Wednesday, July 30, 2014

July Reading

It's summer and I'm busy so my reading is lighter this month.  I finished "Love In The Time Of Cholera" which was my book club book for this month.  We universally disliked it and had a hard time working out why it is considered a classic!  Here are the other books I have read or am reading.

"The Book Of Life" by Deborah Harkness
This is the third in a trilogy of vampire stories for grown-ups and I'm half way through.  I have loved reading these books(more than once) and I enjoy the characters and the pace of the writing.  The stories are complex with a lot of historical references, for example in the second book Diana and Matthew travel back in time to Europe in the 16th century where they meet a lot of people familiar to us from history books.   The stories are full of drama, passion, fascinating characters and impossible situations.  It's pure escapism and a great summer read.  

"Written In My Own Heart's Blood" by Diana Gabaldon is the most recent in her "Outlander" series.  It took me a little while to settle into this book because it has been quite a while since I read the previous one.  In the first book, Claire travels back in time 200 years by accident while looking for plant specimens at a stone circle in Scotland.  She meets and falls in love with a fearsome Scottish warrior and the rest of the books follow their story and those of their family members, in Scotland, France and America both in the past and present day.  The books are pretty steamy but the most recent one less so.  There is a lot of historical detail which I have a tendency to read but not really take in.  What I enjoy is the interaction between the characters and the way the Scottish characters speak!   I also love the idea of stone circles being portals to other times, and that Claire and Jamie meet and recognize other time travelers, in one instance recognizing someone from the present day by their vaccination scar.  These are swash buckling historical adventure stories. This is not the only genre I read!  It just happens that this and the book above were just published at similar times!

"The Forgotten Seamstress" by Liz Trenow
This book is the second by this author and is set in England in the area where I grew up.  Her first book is called "The Last Telegram".  In The Forgotten Seamstress we find Maria growing up in an orphanage in the early 1900's.  Maria is taught to sew and finds that she is good at it.  She and a friend are selected to go and work as seamstresses for the Royal Family where she is seduced by the then Prince Of Wales.  When she becomes pregnant, she is committed to a mental institution and subjected to the treatments of the day.  There are several threads in this book. There is the mystery of a beautiful quilt, the tangled situations that modern, unemployed Caroline, a main character, finds herself in and the moving story of Maria herself and her friend Nora.  I found myself drawn into this story, anxious to find out the truth of what happened.  

"Pride, Prejudice And Cheese Grits" by Mary Jane Hathaway
I first saw this book on Pinterest and was attracted to the pretty cover, a women in a beautiful red gown (red is my favorite color).  It is a modern day Pride and Prejudice tale, fun to read and a breath of fresh air after reading Love In The Time Of Cholera!

"Maisie Dobbs" by Jacqueline Winspear
The first in a series of books, Maisie Dobbs introduces us to Maisie just as she is opening her own business.  Nothing special you might think, but this is set in 1929 so it is indeed a big deal for a women to be opening a business, especially as a private detective.  A bit later in the book there are flashbacks to Maisie's childhood and how when she was in service as a maid she was discovered reading in the library of the big house.  The Lady of the house decides to find a way to educate Maisie and as a result Maisie finds herself at Cambridge University, until the war intervenes and Maisie becomes a nurse.  These books are beautifully written, thoughtful detective stories which explore the grey areas of human behavior.  

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