Monthly Archives: July 2011

More on Frans Hals

Big review today in the New York Times of a Frans Hals show at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. A great accompaniment to the exhibit would be Michael Kernan‘s The Lost Diaries of Frans Hals,  a wonderful, vivid novel that puts you in 17th-century Holland. Kernan writes about … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dodie Smith, “I Capture the Castle”

I Capture the Castle is a Sacred Text for me, a book I read over and over again as a teenager and still revisit every few years. Each time, I am enchanted despite knowing the plot and characters intimately, and … Continue reading

Posted in anglophilia | Tagged , , | 15 Comments

Patrick Leigh Fermor, “A Time to Keep Silence”

My passion for nun literature is not quite matched by my passion for monk literature — which, by the way, is not as rich a field. Matthew Lewis’s 1796 The Monk, an early Gothic, springs to mind but I can’t … Continue reading

Posted in anglophilia, memoir | Tagged | 7 Comments

R.I.P. Lucian Freud

Yesterday’s announcement of Lucian Freud’s death saddened me, since Man with a Blue Scarf portrayed him so vividly. Martin Gayford made me feel as if I had known him.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 4 Comments

April Smith, “White Shotgun”

It’s a great title, isn’t it? “White shotgun” is apparently the term used in Italy when someone vanishes and no trace remains, no body, no documents…. nothing. As we are told in the first chapter, this is the result when … Continue reading

Posted in thriller | Tagged | 4 Comments

Muriel Spark, “A Far Cry from Kensington”

“So great was the noise during the day that I used to lie awake at night listening to the silence. Eventually, I fell asleep contented, filled with soundlessness, but while I was awake I enjoyed the experience of darkness, thought, … Continue reading

Posted in anglophilia, classic | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Elly Griffths, “The Crossing Places”

Am I old? No, don’t answer that. Old-fashioned, then? Is that why present-tense narration rubs me the wrong way? I think I understand the rationale: as a writer, you might want to get closer, always closer to the story you … Continue reading

Posted in anglophilia, mystery | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Patrick Leigh Fermor, “Between the Woods and the Water”

Between the Woods and the Water takes up exactly where Patrick Leigh Fermor left off at the end of A Time of Gifts; the first sentence reads “Perhaps I had made too long a halt on the bridge.”  (A reminder that … Continue reading

Posted in classic, memoir, nonfiction | Tagged | 5 Comments

Asti Hustvedt, “Medical Muses”

One of the most fascinating areas of research for Leaving Van Gogh was the treatment of  mental illness in 19th-century France. Since the novel is set in 1890, it’s natural that I came across the titanic figure of that era, Dr. … Continue reading

Posted in nonfiction, scholarly | Tagged | 1 Comment

Julia Spencer-Fleming, “One Was a Soldier”

If there’s a writer who can credibly manage the issue-based murder mystery, that writer is Julia Spencer-Fleming — but it’s a project fraught with difficulty. We read murder mysteries to escape. That doesn’t mean they all have to be set … Continue reading

Posted in mystery | Tagged | 1 Comment