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Moar books

Why yes, I have been reading, thank you for asking. Knocked three off my to-read list just this week, go me!

Garden SpellsGarden Spells: A good and pleasant read, but thin: I wanted more on all dimensions -- length, depth (ok, maybe not width). Claire and Sydney were a little too pat as characters: Sydney the free spirit who finds out that freedom is more than just the ability to leave whenever you want, Claire the stay-at-home who discovers that fear of others leaving doesn't excuse never letting them in. I would have liked the book to have started when Claire and Sydney were children, so we could have seen their relationship develop its fraught character naturally, rather than being told about it in flashbacks or conversations. And for sure I would have liked to see more of their grandmother, latest of this long line of Waverley women who know so much about herbs and flowers.

That said, and despite what I found to be a completely non-credible resolution of the problem of Sydney's ex, what is here is lovely and a pleasure to read. The apple tree that's part of the family, a bit like a big shaggy dog that lives in the garden, is an unusual and fun touch. Evanelle, the giver of immediately-useless-but-eventually-important gifts, is just a delight, as is Bay, the little girl who knows instinctively where things (and by "things" we include "people") belong. I'd love to see a sequel that covered her growing up.

The Hill BachelorsThe Hill Bachelors is a collection of short stories steeped in the Irish psyche and landscape. I first encountered William Trevor a few months back in the break room at work, via his short story "The Women" in The New Yorker. Like that one, these stories are intense, focused, acutely observant, and often with some sort of secret or unspoken event at their core. Excellent examples of subtlety and keenness, though more often melancholy than happy. Sort of an anti-Maeve Binchy.

Flashman and the Angel of the Lord (The Flashman Papers, #10)Once again, the unquenchable Flashman is off on a mad, bad, and totally unintentional adventure. While en route home, Flashy is shanghaied by his old enemy John Charity Spring, the Mad Don of Oxford, with the willing (to put it mildly) assistance of Spring's extremely sexy daughter. He ends up in America, where not one, not two, but THREE different groups either pay, strongarm, or blackmail him into becoming the second-in-command to abolitionist John Brown. Brown is in the midst of planning for -- or, more accurately, waffling about -- his raid on Harper's Ferry, and Flashy, depending on which employer he decides to follow, is supposed to (a) ensure it succeeds, (b) ensure it takes place, regardless of whether it succeeds or fails, or (c) delay and sabotage it so it never happens. Well, history takes its course and the raid of course does happen, but along the way Flashy manages to bed a number of women, escape by the skin of his teeth more than once, encounters more than one old enemy, and comes out smelling like a rose, as usual.

As always, the history is top-notch, the characters cleverly drawn, and the adventures harum-scarum. However, Flash is a bit more mellow in this one than in others, and seems to actually feel a bit fondness for "old J.B. and his crackbrained dreams," as he puts it. As a bonus, the story is bracketed by scenes of Flash with his grandchildren: Augustus ("young gallows...bursting with sin beneath the mud"), Jemima ("a true Flashman, as beautiful as she is obnoxious"), Alice ("another twig off the old tree, being both flirt and toady"), and John ("a serious infant, given to searching cross-examination"). Ha!


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Aug. 28th, 2013 09:23 am (UTC)
Oh thank you for reminding me about the Flashman books - may have a go at those when I've finished Peter Wimsey!
Aug. 29th, 2013 12:01 am (UTC)
Isn't he fun? I'm just sad that I only have two left :( Then I guess I'll just have to start over again at the beginning...
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