Posts Tagged ‘books’

From the Hag’s Bookbag

Posted: August 9, 2012 in books


What I’m reading now, and the way I read them:

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley— Sounds like Fannie Flagg down home Southern homespun, eh? (Well, it did to me, anyway.) Not so. This is an English countryside murder mystery narrated by a precocious 11-year-old girl with an addiction to chemistry. She’s absolutely hilarious, and plucky without being cloying. (If I were her older sisters, I’d hate her, too.) A complete surprise, and a delight. Good for book clubs. Paperback.

Afterlife by Rhian Ellis — A re-issue from Book Lust Rediscoveries headed by Nancy Pearl. The book opens with a young medium living in a community of spiritualists trying to decide how she’s going to get rid of the body resting in her old bedroom at her mother’s home. Not so much a whodunit as a WTF-happened. I found the narrator compelling if a little maddening: Her passivity about her life seemed to be emblematic of her generation. And it never occurred to me that spiritualism (seances, readings, tarot) is an attempt to answer the very question that religion grapples with: How do we deal with death? Kindle.

The Guns of August, by Barbara Tuchman — I loved her A Distant Mirror about the Middle Ages, so it’s about time I read this work by the Pulitzer Prize winner. (She’s so good that Streisand wanted her to write a screenplay, but Tuchman was “too busy” and wouldn’t even meet her.) I’m semi-obsessed with the whole WW1 era because of the cataclysmic changes “the war to end all wars” brought to society. Tuchman examines the progress of the war during its first month, August 1914, that set up the tragedy and bloodshed that was to come on the fields of Flanders and France. Very compelling. iBook.

Elegy for Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear —The most recent title in Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs mystery series set in post-WW1 England. (See? I am obsessed…) Born working class and employed as a maid in a great house, young Maisie is “discovered” by her employer, who sets her on a path toward Cambridge, a stint as a nurse on the front lines and a career as a private investigator. A few conventions aside, she is a fun character throughout the novels, a real “new woman” of the age. And I always like reading all of the titles in a book series. The characters become friends. iBook

The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty — When silent film star-to-be Louise Brooks first went to New York as a teenager to dance with Denishawn (the modern dance company founded by Ruth St. Dennis and and Ted Shawn), she took a chaperone with her. Moriarty weaves fact and fiction, contrasting the wild young Brooks, who has come to New York seeking her decadent future, with the fictional, conventional Cora, who is looking for clues to her past as a child in one of the “orphan trains” that left New York destined for placement with families in the Midwest. I got a bit annoyed with the placid Cora and the bratty Brooks at first, but, as their stories were spun, they grew on me. Experience is everything. iBook.

Right now I’m not reading anything because we’re obsessed with the Olympics at our house.

What are you reading?