It’s WWW Wednesday. This meme is from shouldbereading.
• What did you recently finish reading?
Good luck finding copies of Antonia Forest’s work–old paperbacks go for hundreds of dollars. But through a Goodreads connection I lucked into a copy of Peter’s Room, which is arguably one of her best, and strangest: the kids of the series spend their Christmas holidays playing Gondal–the secondary world secretly written by Anne and Emily Bronte. Quite simply, I think it’s brilliant.
Langue[dot]doc, by Gillian Polack. A group of scientists and a single historian go back in time to a village in France in the year 1305. Polack, a historian, has fun clashing paradigms–not only medieval versus modern, but science versus the humanities in this unusual novel. She makes interesting narrative choices that I suspect a traditional publisher would have nixed–and that would have hurt this unpredictable and unusual piece. Longer review here.
Jane Ridley, in her The Heir Apparent: A Life of Edward VII, the Playboy Prince joins those academics writing engaging, highly personal, formidably researched biographies that, in their effort to be engaging, can bump right up against fiction. Sometimes blurring the line.
• What are you reading now?
Having been through the Liddel-Hart edited Rommel Papers a couple times, I decided to read Rommel’s Attacks. (Yeah, it’s an English translation–I’ve meant to tackle it in German for years, but wussed out.) So far it’s a step by step account of a young officer going from march-and-hurrah to field experience, showing how he made sense of the fog of battle, and formed plans. Also an interesting insight into WW I thinking.
The Great Divide: The Conflict Between Washington and Jefferson that Defined a Nation, by Thomas Fleming, is a pretty good read. Fleming really knows his stuff, but hallelooya has he got a major hate on for Jefferson.
At times I’m not sure if this book is meant to be a text for college students, because Fleming has a tendency to stop and define some fairly elementary concepts and notions, and his rather frequent uses of the word ‘swirled’ would be too much in a fantasy romance, but he sure knows how to pick the details to bring the founding fathers to life–complete with warts–and yet convey the excitement, and the uncertainty, of inventing a republic with not much cash to go on, and a whole lot of conflicting agendas on where to go next.
The Boy from the Burren, by Sheia Gilluly is a sharply atmospheric fantasy with a late Stuart era feel, combining magic, storytelling, and art.
Infamous Woman: The Life of George Sand, by Joseph Barry. I never liked Sand’s novels (too melodramatic, not enough humor), though I’ve always appreciate the glimpses of Sand that I’ve caught in histories and memoirs. With Netgalley having sent me a novel about Sand coming out soon, I thought I might as well tackle a biography.
Barry seems to know his stuff, but in quoting her voluminous correspondence as well as bits from the novels, the many, many versions of “I have loved you since the moment I saw you! I love you forever! I shall die if we part!” as she (and her doomed heroes and heroines) work their way through their catalogue of lovers are fast becoming an entire wall of file cabinets in the Department of Redundancy Department, subsection: love affairs, catastrophic.
The Smoke-Scented Girl, by Melissa McShane, doesn’t really seem to be steampunk, though this other world has a strong feel of Victorian England viewed through an American lens. The pacing is terrific, the prose sharp and clear; I meant to just glance at the sample when I saw it enthusiastically reviewed on Goodreads, because I already have enough on my plate, but hoo-boy, I got so sucked in I had to buy the book.
• What do you think you’ll read next?
Ah-hah hah hah (looking at towering TBR pile)
How about you?