Monday, May 31, 2010

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Sheila at One Persons Journey Through a World of Books. If you want to let the world know what books you're going to be reading this week, head on over to her blog and leave your link.

Last week wasn't a great reading week for me: only managed to finish one book and didn't get any reviews written. My intentions were good, but I kept getting sidetracked by other stuff. So there's not much to report, but I hope to do better this week.
  • Finished last week:
    The Hypnotist, by M.J. Rose (review coming soon)

  • Reviews posted:
    None (must do better)

  • Reading this week:
    The Forgotten Garden, by Kate Morton (I've had this one going for a couple of months now, and I'm determined to finish it up this week.)

  • Next up (not completely sure, but these are possibilities):

    The Vanishing of Katharina Linden. Helen Grant (Won this in a Good Reads giveaway. This one has gotten some great reviews, so I'm putting it at the top of the list.)

    Damaged. Alex Kava (ARC - book is due out in July.)

    The Magicians. Lev Grossman (I picked this one up on my last library visit, and it needs to go back soon. I've glanced through it, but I'm not sure it's grabbing me enough to settle down with it.)

    The Sculptor, by Gregory Funaro (Another Good Reads win. Looks interesting.)

  • In the works:
    Reviews, reviews, and more reviews!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Time Out for TV: Land of the Lost

So they were dead the whole time? Or did they die in the final episode? Or what?

I was never a fan of the series Lost. I saw the pilot episode and bits of a few others, and then just couldn't stay interested in it enough to stick with it. But I know it had a huge worldwide following, and you'd have to be marooned on a tropical island yourself, not to have noticed at least some of the hype about the final shows this month.

I'm not going anywhere with this. Just wondering.

I try not to watch too much TV, so I miss out on a lot of popular culture, I suppose. My new favorite show is Selling New York, on HGTV. I always wanted to live in the Big Apple, and if I ever did live there, one of those twenty million dollar penthouses would be just perfect. The show is the only "reality TV" I follow. Or actually, I guess it's more of an un-reality show. For one thing, I'm convinced all those agents and brokers have to be actors. They're always so beautifully put together. And nobody but a seasoned performer could deliver with such wonderful nonchalance a line like "My client's looking to spend around eight million, so of course he has to expect a very limited amount of space." It may not be reality, but it's great fun.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Booking Through Thursday: Bedside

This week's BTT topic is about bedside reading: "What books do you have next to your bed right now? How about other places in the house? What are you reading?"

Well, my answer to that first question would have to be none. Our bedroom isn't really set up for reading in bed. Yes, it's a real failing on the part of our decorating scheme, but there you are. We don't have nightstands, or reading lights by the bed, or a comfy seating/reading area in the bedroom. So if I want to read at bedtime (and I always do), it has to be done in some other part of the apartment. I've recently acquired an iPad that has a Kindle app, and I'm going to try using that for bedtime reading, if I ever manage to decide on which books I want to download.

And in other rooms? The answer to that one is simple, too – we have books everywhere. In bookcases, piled on tables, hidden in cabinets and boxes, stacked on the floor. Even in the bedroom, where reading isn't easy to do, there are books. We have books in every room except the bathrooms, and that's only because our bathrooms are barely big enough to turn around in – no room for any book accumulation. If you want to read in any of our bathrooms, you have to take your book in there with you.

Aside: There's an interesting question – are you a bathroom reader? If yes, what's your preferred reading material for a bathroom session? Or maybe that's just too much info.

And I digress.

OK, last question. What am I reading? Well, at the moment, I'm reading M.J. Rose's The Hypnotist. That's been my bedtime reading for the last few days. Hoping to finish that one up tonight or tomorrow. I'm also slowly making my way through The Forgotten Garden, by Kate Morton (and enjoying it – but it's a really long book and I keep getting tempted by other, shorter works). I've got several more books started, although I'm not really actively reading them at the moment (my "back burner books"). And I have several ARCs that I need to read in the next few weeks. Of those, I think Alex Kava's Damaged is probably next on my list.

So, what about you? What's your bedtime reading situation? Or are you one of those lucky types who hit the pillow and float instantly off to dreamland?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A-Z Wednesday: "P"

A-Z Wednesday is hosted by Vicki at Reading At The Beach. To join in, just visit her blog for the guidelines and leave your link in a comment.

This week's letter is "P." So I went to my shelves, and this is what I pulled out.

