Monthly Archives: February 2009

Donna Tartt, “The Secret History”

“The snow in the mountains was melting and Bunny had been dead for several weeks before we came to understand the gravity of our situation.” It’s a great first line. How can you bear not to read further? A few … Continue reading

Posted in best seller, contemporary fiction, literary fiction | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Michael Kernan, “The Lost Diaries of Frans Hals”

Whenever I feel compelled to scare myself about the state of the publishing industry, this is the book I think about. I first read it when it came out, in the early 1990s, and loved it. But nobody I know … Continue reading

Posted in art history, historical fiction | 5 Comments

Irene Nemirovsky, “Fire in the Blood”

Publishing Fire in the Blood as a freestanding novel does a disservice both to Némirovsky and to the narrative itself. It’s difficult enough with her work to be sure that what we’re seeing is what she would have sent out … Continue reading

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Alexandre Dumas, “The Three Musketeers”

I love swashbuckling.  I love capes, and boots, and ridiculous feats of courage.  There’s a scene in this book when the musketeers and D’Artagnan have a picnic in a deserted bastion of the fort of La Rochelle, which they, as … Continue reading

Posted in best seller, French, historical fiction | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Dorothy Sayers, “Clouds of Witness”

Not much to this one, which is the item in the series when Lord Peter’s brother gets accused of murder at a shooting lodge in Yorkshire.  When I picked it up I couldn’t remember much about it and now I … Continue reading

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Gregor von Rezzori, “The Snows of Yesteryear”

More mid-European, mid-20th century nostalgia. But, gosh, nobody deserves it more than these guys like Sebald and Rezzori. Their predicaments make any American longing for his past into a total amateur. You can’t go home again? You sure can’t — … Continue reading

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Dorothy Sayers, “Whose Body?”

I went to Columbia to watch the Inauguration.  They had a Jumbotron below the steps of Low Library and as we all stood there in the brilliant snowy cold listening to Obama’s speech, the bells at Riverside Church began to … Continue reading

Posted in anglophilia, mystery | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Siegfried Sassoon, “Memoirs of a Fox-hunting Man”

This book has been on my radar for decades, ever since my teenage horsey phase. I vaguely remember trying to read it, but grasping that it wasn’t really about horses. Then of course when I read Vera Brittain’s Testament of … Continue reading

Posted in classic, horses, letters, memoir | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments