Monthly Archives: April 2010

Elizabeth George, “This Body of Death”

Sometimes I wonder if the classic police-procedural style murder mystery has a future. The form has endured since, oh, let’s say the 1930s, bringing a lot of pleasure and diversion to millions of readers. Times change, and the puzzle-format mysteries … Continue reading

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Somerset Maugham, “The Razor’s Edge”

Baffling. This is one of those books that was on people’s shelves when I grew up. Grandmothers had Maugham’s novels, along with Galsworthy’s: he must have done very well with the Book of the Month Club. I had never read … Continue reading

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Robert Goddard, “Play to the End”

This started out well. The narrator, Toby Flood, is a middling-successful actor starring in a revival of a lesser-known Joe Orton play in Brighton, England. For reasons Goddard never makes entirely clear, he’s talking into a tape recorder, which I … Continue reading

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Cathleen Schine, “The Three Weissmanns of Westport”

I was skeptical about The Three Weissmanns of Westport. I didn’t much care for Cathleen Schine’s The Love Letter and couldn’t get through Rameau’s Niece, but you have to admit that a modern take on Sense and Sensibility, if done … Continue reading

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Lauren Belfer, “City of Light”

I had never given much thought to the city of Buffalo until reading City of Light. Nor, for that matter, had I given much thought to electricity. Lauren Belfer fixed both of those oversights, and I am looking forward to … Continue reading

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John Banville, “The Untouchable”

I suppose this is electronic serendipity. Stuck in a waiting-room somehow without a book, I went to Amazon to order what I thought was going to be the new Benjamin Black murder mystery. I thought maybe I’d recovered enough strength … Continue reading

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Francine du Plessix Gray, “Madame de Stael”

This is a physically adorable book: pink, with brown lettering and ornament; modestly sized, discreetly charming…. and apparently the exact opposite of its subject, who was loud, large, and anything but discreet. Still — Germaine de Staël cut a swathe … Continue reading

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Edith Wharton, “The Age of Innocence”

I went back to this to see how Wharton managed to write a novel about a doomed passion and thwarted sexual attraction without ever betraying the decorum in which the characters lived. And having read The Age of Innocence this … Continue reading

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Wilkie Collins, “The Black Robe”

Wilkie Collins is a second-tier writer. Nothing wrong with that — I’ve gotten hours of entertainment from The Moonstone and The Woman in White. Just that a third reading of his novels probably wouldn’t net you much more than you’d … Continue reading

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