Here's a look at my most recent acquisitions.
Poor, lovely Viola has been left penniless and alone after her late husband's demise, and is forced to live with his family in their joyless home. Its occupants are nearly insufferable: Mr. Withers is a tyrannical old miser; Mrs. Withers dismisses her as a common shop girl; and Viola's sisters-in-law, Madge and Tina, are too preoccupied with their own troubles to give her much thought. Only the prospect of the upcoming charity ball can lift her spirits-especially as Victor Spring, the local prince charming, will be there. But Victor's intentions towards the young widow are, in short, not quite honorable.Simply irresistable, and it will be a fun respite from the serious Civil War related reading that has consumed me lately.
Drood, by Dan Simmons - this sounds absolutely wonderful and is a nice appropriate followup to the Claire Tomalin bio of Dickens that I finished in June and Bleak House, which I read in the spring. Here's a bit from the New Yorker review, courtesy of Amazon:
In this creepy intertextual tale of professional jealousy and possible madness, Wilkie Collins tells of his friendship and rivalry with Charles Dickens, and of the mysterious phantasm named Edwin Drood, who pursues them both. Drood, cadaverous and pale, first appears at the scene of a railway accident in which Dickens was one of the few survivors; later, Dickens and Collins descend into London�s sewer in search of his lair. Meanwhile, a retired police detective warns Collins that Drood is responsible for more than three hundred murders, and that he will destroy Dickens in his quest for immortality. Collins is peevish, vain, and cruel, and the most unreliable of narrators: an opium addict, prone to nightmarish visions. The narrative is overlong, with discarded subplots and red herrings, but Simmons, a master of otherworldly suspense, cleverly explores envy�s corrosive effects.
I'm thinking this will be a good prelude to a book I hope to acquire and read by year's end: Unequal Partners: Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, and Victorian Authorship.
The Nine Tailors, by Dorothy L. Sayers - I haven't read a Lord Peter Wimsey mystery in years and it's high time I indulged in such a treat. Besides there's a book club at my church and this is their selection for September and I'm hoping to attend the meeting.
Here's another quote from Amazon reviews:
Missing emeralds, unexpected corpses, a cryptogran, erudition, a touch of the macabre, an old church with ringing bells, and Peter Wimsy performing feats of deduction and exercising his freakish humor. A fine bit of writing, a good story, and at the same time a rattling good mystery.
First Family, by Joseph J. Ellis - a bio of Abigail and John Adams. I read David McCullough's bio of John Adams last year, and then watched the mini-series...twice! I am an Adams family fan, and hate that he is given such short shrift by the Washingtonians, Jeffersonians, and even Jacksonians. Even the National Park Service lets Adams down. After our visit to Concord earlier this month, we drove to Quincy to see the birthplaces of John Adams and John Quincy Adams as well as PeaceField, the farm that Adams retired to with Abigail. I expected a full-fledged park and not just a sign. The birthplaces are particularly sad--just sitting there on a busy street corner with barely a marker to note their significance. Peacefield was slightly better, but it also fell far short of my expectations.