Waiting for spring? Here are some reading options
Spring is here on the calendar (May 2); but, not on the ground yet. I received some plants in the mail weeks ago with a note saying it’s the perfect time to plant them. Tell that to the …
Waiting for spring? Here are some reading options
Spring is here on the calendar (May 2); but, not on the ground yet. I received some plants in the mail weeks ago with a note saying it’s the perfect time to plant them. Tell that to the 20-degree evenings we’ve been having.
So, I’m still holed up inside reading until the the sun and the temperatures align for more perfect yardwork days (wasn’t Saturday gorgeous?”) and it can’t come soon enough. Then, I can transition to reading on the deck. Although, reading in a comfy chair with a cat on my lap isn’t all bad either.
“The Care and Management of Lies” (2014) by Jacqueline Winspear is subtitled “A Novel of the Great War.” Kezia Marchant and Thea Brissenden bonded when both were scholarship students at a girls’ boarding school. Now Kezia is marrying Thea’s brother, Tom, and will become a farmer’s wife. Thea has become involved in the suffragette movement in London. Her wedding gift to Kezia, a book on household management, seems a rebuke to Kezia. But, Kezia loves being Tom’s wife. She learns to cook and isn’t afraid to change traditions to make things better. Then, war is declared. Thea becomes involved in the antiwar movement, a dangerous activity, before volunteering to drive an ambulance in France. Most of the men in Tom’s village, including Tom, sign up to fight. The book moves between all three characters — in the trenches, behind the lines and back on the homefront in England. Letters pass between the three, but little truth lies within. Kezia’s letters, in particular, detail meals she “cooks” for Tom, sending him and his fellow soldiers into reveries of home and the food they sorely miss.
“Raven Black” (2006) by Ann Cleeves. I’m a fan of the “Shetland” series on PBS and finally got around to reading the books — well, the first one anyway. Book 1 introduces Jimmy Perez, a police inspector on the Shetland Islands. It’s a first-class mystery and very atmospheric. I love how the harsh, but beautiful islands off the north end of Scotland are a major character. As are the locals, with their Norse heritage. The mystery involves the death of a 16-year-old girl. The locals suspects Magnus Tait, an old man who lives in a cottage alone, who was the prime suspect when a young girl went missing many years earlier. I didn’t remember the ending and didn’t see the solution coming at all. That closed society type of setting is interesting, too — the locals, newcomers, those with money, those without. It’s a colorful stew that’s perfect for a murder-mystery.
“All the Light We Cannot See” (2014) by Anthony Doerr. I’ve read a lot of books about both world wars. Most set in England and by English authors, but some set in Germany and one in Russia and Germany. Even when France is a site, it’s usually the trenches that are highlighted. So, this story set in France (Paris and Saint-Malo on the coast in Brittany) and Germany during World War II was different and just a marvel. It’s full of the beauty and wonder of life – even during wartime. But, it’s also heartbreaking and touching and humanizes both sides in a tale of a French blind girl and a German orphan who, because of his talent with radios, is sent to an academy for the Hitler Youth. The story moves back and forth in time and place as the children grow up and become pawns in the war, and try to deal with the moral dilemmas that come with invasion and occupation.
“The Way of All Fish” (2014) by Martha Grimes. I’ve been a fan of this author from the beginning. (If you haven’t read her Richard Jury series, get reading. The titles are all the names of pubs and the murder-mysteries have a great deal of humor and a quirky cast of characters.) But, this book is the second she’s written about a couple of hitmen, Karl and Candy. Once hired, they check out the target and learn everything they can about him and why someone wants him dead before they agree to the hit or take any money. Then, they bring their own idea of justice to the whole situation. The books are an absolute hoot. And, the setting of both is the world of publishing and writers. “How would they ever have guessed the publishing world was so shot through with acrimony that they’d just as soon kill you as publish you?” The books remind me of early Carl Hiaasen novels.
“The Daring Ladies of Lowell” (2014) by Kate Alcott (a pen name for journalist Patricia O’Brien). This author never disappoints (“A Touch of Stardust” and “The Dressmaker”). Like her other books, this one is also a mix of fact and fiction. Many East Bay residents will remember the murder of a mill worker by the Rev. Ephraim Avery (a Methodist preacher), because Sarah Cornell’s body was discovered in Tiverton and she was from Fall River. Avery lived in Bristol and the inquest was held there.
But, Alcott set her tale of the new industrial age and the personal cost to the workers in Lowell, Mass., where Alice Barrow comes from her father’s farm to work in the textile mill and save enough money to be independent. However, the mill takes a toll on the young women — from the 13- and 14-hour workdays to the deafening noise of the looms and the cotton fibers that fill the air and clog their lungs. When Alice’s best friend is murdered, Alice will demand justice even if it mars her own happiness.
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