I’m making progress on blurbing out all those books I’ve read this year that I haven’t gotten around to writing about.
Stand Up Straight and Sing by Jessye Norman
Imperfect Harmony by Stacy Horn
Two books on singing. Imperfect Harmony is a memoir of a woman who finds healing and community by singing in a choir. And Stand Up Straight and Sing is a memoir by the incredible soprano Jessye Norman. Both were nice reads but didn’t leave much of an impression. Norman’s book in particular was a bit disappointing because I really wanted some opera gossip and she is a bit too principled to delve to those depths. Some might even say the book is uplifting.
Elizabeth and Her German Garden by Elizabeth von Arnim
I know that Elizabeth von Arnim can write some gritty fiction, well, gritty for her (cf Love), but with this title I was hoping something that was more like wonderful The Enchanted April. And it was. Kind of. I really loved the parts where she talked about her garden and garden mania. With her writing and sense of humor I could really just read page after page of garden chat.
The Prime Minister by Anthony Trollope
Phineas Redux by Anthony Trollope
The Eustace Diamonds by Anthony Trollope
I’ve been working my way through the Palliser series with the help of Timothy West’s brilliant audiobook recordings. I had already read The Eustace Diamonds and it was a delight to listen to. It’s probably the least political of this political series. The other two I half read/half listened to which is not only delightful but also a good way to make a lot of progress on these giant books when one’s car commute keeps one from being able to read as much as one would like. I was rather bored by the earlier volume Phineas Finn and at first was a little bored by Phineas Redux, but after a while it picked up and I ended up enjoying it. The Prime Minister may be my favorite so far. That evil Fernando Lopez! What a villainous cad. Way too much (and too little) happens in Trollope, I would never try to truly review his work. I will say I am excited to read the final volume in the series The Duke’s Children. It would be kind of cool to finish by the end of this Trollope bicentennial year. But with only a month and a half to go and Emma to read in December among many other things, I am not sure I can make the time.
The Young Clementina by D.E. Stevenson
A darker side to DES? Kind of. A messy divorce is not something I expected. But, like all DES novels some of the characters are virtuous and do all the right things. If you like DES, you will like this one.
Gang of Lovers by Massimo Carlotto
A gritty noir mystery from Europa. I knew nothing about this when I bought this one except I was in the mood for something different and European. The main character was kind of an awful person but he was surrounded by other awful people so one kind of ends up rooting for him. Part of Carolotto’s Alligator series, I’m definitely going to check out more of his work, it also makes me want to look into more Europa mysteries as well.
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
This was my first go around with Sarah Waters. While I enjoyed it, I’m not sure why she is as well regarded as she is. In retrospect, after reading that awful A Little Life, The Paying Guest really didn’t have too much wrong with it. And it was definitely a page-turner. Perhaps my biggest quibble was that I wanted it to be somewhat happier. You know me, I always want everyone to do the right thing.