Books 7/29/05

Catching up again:

The Girls of Slender Means by Muriel Spark: Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is one of my favorite books ever. So I was really looking forward to this book. Ms. Spark has a very understated style, such that you can’t really be certain that much is happening by way of plot in her books, but the result is a detailed, near perfect snapshot of a little section of the world. In this case, its a hostel in 1945 London, and the girls of the title who live there. It’s framed with the later death of a poet the girls all knew, and the action all takes place in flashbacks. The book isn’t overwhelmingly good, you don’t walk away from it thinking “Wow, what a great book!”, but even weeks later, each of the characters and their daily lives are vividly alive in my mind, as though they were my own memories.

Styx and Stones and To Davy Jones Below by Carola Dunn: I love me a good mystery, and Dunn’s are among my favorites. Light and enjoyable and complicated enough to be interesting but still solvable. They do employ one of the cliches of mystery novels that bugs me the most: the sleuth who is just so approachable and sympathetic that everyone tells them everything without them asking, but this isn’t relied on, so it’s ok. And the characters deal with realistic situations in a realistic way, for example, Daisy (the one everyone confesses to) brings her to-be-stepdaughter to the country where she’s investigating a poison pen. When someone is murdered and her fiance, a Scotland Yard detective is called in, he finds out that she knowingly brought his daughter into a dangerous situation and is furious, and she’s hurt at his lack of faith in her. Their interactions are always great, and these two novels were very enjoyable.

Pigeon Pie by Nancy Mitford: The Honorable Miss Nancy Mitford is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. This book is absolutely hilarious, and again I can see the similarity to Evelyn Waugh. (I recently ordered The Letters of Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh, and can’t wait to get it.) This novel is set during the war, and is a send-up of all the people who were a part of the effort “back home”. The thing that I enjoy so much about Nancy’s books (yes, we’re on a first name basis) is the tone of her satire, it can be biting, but it’s really just nipping at heels. Her affection for the people she skewers is incredibly apparent.

Lola by Delacorta: Oh Delacorta, how I love you. How I wish you would write more books. How it kind of wierds me out that my favorite books of yours, which feel as modern as yesterday were written when I was 5. That’s just wierd, and I just realized it last night when I re-read Lola for what has to be the 65th time. If you wrote more books, it would take longer to cycle through them. But I do love them, and will continue to reread them until you write more. And after you write more. I love that Alba dresses up like a film noir star, that Serge doesn’t do the right thing and give the money to Catfish’s sister after his death, that Lola doesn’t give the reporters anything they can use. I love that even though I’ve read the book 65 times I still had to stay up to finish it. Just please write more!

Current total: 56
Just Finished: Lola by Delacorta
Currently Reading: Magic Street by Orson Scott Card

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