Thursday, 17 September 2015

Reading into fall


It seems only yesterday I was gearing up for September, and here we are at the halfway mark already. Quick Lit day has snuck up on me yet again. Rather than leaving my reading list fallow for another month, I'm slapping together a shorter post than usual. That's the idea anyways. Wish me luck.

Here's what I've been reading since mid-July:

I can't believe it's not better, by Monica Heisey
A short collection of humourous articles, poems, and pictures. Heisey's zany style grew on me the more I read. It was like sitting down with a collection of the Far Side Comics; each piece was funnier than the last, even if some of the racier content had me wincing. On that note, I'd think twice before following the back cover's suggestion on giving it to a niece you don't know well but want to impress. My nieces are both minors; I doubt my sister-in-law would appreciate them receiving a gift with that much adult content from anybody.

She's come undone, by Wally Lamb
This seminal novel of hurt and slow healing made it's way on to my to-read list for reasons since forgotten. Much like The Color Purple, it was definitely worth the time and emotional energy, but it was one hard read. HSPs beware.

Ellen Tebbits, by Beverly Cleary
After my last two literary choices, a kids' book was just the ticket. I'd never read any Beverly Cleary books, but my daughter got a gift set for Christmas and has a habit of leaving them around the house. Ellen Tebbits was a short and sweet ride down memory lane to the ups and downs of child friendships. It wasn't until Ellen expressed surprise that not all mothers know how to sew that I realized how old it was. Turns out Cleary started writing back in 1950, and she kept at it straight until 1999. I've now read her second oldest novel, published in 1951. I'll have to see how the others compare.

Kilmeny of the Orchard, by L. M. Montgomery
Speaking of early novels, this one hails from 1910, right in the midst of those first Anne books. I can't help but wonder if Kilmeny's neglected orchard was inspired by Hester Grey's abandoned garden from Anne of Avonlea, or vice versa. Much like Anne's House of Dreams, I had to set aside my knowledge of modern medicine and believable rates of rehabilitation, but the high romance is worth the suspension of disbelief. A lovely escapist read. I'm so glad I found a copy.

Anne of Ingleside, by L. M. Montgomery
The latest Anne instalment has never been my favourite - it spans a few too many years and the children seem almost type-cast - but this time around I found Anne's endless patience and understanding downright irksome. There's nothing like reading of a fictional mother's first and only recorded bad day to your own child when both of you are well aware that bad mother moments happen a lot more frequently in your own home than at Ingleside. I wish Montgomery had written in a scene where one of Anne's children complains to Miss Cornelia about Mother getting cranky and she tells them bluntly "that's because your mother is people, dearie." Thankfully, my own girlie didn't feel the need to ask why I'm not like Anne, though she kept waiting in vain for stories about Shirley. Poor little boy didn't get a single tale. I suppose being Susan's favourite isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Sister Pelagia and the Red Cockerel, by Boris Akunin
The end of the Sister Pelagia trilogy went in curious places among curious people: one character travels from city to city in Russia, stumbling upon government conspiracy and secret horrors while Pelagia is in Palestine, weaving through rebels and conmen in search for a heretical prophet straight out of Bulgakov's The Master and Margerita. There's still a mystery of sorts, and a brush with the paranormal that cannot be explained, but the odyssey's the thing.  Not nearly as fun as the first two, but thought provoking and very well written all the same.

Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow, by Juliet Grey
It's been a long time since I read any historical fiction. Last library visit, I picked two off the shelf. This was the first. It's actually the second novel in a trilogy covering the life of the infamous Marie Antoinette. This instalment followed the doomed queen from her husband's rise to the throne to the storming of the Bastilles. The French Revolution is one of those famous European epochs of which I hold only a cursory knowledge; thanks to Juliet Grey, I'm now entirely hooked, and totally sympathetic to her heroine's plight. Sarah Crew's obsession makes sense to me now.

Keeping it short clearly isn't happening, but my morning's getting shorter by the minute. My last couple books will have to wait until next time. Do pop over to Modern Mrs. Darcy for more promptly submitted reviews.

Happy September.

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