Have you heard of Jean Stafford? I must have heard the name somewhere at some time, but when a coworker mentioned (very enthusiastically I might add) the NYRB reissue of Stafford's The Mountain Lion, I knew I had to check her out. Actually I have caved in and ordered a copy of The Mountain Lion, and in the interim (while I wait for it to arrive in the mail) grabbed her 1951 novel The Catherine Wheel from the library's shelves. She won the Pulitzer Prize for her The Collected Stories of Jean Stafford in 1970, and given my short story kick, I am going to have to go grab that as well.
The Mountain Lion, which I am told has a fairy tale-ish quality to it, is a story of childhood.
"A wonderful record of childhood and adolescence…I do not know where to turn in contemporary fiction for a more wonderful recording of the sights and smells, the emotions and values, the hates and passions of childhood and youth…[a] beautifully modeled tale."
—Howard Mumford Jones, The New York Times
Given my positive experiences with NYRB titles, I have a feeling this is a book I will like very much. As for The Catherine Wheel, I only know it is set in Maine in the 1930s and is a story of a family--domestic fiction? Will be giving it a try soon.
Although I've not been sharing my library finds much lately, they have been present "behind the scenes". I still am reaching more often for books from my own shelves, but I have some really tempting books out from the library and the problem is (as always) how to juggle those with my 'in progress' books. Here are a few highlights.
The Last Telegram by Liz Trenow -- "Decades ago, as Nazi planes dominated the sky, Lily Verner made a terrible choice. She's tried to forget, but now an unexpected event pulls her back to the 1940s British countryside. She finds herself remembering the brilliant colors of the silk she helped to weave at her family's mill, the relentless pressure of the worsening war, and the kind of heartbreaking loss that stops time."
A Spear of Summer Grass by Deanna Raybourn -- I've fallen behind in reading the Lady Julia Julia Grey novels (which I have enjoyed immensely), but this is a standalone set in Colonial Africa. I love the period and the setting so look forward to it.
Oh yay, a new Maisie Dobbs Mystery, Leaving Everything Most Loved by Jacqueline Winspear. I think this is going directly to the reading pile on my night stand. If I don't read it now and it goes back to the library I will have to go to the end of a very long line! This is set in 1933 and the mystery is about the death of an Indian immigrant. This story "marks a pivotal moment" in the series. Hmm. I think it will be going to work with me tomorrow.
The Frozen Shroud by Martin Edwards is not the first in the series, but it is the first Lake District Mystery I hope to read. "Death has come twice to Ravenbank, a remote community in England's Lake District, each time on Hallowe'en. Just before the First World War, a young woman's corpse was found, with a makeshift shroud frozen to her battered face. Her ghost - the Faceless Woman - is said to walk through Ravenbank on Hallowe-en. Five years ago, another woman, Katya Moss, was murdered, and again her face was covered to hide her injuries. Daniel Kind, a specialist in the history of murder, becomes fascinated by the old cases, and wonders whether the obvious suspects really did commit the crimes. He spends Hallowe'en at a party in Ravenbank - only to find death returning to this beautiful but isolated spot. Once more, the victim is a woman, once more her damaged face is shrouded from view."
Rapscallion: A Regency Crime Thriller by James McGee -- I read the first Matthew Hawkwood novel a couple of years ago and didn't realize subsequent novels had finally been published in the US. As this is the third, I will likely try and get my hands on the second book in the series. The first was a bit of a romp if I recall correctly, so I am happy to see I have two more books to look forward to.
As usual spoiled for choice and in dire need of extra reading time.