Monthly Archives: June 2011

Elaine Sciolino, “La Seduction: How the French Play the Game of Life”

Elaine Sciolino has a bee in her bonnet. Not literally, of course. But she’s struggling all the same, you can tell. What is it about those French?  The hot eye from the guys in the street, the sixty-something women whose … Continue reading

Posted in French, nonfiction | Tagged | 5 Comments

Elin Hilderbrand, “Silver Girl”

Maybe some day I’ll be able to define what it is that makes fiction really come alive for me. It’s probably different for each reader and each reading of a book.  But for now, let’s just say it’s that phenomenon … Continue reading

Posted in contemporary fiction | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Donna Leon, “Drawing Conclusions”

Wait, did that just happen? Did I just read a Donna Leon novel in which Guido Brunetti fails to find the criminal? Have we come to this? A point when a reliable procedural-mystery writer actually declines to solve the mystery? For … Continue reading

Posted in mystery | Tagged | 1 Comment

Mary Doria Russell, “Doc”

Doc who? Doc Holliday, it turns out, is the subject of Mary Doria Russell’s latest novel, but that didn’t help me much. Wild West, I thought. Something with guns. Vaguely promising: I downloaded the sample chapter. Opening line: “He began … Continue reading

Posted in historical fiction | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Ann Cleeves, “Morts sur la lande”/”Telling Tales”

I feel pretty silly about this. It makes sense to read French murder mysteries in French, in an attempt to maintain language skills. Thus Fred Vargas. But it’s pretty cumbersome to read an English murder mystery in French, just because you … Continue reading

Posted in mystery, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Steve Martin, “An Object of Beauty”

An Object of Beauty should have been right up my alley — who wouldn’t like a fable about the contemporary art market? Complete with full-color reproductions of artworks and an ambitious girl heroine? Scenes of auctions, galleries, and art-buying jaunts to … Continue reading

Posted in art history, contemporary fiction | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Dorothy Whipple, “Someone at a Distance”

If I knew how, I would subtitle this post “Persephone Power.” Of course I knew Dorothy Whipple’s name because some of you read her for Persephone Reading Weekend back in February. But last week, when I was in Southern California … Continue reading

Posted in anglophilia, classic | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Elizabeth Spencer, “The Light in the Piazza and Other Italian Tales”

Uncomfortable feeling — I have not been fair to this book. Sometimes I forget that, as a reader, you have to bring something to the enterprise: sustained effort, and the ability to keep faith with the author’s intentions. Many books … Continue reading

Posted in classic | Tagged , | 3 Comments