gervase phinn

The Friday 56

The Friday 56 is a bookish meme hosted by Freda’s Voice.

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find any sentence that grabs you.
*Post it.
*Link up at Freda’s site

Today’s sentence comes from Head Over Heels in the Dales by Gervase Phinn.

” ‘What you gonna do, then, if I don’t? Lock me up?’ His expression was one of defiance.”

30 Day Book Challenge

I am back with my 30 Day Book Challenge after a long break. Hopefully this time I will be able to finish it. So, without futrter ado here is Day 16.

Day 16: A Book that Disappointed Me

Head Over Heels in the Dales by Gervase Phinn.

I had expected to really like Head Over Heels in the Dales. It had all the elements that I love in a book. It seemed very funny on the outset but in the end I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would.

Head Over Heels in the Dales by Gervase Phinn

Head Over Heels in the Dales is a book in Gervase Phinn’s autobiographical Dales series. It is the third book in the series after The Other Side of the Dale  and  Over Hill and Dale.

Gervase Phinn is a school inspector. He works in the idyllic Yorkshire Dales. His life as an inspector with his motley crew of colleagues, the love of his life Christine Bentley and of course the children of the schools he visits makes up the story of the Dales series of books.

In Head Over Heels in the Dales, Mr. Phinn has started his third year as an inspector. Life is good as he is getting married to Christine. Finding a place to live and starting a new family takes up much time and resources. The trials and tribulations at work continue as there is talk of a new chief being appointed much to everyone’s discomfort. And of course amid all this the school inspections continue with mostly humorous results.

I found Mr. Phinn’s school visits very funny. I laughed out loud several times. Precocious little children and their often apt observations about life entertained me. Reading about the teachers was also enjoyable.

I did have one serious problem while reading this book. If it were fiction based on real life experiences I would have really liked this book. But the book is supposedly non-fictional. “Could real life be this dramatic or humorous?”– the thought often crossed my mind as I read the book. I have got a feeling that large chunks of the book maybe a tad embellished.

The personal side of the narrative I didn’t like all that much. Dr. Geraldine Mullarkey’s mysterious personal life, Mr. Phinn’s gushing musings on his stunning fiancée Christine with her big blue eyes and golden hair, Sidney Clamp’s mood swings, it was all so ‘fiction like’ and some of it was, frankly, irritating. 

As the book is supposed to be autobiographical and is tagged non-fiction, I do have some reservations about criticizing any of the book’s characters. These are supposed to be real people. Criticizing them without knowing anything about them feels inappropriate. But the truth is I found several of them to be quite insufferable.

Head Over Heels in the Dales is more or less enjoyable, especially the parts about the school visits. Most reader’s I think will not have my whole ‘feels almost totally unreal for a non-fiction’ problem. Others may enjoy this far more than I did.

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Welcome Home: Books that Arrived in February & March 2011

“The worst thing about new books is that they keep us from reading the old ones.”— Joseph Joubert

Ever since I was a kid I have been a major ‘re-reader’. I love re-reading my old books. I have the somewhat strange ability to re-read the same book over half a dozen times and still be able to enjoy it. Nevertheless, the thrill of buying new books is something else.

Here are the books I bought in the month of February & March.

Feb 6, 2011

Framley Parsonage. Anthony Trollope.

Framley Parsonage is the 4th book in The Chronicles of Barsetshire and the 2nd Trollope book after Barchester Towers in my collection. Everyone says I will like Anthony Trollope’s books. Unfortunately, I have yet to read either of them.

Mar 12, 2011

Head Over Heels in the Dales. Gervase Phinn.

The Ninth Life of Louis Drax. Liz Jensen.

Bleak House. Charles Dickens.


Both Head Over Heels in the Dales and The Ninth Life of Louis Drax are books I have been dying to read for the past few years. Now I have finally got my hands on them! Head Over Heels in the Dales seems sweet while The Ninth Life of Louis Drax intrigues me.

Bleak House is probably the book that has been on my wishlist for the longest time. I am a huge fan of Charles Dickens. Bleak House has been recommended to me by almost everyone. The humongous size of the book kind of intimidates me but I hope to enjoy it.

Mar 21, 2011

Detective Stories. Philip Pullman.

I would have bought the book for the really weird pulp magazine like cover alone. The impressive collection of detective short stories from the vintage to the contemporary era doesn’t hurt either.