22 July 2014

A Street Festival...and Books

Every summer we look forward to Midnight Madness in Oakville.  Lakeshore Road is closed off downtown and the shops bring their sale items out onto the sidewalk.  The restaurants set up dining areas on the road and the wafting aromas from BBQs and cotton candy machines is everything one of the memories of summer should be.  Surrounding area clubs and their members exhibit their skills and every year I watch men and women dance their informal version of Strictly Come Dancing.  One dancer held out his arms to invite me for a whirl but I did his toes a favour by declining.

The photo (above) gives you an idea of what the night is like and it goes on, block after block.  The cherry on top for this book lover, who thinks no trip out is complete without a bookish souvenir, was that the Oakville Public Library had a booth.  Hardcovers were $1 and paperbacks half that much, so I bought...

The Girl at the Lion d'Or - by Sebastian Faulks

(A nice compliment to the stories set in France I've been reading lately)  A beautifully controlled and powerful story of love and conscience, will and desire which begins when a mysterious young girl arrives to take up a post at the seedy Hotel du Lion d'Or in a small French town in the mid-1930s.

Excellent Women - by Barbara Pym

One of Barbara Pym's richest and most amusing high comedies, Excellent Women has at its centre Mildred Lathbury, a clergyman's daughter and a mild-mannered spinster in 1950s England.  She is one of those 'excellent women', the smart supportive, repressed women whom men take for granted.  As Mildred gets embroiled in the lives of her new neighbours, the novel presents a series of snapshots of human life as actually, and pluckily, lived in a vanishing world of manners and repressed desires.

I read several Pym novels a few years ago and can't for the life of me remember if this was one of them.  Worth reading twice, in any case!

Blow Up the Castle - by Margaret Moffatt

Set in the quirky country village of Wickerton in 1930s England, this hilarious novel follows the stories of three friends, the eccentric Reverends Peacock, Peabody, and Peasly, as they bounce from adventure to misadventure.

The hapless reverends often find themselves fraught with misunderstanding as they encounter the colourful characters populating Wickerton and its surrounds.  Amorous and overbearing housekeepers, suspicious and inept officials, not to mention Joey, the pernickety and vociferous parrot, all contribute to the calamitous events.

Reminiscent in its wit and style of a Noel Coward play, this engaging novel is a delightful excursion to a more elegant era.

There are so many favourite key words and phrases in that description - how can it be bad?

It would be a safe bet to say that most of my friends stopping by here have read Excellent Women but what about the other two?


  1. That sounds absolutely glorious! What a fun summer tradition. And 'Blow up the Castle' sounds wickedly good.

  2. Doesn't it just?! The plan is to get that one read sooner rather than later and fingers crossed it's everything as promised!