Shades of Grey, Jasper Fforde
Fforde departs from his ingenious Thursday Next series (which I love) to create the Colorworld, where a person’s color perception determines their social standing, career path and marriage prospects. Eddie Russett, a highly color-perceptive Red, travels to the Outer Fringes, where the local swatchman (healer) has mysteriously died, and powerful Yellows and Purples are hiding a number of secrets. The plot is wacky and inventive, if sometimes confusing, and I liked Jane and Eddie (though he’s a bit weak-willed). Good fun.
Mourn Not Your Dead, Deborah Crombie
Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James return for a fourth case, investigating the murder of a high-ranking but unpopular Scotland Yard official. Interviewing the man’s family and neighbors, they discover a string of thefts in his village and an intricate web of relationships. Who might be lying to protect whom? And after a disarming encounter (in the previous book), can Duncan and Gemma repair their personal and professional relationship? An intriguing mystery, with a hefty dose of personal tension.
Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction, Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd
Kidder and Todd have a long-standing writer/editor relationship, and they team up to offer sound advice on writing nonfiction (and not a few ramblings about their experiences). Some great lines (I tweeted a few), and a dozen or so nods to Boston (which I appreciated). But this is less a prescriptive book on writing well than a meditation on the interplay between writer and editor. Still well written and worthwhile.
Dreaming of the Bones, Deborah Crombie
Duncan Kincaid (see above) fields an unusual call from his ex-wife: she’s writing a biography of a recently dead poet, and is no longer convinced the poet’s death was a suicide. Kincaid decides to investigate, which leaves his sergeant/new girlfriend, Gemma, feeling miffed but intrigued. Leagues better than the previous books in the series: more tightly plotted, better written, more emotionally satisfying (though quite sad in parts). And it contains a lovely meditation on Cambridge which resonated deeply with me.
The Third Son, Julie Wu
Saburo, the neglected third son of a Taiwanese family, meets a mysterious girl named Yoshiko during a bombing raid in 1943. As he works his way through school, dreaming of being an engineer, he doesn’t see her for years – until he discovers she’s dating his brother. Although they find happiness together, Saburo must go to America to pursue his career: will he and Yoshiko ever have the life they dream of? Beautifully written, heavy with questions about familial duty, responsibility, and the consequences of our actions for those we love. To review for Shelf Awareness (out April 30).
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, Winifred Watson
I picked up this slim novel at Book Culture in NYC. I saw the charming film a while back, but had never read the book. And I loved it. Miss Pettigrew, a down-on-her-luck, fortyish governess, seeks employment and is mistakenly sent to the flat of a bright, flighty young woman who sweeps Miss Pettigrew up in her whirlwind of suitors, perfume and nightclubs. This dazzling day changes Miss Pettigrew’s life. Utterly charming – witty, sparkling, hilarious – with some lovely tender moments. Wonderful.
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What are you reading?