Pontoon: A Novel of Lake Wobegon
Written by Garrison Keillor
Published 2007

Description of the book from the publisher:
In Lake Wobegon lives a good Lutheran lady who is quite prepared to die and wishes to be cremated and her ashes placed inside a bowling ball and dropped into the lake, no prayers, no hymns, thank you very much. Meanwhile, the Detmer girl returns from California, where she has made a killing in veterinary aromatherapy, to marry her boyfriend Brent aboard Wally's pontoon boat, presided over by her minister, Misty Naylor of the Sisterhood of the Sacred Spirit. Brent arrives on Thursday. On Saturday, a delegation of renegade Lutheran pastors from Denmark come to town on their tour of America, their punishment for having denied the divinity of Jesus. And Barbara Peterson, whose mother, Evelyn, left the startling note about cremation and the bowling ball, is in love with a lovely fat man who slips around town in dim light and reconnoiters with her at the Romeo Motel.

And then there is Raoul of the cigars and tinted shades and rainbow sportcoat and his long phone message ("Hey, Precious") after the angel of death has already come and gone.

All is in readiness for the wedding – the giant shrimp shish kebabs, the French champagne, the wheels of imported cheese, the pate with whole peppercorns, the hot-air balloon, the flying Elvis, the pontoon boat, and the giant duck decoys – and then something else happens.

It is Lake Wobegon as you've imagined it – good loving people who drive each other slightly crazy.
See the book's page at

And a photo of the author:

I read this one a couple of years ago, and loved it. It's really laugh-out-loud funny, and pokes fun at just about everybody and everything (including some gentle jabbing at religion, so if you're squeamish about that sort of thing, this might not be your cuppa). It also includes one of the greatest opening lines in all literature (IMHO): "Evelyn was an insomniac so when they say she died in her sleep, you have to question that."

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays: The Hypnotist

This week my teaser lines come from The Hypnotist by M.J. Rose, the third novel in her Reincarnationist series. I'm enjoying the book quite a lot (more than I expected to, actually), even though I haven't read either of the earlier books. It reminds me just a teensy bit of the Aloysius Diogenes series by Preston and Child - although it's quite different from those books, it does have some of the same flavor.

This excerpt (more than two lines again - sorry) comes from page 93, and has the protagonist, Lucian Glass, remembering his lost love Solange, back when they were two young aspiring artists twenty-some years ago:
She had been self-conscious about the scar and made up different stories about how she'd gotten it. From a vicious babysitter with a knife when she was five. From a French poodle that had leaped up and taken a bite out of her when she was still a baby. . . . From the devil, signaling she'd sold him her soul so she could paint better.
The scar mentioned in the quote was a "strange, pale crescent-moon shaped mark above her right eyebrow," and I have a feeling it's going to become significant later in the book. Something connected with a past life? Or maybe not. Just have to wait and see.

How about you? Got a great teaser from a book you're reading right now? Want to play along? Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by mizB at Should Be Reading. If you'd like to read more teasers, or take part yourself, just head on over to her blog.

Monday, May 24, 2010

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Sheila at One Persons Journey Through a World of Books. If you want to let the world know what books you're going to be reading this week, head on over to her blog and leave your link.

Once again, I've been getting quite a bit of reading done lately, but still not as much as I'd like. Been trying to get over a very stubborn cold recently, so I've had lots of time to read, but haven't felt much like blogging about it. Feeling better now, though, and hope to get back on track (or at least figure out where the track went to). Here's what's up lately:
  • Finished recently:
    Innocent, by Scott Turow
    The Last Child, by John Hart
    Tinkers, by Paul Harding

  • Reviews posted recently:
    Innocent, by Scott Turow
    Tinkers, by Paul Harding
    The Map of True Places, by Brunonia Barry

  • Reading this week:
    The Hypnotist, by M.J. Rose
    The Forgotten Garden, by Kate Morton (Still reading this one and enjoying it, but it's a bit of a chunkster.)

  • Next up:
    The Sculptor, by Gregory Funaro (Won this in a Good Reads giveaway. Looks interesting.)
    Damaged. Alex Kava (ARC - book is due out in July)

  • In the works:
    Still at least half a dozen or so reviews to be finished up and posted (as usual).

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Review: The Map of True Places

Written by Brunonia Barry
William Morrow, 2010; 416 pages

Zee Finch is a young therapist still recovering from the suicide of her mother fifteen years ago. Maureen Finch had been a beautiful but disturbed woman, whose emotional problems had forced the thirteen-year-old Zee into the role of caretaker when she was much too young to be prepared for it. The experience deeply traumatized Zee, and influenced her choice of career. When Zee takes on a new patient, Lilly Braedon, who reminds her very strongly of Maureen, she allows herself to become much too involved with Lilly and her problems. And when Lilly also commits suicide, Zee is once more badly shaken and begins questioning her own part in Lilly’s death, as well as her overall professional abilities.

