It may be a whole week into September. And only a few weeks until the official start of Fall. I might be ready to wear long sleeves and maybe even a sweater in the evening, but when I step out onto my porch, the sun beats down, the air is stiflingly hot and Summer is still here with a vengeance. The temperature today might just hit 100F (38C)! We are finally having proper July/August weather in September. I knew we would pay for those mild days a month or two back. I am not ready for cold or snow, but I am ready for crisp days and crunching leaves. So, since it is still Summer I guess it is not too late for this post, which I am shamefully lifting (contents and title, too) from Kathy at Catching Happiness. A good idea should be shared (or in this case borrowed), right?
My summer was spent working and doing all the normal things I do all year, though I do still have a mini vacation coming up next month when I will be going to San Francisco (I've been so busy lately and it has been so far off in the future, that I've not had a chance to give it much thought, but I will soon be in vacation mode I suspect). Thank goodness, then, for books which mean I can go anywhere in the world I would like and travel around in time. This has always been a big reason why I love to read, the joy of pure escapism from the realities of day to day life.
So, where have I been this summer? Here are a few highlights.
I spend lots and lots of time in England. I was in Crompton Hodnet thanks to Barbara Pym at the beginning of the summer. Crompton Hodnet is actually a fictional fictional town. Unfortunately I didn't get around to writing about this book, though I loved the story (and Pym in general). It's not the name of the town where the book is set (that would be the first fictional) but the made up name of a town that the vicar comes up with (that would be the second fictional). Sorry, that's a bit confusing. Maybe I'll try and revisit the novel before the year runs out and can write about it properly then.
I do love the seaside and would be up for travel to an island, so Agatha Christie's Evil Under the Sun presented a perfect destination even coupled with a murder.
And then a quick trip across the channel and overland to Paris in Pierre Lemaitre's Alex provided a rather harrowing journey and this time ending in multiple murders and quite a lot of suspense. I just noticed the book on sale this weekend at the supermarket (of all places!) as a matter of fact.
Oh dear, more murder, and this time in Canada with Louise Penny's Still Life. I was on a binge not too long ago, wasn't I? Well, there is crime all over the world, so I have gotten a taste how a number of cultures deal with murder mysteries. This time the tranquility was shattered in the small, idyllic town of Three Pines outside of Montréal in Québec.
Jan Terlouw's Winter in Wartime meant a look at World War II and the Dutch Resistance in the Netherlands. I think I'd like to return there under happier circumstances since I am sure it's beautiful (I get lots of postcards from the Netherlands . . . as an aside . . . via Postcrossing). Will have to keep that in mind as I am choosing books for the rest of the year.
More wartime wanderings took me to a somewhat surreal Marseille in Anna Seghers's Transit. And I just recently returned there in Jean-Claude Izzo's Total Chaos (will hopefully be telling you more about it this week). It was a visit that once again proved violent and sad yet the beauty of the city and the love of it by the characters still shined through despite the situation.
In anticipation of my own upcoming trip I've spent some time in California. Hollywood isn't really that much of a draw for me (I wouldn't mind seeing it once perhaps), but it makes for fascinating reading when it's about the life of a rising starlet in the Golden Age of Hollywood, Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures. It's really San Francisco that I want to immerse myself in, and I did so through two more crime novels, Dashiell Hammett's Continental Op and Laurie King's Grave Talent. Both brought back happy memories of the place even though the stories meant a look at the seedier underside of such a beautiful city.
Another jump over the Atlantic and back to France (I've spent more time there this year than I thought) with Philippe Claudel's Grey Souls. Such a poignant and lovely story even with so much melancholy.
Hmm. I seem to be reading rather dark books, don't I? My travels have not been very lighthearted or adventurous (in a non-threatening way that is) and not much in the way of happy relationships or even romance. I think I will have to rectify that.
At the moment I am spending lots of time hopping back and forth between Scotland with Rosamunde Pilcher's delightful (and most appropriate) September (with promises of happy endings and a love affair or two I think), Northern England in Jane Gardam's slightly quirky but wholly absorbing Crusoe's Daughter and over to Austria in Mary Stewart's most excellent and suspenseful (though not in a bloody or violent way), Airs Above the Ground. These three are much closer to comfort reads for me so just the sort of escapism I love. And for a dash of the exotic I spend my weekends in India with Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy.
Quite a nice variety, I'd say! What about you--where has your reading taken you this Summer?