Hello from sunny Oregon. Himself and I had three beautiful warm days on the coast near Coos Bay camping and hiking and treating ourselves to dinner in town. The worst thing that happened was I finished the one book I brought, turned to the other and found that a book I have already read managed to find itself in my to-be-read pile. And it was not a book I was interested in rereading. So I spent the remainder of my reading time people and dog watching on the beach. We came back to finish our week away to my mom’s house where himself has already made a trip to the used book store. I decided I didn’t want to be tempted by new books as I have too many books already on the to-read pile (although it is glaringly obvious I need to reorganize things). Youngest came with us but opted to stay with his grandmother and get more reading done and spend time with her. They made a raid on both used book stores for biographies and political books none of which will fit into his limited luggage for Europe so I guess I will be mailing lots of books to him. Eldest is working and holding down the fort at home complete with a dog that wakes him up at 5:00 in the morning as that is the time to wake up Mr. Dad.
Here is what caught my interest this week:
As a child I was fascinated by England’s King Henry the VIII and his six wives (divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived) which led me to an interest in his children. Edward seemed to always get the short end of the stick compared to Mary and Elizabeth but there was another queen in those years, Lady Jane Grey – Queen for nine days. I remember trying to find books on Jane Grey with only moderate success – I think I found some in my Grandmother’s library but not much. I haven’t read much historical fiction in the past years but I may change my mind after reading a review by Devourer of Books on a new novel called Her Highness, The Traitor. The author, Susan Higginbotham, is known for her novels set in the Middle Ages and during the War of the Roses. Her newest tells the story of Lady Jane Grey through the eyes of her husband, her mother, and her mother-in-law.
One of my book groups recently read So Big by Edna Ferber and during the discussion I mentioned she was a participant of the Algonquin Round Table which met daily for lunch at the Algonquin Hotel in New York City during the 1920’s. When they asked for more information, I didn’t have much to add other than Dorothy Parker. Perhaps I need to read Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin: Writers Running Wild in the Twenties written by Marion Meade and reviewed by Danielle of A Work in Progress. The non-fiction book is more of a social history rather than a work of literary criticism even though Meade focuses on four women writers of the period: Parker, Ferber, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Zelda Fitzgerald. Danielle says the work is “full of fascinating anecdotes and the writing on the breezy, chatty side…” which sounds like just the right thing to add to the list.
I love it when a brief mention of a book or author sends me down a path I might never have known about. An example, is The Boston Bibliophile’s mention that she was reading Troubling Love by Elena Ferrante in preparation for the release of Ferrante’s latest novel. It turns out that Elena Ferrante is a reclusive author and not much is known about her or where she lives. It is, according to Wikipedia, speculated that the name is a pen name of another author. I love the idea of an unknown author and all the reader has to go by is what the fiction the author writes. In this case, troubling love is the story of a 45-year-old daughter seeking to know what happened in the death of her mother who had suffered years of domestic abuse. Shortly before she died she called her daughter laughing and telling her she was with another man – unheard of behavior. Delia, the daughter searches the streets of Naples and her own past for clues to what happened. This novel sounds like it brings together two of my favorite subjects: the search for self and the nature of our memories.
I never thought I would be drawn to a book about Los Angeles but Ti of Book Chatter has changed my mind with her review of So L.A. by Bridget Hoida. I think I am drawn to the novel because the protagonist is in the process of trying to reinvent herself after the accidental death of her younger brother and the demise of her marriage. While in LA she physically tries to change her appearance to “fit in” while also trying to change herself inwardly as well. From reviews it sounds like the author is adept at both describing the city itself as well as other parts of California – the central valley, I5. While I didn’t grow up in Los Angeles, I did grow up on the coast and in the valley (the real valley – not the San Fernando Valley). Ti enjoyed this one and we have similar tastes so it will go on the list.
Finally if you are interested in debut novels, Kimbofo of Reading Matters featured a link toy The Center for Fiction and their 2012 short list for the Flaherty Dunnan First Novel Prize. I have seen these eight books on many a book blog so there is a lot worth exploring here.