Saturday, January 16, 2010

Book Review: That Old Cape Magic

I finished That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo last night, and I must say I really enjoyed this book. Russo is a great story teller and a lot of what he wrote about in this book resonated with me. The story unfolds over a year's time and there are plenty of highs and lows for the main character, Jack Griffin. At the start of the book he is driving to the wedding of his daughter's best friend. The wedding will be in Cape Cod, a place with plenty of memories for Jack, since that is where he and his parents vacationed when he was a child, and the place where his parents really thought they should be living, but it was always out of their reach. He has his father's ashes in an urn in the trunk and while he is on the Cape he plans to scatter them. His wife is driving separately, and they plan to meet at the B and B where they honeymooned 30 years earlier. Most of what he and his wife planned for and thought their lives would be has come true. But, was that really his plan? Did he make choices for the wrong reasons? Did she? These questions start the process that almost unravels his life.

A second wedding, his daughter's, takes place a year later, and he has the opportunity to get back on track with his family, wife, job and friends. Russo writes so well about the deeply sad and also hilarious moments during that year. I will be reading more of Richard Russo's books.

The other think I did yesterday was strap on the snow shoes for a longer walk around the yard and pasture. With temperatures in the 30s and almost no breeze, it was wonderful. I am looking forward to going out again.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Time for a good mystery

Yes, the reading continues. You have looked outside, right?

Next book from the library book bag: Shroud for a Nightingale by P. D. James. It's an Adam Dalgliesh mystery, which means the new Scotland Yard is on the case, and it will be solved within a short time--less than a week most likely. The setting for this murder mystery is Nightingale House, an English nursing school. The first murder takes place in a classroom with a dozen people watching as the student nurse is mistakenly administered poison through a feeding tube as part of a teaching demonstration.

The next body is another student nurse and she is found in her sleeping room, another case of poisoning, this time nicotine. Adam and Sgt. Masterson have to sift through the evidence and get past the prevailing opinion that we are looking at a murder followed by a suicide. Of course, Adam is in danger--an attempt is made on his life, but his great detective work is rewarded with solving the murders, although the murderer does go free.

If you are looking for a classic murder mystery that is well written, pick up any novel by P. D. James and you will be well satisfied.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Another book

I finished another of my books from the library: La's Orchestra Saves the World by Alexander McCall Smith. He is a pretty prolific writer, and I think I have read most of the books he has written. I suppose he is best know for his No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series.
La's Orchestra is about a woman named Lavendar (La for short) Stone and is set mainly during WWII in England. It is not a mystery as are most of McCall Smith's other novels, but is a quiet story of an ordinary woman and how she got by during a time of war. One of the things she did was to start an orchestra made up of local people and some airmen from the nearby military base. She felt that music would help in a time when everything seemed rather hopeless, and it did. Another part of the story is how the Poles were treated by the English during WWII. There is a romantic interest for La in the person of Feliks Dabrowski, a Polish serviceman she meets while helping with the war effort by working on a local farm.
I liked this book, but did not find the characters as interesting as those in McCall Smith's other novels.