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Archive for the ‘fiction’ Category

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Originally published in 1938, Miss Pettigrew has been rediscovered and reprinted in a beautiful paperback edition by Persephone, including gorgeous line drawings.  A fantasy screwball comedy a little like a Thin Man movie crossed with with an episode of Upstairs Downstairs gone mad, Miss Pettigrew has now been adapted as a major motion picture starring Frances McDormand and Amy Adams. “Miss Pettigrew, an approaching-middle-age governess, was accustomed to a household of unruly English children. When her employment agency sends her to the wrong address, her life takes an unexpected turn. The alluring nightclub singer, Delysia LaFosse, becomes her new employer, and Miss Pettigrew encounters a kind of glamour that she had only met before at the movies. Over the course of a single day, both women are changed forever.  [The author] Winifred Watson (1907 – 2002) grew up in Newcastle, and was a secretary until, in 1935, she married Leslie Pickering, the manager of a timber firm. She wrote six novels in all, but after the birth of her son in 1941 she stopped writing and lived quietly in Newcastle for the rest of her life.  The Times interviewed her at age 94 when Persephone Books reissued the book in 2000. The headline was ‘Bodice-Ripping Fame at 94.'” – Publisher’s Description

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“Having won a wide following for her first crime novel…Case Histories, Atkinson sends Det. Jackson Brodie to Edinburgh while girlfriend Julia performs in a Fringe Festival play. When incognito thug “Paul Bradley” is rear-ended by a Honda driver who gets out and bashes Bradley unconscious with a baseball bat, the now-retired Jackson is a reluctant witness. Other bystanders include crime novelist Martin Canning, a valiant milquetoast who saves Bradley’s life, and tart-tongued Gloria Hatter, who’s plotting to end her 39-year marriage to a shady real estate developer. Jackson walks away from the incident, but keeps running into trouble, including a corpse, the Honda man and sexy, tight-lipped inspector Louise Monroe. Everyone’s burdened by a secret infidelity, unprofessional behavior, murder adding depth and many diversions…crackling one-liners, spot-on set pieces and full-blooded cameos help make this another absorbing character study.” – Publishers Weekly

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“…Sayers fans will rejoice at the release of this new Lord Peter Wimsey novel 61 years after the publication of Busman’s Honeymoon….While perhaps not vintage Sayers, this novel fragment, completed by English novelist Walsh from Sayers’s outline, takes up where the honeymoon left off:  Now murder intrudes on the newly domesticated Lord Peter and Harriet Vane as one of their acquaintance, also newly married, is murdered. This has all the requisite stock characters, witty dialog, social satire, and red herrings of a classic Sayers, though perhaps marriage has mellowed the characters a bit too much. Highly recommended…” – Library Journal

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“Set in rural India, this quietly moving tale of doomed passion, scandal and betrayal sensitively probes one family’s problems. Chchanda, the sarcastic, precocious teenage narrator, burns with resentment and insecurity when Aunt Madhulika, who raised her, brings home a fiance, selfish lawyer Pretap Singh…In sharp, shining prose Indian first novelist Aikath-Gyaltsen dissects domestic life with the gimlet precision of Jane Austen.”
– Publishers Weekly

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This audio performance, by the author and a full cast, is far superior to the film.  It fully held the attention of this adult, without the company of children.  “Some books improve with age–the age of the reader, that is. Such is certainly the case with Philip Pullman’s heroic, at times heart-wrenching novel, The Golden Compass, a story ostensibly for children but one perhaps even better appreciated by adults. The protagonist of this complex fantasy is young Lyra Belacqua, a precocious orphan growing up within the precincts of Oxford University. But it quickly becomes clear that Lyra’s Oxford is not precisely like our own–nor is her world. For one thing, people there each have a personal daemon, the manifestation of their soul in animal form. For another, hers is a universe in which science, theology, and magic are closely allied.” – amazon.com

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A great read about a woman newly alone in contemporary London, and “of friendship and the sudden transformations fate can bring.” – Publisher’s Description  Drabble’s Seven Sisters would be an excellent companion piece for reader’s of Virgil’s Aeneid.

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“Shadowy and well-financed interests want to funnel five million dollars to rebels in the Phillipine mountains, to fund the violent revolt against the fledgling Aquino government.  But the rebel leader trusts no one but Booth Stallings, a terrorism expert who fought by his side during World War II.  Stallings isn’t interested in Philippine power sqabbles, but he is deeply interested in five million dollars…” – Publisher’s Despcription  “Out on the Rim is really good.  I mean it’s really good.  Ross Thomas takes us Out on the Rim with a stunning array of characters working a plot that twists and slithers, never stops.” – Elmore Leonard

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An American Book Award Winner,  “ensconed in the rich history of Northern California in the first half of the twentieth century, and peopled by comrades of many classes and cultures and lovers both male and female; but her central odyssey remains one of inner discovery. In Confessions of Madame Psyche, Dorothy Bryant has created a character who is so honest in her search for truth, growth, and spiritual understanding that this quest becomes inherent to her survival. – Publisher’s Description.  Dorothy Bryant is a native San Franciscan, and the author of The Berkeley Pit and many other novels and plays. 

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Hillerman is dependable for authentic New Mexico settings, original characters and solid writing.  “A barren desert landscape is quickly filled with Navajo tribal police, customs patrol officers, and the FBI when a dumped, unidentifiable body is discovered on the Navajo Reservation…Events turn treacherous when [Officer Bernie] Manuelito, identified by the good-luck pin she wears on her lapel, is stalked by one very scary drug-running villain…As always with Hillerman, an intricate pattern of ingenious detective work, comic romance, tribal custom, and desert atmosphere provide multifaceted reading pleasure.” – Booklist

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“Once upon a time, in a novel by Mario Vargas Llosa, there was a good boy who fell in love with a bad girl. He treated her with tenderness; she repaid him with cruelty. The bad girl mocked the good boy’s devotion, criticized his lack of ambition, exploited his generosity when it was useful to her and abandoned him when it was not. No matter how often the bad girl betrayed the good boy, he welcomed her back, and thus she forsook him many times. So it went until one of them died. Do you recognize the story? It’s been told before, by Gustave Flaubert , whose Emma Bovary has fascinated Vargas Llosa nearly all his writing life.” – New York Times

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