It is the season for garden clean up, Halloween crafting, and fall house cleaning. And a raft of new book possibilities. All of these activities can require decisions that I'm reluctant to make. Which will take precedence today? Setting a schedule is difficult for me and as a result, I meander through the day doing a little of this and a little of that. The garden, then a letter, then the garden again. Back and forth, a little here and a little there. I keep track of all that on the other blog.
I have made some progress on the garden, and I've been good about catching up on correspondence. A letter every day or so for the last couple of weeks. The fall housekeeping chores have been neglected this week, but I'm working on some purging of drawers and cabinets. A box for GoodWill sits on the washing machine, and I add a little at a time, pulling things from hangers and deciding whether or not I'll wear it again. That extra pound of weight a year became "slightly" more during the pandemic, and I must face the fact that some items will never fit again.
And Every Single Day There Are Books To Be Read.Once in a while, I find a cozy that genuinely appeals to me. Murder at Mallowan Hall by Colleen Cambridge (Agatha Christie fans may recognize the name of the country estate of Christie's second husband, Max Mallowan) proved surprisingly fun.
It must be a challenge to write a mystery set in one of Christie's homes and have the housekeeper be the protagonist--it could easily end up more of a parody than a mystery.
Phyllida Bright, however, turned out to be efficient, self-assured, and often inadvertently amusing. A former army nurse, Phyllida and Agatha are more than employer and employee, having known each other during the war. Agatha's appearances are minimal; it is Phyllida's show.
Unsurprisingly, Phyllida is fond of detective novels and fictional detectives, especially Hercule Poirot. When Phyllida discovers a body in the library (!) during a country house party at Mallowan Hall, the fun begins. Confident that she can do a better job than the police, she goes about her own sleuthing, assured that she knows the household and its doings better than they do and will notice what they may miss.
Parody, or homage, or a little of both, Murder at Mallowan Hall proved to be a thoroughly enjoyable romp with a character who has no difficulty handling whatever comes her way. We've been introduced to the household, including Bradford, and I'm eager to see what happens in the next book.
Cozy/Historical. Oct. 26, 2021. Print length: 304 pages.
World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments. I've a fondness for personal essays and Aimee Nezhukumatathil's love of the natural world, lyrical language, and her personal experiences combine in this series of essays.
The essays have no chronological order, Nezhukumatathil takes a cue from nature (a catawpa/catalpa tree, a peacock, a ribbon eel, fireflies) and pulls together information about the object of her attention, combining it with her personal experiences and her poetic voice.
While some combinations are a stretch, each element in each essay (the nature writing and the personal anecdotes) has much to offer. Her mother is a microbiologist and her father a geneticist, so the author's close observation and comprehension of the natural world is understandable.
There is no need to hurry through the book, an essay or two at a time, and a little time to ponder the words and the importance of say, fireflies, to our lives. The human touch and Nezhukumatahil's appreciation of the world around us--and it's vulnerability--becomes more intriguing and remarkable as we face the loss of species of both flora and fauna.
I can't remember where I saw this mentioned, but I'm glad I made the effort to find and read World of Wonders. I'm susceptible to covers and this one is both curious and beautiful, as is the author's prose.
Have you read this one? Did I see a review on your blog?
Purchased. Milkweed Editions
Nonfiction/Nature/Essays. 2020. Print length: 165 pages.