BOOK & BLOG
April 18, 2011
Books of the Week:
Jon Courtenay Grimwood is NOT telling a sweet historical novel with a vampire in it, or even a sword-and-sorcery power struggle story. In his reinvented Venice, life is brutal and often cruel, and there are complicated hidden motives running all over the place like kudzu vines. The Fallen Blade, which is both colorful and fascinating, is full of people who pee themselves --and considering the circumstances under which they do so, it’s a reasonable reaction. Intrigue is thick, violence is rife, and the characterizations are amazingly rich.
In complete contrast, Barbara Pym’s An Unsuitable Attachment is one of Pym’s amazing books in which nothing at all seems to happen. You can always be sure there will be a Church of England clergyman and at least one anthropologist in a Pym novel, and there will be an assortment of spinsters who live their own lives; lives that on the surface seem uneventful and bland, but to the women living them they are anything but calm. I’ve read just about everything Pym has ever written, and I’ve never been disappointed. You have to be in the right mood for Pym, perhaps much as you have to be in the right mood for Jane Austen. I do think the two women would have liked each other; they both said much by recording tiny interactions.
I surprised even myself by picking up Wait for Me!. But a memoir by a woman who was not only one of the notorious Mitfords, but also became the Duchess of Devonshire and the woman who restored Chatsworth . . . well, that was irresistible. And truthfully, it’s been a great read. Most of it deals with a world I can’t even imagine, a world in which the socially elite Mitfords experience tremendous money problems, manic depression, alcoholism, and many other losses which must have been tremendously painful. Yet Deborah manages to retain a sprightly interest in life and the people around her, and it’s clear that she shouldered the most staggering burdens because it was her duty.
The next two weeks are packed full of things both big and small, things I have to accomplish before I leave on tour. These range from doing interviews, to having a conference about my social networking possibilities, to getting a pedicure. I have a wedding to attend and a tour wardrobe to marshal. I need a permanent, and I need to make sure there’s food in the freezer for my husband. You know how it is before any big trip! Every year I learn something else about packing smart, travelling with as little abrasion as possible, and keeping myself intact on the road.
It looks as though all the material for The Sookie Companion is in, and has been or will be processed very soon. I owe so many people thanks for their contributions that I’m scared to begin a list. I’ve edited everything, my editor’s edited, the copy-editor has edited . . . it’s daunting to think that a mistake will surely slip through despite all our efforts. But there’ll be a concordance, a summary of all the book plots, a map, an interview with yours truly, an interview with Alan Ball, recipes, an original novella, a history of the fan club, and other things I can’t even remember now.
I hope all of you enjoy this book and find it of great use when you’re reading the Sookie novels. If it adds to the pleasure you take in the books, then it was worth all the work we put into it.
© 2011 Charlaine Harris