Archive for July, 2008

Aunt Dimity: Snowbound (book #54)

13 July 2008

Nancy Atherton, 2004.

Thought this was fairly crap. It’s a cosy where the detective is snowbound in an English stately home with a few other people and investigates a theft from the past. I didn’t care for the central conceit that the ghost of Aunt Dimity talks to the heroine through a notebook, and even apart from this the plot and characters seemed implausible. Just looked at the author’s website and found a terrible greengrocer’s: “There are dozen’s of Aunt Dimitys in my life”.

Atherton also says:

“I don’t, as a rule, “create” characters. More often than not, they simply show up and start talking (bless them). I get to know them as you do, bit by bit, as the story progresses.

By the same token, I rarely plan storylines. I don’t want to know what’s going to happen before it happens—where’s the fun in that?—so I let the story unfold as I go along.”

AAAAGH.

Envious Casca (book #53)

13 July 2008

Georgette Heyer, 1941.

Not one of her best. Too many cliches: “Paula flushed, and said through her teeth: ‘Gossip already! That’s what we shall have to face!'”.

Like the chocolate mousse reference though:

“‘Leave her alone, Paula,’ ordered Stephen, getting up, and walking over to the sideboard, where some chocolate mousse had been left for him.”

Penhallow (book #52)

13 July 2008

Georgette Heyer, 1942.

Very strange and dark. Quotation:

“Faith set her teeth, and rethreaded her needle, trying to shut out the sound of boisterous voices, to wrap herself up in some world of her own that contained no horses, no aggressively assertive young men, no coarse-tongued old ones, and above all no over-heated, over-crowded, fanstastically furnished bedrooms where she could be compelled to sit night after night while her temples throbbed, and her eyes ached from the unguarded flames of the countless candles all round the room.”

Someone to Watch Over Me (book #51)

13 July 2008

Lisa Kleypas, 1999.

Entirely formulaic, but ok on that basis. I don’t think “manipulative” in the modern sense works as a Regency word, though it is attested in print from 1836.

Sue Barton: Rural Nurse (book #50)

13 July 2008

Helen Dore Boylston, 1939.

Great. Here’s a quote:

Sue Barton looked at herself critically, changing the brush to her left hand, and smiling as the mirror caught the sparkle of a diamond on her third finger. Was it only three weeks ago that she had been so wretched about Bill and their broken engagement – only two weeks since she had been lying in bed, ill with a cold, and opened her eyes to see Bill standing in the doorway? …

“Golly!” Sue thought. “All my bright ideas about leading my own life certainly took a running jump into the lake – in less than half a second!”

Must scan cover.

Renaissance Florence (book #49)

13 July 2008

Gene Brucker, 1969.

Fascinating. I like this pilgrim taking the bare necessities:

“On this 18th day of August 1399, I Francesco di Marco, through the inspiration of God and his Mother our Lady, resolved to go on a pilgrimage, clothed entirely in white linen and barefoot, as was the custom then from many people in the city … For at that time all men, or at least the greater number of Christians, were moved to go on a pilgrimage throughout the world, for the love of God, clothed entirely in white linen … And that we might have what was necessary, I took with us two of my horses and the mule; and on these we placed two small saddle chests, containing boxes of all kind of comfits … and candles, and fresh bread and biscuits and round cakes, sweet and unsweetened, and other things besides that appertain to a man’s life … the two horses were fully laden with our victuals; and besides these, I took a great sack of warm raiment, to have at hand by day and by night. And the mule I took in case one of us, through sickness or any other cause, could not walk … ”

And this –

“Denouncing the Florentine practice of making vows for every conceivable purpose, Franco Sachetti wrote that such practices were idolatrous, and not acts of Christian faith. ‘And I, the writer, have actually witnessed someone whose cat has strayed making a vow that if he recovered it, he would send a wax image [of the cat] to the Virgin at Orsanmichele. And he actually did this!'”

Magic Study (book #48)

13 July 2008

Maria V Snyder, 2006. Not as good as Poison Study.

Uncle Stories (book #47)

13 July 2008

JP Martin – Uncle, 1964, and Uncle Cleans Up, 1965.

These didn’t survive re-reading for me. A few good lines though:

“Gratification,” he said, “is a poor word to express my feelings at this moment. I am afloat on a sea of foaming joy and delight! For the time being, I will say little, but on many a long winter evening I shall expound to you with suitable words my feelings at this extraordinary event!”

“And I shall love to hear you,” said the Old Monkey simply.

The Assize of the Dying (book #46)

13 July 2008

Ellis Peters, 1958.

Typical Petersian concern to analyse feelings: “What he had then intended the Judge did not inquire of himself or anyone. … He thought that Robert had not come with the intention of dying, but he was fairly sure that he had come with the possibility in his mind and with a great indifference to the result.”