Taking some time away from the job (and fiance William), Zee travels back to her home in Salem, Massachusetts, intending to visit her father (called Finch), and his partner, Melville. But when she arrives in Salem she finds that Melville seems to have disappeared, and Finch’s Parkinson’s disease has advanced alarmingly: He's hallucinating about Nathaniel Hawthorne, has set up a "cent-shop" like the one in House of the Seven Gables, and is selling Melville's belongings to the neighbors. Once again, Zee is forced into the role of caregiver, and also has to deal with childhood memories, and the secrets and buried truths involved in her relationship with her father. At the same time, she begins a romance with an attractive stranger who may have dangerous connections to Lilly Braedon’s suicide.

I'm very sorry to have to say I was disappointed with Barry's second novel. Now maybe my expectations were just too high, as I absolutely loved her debut novel, The Lace Reader – it's become one of my all-time favorite reads. So I was hoping to enjoy The Map of True Places just as much, and I was very excited to get an ARC of the book from the publisher. But in the end, it was really mostly that "free book" obligation that kept me reading.

I thought the plot, with so many different story lines, was annoyingly convoluted. All that jumping around in time occasionally even seemed confusing for the author, forcing her to repeat herself in several places throughout the book (almost as if she were saying, “Oh, did I tell you this already?”). And while a few of the many characters were very finely drawn, some just felt like stock footage.

Like The Lace Reader, this novel is set in Salem and the atmosphere and local color is well portrayed. And Barry is still very adept at adding little details that make the story and characters seem very real and familiar. And she's still wonderful with descriptive images (like the children playing at the beach, wearing "so much 45 SPF that the blowing sand began to coat their pale bodies, making them look like sugar cookies.") But in general, I thought the writing was uneven – brilliantly luminous in parts (like the Brunonia I love), but strangely sloppy and repetitive in others: as if she'd worked very hard on polishing some passages, and just used her rough drafts at other times. And the ending, though it had some interesting plot twists and did tie up all the various threads (perhaps a little too perfectly) – well, I'll just say I found it unsatisfying and strangely inappropriate to the tone of the rest of the book.

Ultimately, I think Barry was just trying to weave too many plots together. I would have been happier if she’d concentrated more on the story that I found really intriguing, which was the saga of Finch and Maureen and Melville (the old folks), and hadn't spent quite so much time on young Zee and her various traumas and neuroses. Possibly what the book needed wasn't better writing, but tougher editing. I'm still a Brunonia Barry fan, and still hoping for that amazing follow-up novel, but this just wasn't it.

[Note: This review refers to an advance reader's edition of the novel, provided free of charge by the publisher. I received no other compensation for reading the book, no one tried to influence my review, and the opinions expressed here are entirely my own.]

Review: Innocent

Written by Scott Turow
Grand Central Publishing, 2010; 407 pages

Twenty years after being tried for the murder of his colleague and lover, Carolyn Polhemus, attorney Rusty Sabich is back – still looking for love in the wrong places, and making all the wrong moves. And Scott Turow is in fine form once again, delivering another sure-fire page turner. If, like me, you loved Turow’s bestselling Presumed Innocent back in the 1980s, then I think you’re in for a treat: twenty years later, here comes the sequel – Innocent, published this month and already climbing the charts. Well, actually, there have been several “sequels” to Presumed Innocent, over the years – each one following a different character from the fictional Kindle County legal world Turow introduced in that first novel. But in Innocent, we get to find out what happened to the major players from that earlier book, and follow them into new adventures.

Innocent works just fine as a stand-alone novel, although I imagine it helps to know a bit about the earlier story. The bare bones plot was this: Rusty Sabich was accused of the rape and murder of a female attorney he worked with – Carolyn Polhemus. He was tried for the crime and acquitted, but the experience was almost fatally traumatic for him and his wife and young son. Tommy Molto, the prosecutor in that earlier case, was also badly scarred by the trial and its aftermath: accused of unethical conduct and mishandling evidence, he eventually lost his job. And although Rusty helped him get it back, there’s still animosity there – and Tommy still believes, deep down, that Rusty got away with murder.

