Sunday, January 03, 2010

Recent Reads
It's been far too long since I've shared with you what's been keeping me up past bedtime lately.

First off, a ripping good true yarn. The Bolter by Frances Osborne. It's the story of Lady Idina Sackville who led a scandalous life in England and Kenya in the 1920s and 30s. Full of affairs, drugs, marriages, divorces, and even murder, it's a total page-turner. A fascinating glimpse into the life of a rebel and the early days of the English occupation of Africa. Al though her life seems ultimately unhappy, the adventures she lives, the men in her life, and her controversial choices make for a great read. I'm a sucker for a book about tough, unconventional women so I devoured this one in a few days.

Our most recent book group selection was my choice, My Cousin Rachel by Gothic mistress, Daphne du Maurier. It's full of misdirection and unanswered questions, which usually bothers me. But in this case it was a fun mystery that leaves you wondering if Rachel was an innocent, misunderstood woman or a manipulative killer. Full of Cornish atmosphere and some interesting plot twists, it's a good stormy night book.

Being a Northern California native, I grew up visiting Lake Tahoe on a regular basis and hearing the tragic story of the Donner Party. Desperate Passage by Ethan Rarick does a good job of showing how the historic settlers were pretty much doomed from the start. By starting late in the season, taking an untried route, and making a variety of disastrous decisions, the group piled mistake upon mistake and ended up at the infamous pass which now bears their name. There are good guys and bad guys, there is heroism and selfishness, wisdom and stupidity. Though not the best-written history book I've ever picked up, it nevertheless lays out the story clearly and seems to be well-researched.

Because of Husband's wonderful generosity, I have several books waiting for me (he totally spoiled me at birthday and Christmas) so I'll have plenty of good reads in the weeks to come.

There is one problem, though. I finished The Bolter last night and now I find myself not interested in the next book in my to-be-read pile. I received a copy of Lady Jane Grey by Eric Ives (a book I requested) but now I just can't seem to pick it up. The Bolter was full of sex, drugs, scandal, more sex, intrigues, travel, and sex. A scholarly book on Tudor history just doesn't have that sense of fun.


Kittie Howard said...

If you loved The Bolter, you'll loooove White Mischief, a book about more of the characters you just read about. We lived in Kenya for three years and, yes, it's allllll true. That was a wild party group!

FinnyKnits said...

Your book reccos have always been dead on for me, so I'll have to check out The Bolter. Sounds fantastic.

I'm trying to get to the end of What the Dog Saw (Malcolm Gladwell's compilation of New Yorker articles) so that I can dig into some of my gifted reads.

Plus, you know, gotta think about editing my own thing. Yarf.