Monthly Archives: April 2011

Penelope Lively, “The Photograph”

What a great premise for a novel: a character comes across an old photograph of his wife. She is surreptitiously holding hands with another man — her brother-in-law, actually. Our protagonist realizes, for the first time, that the two were … Continue reading

Posted in anglophilia, contemporary fiction | Tagged , | 10 Comments

Ariana Franklin, “Mistress of the Art of Death”

Here they come. From down the road we can hear harnesses jingling and see dust rising into the warm spring sky. Pilgrims returning after Easter in Canterbury. Tokens of the mitered, martyred Saint Thomas are pinned to cloaks and hats … Continue reading

Posted in historical fiction, mystery | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Fred Vargas, “Debout les morts”/”The Three Evangelists”

I don’t have the temperament of a completist. Not for me the obscure early works, the unfinished manuscripts, the lesser-known short stories of the eminent novelist. But I find myself making an exception for Fred Vargas because she is just … Continue reading

Posted in funny, mystery | Tagged | 7 Comments

Carol Wallace, “Leaving Van Gogh”

Dear readers, I really am trying not to use Book Group of One to promote Leaving Van Gogh, which went on sale yesterday. (Small, discreet cheer.) But I’m getting a lot of traffic here from web searches. So, very briefly. … Continue reading

Posted in contemporary fiction | Tagged | 12 Comments

Henry Green, “Party Going”

Oh, Henry Green! Such a trickster! Since Party Going is the third short novel included in the volume I received last month, I was not actually expecting party coverage in the style of M. Proust. Oh, no. But I was a … Continue reading

Posted in anglophilia, classic | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Sarah Dunant, “Birth Marks”

I wonder why so many writers choose to begin with murder mysteries. Could it be that so many of us read them so faithfully? Another possibility is that there are simply so many murder mysteries published that the odds of … Continue reading

Posted in mystery | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Paula McLain, “The Paris Wife”

I’ve never been a big fan of Ernest Hemingway the author. All that swagger is bad enough, but I’m not even a fan of the prose. I have this notion that, just as there are cat people and dog people, … Continue reading

Posted in contemporary fiction, historical fiction | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Pierre Assouline, “Le dernier des Camondo”

Visitors to the wonderful Parisian house museum, Musée Nissim de Camondo, tend to get hung up by the photographs. There you are, gazing your fill at the stupendous decorative arts ensemble — paneling, tapestries, porcelain, mind-blowing 18th century furniture. And … Continue reading

Posted in art history, French | Tagged , | 13 Comments

Louise Penny, “Still Life”

Is there anything more tricky than choosing the right escape reading? Satisfaction depends so much on your mood and on fine shades of difference in narrators, in action, in setting. I read Tana French but not the Swedes, Patricia Wentworth … Continue reading

Posted in mystery | Tagged | 9 Comments

Michael Gilbert, “Smallbone Deceased”

I recently recommended Michael Gilbert to (I think) Annie because I thought she would like his dry wit. Then, between helpings of Henry Green, I revisited my first-ever and possibly favorite Gilbert, Smallbone Deceased. This is one of those mid-20th-century … Continue reading

Posted in anglophilia, mystery | Tagged | 3 Comments