So books! Â What have I been reading lately?
Well, work has been so crazy for the last six weeks that I’ve mostly stayed away from the heavy stuff. I’ve put away some pretty mindlessÂ chicklit, the kinds of titlesÂ that I’d be embarrassed to share here. Â But even among all the beachy stuff,Â there have been a few titles of substance that I’m happy to crow about.
Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather was an unusual read. It’s not so much a novel as a series of vignettes about two priests who settle inÂ New Mexico. Â It’s lyrical and beautiful; Cather doesn’t shy away from the brutal aspects of life on the frontier, but there is a vein of hope and human goodness in this story that links all of the different episodes. Â It makes me want to read more Cather, and to spend more time in the Southwest.
Apparently the Poldark series of books by Winston Graham (first written in the 1940s) were made into a popular British TV series in the 1970s. Â I haven’t seen the series, but I’ve just read the first two books, and they’re terrific. Â They take place in eighteenth-century Cornwall, a place I love to read aboutÂ (blame Daphne DuMaurier), and they center on the young squire Ross Poldark and the various people in his world. Â Love! Loss! Â Family feuds! Â Sassy servants! Â Mining! Â It’s all here, and it’s a treat. (Ross Poldark is the first one in the series, if you’re planning to start.)
My mom is a huge fan of Gladys Taber, aÂ mid-twentieth-centuryÂ columnist/writerÂ who lived in an old farmhouse in Southbury, Connecticut. Â She wrote several books about her life in New England, and this past summer, my mom gave me the 1959 book Stillmeadow Sampler. Â It’s arranged by season, and is a compendium ofÂ Taber’s musings about living in the country, about cooking, about family, about dogs, and about life in general. Â It’s an utterly delightful book, the kind of book you read with a cup of tea on the table next to you. Â Highly comforting.
This past summer, Scott and I got Â hooked on the AustralianÂ TVÂ series Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. Â It’s based on a series of books by Kerry Greenwood, and I just had to check them out. Â So far I’ve read four, and they were great; the setting of 1920s Melbourne is unique, and the characters are a blast. Â I can’t really call them “cozy mysteries”; the stories are a littleÂ too dark for that,Â and Phryne Fisher is not a cozy kind of character, though she is certainly an entertainingÂ one.Â She’sÂ sort of the female James Bond, Â adventurous both outside and insideÂ of the boudoir (even moreso in the books than in the TV series — skip theseÂ if you can’t stomachÂ bedroomÂ scenes in your mysteries), and she has a fabulous cast of supporting characters. Â These are very engaging mysteries that keep you guessing.
So what have you been reading lately?