Cover detail of Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

2 of our Reading Group Choices and one extra

I've mentioned before that there is a lot going on in our village. Not least the Classics Book Club. There are 9 of us who meet and each month we choose a different classic to read from a variety of genres. Last night, on a cold and crisp night we met again to discuss 2 books. I hadn't read one of the books (A Passage to India) but realised that I had not reviewed a Canterville Ghost. And so, here both are plus an additional read by Stella Gibbons;

Read my review of Wuthering Heights

The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde

The Plot

The Canterville Ghost begins with the sale of an old British mansion called Canterville Chase to Horace B.Otis, an American minister. Though the former owner Lord Canterville that the house is hanunted, Mr Otis is not worried and replies that ghosts do not exist. Soon after, Mr Otis moves into the Chase with the rest of his family; his wife Lucretia; his eldest son Washington.his 15 year old daughter Virginia and his 2 young twin boys and starnge events begin to occur.

My Thoughts

After reading the Illiad for our previous book group which I found somewhat heavy going, I think our reading group breathed a sigh of relief when this was selected. At just 49 pages, I read this in a night. It's perfect for fans of Beetlejuice or Tim Burton!

The story is actually quite sweet. Am American minister and his family encounter ghostly Sir Simon Canterville when they move into Canterville Chase. He rattles his chains and leaves a permanent blood-stain on the carpet.

Approaching this in a no nonsense way, the family offer practical solutions to Sir Simon, going all Mrs Hinch on the bloodstains and offering to oil his chains. But it is Virginia who befriends Sir Simon and offers to help release him from his earth-bound fate.

Told in Wilde's trademark humour, this exemplifies the differences between Americans and Brits and is actually very sweet. It's a nice halloween read, more Hocus Pocus than the Exorcist.

Moonfleet by J.Meade Faulkner

The Plot

Moonfleet begins as a mystery and an adventure story, a tale of smuggling set among the cliffs, caves and downs of Dorset. What will be the outcome of the conflict between smugglers and revenue men. How can the hero, John Trenchard, discover the secret of John Mohune's treasure?

My Thoughts

I had a real mixed bag with this one and it was interesting to hear the debate at last night's meeting. The members who had loved it, remembered reading it in their childhood. This was a first time read for me and I struggled to get into the story. Once I had though, I enjoyed the tale of derring do that rose as fast as the waves surrounding Moonfleet. And then I got to the end.....Here be spoilers ahead, so don't read on if you don't want to know how it ends.

A sweeter, more devoted character than Elzevir is hard to find. But as the hero, John Trenchard, became more obsessed with finding the diamond, poor Elzevir was dragged along into worsening situations by the man who he saw as a surrogate son. John made bad choices and decisions and eventually, one of those decisions was to lead to a passenger transport ship and the death of sweet Elzevir, who dies trying to save John. I was outraged!John was cut up about Elzevir's death for about a week, and then chose to concentrate on his first love Grace, forgetting all about Elzevir. What a git! I was very disappointed by this book.

Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

The Plot

You're dreading Christmas with your in-laws. You've got a cold coming on, You've forgotten to buy a gift for somebody. Apply this book to the affected area. You should soon feel like your old cheerful self again. Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm will remind you that Christmas is a magical time of year and that romance can blossom in the least likely of places.

My Thoughts

Full disclosure, I was planning to read this as part of my #12booksofChristmas selection, but on finding it was a collection of 16 short stories, with only 2 of them being about Christmas, decided to nix that idea. Nonetheless I did want to include this on the blog as the writing is rather brilliant, crisp, whip-smart and funny to boot.

And that's the lot for today. I'll be back on Friday with a rather excellent crime novel by an author I adored in 2021.