Wednesday, February 18, 2009

reading now

Death and Judgment
Two separate tragedies kick off the fourth book in Donna Leon’s successful police procedural series. First, a semi truck, with Romanian license plates, jackknives and spills female “mannequins,” only the mannequins laying in blood-stained snow. Second, a prominent judge, Avvocato Carlo Trevisan, is murdered. The latter ends up on Commissario Guido Brunetti’s desk, and it isn’t long before he begins to connect the dots linking the two events. I’m at the book’s halfway point and many of my favorite characters—Vice Questore Patta and Brunetti’s wife, Paola—are quiet. The food and wine aren't as prominent as in previous titles. Much of the novel is set in a seedy area of Venice, far off the tourists’ beaten path, and I miss descriptions of the canals. That said, reading Death and Judgment is very cozy, much like hanging with old friends.

Cold Comfort Farm
For a long time, Stella Gibbons's Cold Comfort Farm has been on my TBR list. Back when I was at SMP, a favorite editor acquired a number of books that were compared favorably to CCF or to its author, Stella Gibbons. And, although I made a point to see what the fuss was about, it’s only now, ten years later, that I’m finally reading CCF. It’s a hoot, following the fortunes of Flora Poste, whose parents have died and left her with no property and only a small annual allowance. Flora concocts a delicious scheme to find relatives who will take her in, and as she explains to her dear friend Mrs. Smiling, “When I have found a relative who is willing to have me, I shall take him or her in hand, and alter his or her character and mode of living to suit my own taste. Then, when it pleases me, I shall marry.” I’m at the point in this pastoral parody where Flora has arrived at Cold Comfort Farm. The Starkadders have taken her in and Flora has begun to plan her course of action. Plenty of allusions are made to a deep dark secret involving Flora’s father.

CCF is such a treat to read. I was hoping to finish it quickly, especially since the novel is a bit of a page turner, but now I’m lingering over sentences and paragraphs. I’m confident I will re-read CCF regularly.

Although my reading dance card is relatively full, I’m casting about for some short nonfiction, to balance the load. Any suggestions?

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