Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Less Than Angels

Finished Less Than Angels, Barbara Pym's fourth novel, published in 1955. This time spinsters and clergy take a back seat to anthropologists. It's a wonderfully ironic work, where students and professors of anthropology, who spend their days studying the social culture of other societies, constantly find themselves unsure of how to act or respond in their own. Mildred Lathbury of Excellent Women is again mentioned as being married to anthropologist Everard Bone.

Pym is always a delight, "It is often supposed that those who live and work in academic circles are above the petty disputes that vex the rest of us, but it does sometimes seem as if the exalted nature of their work makes it necessary for them to descend occasionally and to refresh themselves, as it were, by squabbling about trivialities." Hence the author as anthropologist.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Red Is for Murder

Finished Red Is for Murder by Phyllis A. Whitney. This is Whitney's first adult suspense novel, published in 1943. It's set in a Chicago department store. Linell Wynn works in the window display department of Cunningham's on State Street. Murder and various mysterious events take place in the store and Linell is caught in the middle of them. Whitney does a good job of concealing the identity of the murderer until the very end.

Whitney was a favorite summer suspense author for me when I was in my late teens and early 20s. I stopped reading her somewhere in the early 90s. The covers of her new books looked too much like Danielle Steel books, which was a huge turn off. I remember her novels being displayed in the romance section of bookstores, but romance was always secondary to the plot. There was a time when Phyllis A. Whitney was the President of The Mystery Writers of America. I plan to read/reread all of her adult suspense fiction in chronological order.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Don't Tell Alfred

Finished Don't Tell Alfred by Nancy Mitford, the third book in a trilogy that includes The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate. Twenty years have passed since we last heard from Fanny, the narrator. She is the wife of an Oxford theology don and mother to four sons. Her husband Alfred is unexpectedly appointed as Britain's ambassador to France. Life in her new role is hectic and filled with surprises. As usual there is a varied cast of quirky characters, including Uncle Matthew. This book was hilarious and delightful.

The Beach Club

Finished The Beach Club by Elin Hilderbrand. As a fan on all things Nantucket, I thought it was high time I started reading Hilderbrand. This is her first novel, published in 2000. It spoke to me in particular since it deals with an area of the island that I am very familiar with. It's a wonderful character study and an engrossing read. I look forward to reading all of her novels.