I had planned to post about Agatha Christie's Endless Night today, but as I only finished it last night I'll wait and write about it properly next week. I will only say: tricky, tricky Agatha. I read it for Carl's RIP Challenge. I had hoped to also finish Wilkie Collins's No Name as well, but I ran into a few snags. Happily I am back on track and trying to read a bit daily but obviously won't manage to finish by Halloween this Sunday. Still, all in all I think I did pretty well for the challenge--one novel read and a short story every Sunday. I plan on wrapping things up this weekend with Washington Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow", a story I read several years ago and have wanted to read again.
I had hit a lull in No Name, which made it easy to set it aside for something else, but the story is getting juicy once again. I think I've mentioned it is a story about illegitimacy. When Magdalen and Norah lose their parents within weeks of each other, their fortune is willed away due to an oversight. Already a few mysteries have been revealed in the story in Wilkie Collins's inimitable way. Independent-minded Magdalen is determined to set wrongs right and has left the protection of her older sister and governess. There's this wonderfully maddening character called Captain Wragge, who I am somewhat confused by. He is in some way related to the Vanstones, but mostly he is a rogue and swindler. He is helping Magdalen insomuch as he is helping himself. If she once again comes into her money, than so does he. He'll bribe, lie and manipulate to reach his goal and he'll happily betray Magdalen along the way. But if you've read Wilkie Collins, you'll know his heroines are made of tougher stuff and I have faith in Magdalen that she'll look after herself just fine!
This weekend discussion begins on May Sarton's The Small Room, a book I enjoyed immensely. The novel has an academic setting and relates the story of a teacher's first year at an all-women's college when she is confronted with a brilliant student who is caught plagiarizing a paper. You'd think it would be fairly cut and dry, but Sarton gives you much to think about and a variety of perspectives. I'll also be writing about that (and hope I can do it justice), but my post will be a little tardy as I try to squeeze everything in this weekend. I have several books to write about and I am very slow when it comes to writing about just one (instead of the nice and breezy way I do in posts like this).
On the top of my reading pile right now is Carolyn Hougan's The Romeo Flag, as it is an ILL book that needs to be returned in about a week. It's longish but easy reading. I'm venturing into the espionage genre, something I've wanted to do for a long time now. This is probably as good a place to start as any, though I have a growing pile of books to choose from. The Romeo Flag was published in the 1980s, but has since been reissued by Felony and Mayhem Press (they are also reissuing Margery Allingham's Albert Campion mysteries that I am slowly collecting and reading). It feels very much a product of its time--the protagonist goes to aerobics classes and has a daughter suffering from anorexia and bulimia. The politics of the day is all Carter and Reagan, Iran and Iraq and arms dealing. Now I know all these topics are just as pertinent (well, except talk of current political administrations), but it just feels very 80s. Someone is going to pull on a pair of leg warmers at any moment. The story moves quickly from one perspective to the next and the cast of characters seems to be growing. What happens is a trunk belonging to the protagonist's parents was sent from Shanghai to America via Britain and is only arriving some forty years later. Inside the trunk are diaries from the war period, a priceless Fabergé egg and family photographs. Nicola ward is going to get caught up in the CIA's investigation of Russian spies--there are moles and double agents and dead bodies popping up and at the heart of things are the contents of her trunk which may just prove deadly. All great fun and adventure.
I've been wanting to read some diaries and this week decided I would start reading Anaïs Nin's diaries from start to finish, which is from roughly 1914-1977! I had thought I should read Virginia Woolf (and I will at some point), who is a well known diarist, but she is such a formidable woman, somehow Anaïs Nin just seems more approachable to me at the moment. My library has most of the set, which runs into about eleven volumes between the early diaries and her more adult diaries. I know that she edited and rewrote her diaries and portrayed a particular persona to the world, and that's okay, I still want to read them. Her early diaries, from what I've read, were printed more or less as is, with no tinkering to them. She's only about twelve when they start. The thing is I always want to read before I go to bed, but almost always I am too tired to read a full chapter of a book. Diaries are the perfect format. A few short entries before bed--perfect reading. This will be a long term sort of read, so we'll see how I get on with them. I've always been fascinated by her, and now I'll get to learn more.
One last note. Last weekend I watched a movie that scared me silly. This week I have on the agenda a Doris Day movie! You can't get much more frothy than that. Her movies are pure comfort, and I need something a little less visual (well, in a spooky way) and more fun and light!
Have a great Halloween weekend everyone.