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 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!


J.L. Danger said...

Oh I really would like to read Jaffrey's memoir! This sounds fabulous!

bermudaonion said...

I love memoirs, especially when they're set in other cultures, so Climbing the Mango Trees sounds great.

Iliana said...

I must get to Laurie Kings books! And, I really like the sound of Climbing the Mango Trees. I don't read memoirs too often but this sounds like a good one.

Cath said...

Delighted that you liked the 2nd. Mary Russell so much. I'm envious of those American covers as ours are much duller... though I did manage to get the American cover of The Moor.

Still haven't read the Madhur Jaffrey... but I will.

Staci said...

I'm so excited to hear that you really liked the 2nd book as I have the first one waiting for me at the library to pick up! Loved the review for Climbing The Mango Trees, I hadn't heard of this book until your review and now I'm certainly going to make sure that I pick it up soon!!

Great reviews Tara!!

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad that you enjoyed the 2nd Mary Russell book! I loved it, too. :)

Tara said...

J.Danger, Jaffrey is a very good writer - I'd definitely recommend it.

bermudaonion, I am a big fan of memoirs, too, I suspect you'd like this one.

Iliana, I think you would like them - King's books!

Cath, aren't those covers great! The covers for the later ones in the series are very so-so.

Staci, I hope that you enjoy it - it is great fun. Thank you!

Carrie, I'm glad too, and plan to read more of these.

melanie said...

Glad you liked no.2 - that means there are lots more to read :)

I love foodie memoirs and will add Jeffrey's to my list. I just finished Cooking and Screaming by Adrienne Kane which you might like too.

Danielle said...

So glad to hear you liked the Laurie King. Doesn't she just get better the second time around? Interesting that she wrote this after the third book--I didn't know that!

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

This memoir sounds great. Thanks 4 the post.

Karen said...

I read, and loved, The Beekeeper's Apprentice earlier this year but when I went to pick up the second book in the series I just couldn't get into it at all. The tone and the writing of the book completely annoyed me. So, I put it down and am hoping I can get back to it another time mayeb.

JoAnn said...

Hi Tara,
I gave you an award today!

Tara said...

Melanie, I am looking forward to the rest of the series! Thanks for the suggestion - I'm going to check out Cooking and Screaming.

Danielle, she does get better, I think. Cool tidbit, huh!

Diane, it was very well done.

Karen, I wonder why you didn't connect with this book. It's very Mary-centric for sure. Perhaps one day, but in any case, there are plenty of books to discover if one doesn't work, aren't there!

JoAnn, thank you!

Jenny said...

I'm so glad you like the Laurie King books -- they are among my very favorites. I think I've read everything she's written.

Melwyk said...

I've had the Madhur Jaffrey book in mind for a while now -- I think I'd better read it soon, I want to know how they could take living in a family compound! And recipes...irresistible.

I love the Laurie King books; I was thinking it was time to start over again from the beginning since I read the first ones so long ago. Maybe after I read her new one I'll go back to the start.

Tara said...

Jenny, that is impressive, considering King has written quite a few books! I'm glad I found her too, and I never would have if it weren't for my fellow bloggers!

Melanie, the family compound wouldn't be for me, I can tell you that! It sounds worse for the adults than the kids (more playmates). I am glad to have lots to look forward to with the King books.