Posted in Book review, Humour, Photography

Book review: “Bone idle”

“Bone idle” by Suzette A Hill (2009), fiction

The recommendations on the back of this book are as follows: “An intriguingly quirky read” (Leslie Phillips), and “E F Benson crossed with Jerome K Jerome” (The Times).

Bone idle by Suzette A Hill
“Bone idle” by Suzette A Hill

I picked up this book in a second-hand bookshop on holiday in Wigtown a couple of weeks ago, when I was looking for something light and entertaining as bedtime reading.

The protagonist is a likeable English vicar who has murdered one of his parishioners but has, thus far, escaped justice. On the first page, reference is made to a previous novel (“A load of old bones”) which apparently tells the tale of this murder. The fact that I hadn’t read the previous novel didn’t spoil my enjoyment of this one, although now that I’ve read this one I’d like to read the first one.

The Reverend Francis Oughterard is Canon at St Boltoph’s in Surrey, and the book has a definite English flavour to it. The tale is told in the first person, mainly by Oughterard under chapters headed ‘The Vicar’s Version’, but also occasionally from the point of view of his cat, Maurice (chapters headed ‘The Cat’s Memoir’), and his dog, Bouncer (‘The Dog’s Diary’). Each of the voices is distinctive and I enjoyed the unusual touch of having the vicar’s pets give their angle on the story.

There was no specific mention of the decade in which the novel is set, but since the vicar has a car and a telephone and listens to the wireless rather than watching television, my guess is the 1950s.

Oughterard has a gift for getting embroiled in dodgy dealings and trouble of all sorts, but gives the impression that he would much rather lead a quiet, uneventful life. I got slightly confused between some of the female characters from the parish, but the main characters were, I thought, well described and convincingly written.

I enjoyed the setting, pace and style of this book and I’ll be looking out for more by the same author. I was interested to read on her website that despite being an English graduate who spent her working life teaching English Literature, she didn’t write any fiction of her own until well in to her sixties.

It was only when I was sixty-four and well retired, that out of idle curiosity I thought I might try my hand at a short story – just to see what writing fiction felt like. I found out: and to my ongoing surprise the Bones series is the result!

The first of the series, A Load Of Old Bones, was rejected by everybody – agents and publishers alike – and feeling that at my age time was running out, I felt forced to self-publish.

Being idle and having no business experience, this was a terrifying prospect but somehow it worked and the paperback sold well. And a year later, with the sequel Bones In The Belfry finished, I was much relieved to be offered a contract by the publishers Constable & Robinson. Jubilation all round

This information is of particular interest to me, given my current situation, and has given me some food for thought.

I would recommend “Bone idle” to anyone looking for a light, humorous novel. As indicated by The Times review, if you like Jerome K Jerome or E F Benson I think there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy this.


Posted in Friday letters, Humour, Writing

Friday letters – 1 April 2016

Dear J K Rowling, for the past few days, while reading “Harry Potter and the order of the phoenix”, Professor Umbridge has been reminding me of someone but I couldn’t quite think who it was. Last night I realised it was Donald Trump and it seems I’m not alone in noticing the resemblance. (If you want to see what I mean, click here.)

Dear spring flowers, I’ve been waiting patiently for you to bloom this year and although a small number of you have finally come out and are looking beautiful, there seems to be considerable sluggishness elsewhere. If you wait too long the summer flowers will be muscling in on your display and you don’t want that, do you? Carpe diem!

Dear warm air, according to the forecasters you’re coming up from France at the weekend and enveloping the south of England in your comforting embrace. Why stop there? Keep going north and you’ll be made very welcome.

Dear Easter chocolate, I’m astonished there’s still so much of you left. An unopened Cadbury’s Easter bunny sits on my bookcase, next to a little bit of remaining Chocolate Buttons egg, another smaller hollow chocolate egg and a Malteaster minibunny.

Dear Tesco, I really didn’t need to yield to your tempting offer of 5 Malteaster minibunnies for the bargain price of 50p (see letter above). Despite finding them sickly sweet, I confess a 66% reduction seemed too good to miss.

Dear Prestat Marc de Champagne Truffles, what a wonderful gift you were from a dear friend of mine. When it comes to chocolate nibbling time I don’t know how to choose. Although you’ve landed on me at a time of great abundance (see letters above) your five different truffle options are extremely thrilling.

Posted in Friday letters, Humour, Writing

Friday letters – 18 March 2016

Inspired by Elaine’s wonderful Friday letters on her blog, I thought I’d pen a few of my own.

Dear wood pigeons, I apologise for the persecution you routinely face in our garden. If it were up to me you’d be welcome to peck up as much seed as you wanted from underneath the bird feeders, but alas one amongst our number is sizeist. My dear mama doesn’t care for anything bigger than a blackbird, unless it’s a crow (impressive problem solving skills), a pheasant (rare visitors with novelty value), or a thrush (rarity value and a lovely song).

Dear postie, I wonder if you realise how much joy you spread with your energetic delivery methods. Watching you leg it along the street, run up the driveway and vault over fences brings endless pleasure to us all.

Dear McVitie’s, Usually, when biscuits get smaller over time I’m disappointed by the shrinkage, but when it comes to Rich Teas you’ve done me a service. I remember in my youth having to nibble the edge off a Rich Tea in order to fit it into my mug. Today’s smaller circumference allows me to dunk an entire un-nibbled biscuit straight into my tea, which is far more satisfactory.

Dear weather, You were absolutely magnificent on Monday. Since then, you’ve gone back to your recent default setting of cold, grey and cloudy. Don’t let those gloom-mongering forecasters dictate to you. Whip out your golden rays and show them who’s boss.

Dear Elaine, Thank you for introducing me to Friday letters, I so much enjoy reading yours. 🙂