Posts Tagged ‘Book Club Girl’

I recently mused on the current popularity of World War I stories in our culture – Downton Abbey (I loved the Season 2 finale!), the Maisie Dobbs series (I just read an ARC of the newest installment), and others. And thanks to Book Club Girl, I can keep indulging my taste for this fascinating era – she’s hosting a read-along of the Bess Crawford series by Charles Todd.

Bess is a nurse in World War I who keeps stumbling upon mysteries, and is also struggling to find her place in a rapidly changing England. Raised in India, she inherited a strong sense of duty and a mile-wide stubborn streak from her officer father; she’s blunt, thoughtful and hardworking. I’ve already read A Duty to the Dead, the first book in the series, but you have plenty of time to catch up since the first discussion isn’t till March 26. Here are the other titles and dates for the read-along:

April 30An Impartial Witness discussion
May 1A Bitter Truth paperback on sale
May 29
A Bitter Truth discussion (May 28 is Memorial Day)
June 5An Unmarked Grave – new hardcover on sale
June 25
An Unmarked Grave discussion
June 28
Book Club Girl on Air Show with Charles Todd to discuss the entire series

Look for updates along the way on Twitter (#besscrawford), and on the Book Club Girl and Charles Todd Facebook pages. If you’re going through Downton withdrawal (or simply intrigued by a good mystery), I hope you’ll join us!


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I’ve read more than my share of mysteries this winter.

Part of this is due to the read-along of the Maisie Dobbs series, hosted by Book Club Girl, which convinced me to try out the series. I love reading about Maisie’s cases and her journey in post-World War I London – the books just keep getting better. But I’ve also picked up a few other mysteries at the library, and watched an episode or two of Castle, alongside our current obsession with Friday Night Lights.

I have a low threshold for gore, creepiness and violence in general, in movies or in books, so I don’t do crime shows like Law & Order or CSI. I don’t usually read or watch anything you’d consider a “thriller.” (This disappoints my husband; lots of my movie choices are too tame for him.) And I’m too much of a literary snob to read “cozy” mysteries often – though I did go through a Tea Shop Mysteries phase – because most of them aren’t that well-written.

However. Aside from my enjoyment of Maisie’s story – which is rich with history and fascinating characters, as well as mystery – I’ve relished a good mystery novel this winter. And I think it’s because of what happens, without fail, at the end of every mystery: the criminal is caught, the loose ends are tied up, and everything makes sense.

This is the kicker for me. I’ve been plagued, this winter, by disconnected clues, bits of life and periods of waiting that haven’t really connected to one another or made much sense. I’ve struggled to survive a harsh winter in this northern climate, to adjust to a new job and make new friends, to deal with bouts of homesickness, to tend my home and spend time with my husband, and read and knit and balance the checkbook. Very little of it has added up the way I expected it would. So I’ve been reaching for mysteries, following Maisie and other detectives through their sleuthing processes, because I know that by the end of the book, we’ll have some answers.

Of course, one of my favorite things about Maisie is that her story keeps going – it’s not all neatly tied up at the end of each book. Neither she nor her clients are ever quite the same after finishing up a case; they all go forward a little different. So it is, I suppose, with this difficult winter, this transition period into a new job. I’m not quite the same person who came to Boston in August, and I don’t have everything neatly tied up, nor do I expect to. But like Maisie or any other sleuth worth her salt, I’ll keep moving forward. As spring approaches, thank heaven, there’s a lot to look forward to.

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I love Book Club Girl’s delightful blog – partly because she blogs about books, and partly because she is one of very few people I know who loves Betsy-Tacy as much as I do. And partly because she is a dear, sweet person in real life (we met at the Boston Book Fest in October). Anyway, she is hosting a read-along of the Maisie Dobbs books, a series of mysteries set in England in the late 1920s. I love read-alongs, and I love stories set in England, and when I found the first book in the series at Brattle for $5.95, I took it as a sign. (I’ll probably have to get the others from the library, but that’s all right.)

So, I’ll be reading at least the first Maisie book, and very likely the whole series. Anyone else want to join in? You’re most welcome!

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