So, I managed to find three novels by Dutch women authors that provoked yesterday's post. I have quite a few books by women writers that are crime novels or stories of suspense, but I think I am in the mood for simply a good story, plain fiction and perhaps one of these three will be just what I need. First line teasers are always a good way (or one of the ways anyway) to gauge whether a story will grab me from the first.
The Ten Thousand Things by Maria Dermoût, translated by Hans Koning. This was published in 1955 and has been reissued by NYRB as one of their classics. It is called a "novel of shimmering strangeness".
"On the island in the Moluccas there were a few gardens left from the great days pf spice growing and 'spice parks'--a few only. There had never been many, and on this island they had even long ago been called not 'parks' but 'gardens'."
"Now, as then, the gardens spread along both bays--outer bay and inner bay--the spice trees clustered together, kind with kind, clove with clove, nutmeg with nutmeg; a few high shade trees in between, kanari trees usually, and on the bayside coconut palms and plane trees to give shelter from the wind."
The Tea Lords: a Novel of Java by Hella Haasse translated by Ina Rilke. I know this book made the rounds in the book blogosphere a few years back. Hella Haasse is a classic contemporary Dutch writer, I think.
"'Here!' he cried out loud. His voice sounded thin in the vastness."
"He was standing on the edge of a ravine. The nearby peaks were wreathed in afternoon mist. These were the foothills of the Goenoeng Tiloe: deep folds in the earth's crust, a drapery of dense, vivid green covering a gigantic, recumbent body. Between the rugged flanks lay a bowl-shaped valley."
It's very visual, isn't it? I like being transported away somewhere else. This is a book I started at the tail end of last year's summer reading project, so it might be nice to finally read it in earnest.
The Storm: a Novel by Margriet de Moor translated by Carol Brown Janeway. The blurb calls this "powerfully dramatic and psychologically gripping". It is a historical novel based on an actual event.
"One of them, Lidy, stood at the window and looked out. It was one of those midwinter mornings when it's just getting light and last night's storm no longer makes you feel cozy indoors, it's like a whine that gets on your nerves. She held her little daughter in her arms and her coat was already buttoned. In the process of leaving she hesitated for this one moment like someone who's glad to be on her way, if that's what comes next, but would be just as glad to stay home. That the whole plan wasn't hers to begin with, but Armanda's, was irrelevant. At this moment, all she was thinking was: I really want to drive a car again. Today and tomorrow, Armanda, you can take care of my daughter, and go with my husband to the party being given by your friend, who also happens to be his half sister. Tomorrow afternoon at the latest, I'll be back."
This sounds like it could be a potentially harrowing book. Not a bad thing, of course--just need to make sure I am in the right frame of mind for a story like this.
They all sound good, don't they? In different ways . . . Now comes the hard part, which to pick up and read.