Thursday, April 9, 2009
Mary Russell, Part 2... and more
I am happy, happy, happy, to tell you that I found Laurie R. King's second book in the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series, A Monstrous Regiment of Women a pure delight.
This novel begins a few years after The Beekeeper's Apprentice ends and Mary is currently on a break from Oxford. She runs into an old friend Veronica/Ronnie who introduces Mary to Margery Childe and the New Temple of God. Margery Childe is the public face of the Temple, a difficult to describe organization made up of religion, feminism, and service to society. It has a somewhat cult-like following. Ever watchful Mary finds some idiosyncrasies within the Temple, and when her friend Ronnie is injured and it doesn't seem accidental, Mary investigates. It seems that several wealthy women leaving money to the Temple in their wills have been murdered and seeing as Mary has just come into her fortune....well you can imagine the rest.
This is very much Mary's story, the first case she takes on herself and Holmes leaves her to it. For the most part. Holmes is very much a secondary character in this book. He of course turns up at all the right times in all sorts of disguises. In addition, there is a romantic element to this story which perhaps bothers some readers. It's just a story, I say, and look forward to Russel and Holmes' future.
There is an interesting Q&A with the author at the end of the book. One thing of particular interest, is that King actually wrote this book after A Letter of Mary, the third in the series. She says she 'needed to see where she (Mary) was going before I could describe how she got there.'
In a final note about this book, I really love these Picador Crime trade paperback editions. I only see this series published in these nice editions through The Moor...so am hoping for more. Please?
I have also had the pleasure of reading Madhur Jaffrey's memoir of growing up in India, Climbing the Mango Trees. This memoir is vastly different from all the other books I've read about India, in that Jaffrey grows up in what seems to be a relatively wealthy family. This is of course not without its own problems, as there is much familial responsibility involved. Jaffrey describes her young years spent away from the extended family as the best years in her parent's lives. For a time there were able to be autonomous, until family duty called them back. Back to the compound where Jaffrey grew up, where each family has its own home but all take their meals together, the women spending much of their day in the communal kitchen preparing what sound like delicious and time consuming meals. This is a very personal story for Jaffrey as she describes the ins and outs of living withing a large group of people, and also historically interesting as she remembers living through WW2 and partition and the changes it brought. It is humorous to read this renowned cookbook author write that as a girl, when asked about food or cooking she didn't know the first thing about it, and had never prepared any food. This is a delicious memoir of an unfamiliar place told by a truly fascinating woman. Oh, and there are recipes, too!