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 friend, and found the tale-within-a-tale-within-a-tale irritating. Then it was Binnie Kirshenbaum’s The Scenic Route, which started feeling like a less intellectual version of the Krauss book; nominally about a a love affair but it kept cutting away from the affair to the narrator’s family history. I liked the tone and if my own writing hadn’t hitten a rough patch I might have had the stamina to keep going with the Kirshenbaum.

Instead I read Ken Follett. He does what he does very well and I don’t think I had read this before (wouldn’t I have remembered Rommel in the desert, muttering about Tobruk?). The writing is literate enough to be inoffensive and the plotting is conventional but solid. Cairo during WW2, a German spy and an English intelligence officer locked in a struggle, etc. etc. Pyramids, a belly dancer with corrupt sexual practices, a beautiful young girl, naturally, caught between the two men.

The good guy won. My mind wandered during the denouement so I can’t remember exactly how. I’m still on the prowl for total distraction. Maybe Dick Francis is up next.


About carolwallace

I spend most of my time writing and reading. Most recent publications: the reissue of "To Marry an English Lord,"one of the inspirations for "Downton Abbey," and the historical novel "Leaving Van Gogh." I am too cranky to belong to a book group but I love the book-blogging community.
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