In the High Peaks

Friday, July 4, 2014

Grasping Freedom with Rachel Pastan's Alena and The Vacationers

Because I am finally, at long last, done with final papers and projects and grading, as of tonight I feel the freedom of leisure approaching.

Yesterday, when I discovered that large sections of two out of twenty final papers had been plagiarized, I threw in the towel and immediately zoomed to my local swimming pool where I swam laps like a crazed beast until exhaustion took over. I then sat, dripping wet, and turned to the first few pages of Wolf Hall and immediately realized that the novel is much too complex for my frazzled brain to handle at this point. Frustrating!

This morning I felt the need for a leisurely hour of reading before I finished my course work, so I turned to Alena by Rachel Pastan, a novel I purchased for the Nook when it was first published earlier this year. It's had some excellent reviews, but I must warn you that it is a contemporary, re-structured version of Du Maurier's Rebecca. Ordinarily, a book that's a knock-off of a classic would not interest me in the slightest. But I chose this one because it takes off, literally, from Rebecca, with surprises of its own, and also because it's set on Cape Cod in Massachusetts, a place where I spent a great deal of time in my youth and young adulthood. My longing to spend time there may be what motivated me to purchase this book. Maybe this novel will rest my brain so I can turn to the more serious, challenging reading I have planned for July and August. So I hope!

Just a few minutes ago I also purchased The Vacationers by Emma Straub, which has received rave reviews. I'm looking forward to this novel as well. So here's my self-medicated prescription: Stick to non-taxing reading for my befuddled brain, and then, when it has healed, onto Wolf Hall! I can't wait to read it, which is why my mental incapacity is extremely frustrating at the moment.


  1. Rest. Relax. Read summer books.

    I lost my several-year reading mojo. Keep watching TV and dvd's. Don't know what is happening. But I seem to crave easy, relaxing books. But when I read them, they seem so empty.

    I guess I need a Sara Paretsky or Donna Leon-type book. I'm caught up with their series, so I must find another. I want to read Kate Atkinson's Life after Life, but I feel like my poor brain isn't up to it.

    If you like Emma Straub's book I may read it. Maybe I need some Nero Wolfe books, humor, light, quick reading.

    1. Kathy,
      Have you ever tried Sue Grafton or my all-time favorite mystery author who's not difficult at all, Julia Spencer-Fleming. Her first novel in the series is my favorite. In a Bleak Midwinter. Not too challenging but lots of fun and a heroine and hero to root for. I highly recommend it!
      You might like to have a fun read for when you're sitting on your front steps!

  2. I've read several Kinsey Millhone books. I read one by JSF, but it wasn't my thing.

    Nero Wolfe would work, and I have several others on my stack.

    I went outside today and did the NY Times crossword puzzle, but I got continual dog kisses from the dogs in my building and I finally had to go upstairs to get washed off.

    I saw Straub's book on the NYTBR bestsellers. If you like it, let us know. I need a mindless, relaxing read, perhaps without any dead bodies.