Partners In Crime by Agatha Christie

Originally Published – 1929

My edition is the 2015 printing from Harper Collins in paperback.

Agatha Christie bring back married detective duo, Tommy and Tuppence, in Partners in Crime for a unique set of short story mysteries that have a fun twist. The books consists of over 15 stories featuring the sleuths in their new agency that is a front for the government’s spy network. Though a couple of them revolve around the covert spy organization, most feature fairly run of the mill puzzles.

As the stories progress, Tommy finds a collection of crime novels in the office they are using and decides to model his personality and sleuthing style for the cases after one of these famous detectives. It was quite fun to research the mentioned books and authors as many were new to me. I liked that Christie added these real authors and their works to this book, as it made it unique. Reading the sarcastically clever conversations between Tommy and Tuppence as they tried their hand at sleuthing in the famous detectives styles and trying to “one-up” each other was such fun.

The witty banter between the married couple has actually been my favorite aspect of the Tommy and Tuppence series. I was unfortunate enough to watch some of the BBC One adaptation that streams on AcornTV and was not shocked that it ended after one season. They made them out to be two bitter, broke individuals who hated each other, which is the exact opposite from how Christie wrote them. It was such a disappointment. I think of all her books, this series has the most humor and wit and deserves to be remembered as such.

All Quiet On The Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

Originally Published – 1928

My edition was borrowed through our local library.

Having recently watched the 2023 Academy Awards where the movie adaptation for All Quiet On The Western Front won several awards, I was inspired to pick up a copy of the book from my local library when I spotted it on the shelves. Outside of knowing the novel was about soldiers during WWI, I had no other knowledge of the story going into the book, and quite frankly was surprised at how much the overall story moved me.

AQOTWF follows the story of Paul Baumer and his fellow soldiers as they fight for the Germans in WWI. There are, of course, many scenes of battle, but they held a much greater sense of destruction and senseless loss of life than I had expected. The graphic descriptions of death were jarring, but in a way that was eye-opening for those of us who have no concept of what war is actually like. Included in the text are passages that touch on the reasons behind war and who is actually in the “right”. It’s very thought-provoking.

Of all the scenes in the book that I believe will stay with me for the remainder of my life, one stands out above the rest. Paul and his friends have a leave where they are able to visit their families at home. Those around him simply cannot comprehend the atrocities Paul has seen and seem unable to connect with him on the subject of war. They want to fill his time with inconsequential nonsense and he is left reeling in his inability to be the same person he was before joining the military. It’s this disconnect from the reality of battle and what his life used to be that truly spoke to my emotions. The boys of war, no matter what side they fight for, are still just someone’s boy.

I would recommend this book to anyone….and everyone! I’m just not sure I can sufficiently put into words the impact this book has had on me. A 5-star plus read. 

And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie

Originally published – 1939

My edition is the 1984 edition published by Pocket Books.

Of all the Agatha Christie novels I’ve had the pleasure of reading, And Then There Were None will forever be among my favorites. As it was the first of her books I ever read, I’m sure part of this feeling is simple nostalgia. However, it remains that the novel has an exceptionally clever premise and quite the twist at the end for those who don’t guess how the murders are done before reaching that point.

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The Time Traveller’s Guide To Medieval England – Ian Mortimer

Originally published – 2008

My edition is an alternate cover published by Random House UK in 2012.

A purely marvelous take on life in medieval England! I’ve been working my way through British history using The English and Their History by Robert Tombs. While it’s a great resource, I find that much of what I’m looking for isn’t found within it’s pages, which has left me to find other sources to add to my reading list. I ran across this series several years ago and picked up the earliest time period in the series, which is the 1400s middle ages.

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The Enchanted April – Elizabeth von Arnim

Originally published – 1922

My edition is the 2011 hardcover edition from Virago Modern Classics.

As I work my way through the Virago modern classics list, which mostly focuses on women authors, I picked up The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim. A gift from my husband last year for Christmas, this beautiful edition with the clothbound cover really catches the eye and evokes images of spring sunshine and flowers, as it should given the setting of this charming novel.

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Best Stories of Phyllis Bottome

Originally Published in 1963

I was fortunate enough to locate a copy through my local library’s inter-library loan system.

I found Phyllis Bottome through the Furrowed Middlebrow blog. Her name is listed in the “Not-Quite-So-Overwhelming” list, which is to say names that might be a little easier to find. I found this collection of short stories through my local library, though they did have to request it from a source in another county in my state.

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Casino Royale – Ian Fleming

Originally published in 1953

My edition – 1964 Signet Books

Spy novels are usually not the books that I typically pick up…like ever. Before Casino Royale, my only foray into this genre was Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Ian Fleming writes a completely different style of spy novel if comparing the two. Fleming’s Casino Royale is a quick read heavily focused on dialogue and action scenes. It has the feel of a book written with a possible movie adaptation in mind.

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A Woman’s Place: 1910-1975 – Ruth Adam

Originally published in 1975.

My edition was a 1977 hardback copy borrowed through my local library.

Ruth Adam delivers a close look at the changing roles of women in British society in A Woman’s Place, ranging from the late Edwardian era through the 1970s. She covers aspects of their lives from their place in politics, homes and marital relationships, roles as mothers, and their place in the workforce. She offers in depth analysis of the attitudes towards women, both from the perspective of men at the time and even other women, but offers it in an engaging and purely readable way.

Ruth Adam came to my attention through the Furrowed Middlebrow blog. Middlebrow enthusiast, Scott, included her in his list entitled “The Not Quite So Overwhelming List”, meaning these authors might be easier to locate. I was lucky in that I found a copy through my local library. Going into the book, I didn’t expect it to be as easy of a read as what it was. A Woman’s Place was engaging and the furthest thing from dry, which was probably what I had anticipated. She included quite a bit of data taken from census records and surveys, but even the addition of this doesn’t take away from the enjoyable aspect of the book.

I found the information fascinating and most of it was new to me. What I found most interesting was the portions pertaining to how women’s home lives changed as new inventions made their daily tasks easier and changing views on things like education, birth control, and a woman’s place in the workforce evolved. There is quite a bit of diversity among the classes that she speaks about, but unfortunately it is told from a strictly white perspective. However, this is a book that I would recommend to anyone doing research on women’s studies or the reader that wants to broaden their scope of knowledge on the subject.

The Case of the Gilded Fly – Edmund Crispin

Originally published in 1944

My edition – ebook borrowed through the Libby app

The Case of the Gilded Fly was my first Edmund Crispin novel. The novel follows the main character Nigel Blake as he visits Oxford to see the opening of a play featuring an actress he hopes to meet. He becomes involved with the cast members and finds himself entangled in a murder investigation.

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Clouds of Witness – Dorothy L. Sayers

Originally published in 1926

My edition – audiobook loaned through Libby app

Dorothy L. Sayers’s Clouds of Witness brings the drama of a murder investigation close to home for Lord Peter Wimsey and his family after his brother, the Duke of Denver is charged with the murder of his sister’s fiancé, Denis Cathcart, after Cathcart is accused by the Duke of earning a living cheating at cards, which was a morally reprehensible offense in the 1920s. The murder has been committed with the Duke’s own gun and he refuses to give an alibi at the inquest. It doesn’t take much else to charge him with the crime. Wimsey must now unravel the mystery before the Duke’s trial, in which he will surely be found guilty if Wimsey can’t intervene.

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