Last week I was having one of those good reading weeks. You know, when you have a few books going, and you don't even know which to pick up because they are all good and appealing and satisfying. Unlike this week, when everything I start is just so-so. Here's what I was reading last week.
Learning to Swimby Clare Chambers
Danielle has written about Clare Chambers several times and about this book in particular once or twice. My sense from Danielle was that Clare Chambers was one of those rare authors, who combines comfort reading with real intelligence and poignancy. Knowing that my tastes are often so in line with Danielle's, I knew I had to try this author.
Learning to Swim is a coming of age story in retrospect. Cellist Abigail runs into Rad, a man she used to know years ago when she was a teenager. It's obvious they have some sort of past together and thus we go back to Abigail's girlhood. She was a lonely child and her only real friend growing up was Rad's sister Frances. Abigail loved the eccentricity and seemingly romantic life Frances' family led, so different from her own middle class existence. As we read, we get to know everyone better and then there is a turning point, Something happens, relationships are shattered, everyone moves on, eventually coming to present day and this acquaintance of Abigail and Rad.
Learning to Swim was everything I expected. Easy yet smart. Satisfying and thoughtful. I'm looking forward to reading more Clare Chambers and have already procured two more of her books.
Bleeding Heart Squareby Andrew Taylor
I won this book in Librarything's Early Reviwer's program in February of 2009. It arrived in January of 2010! Sheesh. But in this case I say, better late than never! Bleeding Heart Square is just the sort of book I like. Set in London in the 30s, it is packed with eccentric characters that are difficult to read. No one is exactly what they seem.
Lydia Langstone has left her abusive well-to-do husband to live with her down-and-out father in Bleeding Heart Square. It is definitely a step down for a lady such as herself. We also hear from another gentlewoman, Miss Philippa May Penhow, though it seems she is no longer among the living. How she and Lydia and the various characters living at Bleeding Heart Square all tie together is the heart of this tale. It's a mystery but not of the usual sort. It's much more about the characters, the setting, the relationships and how everything is connected than it is about who-done-it, though we think we know, but are we correct?? It's the sort of mystery which mystery lovers probably get annoyed with, the sort of mystery that might actually be better placed in the Literature section of the store, the sort of mystery that I actually like quite a lot.