Flash forward twenty-odd years, and Tommy is now the acting chief prosecutor in Kindle County. Rusty, now a chief judge of the appellate court, is getting ready to run for a spot on the state supreme court. And just weeks before the election, Rusty wakes up one morning to find his wife Barbara lying in bed beside him, dead. Not only has she died under mysterious circumstances, but when it’s learned that Rusty waited twenty-four hours before notifying anyone of her death, that he “tidied up” the bedroom while he was waiting and “thinking,” and that he’d recently been having another affair with another female colleague, Tommy and his staff immediately assume it’s happening all over again – Rusty Sabich has once again gotten away with murder. In fact, this time, no one can even be completely sure that there was any “foul play” involved.

Eventually, of course, Tommy overcomes those doubts and hauls Rusty into court to stand trial for yet another murder. I won’t say much more about the plot, except that there are a lot of surprises to come, especially after the trial gets going – trials, after all, being what Turow does best.

When I first heard about Innocent, I was a little wary – I had enjoyed Presumed Innocent so much, I was prepared for a let-down with this one. But I was very pleasantly surprised – I really enjoyed this book, too. Well, maybe not quite as much as the earlier novel. That one really hit me hard, but this one has a lot going for it, too. Rusty is still an appealing, though frustrating character, and his opponent, prosecutor Tommy Molto seems a little more human and well-rounded here. It’s interesting to see what’s happened to several of the characters from the earlier book as they make their appearances in this new one – especially Rusty’s son Nat, who’s now twenty-eight and beginning a legal career of his own. Once again, it’s the women characters who seem to cause all the grief. And once again, the actual mystery of the book isn’t all that hard to figure out, and the conclusion becomes fairly obvious (even inevitable) pretty early on. But none of that diminishes any of the fun. Innocent is a really terrific read.

[Note: My copy of Innocent was provided, free of charge, by the publisher, through Library Thing's Early Reviewer program. I received no other compensation. No one attempted to influence my review, and the opinions stated here are my own.]

Let Us Now Praise Older Women Readers

Found this very interesting quote in today's edition of the Shelf Awareness newsletter. It's by Canadian writer Katherine Govier (whose latest novel is The Ghost Brush), and the full National Post article can be found here.
"You do hear, in publishing circles, the occasional complaint that the audience is 'graying.' Yep, it is. It is also loyal, intelligent, informed...opinionated, and not going anywhere. These women have years of reading ahead of them. They will not be switching their allegiance to video games or social media. They will read, and discuss what they read, as long as they have eyes in their head. Anyway, they’re not all gray.... The audience is a bigger mix than it first appears to be. But yes, it is mainly older women. These are the buyers, the ones who get the ball rolling. Let’s face it, they are the mainstay and the lifeblood of books in our country. Maybe in most countries.... So let’s hear it for older women who read. Without their wisdom, curiosity and lust for life, their humour, loyalty and pride of place, we would be nowhere."
Nice that somebody has noticed.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A-Z Wednesday: "O"

A-Z Wednesday is hosted by Vicki at Reading At The Beach. To join in, just visit her blog for the guidelines and leave your link in a comment.

This week's letter is "O." So I went to my shelves, and this is what I pulled out.

Written by Virginia Woolf
First published by the Hogarth Press, 1928

The cover of the first edition.

Description from Good Reads:
In 1928, way before everyone else was talking about gender-bending . . . Virginia Woolf wrote her comic masterpiece, a fantastic, fanciful love letter disguised as a biography, to Vita Sackville-West. Orlando enters the book as an Elizabethan nobleman and leaves the book three centuries and one change of gender later as a liberated woman of the 1920s. Along the way this most rambunctious of Woolf's characters engages in sword fights, trades barbs with 18th century wits, has a baby, and drives a car. This is a deliriously written, breathless-making book and a classic.

See the book's page at Wikipedia.

The cover of my old Signet Classics edition (complete with coffee-cup stain):

The cover of a recent audio version of the book:

And a selection of various covers the book has sported over the years:

Orlando has been one of my favorite books since I first read it over forty years ago (I was such a precocious youngster!). Set in England and Constantinople, and spanning almost four centuries of wild and crazy adventures, it's a unique and fascinating literary experience.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays: Innocent

This week my teaser lines come from the new Scott Turow novel, Innocent. It's a follow-up to Turow's 1987 best-seller, Presumed Innocent, and revisits attorney Rusty Sabich twenty years after being tried and acquitted of the murder of his colleague and lover, Carolyn Polhemus. These lines are from page 1, and form the opening paragraphs of the book; they're being spoken (or thought, I suppose) by Nat Sabich, Rusty's 28-year-old son:
A man is sitting on a bed. He is my father.
The body of a woman is beneath the covers. She was my mother.

