio book for less than the Kindle version–it is very short, too. Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan is only 70 pages–an easy way to join in.



Is his name pronounced Brian in the American way or “Bree-ann”??? The Statement: A Novel.


Thanks again, to Cathy at 746 Books for hosting this fun event.


A DNF–Chestnut Man by Søren Sveistrup, translated by Caroline Waight

First, thank you to AnnaBookBel for taking the time to create the wonderful Nordic Finds reading challenge–now in it’s second year. I love to try books from other countries, translated from other languages, and challenges like this provide ready access to often easily available books that are favorably reviewed.

Let me be clear about Chestnut Man this is not a book I dnf-ed because it is “bad.” The writing is very good. I was invested in a few characters. Nordic Noir is a genre that interested me, but I know my limits. I quit Anne Perry’s William Monk series–which I loved and nearly, yes nearly, threw back the newest Chief Inspector Gamache book for the same reason I DNF-ed Chestnut Man: an underground room in which unspeakable things were done to the most vulnerable. When I reached those few lines in the audio book I had to pull off the road. It was too much for me. I couldn’t take it. I feel things too much. Had that part not been in there I’m sure I’d have finished.

I am not condemning, nor am I asking for labels or censorship. My heart and soul, my mind, just cannot deal with that topic. I will try again with a different book.

The Chestnut Man: A Novel by Soren Sveistrup, translated by Caroline Waight

Japanese Lit Challenge Review: Before Your Memory Fades by Toshikazu Kawaguchi, translate by Geoffrey Trousselot


My Interest

In prior Japanese Literature Challenges, I unexpectedly discovered this little series of books that feature time travel from cafes. Time travel is not normally my thing, but these books, and their audio reader, are so delightful I was excited to see there was a third book!

Confession: This was actually the last book I finished in December. I’m still counting it. It just came in a little early at the library, but was ordered for this challenge.

The Story

Instead of Tokoyo’s Funiculi Funicula, this story is set in near the Japanese port city of Hakodate at the Donna Donna cafe. Similar set-up–you can not go back and change what will happen.  You can only visit with someone who has visited the cafe.

This time we have mostly a family story. Parents killed in a car crash, the daughter survives and grows up bitter. She goes back to face her parents. There is much more to the story, of course, but that’s the gist. There’s also the guy who wanted to be a comedian and his wife encouraged him, but she died. He goes back to show her he won and award for his comedy. And, finally there’s a story of missed opportunity in love. These are not spoilers–they are in the blurb and known them won’t ruin anything.

My Thoughts

I loved these stories–especially the girl who lost her parents. As a child I used to imagine this  happening to me–and having to go live with my aunt and uncle and my only-child cousin. I could see myself at about  age 11 wanting to travel to the future (Stark Trek was on then) and tell my folks how awful it all had been. LOL. Thank heaven it never happened to me! The story is very poignant–well, the stories (plural) are all very poignant and that’s why I’ve loved these books. I’ve listened to the audio versions.

Before Your Memory Fades by Toshikazu Kawaguchi, translate by Geoffrey Trousselot

My Reviews of the First Two Books

Before the Coffee Gets Cold (Book 1)

Tales From the Cafe (Book 2)

There’s still time to join in with the 2023 Japanese Literature Challenge 16 hosted by Dolce Bellezza


Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2022 Wrap up

Historical Fiction

Oh dear! I signed up for this, did a lot of reading, but forgot to go back and post my reviews or hash-tag them. I am truly sorry Intrepid Reader! It is wonderful of you to host this year-long challenge. I’ve made sure to hash-tag this post! #histficreadingchallenge

I did my Mid-Year post here. Click the link, then scroll down to the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge icon.

I’m never sure if books written as contemporaries are “historical fiction”–no matter! If in doubt, I’ve included them above. I had some historical fiction DNFs, too this year, most notably The Call of the Wrens. I should have DNF-ed my least favorite, too, but didn’t since it was from NetGalley.

My Historical Fiction Reading July–December of 2022

Favorite New Books


  1. Last Summer on State Street
  2. The Netanyahus
  3. Our Last Days in Barcelona

Last Summer on State Street takes place in the 1999. Some may say that isn’t “historical.” It is. I lived through them–as an adult with a mortgage, a 401(k) and more. What’s more, an entire way of life ended that year in Chicago. Historical.  My reviews are linked.

Favorite Older Books

In spite of controversy I knew nothing about, I loved every minute of How Green Was My Valley. It’s hard to top that one, but the great Lady Browning–Daphne DuMaurier may have done so! (Nice nod here to Bloomsbury Girls-read it to know why).


My Least Favorite (not including DNFs)


Little Souls by Sandra Dallas (my review is linked)

My Favorite Book of the Year

Check back on Saturday when I announce my favorite books of the year for historical fiction, fiction, and non-fiction!

Did you participate in this Challenge? Leave me a link to your post. Or, if you did not, but have a post on your favorite historical fiction books this year–leave me that link. Or, a comment!

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Recent Additions to My Book Collection



Kindle First Reads pick for December. I can’t remember the last one of these I actually read….Maybe this one will get read? Five Winters: A Novel by Kitty Johnson



I ran out of steam on Christmas books, but this one is in the running for next year. Snowfall Over Halesmere House by Suzanne Snow.



Another now on the list for 2023. I grabbed this on sale since I loved her 25 Days Till Christmas.


I hated the cover on the audio version I bought, so here is the much nicer cover from the Kindle edition. Miss Buncle’s Book.



One of the reasons I got an Audible subscription (and kept it after my drastic drop in income) was to listen to the newest Chief Inspector Gamache book each year when it appears. Also, to listen to the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency’s newest installment. Mari Kondo said keep things that “spark job”–these spark joy. I don’t usually review series books, but I enjoyed this one so much! A World of Curiosities.


