Between the Fall of Poppies tour and working on Stand Alone #4, I’ve been very remiss with the Weekly Reading Round-Ups! So here’s a bit of a catch-up. I can’t remember everything I’ve read over the past few weeks, but here are some of the highlights:
— Josephine Tey’s Miss Pym Disposes. Don’t laugh, but I bought this years ago at a used bookstore thinking it was by Barbara Pym. Once I got myself unmuddled, it took me a little while to wrap my head around the fact that this psychological drama (and, belatedly, murder mystery) set at a school for PE teachers in England was by the same woman who had written one of my all time favorites, The Daughter of Time. As always with Tey, it’s beautifully written, with finely drawn characters, and flashes of insight into human nature. My copy is crumbling apart and I’m oh so delighted I stumbled upon it all those years ago.
— Juliana Gray’s A Most Extraordinary Pursuit. This isn’t out yet, but eventually it will be, at which point fans of Deanna Raybourn and Elizabeth Peters should rejoice, because Miss Truelove, the heroine of this new mystery series, is very much in the vein of those intrepid Victorian maidens. (Also Veronica Speedwell of Deanna’s latest, A Curious Beginning— although I have the feeling that Miss Speedwell and Miss Truelove might take umbrage with each other and have to be refereed by Amelia Peabody). A rollicking good adventure! (Full disclosure, Juliana Gray is the pen name of my bestie and Forgotten Room co-writer, Beatriz Williams– but I would have enjoyed this book just as much if it had been written by someone I severely disliked. Although in that case I would have probably been annoyed by enjoying it so much.)
— H.P. Wood’s Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet. Another book that’s not out yet and one that wasn’t at all what I expected. When I saw the blurb about a lost English girl winding up among the sideshows of Coney Island, I’d imagined a gently satirical coming of age story. It’s certainly a coming of age story, but a very richly textured, multi-narrative, dark and gripping coming of age story set against a plague epidemic, a government cover-up, and the best and worst of human character that comes out in those sorts of desperate circumstances. Narrators include Kitty, the English girl; Zeph, a legless African-American man; Ros, a transvestite; and a host of others. Fascinating and deeply compelling. Definitely an “I can’t put it down” book with compulsively readable prose.
What have you been reading this week?