This is not really where the story starts. Or how it ends.
Yes, I know that's more than two lines. Sorry, but I didn't want to cut anything. Also, what the lines don't tell you (explicitly, anyway) is that the woman under the covers (Nat's mother) is dead.

How about you? Got a great teaser from a book you're reading right now? Want to play along? Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by mizB at Should Be Reading. If you'd like to read more teasers, or take part yourself, just head on over to her blog.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A-Z Wednesday: "N"

A-Z Wednesday is hosted by Vicki at Reading At The Beach. To join in, just visit her blog for the guidelines and leave your link in a comment.

This week's letter is "N." So I went to my shelves, and this is what I pulled out.

No Fond Return of Love
Written by Barbara Pym
First published 1961

Description from the dust jacket:
Dulcie Mainwaring . . . is one of those "excellent women" who is always helping others and never looking out for herself – especially in the realms of love. She has a fondness for Ovaltine and a maxim to go with it: "Life's problems are often eased by hot milky drinks."

At a "learned conference" she meets a fellow researcher with an air of some refinement – Viola Dace – and the alluring, absentminded Professor Aylwin Forbes. Dulcie subsequently becomes Viola's landlady, as well as guardian and housekeeper for her own young niece Laurel. Then Laurel becomes the object of Aylwin's amorous designs, and Viola's early passion for Aylwin fades into a more mundane affair.

The novel climaxes in a delicate tangling of schemes and unfulfilled dreams when Dulcie and Viola take a trip to Eagle House in Taviscombe, on the seacoast in the West Country, to discover the hidden secrets of the Forbes clan and the role played in their destiny by a mysterious castle on the hill.

As in all of Pym's novels, the prose is honed to a wry, deadpan perfection. Life's little humiliations are finally put into their place, and the reader sees that things do fall out correctly; love is returned, and fondly, after all.
The book's page at

The cover of my old paperback edition:

The cover of another, more recent edition:

English novelist Barbara Pym is probably my favorite "modern" writer, and No Fond Return of Love is one of her wittiest and most representative novels. If you haven't read Pym, you're denying yourself some really wonderful literary pleasure. I would always recommend beginning with the early works (especially Some Tame Gazelle, and Excellent Women), but every one of her books is a delight and you can jump in anywhere.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Review: Tinkers

Written by Paul Harding
Bellevue Literary Press, 2009; 191 pages

I've always kept a pretty close eye on the book publishing world (even before I became one of those pesky book bloggers). I usually know something about what's being published, what's popular, what's not, what's being talked about – even if it's work I'm not likely to read. And when a book I've never heard of, written by an author I've never heard of, wins the Pulitzer – well, it certainly piques my interest. So I got a copy of this year's winner of the award for best novel, Paul Harding's Tinkers, and spent all yesterday evening reading it.

Tinkers tells the story of eighty-year-old George Washington Crosby, who is (quite literally) on his deathbed, with his family gathered around him. During the course of the book, we experience his last eight days of life (sometimes in rather gruesome detail), getting glimpses of his thoughts and memories and hallucinations. There are frequent referrals to the amount of time he has left to live ("Ninety-six hours before he died, George said he wanted a shave.") There are also passages of the book that seem to slip outside of George's head, telling us the story of Howard Crosby, George's father. Howard drove a wagon for a living, selling odds and ends of housewares to people who lived in a backwoods area (I had a little trouble pinning down the locations and time frames of the book). He also had epilepsy and abandoned his family when he realized his wife was planning to have him committed to a home for the insane. Howard started over in the city, with a new name, a new wife, and only years later made contact a single time with George, his oldest son.

In addition to the rather impressionistic story of George's life, there's a lot of discussion of clocks and clock-making and clock-repair – most of it probably only of interest to clock-makers, I think. Yes, I got the metaphor about clocks being a symbol for the ticking away of a life; but that didn't make it any less tedious. There are many lists, and many rambling sentences (one or two seem to go on for more than a page). The story is, with only a couple of brief exceptions, relentlessly depressing. If it hadn't been so mercifully short, I don't think I'd have stuck with it to the end.

