Monthly Archives: July 2009

Brunonia Barry, “The Lace Reader”

After 40 years of not reading a book about the Salem witch trials (could the last one have been Elizabeth George Speare’s The Witch of Blackbird Pond?), I just read two, back to back. What’s up with that? What is … Continue reading

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Katherine Howe, “The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane”

It’s always fascinating to try to parse what makes a book popular. Katherine Howe’s The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane is a good read, but so many excellent books get published and sell poorly that a first-novel success like this … Continue reading

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Mollie Panter-Downes, “Good Evening, Mrs. Craven”

Another nifty revival from those folks at Persephone Books in London. Mollie Panter-Downes wrote the “Letter from London” in the New Yorker for 45 years. In addition, she wrote short stories, 21 of which are collected here. They all date … Continue reading

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Andrew Taylor, “Bleeding Heart Square”

It’s a really good day when you find a new writer who publishes clever, literate murder mysteries. It’s an especially good day when this writer has been at it for a while and there’s a backlog of titles for you … Continue reading

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Colette, “Retreat from Love”

I’m having a hard time getting a fix on Colette, though I’m enjoying the process. It seems that, to a greater degree than is true for many writers, her biography strongly influences what she writes. And though I generally try … Continue reading

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James Hamilton-Paterson, “Cooking with Fernet Branca”

I’m not a great fan of the comic novel. Never have warmed up to Wodehouse, didn’t really get the point of Zuleika Dobson. My craving for the naturalistic rules out the patent artificiality of the genre. Still, for the first … Continue reading

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Kate Walbert, “A Short History of Women”

I wish I had liked A Short History of Women more than I did. It’s very ambitious and maybe I’m in too frivolous a mood to do it justice right now — after all, I’ve been on a junk-reading kick, … Continue reading

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Thomas Perry, “Dance for the Dead”

It’s books like this that I really need to blog about, just so that I can remember I read them. I love Thomas Perry, I think he’s brilliant at what he does and Dance for the Dead is one of … Continue reading

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Donna Leon, “About Face”

I’m beginning to feel a little bit sorry for Donna Leon. For years it seemed as if she had a great gig, living in Italy, writing popular murder mysteries set in Venice — what a fantasy! The problem is that … Continue reading

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Ken Follett, “The Key to Rebecca”

Every now and then you just can’t find the right thing to read and this has been my problem in the last couple of weeks. I picked up Nicola Krauss’s The Invention of Love on a strong recommendation from a … Continue reading

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