Ava Gardner in The Killers (1946)It's time again for another edition of bookshelf, where I round-up the books that I've recently read (confession: one of these is a picture book but it is a book). I will confess to a bit too much television watching of late but I still managed to finish some good reads.
The Invention of Morel—Adolfo Bioy Casares
Louise Brooks was the inspiration for one of the characters in this strange and intriguing novella. A fugitive hiding out on a deserted island is soon joined by a group of vacationers who come and go, often repeating their actions and never acknowledging his presence. He finds himself falling in love with one of the women and decides that he will do anything to be with her. If you like magic realism, you’ll love this work.
The Madonna of the Sleeping Cars—Maurice DeKobra
Lady Diana Wynham, a great Scottish beauty, is almost destitute when she discovers some Russian holdings of her late husband’s that could save her. She enlists the help of her secretary, the French-born Prince Gerard Seliman, to secure her fortune and from there it’s a rollicking ride filled with spies and danger. One of the best-selling novels of the 1920s, it’s a wonderfully fun read with witty phrasing and great characters.
Clover Adams: A Gilded and Heartbreaking Life—Natalie Dykstra
After Marian "Clover" Hooper married historian Henry Adams in 1872, she became a popular confidant and hostess in Washington, DC. She also took up photography, taking portraits (including those of her dogs) and keeping meticulous notes about her art. Reproductions of some of her surviving images are included, which the author uses to analyse why Adams committed suicide by drinking potassium cyanide, which was used to develop film.
Mortal Arts—Anna Lee Huber
Talented artist Lady Kiera Darby is back and once again trouble follows in her path. When she discovers that her deceased childhood art tutor is actually alive and accused of murder, it’s up to her to prove his innocence. Joined by Sebastian Gage, the private inquiry agent with whom she shares a mutual attraction, Lady Kiera must delve into the effects of war on soldiers and the treatment of the mentally ill to save her friend. One of my favourite new historical mystery series.
Ginger: My Story—Ginger Rogers
Ginger Rogers tells the story of her rise from little Virginia Katherine McMath to movie star Ginger Rogers. She recalls her childhood (which involved a kidnapping by her estranged father), her films and co-stars (she is insistent that she and Fred Astaire liked each other), five husbands, beloved mother, and her political and religious beliefs. It’s a bit too long and Rogers can come off as preachy and naïve in certain passages but the parts about Hollywood are worth reading.
Flo & Wendell—William WegmanThis time round Wegman merges his famed photos with his paintings with delightful results. Featuring two of Wegman’s beloved Weimaraners, this is the tale of an older sister and little brother who don’t always get along but try to make an effort. I recently went to a book signing for Flo & Wendell and got to meet Wegman and Topper, the model for Wendell. Needless to say, Topper stole the show.