I will admit, as many people have pointed out, that Tinkers is a remarkable piece of craftsmanship, especially for a first novel. And it has some really beautiful writing in places. One of my favorite passages comes about midway through, in a description of George's childhood home:
The porch was unpainted and its wood bleached to a silvery white. When the sky filled with clouds, it often turned the same silver color as the wood, so that it only seemed missing a grain to be wood and the wood only missing a breath of wind to stir it and turn it into sky. [p.75]
And there are even a few almost light-hearted touches here and there, all very nicely done. For instance, here's George's family gathered for a Christmas dinner:
The children were astonished by the ham that Kathleen had cooked for the Christmas meal. It was the largest they had ever seen. It was covered in a crust of brown sugar and molasses. Buddy the Dog sat at attention, as if recommending himself to the ham over the children by his proper manners. Kathleen shooed him with a kick in the ribs, but he just let out a yelp and stayed put. Russell the Cat came into the room, too, and sat facing the wall, away from the table, cleaning his paws, as if an affectation of utter disinterest might be the trick to getting a scrap. [p.83]
Unfortunately, the lighter bits are few and far between; and mostly diluted by additions like that kick in the ribs. It's a very dark read.

A few reviewers have said the book should be read as poetry rather than prose. Fair or not, when I hear that, I always tend to assume they mean it just doesn't work as a novel. And in this case, I think my assumption is right.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Booking Through Thursday: Half

This week's BTT topic is a familiar one, but always an interesting one: What do you do if, halfway through a book, you find it's not really grabbing you?
It’s boring. It’s trite. It’s badly written . . . . What do you do? Read the second half? Just to finish out the story? Find out what happens? Or, cut your losses and dump the second half?
This set of questions is particularly timely for me because I just finished reading a book that I felt just this way about (sad to say it was Brunonia Barry's latest, The Map of True Places – my review will be posted sometime today or tomorrow). And in that case, I kept reading because the book was an advance copy and I felt obligated to finish and review it.

And I suppose that's my answer: If there's some overwhelming reason to finish a book I'm not enjoying, then I'll keep plugging away at it – if I've agreed to review it, or it's a book club or group-read book. Or if it was recommended by a close friend. Otherwise, I have no qualms about giving up on a read halfway through.

These days, I read mostly for pleasure, so I figure if the book isn't giving me pleasure, why struggle through it? Life, as they say, is too short to spend any precious reading time on bad books. Ditch the stinker and pull another book off that ridiculously enormous TBR pile!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

A-Z Wednesday: "M"

A-Z Wednesday is hosted by Vicki at Reading At The Beach. To join in, just visit her blog for the guidelines and leave your link in a comment.

This week's letter is "M." So I went to my shelves, and this is what I pulled out.

My Cousin Rachel
Written by Daphne DuMaurier
First published 1951

Description from Good Reads:
Orphaned at an early age, Philip Ashley is raised by his benevolent older cousin, Ambrose. Resolutely single, Ambrose delights in Philip as his heir, a man who will love his grand home as much as Ambrose loves it himself. But the cozy world the two construct is shattered when Ambrose sets off on a trip to Florence. There he falls in love and marries - and there he dies suddenly. In almost no time at all, the new widow - Philip's cousin Rachel - turns up in England. Despite himself, Philip is drawn to this beautiful, sophisticated, mysterious woman like a moth to the flame. And yet ... might she have had a hand in Ambrose's death?
The cover of a recent paperback edition:

A photo of the author as a very young woman:

And a still from the 1952 film based on the book:

I first read this one at about age fourteen – found a copy stored in my grandparents’ garage and promptly confiscated it as my own. I had recently seen the old movie on TV, starring Olivia de Havilland and Richard Burton. And as I had an enormous crush on the gorgeous Welshman at the time, the book instantly became one of my favorites. And while my passion for Richard has modified somewhat over the years, I still think the book is a great read. (Good movie, too.)

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays: The Last Child

This week my teaser lines come from John Hart's The Last Child. I seem to be reading a lot of thrillers lately, and this is one more.

This little snippet is from page 8, and has the book's main character, thirteen-year-old Johnny Merrimon, thinking about the man his mother has been spending time with since Johnny's father left them:
But after his dad left, the respect disappeared, and Ken started coming around a lot. Now he ran things. . . . Johnny took it in with those black eyes, and often found himself in the kitchen, at night, three fingers on the big knife in its wooden block, picturing the soft place above Ken's chest, thinking about it.
The book won this year's Edgar Award for best mystery novel of the year, and it's received lots of great reviews. So I've got high hopes for it, even though I haven't really started it yet (just picked it up at the library over the weekend).

How about you? Got a great teaser from a book you're reading right now? Want to play along? Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by mizB at Should Be Reading. If you'd like to read more teasers, or take part yourself, just head on over to her blog.