Buchan of the Month: Reading List 2019

buchan of the month 2019 poster

John Buchan (1875 – 1940) was an author, poet, lawyer, publisher, journalist, war correspondent, Member of Parliament, University Chancellor, keen angler and family man.  He was ennobled and, as Lord Tweedsmuir, became Governor-General of Canada.  In this role, he signed Canada’s entry into the Second World War.   Nowadays he is probably best known – maybe only known – as the author of The Thirty-Nine Steps.  However, he wrote so much more that is worth reading: fiction, poetry, short stories, biographies, memoirs and history.  In his lifetime, he published over 100 books.

You can find out more about John Buchan, his life and literary output by visiting The John Buchan Society website.

Continuing with the project I commenced in 2018, I’m going to read (in many cases, re-read) twelve more of John Buchan’s books in 2019: a different book each month.  You can find my reading schedule below and I would love it if other followers of this blog were to join me.  You do not have to read every book or follow my schedule although it would be great if you did so we can compare notes on our reading experience month by month.

As I did last year, I’ll post an article introducing each book at the start of every month (no spoilers!) and then publish my review of the book at the end of the month.  Simply comment on my review post with a link to your own review on your blog or on Goodreads.   If you don’t have a blog, then just put your thoughts about the book in a comment.  If you share your participation or your reviews on Twitter, please use the hashtag #ReadJB2019.

If you want to catch up on the John Buchan novels I read in 2018 you can do so here.

Reading Schedule

January: Prester John [1910] – adventure story set in South Africa

February: Salute to Adventurers [1915] – adventure story set in newly colonised America

March: The Path of the King [1921] – a band of gold belonging to a young Viking prince is passed from generation to generation

April: Midwinter [1923] – historical novel set at the time of the Jacobite rebellion

May:  The Three Hostages [1924] – the fourth book featuring the exploits of Richard Hannay

June: The Dancing Floor [1927] – adventure story featuring Sir Edward Leithen, set in the Aegean

July: The Runagates Club [1928] – collection of twelve stories told around the dinner table of the eponymous club

August: The Courts of the Morning [1929] – adventure story set in South America

September: The Blanket of the Dark [1931] – historical novel set in 16th century England

October: The House of the Four Winds [1935] – the sequel to Castle Gay, adventure set in the fictional Central European country of Evallonia in the early 1930s

November: The Island of Sheep [1936] – the last adventure story featuring Richard Hannay

December: Augustus [1937] – biography of the Roman Emperor

buchan of the month 2019


Book Review: The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker by Jenni Keer

The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy BakerAbout the Book

Meet Lucy, aged 25, and Brenda, aged 79. Neighbours, and unlikely friends.

Lucy Baker is not your usual 25-year-old. She is more at home reading and knitting in her cluttered little flat than going out partying and socialising.  79-year-old Brenda is full of wise and wonderful advice, but when she’s diagnosed with dementia her life begins to change. Before her memories slip away forever, Brenda is desperate to fulfil one last wish – to see Lucy happy.

Gifting Lucy the locket that helped Brenda find her own true love, she hopes to push her reticent neighbour in the right direction. But is Lucy Baker ready for the opportunities and heartbreaks of the real world? It’s about time she put her knitting needles aside and found out…

Format: ebook (309 pp.)    Publisher: Avon Books UK
Published: 10th January 2019        Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romance

Pre-order/Purchase Links*
Amazon.co.uk  ǀ  Kobo ǀ Hive.co.uk (supporting UK bookshops)
*links provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme

Find The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker on Goodreads

My Review

I confess The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker is a little lighter than my usual choice of reading.  However, it certainly fits the bill for those occasions when you fancy something undemanding (in a good way) but still well-written and that will leave you with a warm glow.

Lucy makes an engaging heroine who it’s easy to root for.  She’s kind, thoughtful but, initially at least, inclined to underestimate herself and her abilities, and to think the best of others, even when they don’t necessarily deserve it.  Because of this, she’s a little easily manipulated and only gradually learns to assert herself and listen to those who genuinely have her best interests at heart.   Chief among these is her elderly neighbour Brenda who, having been a great support to Lucy in the past, now finds it is her turn to need help.  Brenda always knew she could count on Lucy but finds she has another more unlikely source of assistance as well.

In the scenes set in Lucy’s workplace (Tompkins Toy Workshop), the author captures the atmosphere of office life with its banter, gossip and cast of familiar characters: the practical joker, the mother figure and the Jack-the-Lad with his non-PC comments (who perhaps has hidden depths).    Okay, there are no real surprises and it didn’t take a genius to work out the way things were heading when Lucy and her best friend, Jess, undertake to win over Lucy’s new next door neighbour, George.

Nevertheless The Hopes of Dreams of Lucy Baker is a heart-warming story about the nature of true friendship, finding the courage to fulfil your dreams and how the path of true love sometimes needs a little help from forces you can’t explain.   If you don’t find yourself giving a little contented sigh of satisfaction on closing the book, I’ll be surprised.  And, if at the end, you have no desire to own a hand-knitted Poldark, then you’re probably beyond my help.

I received an advance review copy courtesy of Elke at Avon Books UK, and NetGalley.

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In three words: Charming, tender, feel-good

Try something similar…The Secrets of Primrose Square by Claudia Carroll (read my review here)

jennikeerAbout the Author

After gaining a history degree, Jenni Keer embarked on a career in contract flooring before settling in the middle of the Suffolk countryside with her husband, an antique-restorer. She valiantly attempted to master the ancient art of housework but with four teenage boys in the house, it remains a mystery. Instead, she spends her time at the keyboard writing women’s fiction to combat the testosterone-fuelled atmosphere with #blindcat Seymour by her side.  She adores any excuse for fancy dress, and is part of a disco formation dance team.  The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker is her debut. (Photo credit: Goodreads author page)

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