The Netgalley screen stared at me with another one of those book choices that I knew I would not be able to resist but may very well not be the best choice for me. Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar. The early heady days of the Bloomsbury group as seen through the experiences of Virginia Woolf's older sister, Vanessa Bell. So I requested it, and read it immediately upon receipt. And was disappointed as expected.
I had no problem mildly enjoying it in the moment. It was a little like sitting next to Lytton Strachey and gossiping the afternoon away. I appreciated that the author sought to give more of a voice to Vanessa, but ultimately I may know a bit too much about the group to truly enjoy any fictionalized account. And this one over-simplified Virginia's challenges making her out to be just a mad, mercurial bitch. And the constant blunt compartmentalization of the sisters as either the one adept at language or the other adept with images was annoying.
The lesson I never seem to learn - not every book about books or bookstores or bibliophiles and not every book about favorite literary figures is the best fit for me.
So I went next to what I know are reliable reads for me. The new Flavia de Luce and Mary Russell novels. And they both delivered. Reading about Flavia having to squirm a little more than usual when transplanted to her mother's old boarding school in Canada was delightful. It is a bit startling for exceptionally smart children to realize that there are other exceptionally smart children in the world, and Flavia's struggles to adapt while maintaining the best of herself made for a fast and highly entertaining read.
The Mary Russell was no less satisfying. The last couple of titles in the series left me a little disappointed, but this one delivered. And the setting in Japan injected some new elements to the Holmes and Russell story as each of their unique strengths were not just defined but well-contrasted.
Now if that new Maisie Dobbs title I have turns out to be as good as these two then I will be lucky enough to have enjoyed a new title from each of my favorite series this year.
I'm too late to the party for a proper celebration of Margery Sharp Day, but I am interested. Leaves and Pages pointed me to this celebration just yesterday. The only thing I know about Margery Sharp is that I really enjoyed her Rescuers novels when I was a kid. When I saw this yesterday, I thought I might grab a title and try to catch up for today, but found that most of her novels are out of print and will take a little extra time to obtain. So tell me, Margery Sharp fans, where should I start?
Today I am reading the poetry of Billy Collins and finishing A Philosophy of Walking. Finished The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters yesterday as part of my prep for the Tournament of Books, and was a bit disappointed after all the hype. Page turner at first but then it turns a bit bloated in the second half. The Dept. of Speculation and Wittgenstein Jr. are still my favorites in the rooster race. What are you reading today?