As a newbie book blogger back in the day, I strove to review every blasted book I read. Inevitably, the un-reviewed books would pile up and I would hit blogger’s block. I’d worry about missing a review or falling behind or decide to hastily write a boring review and then I would quit blogging until I got over myself and my self-invented crisis that is so not a crisis at all.
So, with that preamble, let me offer you some reviews-in-brief of books I’ve read, but haven’t “properly” reviewed. These are not “proper” reviews.
Murder at Mansfield Park by Lynn Shepard
Several years ago I read a Bleak House themed mystery novel by Lynn Shepard called The Solitary House. I absolutely loved that book and I learned that it is the second book in a series of literary mysteries. The first book is Murder at Mansfield Park and I finally got around to reading it.
Have you ever read Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park? Nope? Well, I did about fifteen years ago in an undergraduate course. The “heroine” of Mansfield Park is Fanny Price and she is a saintly, insipid moron. Murder at Mansfield Park takes Austen’s tale and flips it a bit and the result is a darn good mystery. The ending was slightly weak, but that is only because it was poorly attempting an Austen ending. I was hooked by the writing and characters and it was a fun read.
The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley
I have tried to read Ian McEwan’s Atonement several times and I just couldn’t do it. The book has this noticeable build towards A BAD THING and it is unnerving and slow and I didn’t give a shit about the characters and, therefore, couldn’t make it through the book. The Go-Between has a slow build to A BAD THING, but it is unnerving and slow and I cared very much for several of the characters. The plot, pace, and characters are expertly balanced and made me feel almost a participant in the AWFUL THING.
I don’t want to spoil the plot for you, so I’ll only divulge what the book jacket shares. A young man, Leo, spends the summer with a much wealthier schoolmate. Leo ends up ferrying notes between his friend’s sister and her lover. It doesn’t end well. I really loved this book and I couldn’t read it fast enough.
The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain
Holy Jeez, why have I never read Rose Tremain until now?! This book is beautiful, bleak, and is also about how, unfortunately, adults are human and flawed and eff up on the reg. Gustav is a lower-class, kind-hearted boy who befriends a wealthy Jewish boy, Anton, in post-WWII Switzerland. Gustav’s mother is an emotional wreck who has some secrets and harbors anti-Jew sentiments. This book traces Anton and Gustav’s friendship and relationships with their respective families. I was really sucked into this book and would emerge after several hours of reading blinking in wonder that I was not in Switzerland and watching Gustav and Anton first hand. Rose Tremain is certainly on my list of authors to read again.
Now, onto more books and (maybe) more reviews in the future!