Monthly Archives: October 2011

David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

Yeah, but I didn’t finish it. Normally I don’t do this. Normally if I don’t finish a book I just … let it slip away. Let it drift to the bottom of the pile and don’t tell you guys about … Continue reading

Posted in contemporary fiction | Tagged | 2 Comments


Well! According to the lovely and generous Christina (who appears to have just returned from Paris where she shopped for books and if she hadn’t just paid me a huge compliment I would be green with envy), I am a … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Reading and the “Gift Economy”

Yesterday I found my way to this fascinating account in the UK newspaper the Telegraph, written by one of the women who judged the Booker Prize. The author, Gaby Wood, introduced me to a new idea that’s been rattling around … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments

Meg Rosoff, “The Bride’s Farewell”

Every now and then Amazon’s recommendation system really gets it right and tosses me something like The Bride’s Farewell, a quirky and wonderful historical novel. We meet Pell Ridley on the dawn of her marriage to blacksmith Birdie Finch, as … Continue reading

Posted in historical fiction, horses | Tagged | 15 Comments

Jane Haddam, “Living Witness”

Jane Haddam’s series of mysteries about the affable former FBI agent Gregor Demarkian have given me a lot of pleasure over the years. They’re reliable procedurals shot through with humor and an unusually penetrating eye for social details. Haddam’s dissection … Continue reading

Posted in mystery | Tagged | 4 Comments

Hillary Jordan, “When She Woke”

Dystopian fiction: not a big category for me. Re-working of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter: also not such a draw. Why, then, did I fall for When She Woke? Because Hillary Jordan is such a crackerjack story teller. Mind you, … Continue reading

Posted in contemporary fiction | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Vincent Van Gogh Not a Suicide?

Forgive me, I must weigh in. Just watched the 60 Minutes segment (double!) promoting the new Van Gogh biography which has been touted as offering a new theory about Van Gogh’s death. It was great to see the footage of … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments

Sarah Blake, “The Postmistress”

Has there actually been an increase in historical fiction set during or around World War II? Or is that just my perception, fueled by recent reading of Irène Némirovsky, Ellen Feldman, and Alan Furst? (Leaving out Sarah’s Key, which I … Continue reading

Posted in best seller, contemporary fiction | Tagged | 3 Comments

Sebastian Barry, “On Canaan’s Side”

One of the saddest books I’ve ever read. Sad in the sense of lacrimae rerum, “the tears of things,” or “the tears of the world,” a phrase from Virgil’s Aeneid. Sad because it’s about death and waste and loss and … Continue reading

Posted in contemporary fiction | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Irene Nemirovsky, “All Our Worldly Goods”

I’m having a little French-bourgeoisie moment; last night I began watching Olivier Assayas‘ fabulous Les Destinées Sentimentales, which focuses on a big prosperous turn-of-the-century family that produces porcelain (one branch) and brandy (another branch). Hours earlier I had finished reading … Continue reading

Posted in French | Tagged | 4 Comments