Thursday, April 29, 2010

Blast from the past

     I think I'll continue down memory lane for today.  Some of the first books I ever purchased for myself were by Mary Stewart and I still have them.  I don't even remember how many times I have reread them.  She wrote quite a bit but let me talk about my two favorites:  My Brother Michael and Nine Coaches Waiting.
     My Brother Michael is set in Greece and is about a young English woman traveling alone.  We meet her in a cafe writing to a friend "Nothing ever happens to me."  The rest is the story, which takes her to Delphi.  There is danger, treachery, murder and romance and somehow this very normal seeming woman manages to deal with it all.
     Nine Coaches Waiting takes you to France, to the French Alps to be exact, and is about a young English woman who conceals her French heritage in order to get a job as a governess.  All the same elements threaten to overtake her as she tries to deal with an exceedingly dysfunctional family.
     I will concede that these books have their old fashioned qualities, but they have recently been reprinted for some good reasons.  They absorb, entertain and transport-let them take you away from your daily aggravations! 

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Where to Begin?

     Since my earliest memory is an afternoon with my mother and sisters at the beach-Mondello-outside of Palermo, I begin in Sicily.
     Let me introduce Inspector Salvo Montalbano, created by Andrea Camilleri. Beware-even at his most cranky and angst-ridden, you will not be able to get enough. Thankfully, there are eleven books and more coming.
     Few mysteries have made me laugh so hard but there is plenty of noir, too. Salvo has troubles with EVERYONE, including himself, and wrestles constantly with a job that is grimer and grizzlier than he wants.
     The setting is a fictional town, Vigata, possibly modeled after Agrigento on the south coast of Sicily and includes a moderately dysfunctional police force and a long-distance lover and some amazing, and frequently charming, bad guys.  These books also include descriptions of meals and swims in the Mediterranean that will make you wish you were there.
     If you are looking for a way out of a rut and some well-written distraction, please check this series out.  Start with The Shape of Water-you won't regret it.