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Sunday, September 17, 2006

September Reading

Ackroyd, Peter. The Lambs of London. Interesting, although the novel changes (without sufficient reason in at least one instance) some historical facts. The "discovery" of Shakesperian artifacts and a never-before published play provide the basis of this story. Described as a "romp," the novel has little to do with humor.

LeFanu, J. Sheridan. The Wyvern Mystery. First published in 1869. Neither spooky nor suspenseful. Characters are not sympathetic. Drags. The Brontes and Wilkie Collins offer much more, but Le Fanu was tremendously popular in his own time period. Uncle Silas and Carmilla may be better examples of his ability.

Ironside, Elizabeth. Death in the Garden. Review is here.

Warner, Sylvia Townsend. Lolly Willowes. My review is here.

Meltzer, Brad. The First Counsel. Not impressed with the writing, the characters, or the plot.

Hodgson, William Hope. The House on the Borderland. I reviewed this here.

Marrs, Suzanne. Eudora Welty: A Biography. I ended up really appreciating this biography, warts and all. Although thoroughly researched and documented, the biography is terribly uneven. It could have been cut to half the length (the "datebook effect") and would have been much more entertaining and still informative. Eudora's close friends included Elizabeth Bowen, Katherine Ann Porter, Reynolds Price, V. S. Pritchett, Robert Penn Warren; she was acquainted with nearly everyone on the writing scene from the 1940's forward... Cleanth Brooks, Ann Tyler, Truman Capote, William Faulkner, S. J. Perlman, and on and on. Even in her closest relationships, however, little is revealed. This may change when certain letters that were sealed in her Will are made available in 2021.

What is revealed is that Welty was not the sheltered, stay-at-home spinster that some have thought. She was widely traveled (an exhausting travel schedule), interested in all areas of the arts, and a generous friend and mentor. I especially enjoyed her lectures and literary criticism.

Awards: Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, eight O. Henry Awards, the National Medal of Literature, and the Medal of Freedom. She recieved 39 Honorary Degrees from various colleges and universities.

She loved two men, but never married. Her first love, John Robinson, vacillated between courtship and distance until realizing/admitting he preferred men. Her second love, Ken Millar (Ross MacDonald) was married. Their relationship was very strong, despite being conducted mostly in letters of deep friendship.

Near the end of her life, Eudora tells of a letter from an old friend: "She said, 'I'm 90 years old now, and I feel like there's somebody else living inside my skin and not a friend.' I loved that! Isn't that wonderful? I know what she means. I understand. I guess she feels her body is not obeying her. She didn't mean an enemy but not a friend.

Walters, Minnette. The Devil's Feather. Strangely, although the subject matter is as dark as usual, the novel didn't seem as dark as most Walters' novels. Connie Burns is a war correspondent who makes connections about the brutal murders of five women in Sierra Leone, and the appearance of a frightening mercenary who appears later in Baghdad. Her suspicions and inquiries lead to several invasions of her hotel room. Frightened she decides to leave Baghdad, but is kidnapped on her way to the airport and held captive for three days. On release, Connie refuses to talk and returns to England damaged and seeking seclusion.
Eventually, she rents a house in a remote area where, as she regains some stability, she begins researching the suspected murderer again...
An engrossing read that I found difficult to put down.

Thurlo, David and Aimee. Prey for a Miracle. Quick little mystery about a former journalist, now a nun, who solves mysteries. Sister Agatha is an extern nun who helps protect eight-year-old Natalie whose mother had been forced off the road and badly injured. Natalie manages to escape before the attacker can catch her. Another motorist arrives on the scene and the attacker escapes. Natalie claims she has a guardian angel, and Agatha's convent provides shelter until the villain can be identified and caught. Not much to it, but a fast read.

6 comments:

  1. Both of these sound so good! Did you read the 2 earlier Sister Agatha books? I shouldn't start a new series, but since there are only 3 books so far, now might be a good time to start. I started the Amelia Peabody series and it had 17 books. I'm only on book 2.

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  2. I always enjoy Minnette Walters, but this was the first Sister Agatha I've read. I've read quite a few of the Amelia Peabody novels, but not all 17!

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  3. That 90 year old quote is great!

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  4. I've only recently begun reading Eudora Welty and I think it's time I tracked down that biography. Her life sounds most interesting!

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  5. I did enjoy this biography and learned a lot that impressed me about Welty. I found the "datebook" entries annoying and time consuming - "Eudora went ___ in ___; she dined with _____, ___, and ____; Eudora attended ____ at ____theater. I enjoy detail, but these details did not reveal much.

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