chalcedony_cat: fan from the v&a (Default)
[personal profile] chalcedony_cat
I complained to my husband that I spend all my spare time sleeping and have not yet had time to go raid the 8-story university library which is now conveniently nearby due to the wonders of public transit, and he said, "Take the afternoon off!" So I am, but I quickly realised that what I really, really wanted to do was curl up with a stack of my existing library books and my computer and read some of your journals (which I haven't had time to do in three months) and post a little bit about my current reading and probably fall asleep again because I'm in that phase of pregnancy where my body wakes me up 2 or 3 times a night, just to get in practise for having a newborn. Thus, that is what I did!

I finished the Probability trilogy, by Nancy Kress, and was mildly disappointed. They were perfectly decent sf novels, but (as seems to happen with much of my sf reading), the parts I found most interesting weren't developed enough, and there was a lot of stuff that seemed... obvious, or shallow. I came away from it feeling like I wasn't the audience for the book, which is probably true.

Thanks to [personal profile] oursin[1] I am reading all the Patricia Wentworth mysteries that the library can find for me, and I really, really like them. The early ones (from the 30s) are more thrillers than detective fiction, which don't do as much for me, but they have interesting bits of period detail, and I tend to like her romances despite the endless stream of pale-skinned gray-eyed women whom the heroes always moon over. Her later works read a lot like Angela Thirkell without the horrible class stuff and with some murders, which is a remarkably enchanting combination, although I do sometimes find that I'd be just as happy to read the Village Drama without the mystery at all, which is a little embarassing. I was intrigued to see the ground (both in time and genre) her career covered -- according to the internets she started off in 1913 writing historical fiction, switched to the intrigue/spy stuff in the 20s, and only really got settled into the sort of 'cozy' detective series that I love in the early 1940s. I'm surprised she's so neglected in favour of Christie/Marsh/Allingham/Sayers, because she writes great women, including her main detective (Miss Maud Silver) being a retired Edwardian governess rather in the style of Miss Marple -- I'm not sure which came first, actually. I suspect she's been somewhat ignored by the tiny portion of litcrit that focuses on detective fiction because her Miss Silver novels are so much more Thirkell-village-drama and so much less detective-focused, but I haven't dug down to find out if she's as neglected as I think or if I just hadn't heard of her despite my single undergrad course in detective fiction. I mean, I didn't hear about Marsh & Allingham through that class either, but I certainly heard about them while doing general research for my paper on Sayers.

I realise that last paragraph got incoherent, and I am tempted to wait until tomorrow when I am more awake to rewrite before posting, but I think that given what life is like, it might be several weeks before I got back to this, so I will just post now and hope that you, oh gentle and largely hypothetical reader, will be able to sort it all out.

1: To be specific, it is thanks to oursin indirectly, because although she did not directly recommend Wentworth, she wrote an interesting post about mystery novelists who have internalised spinster-phobia which touched on the authors I was reading at the time (Allingham, Marsh, Christie) and thus led one of her readers to talking about Wentworth.
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chalcedony_cat: fan from the v&a (Default)

June 2015

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