Monday, January 4, 2010

Book Binge Aftermath

De Nile isn't just a river in Egypt. I started getting the urge by last Friday to pretend that Winter Break was over and my children had returned to school because all I really wanted to do was read my way through the pile of books I'd been accumulating. My children are decent readers themselves and can occupy themselves for a couple hours of the day with no input from me, but I wanted to go on an honest-to-goodness book bender, which requires at least ten to twelve hours over a couple days.

So I compromised. I actually read a few books cover to cover, "refreshed my memory" on old favorites (that is, just re-read my favorite parts), and then skim-dumped some others.

The tally from the break:

TITANIC'S LAST SECRETS by Brad Matsen. You know I love shipwrecks, history, and salvage operations. Like SHIP OF GOLD IN THE DEEP BLUE SEA, this book had it all. Thrilling.

THE KING'S GENERAL by Daphne Du Maurier. Recommended to me by a fellow bed-and-breakfast guest in Leavenworth. Intrigue, romance, good characters. Set prior to and during the English Civil War. If you love Van Dyck paintings and Cavaliers, this is a good one.

THE BOLTER by Frances Osborne. Biography of Osborne's great-grandmother, the amazing Idina Sackville, who inspired, among others, Nancy Mitford's narrator's mother in THE PURSUIT OF LOVE and LOVE IN A COLD CLIMATE. Truly the Woman at the Well, Idina had five husbands (five!) and many more lovers and still wasn't happy. If you've been toying with the thought of having an adulterous affair, let this book cure you. Messy, messy. Plenty of famous people appear tangentially: the British royal family, Beryl Markham, Stewart Menzies (who inspired "M" from 007 fame), Karen von Blixen (OUT OF AFRICA), and so on.


PLAINSONG by Kent Haruf. This took me a while to get into. His style is so spare that I wasn't sure even by the end what kind of grasp I had on the characters or if he meant some to be interchangeable, but I was sucked into the story nevertheless. Since he's an older man, I'm surprised the two older men in the book are presented as desexualized, with dorky social sense and aw-shucks humor.

THE IVY TREE by Mary Stewart. Loved her books as a teenager. I couldn't find the telepathic one at the library (anyone remember the title?), but this one was pretty good. Funny because they're written in the sixties, so the heroines all wear polyester and smoke like fiends.


BLIND SUBMISSION by Debra Ginsberg. THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA for the publishing industry, down to the Meryl-Streepy boss and overwhelmed protagonist. This hit a little too close to home for me, with query letters that were meant to generate raucous laughter, and a "winner" book that interested me not at all. However, you may want to try it because most people on Amazon loved it. I'd have to put it in that ever-expanding category: "Everyone Else Loved It, So Clearly Something's Wrong with Me," which includes THE GUERNSEY PECAN PIE AND MADCAP POSTWAR SOCIETY and THE HELP.

What have you all been reading??


  1. I think "Touch Not the Cat" is the Mary Stewart book. Stamina of her heroines used to impress me!

  2. I'm glad to hear someone else didn't care for The Help. Linda G