Monthly Archives: May 2010

Lee Child, “61 Hours”

For someone who has to crank out a book every year, Lee Child continues to keep the quality high. Apparently this is the fourteenth Jack Reacher novel and all 14 have been optioned for film. I’m wondering what the holdup … Continue reading

Posted in best seller, thriller | Tagged | 2 Comments

Tana French, “In the Woods”

Ever since I finished this book a couple of years ago, I’ve been waiting to re-read it. Yes, Tana French is that good. So this time around I tried to read more critically, to understand just what it was that … Continue reading

Posted in best seller, mystery | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Benjamin Black, “The Silver Swan”

OK, now I am officially envious of John Banville. Or Benjamin Black, as he calls himself when writing mysteries. This must happen to everybody sometime: you think you’re competent at your trade, and you come across someone who is just … Continue reading

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Thomas Perry, “Pursuit”

I am slightly concerned that by blogging about these Thomas Perry novels, I will strip them their utility. They are great diversions, but what has worked in the past is that I read them fast and forget them. Writing requires … Continue reading

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Arnold Bennett, “The Old Wives’ Tale”

The Old Wives’ Tale is reputed to be the only English novel that deals with the Siege of Paris, one of my current obsessions. I had read it once, too fast, years earlier, and found it quite dull. This time … Continue reading

Posted in anglophilia, classic | Tagged | 1 Comment

Helen Simonson, “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand”

A stranger on a plane recommended Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand. I had previously passed on it, purely on the basis of the title: it sounded like one of those cutesy English novels that set my teeth on edge. It started … Continue reading

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Emile Zola, “The Masterpiece”

I think it’s fair to say that Zola is kind of a blowhard. It’s always too much with him: mud or sex or fruits and vegetables. (Respectively: La Terre, La Curée, Le Ventre de Paris.) So in The Masterpiece, his … Continue reading

Posted in art history, classic, French | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

George Gissing, “The Odd Women”

Odd as in, not one of a pair. As in, wouldn’t fit on Noah’s Ark. As in, unmarried. George Gissing was a late-nineteenth century English novelist who had come from the lower middle class and knew better than most of … Continue reading

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Graham Robb, “Parisians”

Graham Robb must have had a wonderful time writing Parisians. I don’t mean to imply that it wasn’t a lot of work: this book is incredibly carefully researched. It’s subtitled “An Adventure History of Paris” and it consists of eighteen … Continue reading

Posted in best seller, French, nonfiction | Tagged , | 3 Comments