Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sarah's Key

This book has been calling out to me from the high-end paperback tables for a while. And I'm so glad I finally read it. It blends a wonderful woman in mid-life crisis tale with a harrowing story of World War II. And best of all, most of it takes place in Paris and its environs, a city I love to read about. I've already recommend it and will continue to recommend Sarah's Key.

A Gentleman's Guide to Gracious Living

Advertised as a novel of manners, this book reminded me of Richard Ford's trilogy about Frank Bascombe and the trials he encounters as his life changes due to a change in marital circumstances. Unfortunately, Dahlie's "hero," Arthur Camden is very hard to root for. All his misfortune seems to be a complete consequence of his doofus-ness. While the world of very rich New Yorkers is often fun to read about, this novel of manners mostly left me wishing I was reading Edith Wharton or re-reading Richard Ford rather than entering the world of Arthur Camden.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Human Croquet

I feel like I ought to go back and re-read this book given the ending, but then again, given that this is fiction, would I really learn the "truth?" A novel of a place and a family, Human Croquet plays with the idea of time and how we interact with it. But more importantly it deals with how we, as humans, young humans in particular, take the facts that surround us and create our story from them. Whether the story of any member of the Fairfax family is accurate is truly in the eye of the beholder.

Kate Atkinson is one of my favorite authors, and while Human Croquet comes no where near Case Histories and it's sequels, I'd still recommend this book. Though only after you've read the rest of her bibliography.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Part 2 of the Maureen O'Donnell trilogy. This time Maureen, her brother Liam and her friend Leslie find them tangled in a story that not only involves their native Glasgow, but travels to the Brixton section of London. Maureen is a most unlikely detective, not to mention unpaid. But her shrewdness and resourcefulness make her very sympathetic, not to mention her own underlying personal issues. I look forward to finding out how Maureen resolves those issues as her story winds up in the next book.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Mysterious Benedict Society

My son asked me to read this book once he finished it. It's an interesting tale of four "orphans" working together to uncover a devious plot. It's nice to read books where there are puzzles that not only the characters, but you as the reader can solve. While I can't say I'm dying to read the next two installments, I'm glad my son is interested in reading them. It was an entertaining example of children's fiction.

Friday, November 6, 2009


I went from noir to noir and at least this noir was set in an actual noir period and place, Hollywood right after World War II complete with returning GIs, German emigrés, and Red Menace hunters. Kanon painted a vivid picture of studio system Hollywood, but unfortunately the novel, at times, read more like a screenplay than a novel (though heaven help us if someone attempts to convert the 500 pages). Overall, I enjoyed it and found it an amusing quick read.

The Bookman's Promise

Well, it turns out a crime solving former cop turned book dealer is a concept that wears thin by the third book. Once again Cliff Janeway is on the move. Why the crimes can't just come to Denver, I'll never know? And once again there's another woman, one who seems to fancy herself a Lauren Bacall to Janeway's Bogey judging from the dialogue which annoyed me to death. The concept was pretty good, but the execution of this book was lacking. I'm not sure if there's a fourth book, and I'm not sure if I care.