Man, I’m stoked! Pumped! Fit to burst! I have just finished two exceedingly good novels and one chilling piece of historical fiction! Reading three good books in a row is rare for me so I am bouncing off the walls with unconstrained glee! 🙂
The Good Mayor by Andrew Nicoll is my first pick, and there is only one way to describe this book: DE-LI-CIOUS!!! Yummy, Sumptuous, Mouthwatering!!!! It’s basically a love story, or more accurately, a story of yearning. The good mayor of Dot, Tibo Krovic, is desperately in love with his secretary of 20+ years, Mrs. Agathe Stopak, a voluptuous siren married to an uncaring, boorish paperhanger. And dear Agathe, who resembles Velazquez’s Rokeby Venus, is totally oblivious to the longings of her kind boss. Theirs is a relationship that is perfectly in sync, however. He can read her mind and she his. They finish each other’s sentences.
I love stories of falling in love with the unavailable. Is there something Freudian in that? Who knows? But I love it. The one you love is just out of reach and every day is expectant and full of hope, yet bittersweet and melancholy. The good mayor is in love but he is honourable and he wants to do the right thing…which puts him in a bit of a pickle! You laugh as you get a peek into how a man like that deals with his emotions of desire and regret, anger and longing.
The writing is seamless, flawless!!!! My goodness, if I could only write like THAT!!! Such a lightness of touch coupled with delectable humour…I laughed out loud and shivered with delight, and several times, at a particularly wonderful passage, I’d stop and hug the book and squiggle because it tasted soooo good!!!! With place names like Dot, Dash, Umlaut, and Ampersand, how can you NOT want to delve into this charming love story with elements of fantasy and magic? I want to read it all over again!!!
Book number two is a mystery thriller featuring an Italian count who is a master criminal, a dashingly brave but impoverished art instructor, and a feisty intelligent woman who risks life and limb for her beautiful younger half-sister who is deceived into marriage by a wealthy aristocrat! It was written in 1860 and was one of the first blockbusters!!!! One of the first mystery novels and an excellent example of 19th century sensation literature, it is TA-DAAAAA, The Woman in White by William (Wilkie) Collins. I’ll let Wikipedia give you the plot:
A poor art master, Walter Hartright, is employed to teach two young women in Cumberland, and falls in love with one of them, Laura. His feelings are returned, but she is already engaged to another. They are parted and she marries, but she and Marian, her resourceful half-sister, are then caught up in her new husband’s plot to steal her fortune and identity. Laura is stripped of her name and money, and almost of her sanity, but is rescued by Marian and protected by the faithful Hartright. He and Marian battle to expose the fraud and reclaim Laura’s identity, fortune and position in society. Throughout the story they encounter a mysterious woman in white, whose own sad story seems entangled with those of Laura and her husband, and who plays a crucial role in the novel’s main events.
This book was so finely written, the story so excellently told, that I could not put it down. It also made me very tense and nervous. 🙂 When Marian perched on the roof of the house, under the pouring rain, trying her very best to be quiet and still, and keep her balance as she eavesdropped on the Count and the evil Baronet hatching plans of wicked intent, I just about screamed when my husband suddenly entered the room! 🙂
Book number three is The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent. It’s a book about the Salem Witch Trials in 17th century Puritan America. In it, she relates the story of her ancestor, Martha Carrier, who was accused of being a witch by people who were victims of her baldly honest speech and her somewhat scathing tongue, and who were vexed at her refusal to be intimidated, threatened or manipulated. It’s told from the point of view of Martha’s daughter, Sarah, who was also imprisoned for being the daughter of a witch.
Remarkably, both The Good Mayor and The Heretic’s Daughter are debut novels. What a wealth of talent! What a FEAST!!!“>