We had a beautiful watching some very successful XC running yesterday (all four of our teams won!), youngest is settling into his college routine, eldest survived his first week of work, Himself is hosting a tree distributing party in the back yard, sheepdog is nervous, and the cat is hiding from all the murders that currently populate his domain.
Here is what caught my interest this week:
Youngest is in the process of applying for Study Abroad. He has lots of choices and one of those is France (if only so that his Mama could come and visit). So when Eva of A Striped Armchair briefly mentions a book about Paris and says read it “if…you savour beautifully crafted essays full of elegant prose or want to take an imaginary trip to Paris or relive memories of your actual one(s).” …and when another reviewer calls it, “The most superbly written book on Paris I have read”…then I think Paris, Paris: Journey into the City of Light must go on my list. A collection of essays by David Downie, this book explores Paris from the eyes of someone who has lived there since 1986. It sounds delightful.
One of my favorite TV pleasures is watching Cold Case reruns (although I must admit I always get a little teary at the end). Add to this a liking for European mysteries and it seems like Jussi Adler-Olsen has come up with a good scenario for me with his novel The Keeper of Lost Causes. Swapna of S. Krishna’s review of this debut novel set in Copenhagen. The London Times calls the author “The new ‘it’ boy of Nordic Noir”. Chief detective Carl Morck has survived a terrible shootout (his two companions were not so lucky) and he is shuttled aside to be the only member of Department Q, a department which investigates cold cases. Naturally a case captures his attention, a female politician who has been missing for five years. This looks like the first book of a series so I am hoping it is as good as I think it is.
I haven’t read much South African fiction other than Disgrace and Summertime by J.M. Coetzee and Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton. I have often wanted to read more from South African authors and The Boston Bibliophile has what sounds like a really good suggestion: The Dubious Salvation of Jack V.: A Novel by Jacques Strauss. Jack Viljee is eleven years old and lives in Johannesburg with his family and the family’s black maid. It is 1989 and South Africa is on the cusp of major change although it hasn’t quite happened yet. There is a lot of anger, tension, and violence in the country and Jack is struggling to find himself which isn’t easy with such a tumultuous background. This is also complicated by the arrival of the maid’s 15 year old son, Percy – a bored, idle and angry teenager. Percy observes Jack in a very personal situation (Note: the novel contains a frank discussion of Masturbation), Jack seeks revenge and things just snowball from there.
I know Dan Savage as one of the originators of the It Get’s Better Project – turns out he is a columnist and author of several books including The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage, and my Family reviewed by Anne Brooke at Vulpes Libris. Just reading the review made me laugh (his mother sends him newspaper clippings about things she would like him to do or traits she thinks he should have), it made me think (how do you get married in a state that will not allow you to do so?), and it reminds me that we are all people struggling with our relationships, our families, and all the possible conflicts that can happen in between. Anne writes, “Savage describes relationships with family members very well and with an attractive lightness of touch and the book is, partly due to these qualities, eminently readable. He is, above all, a first-class raconteur – which is a far rarer gift than you might think.”
One of the books on my radar is The Legacy by Katherine Webb. I first heard this book discussed by some of the English Bloggers as it was featured in a Reading Club. This week I found a review by Bookworm with a View who reminded me the book has finally been published in the US. The Legacy is one of those novels that has a story within a story. Following the death of their grandmother, Erica Calcott and her sister Beth return to Storton Manor where they had spent time as children. Years earlier their cousin Henry mysteriously disappeared while at the Manor and Erica wants to put the mystery to rest. She is also going through her grandmother’s things and discovers a family secret concerning her great-grandmother, Caroline. The chapters alternate between the sister’s story and Caroline’s. This is just the type of book I love to read while I am traveling.