I don’t know what happened to me this month…I’ve been a totally schizophrenic book reader! I start one, it doesn’t grab me in the first 50 pages or so, and I give up on it and start another. I think the problem is I finally made it to the post library and stocked up on books, so now I’m overwhelmed with choices…while reading one, I can hear the others calling, “I’m much more interesting!”
Anyway, here are a few of the books I started, stopped, and plan to finish soon!
1. The St. Zita Society by Ruth Rendell
I adore Ruth Rendell books. They’re suspenseful, well written, and always have a twist to them. This is the book I’m currently reading, and I can’t put it down!
From three-time Edgar Award-winning mystery writer Ruth Rendell comes a captivating and expertly plotted tale of residents and servants on one block of a posh London street, and the deadly ways their lives intertwine.
Life for the residents and servants of Hexam Place appears placid and orderly on the outside: drivers take their employers to and from work, dogs are walked, flowers are planted in gardens, and Christmas candles lit uniformly in windows. But beneath this tranquil veneer, the upstairs-downstairs relationships are set to combust.
Henry, the handsome valet to Lord Studley, is sleeping with both the Lord’s wife and his university-age daughter. Montserrat, the Still family’s lazy au pair, assists Mrs. Still in keeping secret her illicit affair with a television actor, in exchange for pocket cash. June, the haughty housekeeper to a princess of dubious origin, tries to enlist her fellow house-helpers into a society to address complaints about their employers. Meanwhile, Dex, the disturbed gardener to several families on the block, thinks a voice on his cell phone is giving him godlike instructions, commands that could imperil the lives of all those in Hexam Place.
The St. Zita Society is Ruth Rendell at her brilliant best; a deeply observed and suspenseful novel of murder in the quintessentially London world of servants and their masters.
2. Blood and Beauty by Sarah Dunant
This book sounded so intriguing to me, an historical novel about the Borgias, but it just seemed to drag on and on. I read almost one hundred pages and still couldn’t bring myself to continue. I checked it out thinking it was written by Tracy Chevalier, whose historical novels I find infinitely more readable than this!
Is there a family in history more dazzling, dangerous and notorious than the Borgias?
A powerhouse of the Italian Renaissance, their very name epitomizes the ruthless politics and sexual corruption of the Papacy.
The father, Pope Alexander VI, a consummate politician and a man with a voracious appetite both as Cardinal and Pope.
The younger Juan, womanizer and thug, and their lovely sister, Lucretia, whose very name has become a byword for poison, incest and intrigue.
But how much of the history about this remarkable family is actually true, and how much distorted, filtered through the age old mechanisms of political spin, propaganda and gossip?
What if the truth, the real history, is even more challenging?
“Blood & Beauty: The Borgias” is an epic novel which sets out to capture the scope, the detail, the depth, the colour and the complexity of this utterly fascinating family.
3. Family Pictures by Jane Green
I did finish this, and, as in all of her books, enjoyed the exploration of family relationships and interactions. Even though I felt as though I should be sitting on a beach, sipping an umbrella drink, it was so light after the Borgia denseness.
New York Times bestseller Jane Green delivers a riveting novel about two women whose lives intersect when a shocking secret is revealed.
From the author of Another Piece of My Heart comes the gripping story of two women who live on opposite coasts but whose lives are connected in ways they never could have imagined. Both women are wives and mothers to children who are about to leave the nest for school. They’re both in their forties and have husbands who travel more than either of them would like. They are both feeling an emptiness neither had expected. But when a shocking secret is exposed, their lives are blown apart. As dark truths from the past reveal themselves, will these two women be able to learn to forgive, for the sake of their children, if not for themselves?
4. The Movement of Stars by Amy Brill
I’m reading this at the same time as the Rendell, and will finish it after I finish that one. It’s fairly entertaining, and I’m interested to know more about the first professional female astronomer in America, on whom the heroine is based.
A love story set in 1845 Nantucket, between a female astronomer and the unusual man who understands her dreams.
It is 1845, and Hannah Gardner Price has lived all twenty-four years of her life according to the principles of the Nantucket Quaker community in which she was raised, where simplicity and restraint are valued above all, and a woman’s path is expected to lead to marriage and motherhood. But up on the rooftop each night, Hannah pursues a very different—and elusive—goal: discovering a comet and thereby winning a gold medal awarded by the King of Denmark, something unheard of for a woman.
And then she meets Isaac Martin, a young, dark-skinned whaler from the Azores who, like herself, has ambitions beyond his expected station in life. Drawn to his intellectual curiosity and honest manner, Hannah agrees to take Isaac on as a student. but when their shared interest in the stars develops into something deeper, Hannah’s standing in the community begins to unravel, challenging her most fundamental beliefs about work and love, and ultimately changing the course of her life forever.
Inspired by the work of Maria Mitchell, the first professional female astronomer in America, The Movement of Stars is a richly drawn portrait of desire and ambition in the face of adversity.
I’ve also read aloud with the kids several entertaining books this month. My eldest is engrossed in the Boxcar Children series (there are around 150 of them, I think!), so he and I read, taking turns, some spooky ones for Halloween. To all of them, I read The Best (Worst) Halloween Ever about the Herdmans of The Best (Worst) Christmas Pageant Ever and we all laughed aloud at Junie B Jones in Boo…and I Mean It! With my second grader, I’m reading the How to Train Your Dragon series, which is very entertaining, as well. Oh, and my book club read a selection of Edgar Allan Poe stories, so I’m not a total slacker in the reading department this month!
Happy Reading, and wish me luck on finishing all my false starts. Except the Borgia one…it’s already back at the library!