With spring, my fancy turns to travel…something about blue skies and warm breezes stirs the wanderlust in me, and I find myself with a persistent urge to jump in the car, open wide the sun roof, set the cruise control, and drive.
Alas, I have had to be content with armchair traveling this week, and lucky for me, my assortment of reading has been most helpful in that regard. The week began with a summer in Greece, courtesy of Roseanne Keller’s novel, A Summer All Her Own. The plot was rather trite (a recent widow finds new purpose to her life whilst spending the summer on a remote Greek Island), but the scenery and atmosphere was nicely done. The novel’s heroine, Anna Sandoval, spends hours of time sunning herself, swimming topless in the Aegean, drinking wine on her bougainvillea covered terrace, and rediscovering her inner artiste with sketch pad and pencils. Sweet, no?
After my sojourn with Anna had ended, seeing her safely back at her home in Georgetown and launched on her long awaited career as an artist, I found myself in San Francisco, mid-1980’s, amidst A Collection of Beauties at the Height of their Popularity. This rather interesting novel by Whitney Otto, is a series of vignette like tales centering around a group of 30 something women and men who congregate night after night in the Youki Singe Tea Room. Over the course of a year, their lives become conjoined in convoluted and unexpected ways, their relationships as much of a jumble as the decor of their favorite haunt, which was an “eccentric combination of…kitsch cliches and genuinely lovely elements.” Come to think of it, that is a perfect description of the book itself.
Lastly, I traveled across the pond to Dorset, to P.D. James country, where Commander Adam Dalgleish and his team find themselves ensconced in a stately country home cum private clinic, where a patient has died in mysterious, and decidedly unnatural circumstances (The Private Patient). As usual, James’ dense, detailed prose sets the scene impeccably, and I could just feel the chill of the December air and smell the moist earth around the mist-enshrouded stone circle. I didn’t dare take this one up without a piping hot cuppa tea by my side.
So, having closed the book on my armchair traveling for the week, I must now peruse the stacks and see what adventures next await. I can tell you that several nice, new things are in the pile…Paola Kaufman’s The Sister arrived in the mail last week, and along with it, Afternoons With Emily, by Rose MacMurray. Both these books are novels about Emily Dickinson, one of my favorite American poets. The Sister comes highly recommended, while Afternoons With Emily was ordered purely on impulse.
I also have an ARC copy of Coventry, which I’m quite excited to read. A slender novel by Helen Humphries, it “captures brilliantly the terror of one of the most infamous bombing raids of the Second World War,” and specifically, the effects of one violent night on the lives of three people…Harriet Marsh; a young “fire watcher” named Jeremy; and his artist mother, Maeve.
Now tell me, have you done any traveling this week – literally, or of the armchair variety?