Another probably doomed free Kindle book! The cover is wonderful and her books all sound wonderful. Maybe? The Vibrant Years: A Novel by Sonali Dev.


Me who has loved every Dean Street Press/Furrowed Middlebrow book I’ve read or listened to, dropped the ball pretty badly on the inaugural #DeanStreetDecember. This one I’m sure will get read eventually. Wine of Honor by Barbara Beauchamp.



What Happened to the Corbetts by Nevile Shute was excellent. My review is linked.



A Song of Comfortable Chairs by Alexander McCall Smith is the newest in the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency Series. And, thankfully, Lisette LeCat is back as the narrator! Wonderful! Like with Chief Inspector Gamache, I always listen to these books. I made an exception and reviewed this book–my review is linked.



I think this was September’s free doomed book. The Fire and the Ore: A Novel by Olivia Hawker


Check out the rules at That Artsy Reader Girl and join in next week!

Classics Club Spin #32


What is the spin?

It’s easy. At your blog, before next Sunday 11th Decmber, 2022, create a post that lists twenty books of your choice that remain “to be read” on your Classics Club list.

This is your Spin List.  On December 11th a number will be draw and you match it up to the book on your list. Read all the information here at The Classics

My List

I change my list up so that the books are doable for the time period. I can’t always do a huge book–even on audio right now. I’ve read through many, many of the best known “classics” already so I’m stretching a little on what I call a “classic.” My list, my choices, lol.


  1. A Son at the Front by Edith Wharton
  2. Miss Buncle’s Book by DE Stevenson
  3. Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome (Serial Reader) 
  4. 42nd Parallel by John Dos Passos
  5. Vera by Elizabeth Von Arnim
  6. Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell
  7. Mornings in Mexico by DH Lawrence
  8. The Glass Blowers by Daphne Du Maurier
  9. House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
  10. Lost Horizon by James Hilton
  11. Portrait of a Marriage by Vita Sackville West
  12. Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (Serial Reader)
  13. Light Years by Elizabeth Jane Howard
  14. Sea of Grass by Conrad Richter
  15. Miss Ranskill Comes Home by Barbara Euphan Todd
  16. O! Pioneers by Willa Cather (Serial Reader)
  17. Whose Body? by Dorothy Sayers
  18. Burmese Days by George Orwell
  19. Mariana by Monica Dickens
  20. Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay

Are you participating in this Spin? Leave me a link to your post or just leave a comment.

Dean Street Press December


Thanks to blogger Liz Dexter at Adventures in Reading for hosting this fun new event.

Here’s what she says about how it all works:

How will it work?

So, here’s how it will work. On 1 December I [Liz] will publish a start-off post where I [Liz] invite other readers to share links to the books they read during the month. Read your book(s) and comment on the post with a link to your blog post, Goodreads review or other place where you’ve written about your read. I [Liz] will also read and review books during the month and add my own links; please also feel free to chat about those books and visit other people’s links during the month and afterwards.

What I May Read

These are ALL on my Kindle begging to be read! If I had to make a guess, I ‘d say Mrs Tim Carries On will get my attention. Any that are on Audible will likely get moved to the top of the list–I don’t have my 1.25 hour (each way) commute but I do get to listen 1/2 hour each way and an hour at lunch most days. I’d go for anything on audio–two Audible credits burning a hole in my pocket! The stress of any new job means you need to unwind. Dean Street Press’s Furrowed Middlebrow books are perfect for unwinding.

Dean Street Press Books I Enjoyed Within the Last Year

My Reviews:

  1. Spring Magic
  2. A Winter Away
  3. Chelsea Concerto (nonfiction)

DSP Reviews from other years:

  1. Miss Plum and Miss Penny
  2. Dear Hugo
  3. Mrs. Lorimer’s Quiet Summer
  4. Winter and Rough Weather
  5. A House in the Country

Are you participating in #DeanStreetDecember? Do you have a favorite Dean Street Press book or author? Leave me a comment or a link to your own post

Read all about the fun of Dean Street December here at Liz’s blog.

November Reading Events Tally

November has too many great reading events! Thankfully, I started a new job this month, so my participation was curtailed by the exhaustion of all day in new surroundings, all day surrounded by people, and all day learning new things. So, my goals were a little too lofty this year!


Sorry, German Literature, but you were the one that got lost in the crowd this time. No worries–I’d already read one German book in translation this year.


My Nevile Shute reading put me in good stead this year. I finished my second book by the Australian author at the start of the month. I reviewed What Happened to the Corbetts by Nevil Shute (Also titled The Ordeal) and the newer Jane Harper novel Lost Man.



Nonfiction November is an event I look forward to each year. This year I did “ok,” not great, but “ok.” I finished two audio books–Christmas Far From Home about Christmas in the Korean War and The Women of Rothschild, a biography of the women of that famous family.



I had big hopes for little books this year! But Novellas in November just didn’t go very far this time. A few “double dips”–books that worked for this and some other reading challenge or event. I reviewed A Christmas Escape by Anne Perry which “doubled” with 20 Books of Christmas, and What Happened to the Corbetts which doubled with Aus Reading Month.



20 Books for Christmas is still on going, so I’m not done. I’m trying to just use Christmas themed books–fiction or nonfiction. So, I reviewed Christmas Far From Home (nonfiction), The Christmas Escape,   The Christmas Bookshop, Mistletoe and Magic for the Cornish Midwife, and another book I’m reviewing on Monday.

I also read two other books, too long for NovNov and not Christmas Themed Meredith, Alone and The Blue Castle.

Have you done a November reading round-up type post? Have you read any of these books? Read anything else you think I’d want to know about? Leave me a comment or a link to your post!

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