In the High Peaks

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Lady Clementine and More Reading in January

January happens to be one of my favorite months. I love the light in January and the incomparable shade of light blue in the skies on a clear day. I much prefer to be very healthy in January so I can enjoy all it has to offer, but, as you know, such was not to be.
But I did enjoy my trip to Boston during the first week of January, especially the three-hour lunch with my oldest nephew. All three courses. What fun! Fortunately it was  a Tuesday, so there was no pressure to eat up and leave the table. The time spent with my nephew was well worth the trip, and as a bonus I also thoroughly enjoyed the time spent with my oldest friend. We met at age 18 and still, the bond endures. How wonderful!

While I was sick, I loved reading the new novel Lady Clementine by Marie Benedict, about the life of the wife of Winston Churchill. Prior to this, I knew very little about her. I thought overall the novel was very well done. My only reservation, and it was minor, was that the ending was abrupt. (The novel concludes right at the end of WWII, abruptly.)  I gobbled it up in less than two days, at a time when I couldn't do much else but read.
During this time I also read another 2020 novel, The Tenant, which is the Danish author Katrine Engberg's debut novel. I'm sorry to say that I found it barely mediocre, though I found myself continuing to turn the pages rapidly. But it was not at all memorable, and I don't recommend it. The novel is set in Copenhagen, and there was just a bit of welcome atmosphere there, but not enough to make it worth it.
I'm listening to Uncanny Valley by Anna Weiner, another 2020 publication. According to The New York Times, it's a "literary memoir." I don't agree, not at all, but it is an intriguing account of the author's experience as a New York City expatriate, a former employee in a NYC literary agency gone to dig gold in a Silicon Valley start-up. The author was "old" compared to her fellow employees (she was just 25). At the time she wrote her memoir she was in her early 30s. I'm halfway through at this point, so...take whatever I say with a grain of salt.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Apologies and Many More Books to Come

I'm sorry to say that I've been so slow responding to comments because I managed to get really terribly sicksome (and tiresome) to all those around me. A killer cold/virus, it seems, my first ailment since mid-March 2019. I won't wax on, but that's why I've been so slow. I'll be responding just as soon as I can. I hope to write a proper post tomorrow, no matter what (hoping).

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

It's Only Mid-January and I'm So Behind, BUT BOOKS!

This first half of the first month of the new year has not been what I expected, but I'm hanging in.
I thoroughly enjoyed a quick trip to Boston (across the river in Cambridge, actually), January 6-8, to visit my oldest nephew and my oldest friend. Both meetings were so heartfelt, and so rewarding. And to top it off, I stayed on the 16th floor of a hotel set on the Charles River, which afforded unbeatable views of Boston. Absolutely amazing, especially at night, or at 5:30 in the morning. Amazing.

WOW! I loved reading Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk, the Polish Nobel Prize Winner. This novel was originally published in Poland in 2009, but an English translated edition appeared in 2018. I believe that its first publication in the U.S. was in 2019, and it achieved "best book of the year" status from NPR, Publisher's Weekly, New York Times, Kirkus Reviews, etc.,  etc.  To my mind, it's a treasure. I'm so glad I read it. It's part mystery--detective, part literary fiction with a slight philosophical bent that I think will appeal to people who delight in a slightly quirky rendering. But the main draw is the fascinating protagonist Janina, an older woman who has lived a long, interesting life, but who now lives in the deep Polish countryside near the Czech border. I highly recommend it.

Today I was supposed to be cleaning the house in preparation for Ken's cousins coming this weekend, but I was so out of sorts that I ended up reading the entirety of John Connolly's The Caxton Private Lending Library and Book Depository, which was a pure delight!! I couldn't put it down. It's  part mystery, part detective story, part fantasy, part QUIRKY with a capital Q!  I've mentioned in a previous post that Connolly is an Irish writer and author of the Charlie Parker mysteries. This short novella  makes me  want to try one of those. The Caxton Private Lending Library is available on Amazon. And if you check into my post two entries ago,  you'll  find more info on how to find this wonderfully charming story. FOR BOOK LOVERS ONLY.