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Posts Tagged ‘1920s’

parnassus books nashville

October has been quite a month – stuffed full of good books, in between all the other things. (Also, my Nov. newsletter comes out this week – sign up here!) To cap off the month, here’s what I have been reading:

The Monsters We Defy, Leslye Penelope
Clara Johnson has an uneasy relationship with the spirit world, and a semi-notorious past she’d rather forget. When poor Black folks in her hometown of D.C. start disappearing, Clara and several friends start scheming to steal a magical ring from the woman responsible. An absolutely fantastic heist/mystery/band-of-misfits-save-the-world story, with great historical detail about 1920s D.C. and wonderful characters. I loved Clara (inspired by a real person) and her comrades.

Woman, Captain, Rebel: The Extraordinary True Story of a Daring Icelandic Sea Captain, Margaret Willson
We’re told that female sea captains are rare – but Willson brings to life the story of Iceland’s Captain Thuridur, who defied gender conventions in her homeland of Iceland. A brilliantly researched, compelling biography with lots of sea stories, Icelandic history and local gossip – dragged a bit in the middle, but overall fascinating. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Jan. 3, 2023).

Blackmail and Bibingka, Mia P. Manansala
Lila Macapagal and her partners at the Brew-ha Cafe are gearing up for the holidays – but then her no-good cousin Ronnie comes back to town, saying he’s going to revive the local winery. When one of Ronnie’s investors ends up dead, Lila starts sleuthing to figure out who did it. A fun, tricky third entry in this foodie mystery series; I loved all the holiday snacks, Lila’s meddling godmothers and her dachshund, Longganisa.

Anne of Windy Poplars, L.M. Montgomery
This fourth Anne book is delightful and underrated – and I often return to it in the fall. I love watching Anne win over the Pringle clan, make friends with half of Summerside and spend quiet nights in her tower room. Fun and comforting.

Independence, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
India, 1946: the Ganguly family has long lived at peace in their village of Ranipur with both Hindu and Muslim neighbors. But when they visit Calcutta in mid-August, they get caught up in the riots of Direct Action Day, and all their lives are upended. This gorgeous, heartbreaking novel follows the three grown daughters – Deepa, Jamini and Priya – and their choices in the wake of their father’s death. Stunning. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Jan. 17, 2023).

The Princess and the Scoundrel, Beth Revis
I love the end of Return of the Jedi on Endor, when Han, Leia, Luke and the crew get to celebrate. But what happens after that? This novel takes us through Han and Leia’s wedding, their honeymoon on a luxury cruise ship (interrupted, of course, by political strife), and the beginning of their relationship as husband and wife. So much fun to revisit these characters I adore, and meet some new ones.

Most links (not affiliate links) are to my local faves Trident and Brookline Booksmith. Shop indie!

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daisy dalrymple books mystery

As I noted recently, I’m always reading something gentle these days. I especially love a good series, since it allows me to dip into the same fictional world over and over. I also love a mystery, and the latest series I’ve fallen for – which fits into both categories – is the Daisy Dalrymple mystery series by Carola Dunn.

The Honourable Daisy Dalrymple is a young aristocratic Englishwoman, trying to make her way in the world after World War I has wreaked its havoc on her nation and her loved ones. (Her brother and her sweetheart were both killed in action.) Daisy is cheerful, spunky and determined to earn her own way, which she does as a writer for Town & Country and other magazines. Lots of people – including her mother, the fretful Dowager Duchess – are horrified at the thought of a noblewoman working for a living, but Daisy keeps pounding away at her typewriter.

The series begins when Daisy travels to stately Wentwater Court write an article about it, and stumbles into a murder. Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher of Scotland Yard, assigned to the case, realizes that Daisy has a nose for clues – and that people of all stripes tend to confide in her. Irritated though he is at Daisy’s meddling, he accepts her help on the case. (I’m sure you can tell where this relationship is going – but it’s a lot of fun to watch it develop.)

Like Rhys Bowen’s Her Royal Spyness series, which I also love, these books are Maisie Dobbs lite. They’re set in the same era – between the wars in England – and some of the plots explore the aftereffects of war and the social changes sweeping the nation, but always with a light touch.

The series boasts an entertaining cast of supporting characters, including Alec’s sergeant, Tom Tring (he of the walrus moustache and witty asides) and Constable Ernie Piper (a math whiz who always has a pencil to hand). Daisy’s flatmate Lucy and her old friend Phillip, as well as Alec’s daughter Belinda, make regular appearances. And, of course, the mystery always wraps up neatly by the end of the book.

I’ve already read seven of Daisy’s adventures, but fortunately there are 21 books in the series so far – enough to last me a while. Perfect comfort reading.

Are you acquainted with Daisy and Alec? (Or do you have any other mystery recs for me?)

Mystery Monday is an occasional blog series about my favorite mysteries. Read past Mystery Monday posts here.

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