Jo Walton’s November Reading List

At, this post: Jo Walton’s Reading List: November 2020

The two that jump out at me: The Curse of Chalion and The Pride of Chanur.

CJC is not someone who necessarily works well for me when I look around for something soothing to re-read. That would be LMB, in fact, or at least Bujold is one of the best for this purpose for me.

I haven’t read any of the other books on her list.

This one sounds quite promising:

The Old Nurse’s Stocking Basket, Eleanor Farjeon (1931) Terrific short story collection about an immortal nurse who tells stories to her charges as she mends their stockings, and the stories are about other children she has nursed over hundreds of years and many countries, and they’re also fairy tales with aspects of many mythologies. Surprisingly well done for 1931, and most of the stories are delightful, have no morals, and are just fun. Free on Gutenberg.

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2 thoughts on “Jo Walton’s November Reading List”

  1. Oh Farjeon can be very good indeed. I don’t know that collection, but I’ve read some others by her. Some of them are real gems. The Silver Curlew is one I hunted down my own copy of. (Tom Tit Tot) And the two Martin Pippins which are like the Old Nurse, probably, a collection with a frame story.

  2. I enjoyed the Eleanor Farjeon collection of short stories called The little bookroom, and the two Martin Pippin stories from Gutenberg, and the picture book of Elsie Piddock skips in her sleep. At the time I became aware of her, those were all that was available, so I’m glad to hear more have been re-issued, and went and bought it rightaway, to encourage the people doing the re-issuing and digitalisation.
    I also got Amberleaf Fair, from your other blog (though the back cover copy of that doesn’t read as if nothing bad happens); “nothing bad happens” is exactly what I like to read now!

    In the area of older children’s books that are a joy to read, like Eleanor Farjeon, have you read Elisabeth Goudge’s Linnets and Valerians, or the Green Knowe series by Lucy M. Boston?

    I can concur that Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons series definitely fall in this category. My personal favorites are Winter holiday, We didn’t mean to go to sea (the premise is a bit alarming, but they cope competently), and The picts and the martyrs (the most oldfashioned in premise and flavour, but I like the learning to cope with camping). Most of the others are just as good, except for two, which I would advise against reading.
    “Peter Duck” and “Missee Lee” I didn’t much like and always leave out when rereading; they don’t fit the tone, the subject or the environment of the rest of the series but are more like a ‘tall tale’ make-believe story and quite unpleasantly antiquated in their portrayal of other people (Peter Duck is clearly a retelling of “Treasure island” with the children playing parts in the story, and supposedly is a story their uncle tells them, told as if it’s really happening; Missee Lee is of a similar style as well as racist against Chinese people).

    The Punchbowl Farm and Romney Marsh series by Monica Edwards are similar in flavour and tone to the Swallows and Amazons, also set around the 1920-1930s in the countryside, but they are not yet available as ebooks.

    Eva Ibbotson has written some slightly more modern books (circa 1940) for YA that fit into the “nothing bad happens” category: The morning gift, The countess below stairs, Madensky square, and others, some of which lean a bit more towards the fantastic. The looming start of the Second World War may be part of the background influencing the characters’ circumstances and decisions (e.g. relocating from Vienna to England), but they aren’t war books or dark in tone, and nothing really bad happens; just a bit of slow-paced mild romance and some interesting characters, no great action or hectic adventures.
    Her fantastic books for younger kids are pure fun, if you like kid’s books!

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