14 June 2011


Jean Arthur

I am a voracious reader and normally have a pile of books next to my bed waiting to be devoured. I thought from time to time, I’d share with you what I’ve recently read.

Saplings by Noel Streatfeild
Streatfeild is best known for her children’s books yet Saplings is definitely an adult novel. The story opens with a middle-class English family at the seaside on the brink of World War II and charts their disintegration through the war.The detailed portraits of the four children and the effect the war has on them, especially on the two eldest, are particularly striking and gut wrenching. I first became acquainted with Streatfeild when I saw a painting of her at the National Portrait Gallery in London. I am so happy to finally connect the image with her writing. The book is a slow read at first but don’t be put off by that. It picks up speed towards the middle and then rushes destructively along towards the end. 

Where Shadows Dance by C.S. Harris
Everyone has their junk food version of books and mine is the historical mystery. I especially enjoy series that I can follow year after year and Where Shadows Dance is the latest in one of my favourite series. Sebastian St. Cyr is a dashing earl with a troubled family life who is often called upon to track down killers in Georgian England. Here he deals with multiple murders that seem linked to continental politics while arranging his upcoming marriage to his archenemy’s daughter, Hero Jarvis, who's a pretty strong female character. A nice mix of mystery, intrigue, and romance. Loads of fun. 

Drawing Conclusions by Donna Leon
Commissario Guido Brunetti is a man with a strong moral sense of right and wrong, which often leaves him at odds with the corruption he finds while solving murders. Luckily, Brunetti has a loving family who help to balance the horror of his cases. This time out in Drawing Conclusions, he investigates the death of an old woman that leads him to explore the treatment of the elderly and the abuse of women. The best thing about this book though and the series is the setting—my beloved Venice. The scenes describing Brunetti's walks through the streets and over the bridges bring the city to life and make me long to return.

For the New York Public Library's centennial anniversary (more on that at a later date), Penguin Books published Know the Past, Find the Future: The New York Public Library at 100, which includes more than 100 New Yorkers posing with and writing about their favourite items from the library's collections.This book is so much fun. Gabriel Byrne smiling with a portrait of James Joyce; Fran Lebowitz and Nancy Drew books; Lou Reed holding a manuscript page from Edgar Allan Poe's The Rationale of Verse; Zadie Smith reading a first folio edition of Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories & Tragedies. The best thing though? The book was passed out for free around the city. Way to go Penguin and the NYPL. 

Off to read some more.

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