I know you will understand this dilemma. And this is a problem that requires careful attention and thoroughness since the book I choose to read next will be one I spend a chunk of time with. Technically I should wait until I finish Tolstoy's Kreutzer Sonata before making a choice, but it's a novella and I am ready for a full length novel. I finished Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange a few days ago, and while I mull it over a bit before writing about it, I am ready for something new and different. I think different will be easy since there are not too many books out there quite like the Burgess . . .
I usually have in mind the next book I want to read even before I finish whatever I have in hand, but I'm not quite sure what I am in the mood for right now. I was thinking of rereading Jane Austen's Persuasion, and you might laugh when you hear the reason why. Well, you won't laugh when I say it is my favorite Austen (of the books I've read--I still have two of her novels waiting for me) and any of her books are always worth revisiting. However, over the weekend I saw the movie Mr. Turner (which I thought was really well done) and loved listening to the very proper way the characters spoke, and which put me in mind of an Austen novel. Jane Austen could turn a mean sentence and to read her fiction is really sort of inspiring to me.
But you know how it goes, you begin looking at your shelves and all of a sudden your pile begins to grow and grow, and while I did put some of them back already, this is what I have ended up with. Maybe Sholem Aleichem's Stempenyu: A Jewish Romance about "a young village girl girl who falls for a wildly popular klezmer fiddler". I don't think I have ever read anything translated from Yiddish before. But I have read this Melville House edition is riddled with typographical errors. And I am already reading a fair amount of literature from the Jewish perspective so maybe something else now?
Which made me pick up Stendhal's The Abbess of Castro. I've never read Stendhal. This is the story of two doomed young lovers (this is a classic, would we expect them to have a happily ever after?--oh, a vote for the Austen, then). It's set in Renaissance Italy and has "plenty of sword fights thrown in" which in my opinion is only a vote in its favor.
Of course if it's sword fights I'm after I could read Alexandre Dumas's Twenty Years After. I loved The Three Musketeers, which is just the first of several books about the quartet of swordsmen. This time out they aren't up against Milady but her son! Somehow I feel like this would be rollicking good fun, but it is a hefty book with tiny print.
I used to read a Wilkie Collins novel (or two) every year but it's been a while since I picked up one of his full length stories (there have been a few short stories and a novella or two in the intervening years). I thought Poor Miss Finch looked interesting. I'm thinking, though, this is not going to be one of his suspenseful sensationalist stories. Not that I have to have that. This is a story of Lucilla Finch who is a blind girl and the two men, twins, who fall in love with her.
There is always Mary Elizabeth Braddon, however, for a little sensationalism. The Trail of the Serpent is about Jabez North, "a manipulative orphan who becomes a ruthless killer", Valerie de Cevennes, "a stunning heiress who falls into North's diabolical trap" and Mr. Peters, "a mute detective who communicates his brilliant reasoning through sign language".
Interesting that the two Victorian novels deal with disabilities--I didn't go looking for books like that.
And for something a little more modern I pulled F. Scott Fitzgerald's Tender is the Night from the new book pile as it is a recent acquisition. I'm sort of in the mood for something by him. This one is set on the French Riviera in the 1920s and looks to be a sort of love triangle and no doubt story of dissipation.
They all sound good in different ways and I could happily start two or three but more than one new read would be altogether too greedy. Has anyone read any of these and can put in a good word and tempt me in that direction? I'll be dipping into each in turn and seeing which one grabs me and doesn't let go!