Thursday, April 30, 2009

Library Loot 4

I stopped in at the library on my way home today and found an embarrassment of riches awaiting me on the hold shelf.

The War Against Miss Winter by Kathryn Miller Haines was a LibraryThing recommendation, prompted, I'm sure, by my recent addition of the latest Maisie Dobbs to my collection. It's the first book in a mystery series featuring Rosie Winter, an aspiring actress in WWII era New York, who takes on a part time job at a detective agency and finds herself involved in a more dramatic bit of sleuthing than she anticipated. In a cover blurb, Rhys Bowen declares: "Haines perfectly captures the feel, sights, and sounds of New York in the 1940s." It sounds promising, does it not?

When I clicked over to Amazon in search of a description of the aforementioned Miss Winter book, another recommendation in a similar vein popped up. Apparently those who purchased it sometimes also purchased Million Dollar Baby by Amy Patricia Meade. The latter is the first instalment in yet another historical mystery series featuring a spirited female sleuth, one Marjorie McClelland, a young mystery writer who begins to find her life imitating her art in 1930s Connecticut. Definitely worth a look, I thought.

Lament for a Nation: The Defeat of Canadian Nationalism by George Grant is one of those books that I've heard so much about that I feel as if I've read it even though I haven't. But an excerpt from Michael Ignatieff's new book, True Patriot Love, which recently appeared in The Globe and Mail presented a view of Grant's work that diverged markedly from the impression of it that I'd gleaned from other sources. Clearly, it's high time for me to read it for myself and arrive at my own conclusions.

In my last library loot post, I mentioned my newfound appreciation for Martin Millar's work and my determination to read all of his books. Next up in that venture is Suzy, Led Zeppelin and Me, the catalogue copy description of which strikes me as very odd but entirely irresistible.

Recently, wearied by reading a couple of 500+ page novels back-to-back, I put out a call on Facebook seeking recommendations of slim, minimalist novels. My friend Susann suggested Human Voices by Penelope Fitzgerald. Here's a snippet of description from the jacket copy: "This marvellously witty book, while it doesn't pretend to be an accurate history of Broadcasting House, tells what it was like to work there during the spring and summer of 1940. This was the time when the Concert Hall was turned into a dormitory for both sexes, the whole building became a target for enemy bombers, and, in the BBC as elsewhere, some had to fail and some had to die." I've long been meaning to read something by Fitzgerald, and this book sounds like an excellent place to start.

And, finally, I picked up a trio of books by or about Astrid Lindgren. It won't surprise you to hear that all that musing last week about the Pippi Longstocking/Lisbeth Salander connection set me off on an Astrid Lindgren binge. I began with the Pippi Longstocking books, a number of of which I own and had read several times before. But now I'm ready to branch off into a couple I've not previously encountered. In The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson made reference not just to Pippi but also to a Lindgren character who was new to me, boy detective Kalle Blomkvist. Another blogger tipped me off that in the English translations, Kalle Blomkvist became Bill Bergson, so I typed that name into the library catalogue and turned up Bill Bergson and the White Rose Rescue, a neat little volume which is packaged much like a Hardy Boys book. I ordered a copy of The Robber's Daughter as well, which I'm told is one of Lindgren's best books. And also, for a bit of context, Astrid Lindgren: A Critical Study by Vivi Edström.

It was a joy today, albeit a bit overwhelming, to find that these books had appeared on the hold shelf for me so quickly and all at once. The library is truly a miraculous place. And now, I'd better get reading.


litlove said...

Human Voices I LOVED. I think Fitzgerald is an extraordinary stylist. The Kathryn Haines I was a bit less thrilled by - I mean it was good and quite a passable read, but perhaps my expectations were too high. I'll be very interested to know how you get on with both of them, in any case!

Melwyk said...

Ronia is a fabulous book! My favourite Lindgren. Enjoy -- along with all your other treasures. :)

teabird said...

The War against Miss Winter and Million Dollar Baby sound great - I love reading about that period.

Dorte H said...

What a great idea to borrow Ronia :D
And you may be interesting in knowing that another Swedish crime fiction writer refers to Ronia in one of her novels: Camilla läckberg, The Preacher. She does not only use the setting of the film version, she also borrows aspects of the theme.

Rebecca H. said...

I'm very curious about the historical mystery set in Connecticut -- I live near the town of Ridgefield, which sounds like it could be the Ridgebury of the book ... I might have to check it out!

Suko said...

Your latest loot is an ecclectic collection of goodies, and is exactly an embarrassment of riches--I know the feeling. As the T.B.R. pile turns into a mountain, then I don't know where to begin, and even yearn for less choices!

bloglily said...

It's quite wonderful, isn't it, how mysteries can deliver the bonus of giving us entire historical periods, often through the eyes of women. Oh, and also dead bodies.

Your library trip sounds pretty great -- and, plus, I understand that you are now a Citizen of The Library In Good Standing!

Seachanges said...

Yes, the longing for short snappy books does come over me at times as well, but then, reading is for pleasure and so in the end it should not matter how long it takes to finish a book... You seem to have picked up a nice selection - I really should make more use of a library, but then there is not one on my doorstep, so I keep hitting the Amazone button as the easy way out.

lauren said...

Human Voices is just excellent--I couldn't agree more.

By the way, Lovereading has a nice like-for-like recommendation feature that I use when looking for something new to read!

Anonymous said...

Penelope Fitzgerald is really quite good-- I'm going to add Human Voices to my library request list. A fave author of mine who packs in great, dark, witty stories in thin novels is Muriel Spark: I really like Memento Mori, The Driver's Seat, and The Girls of Slender Means. She's best known for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.