Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Moment

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.


Ti said...

That's crazy about Bleeding Heart showing up so late! I own this book but haven't read it.

This week, I have a lot that I need to read and most of it is stuff I want to read too so I'm in a good place right now.

Anonymous said...

Bleeding Heart Square looks fantastic! I'm having a good reading month, which (it turns out) makes for a not-so-good-ish reviewing month. I'm in the middle of loads of books all the time and never finish any of them to review!

BabelBabe said...

i am halfway thru Kate Morton's The Forgotten Garden which I finally broke down and bought, and loving it. you might like it.

and my laptop died, taking with it several email requests to review books that I wanted to take them up on. Grrrr.

Hannah Stoneham said...

Bleeding Heart Square does look good - I am in a mystery-ish mood at the moment as well. thank you indeed for the recommendation


bermudaonion said...

Clare Chamber sounds like an author I would love!

Cath said...

I think I've taken Bleeding Heart Square home from the library three times now and still not read it. I really must get to it soon.

JoAnn said...

Both look good to me... wonder how Bleeding Heart Square took 11 months to get to you!!

Iliana said...

Oh I love juggling good books. I read The Editor's Wife by Clare Chambers last year after reading so many good things about this author over at Danielle's and I loved it. I can't wait to try more of her books.

Tara said...

Ti, I know! It was offered when it came out in hardcover, and sent when it came out in paperback.

Jennysbooks, I really liked it! Glad you're in a good reading period. Mine is so-so right now, I started 3 books and have said goodbye to all of them!

Babelbabe, I have that one - I bet I will like it!

Hannah, glad to hear this one appeals. Definitely not a traditional mystery, though.

Kathy, oh good!

Cath, I brought it home once too in the past year and never got it. Glad that I was finally 'forced' to read it!

JoAnn, who knows! They offered 50 copies through the program and they all showed up nearly a year later.

Iliana, that's one that I don't have, something to look forward to, I guess.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Weird thing Tara, after reading your review, I was sure I got a review copy of this, but I guess it was just wishful thinking. Thanks for sharing your thoughts --sounds like I might like it too.

Jenny said...

Comfort reading but intelligent and poignant is exactly how I feel about Laurie Colwin. I only have one book of hers left (she died very young) and I'm saving it for a dire emergency. :)

Danielle said...

Whew--I am always a little nervous when I gush about a book that I really liked and someone else picks up that they won't like it! So glad you enjoyed it, too. You should try In a Good Light--also a great read. And I also got Bleeding Heart Square--very much after the fact. I think they may have run out of review copies, felt bad and sent them when the paper arrived. By then, however, I had already borrowed it from the library and read it! Still, I also enjoyed it, though it was not at all a traditional mystery novel. I've wanted to read some of his other books, but haven't gotten around to it.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Tara...sorry u did not love Cutting for Stone. I thought the audio was amazing.

Tara said...

Danielle, no fears about Clare Chambers! I don't think I feel quite the same as you do about her, but she seems to write just the sort of books I like. I already ordered In a Good Light, so it's here in the piles!

Diane, I wish I did love it too! That's okay. It was still a very good read and a book I would recommend.

Tara said...

Jenny, I've only read Laurie Colwin's first food book and I'm saving the second for a rainy day. She is hilarious. Such a shame, her early death.