Tuesday, 16 December 2014

What I've been reading - the Fiction Edition

Modern Mrs Darcy's Twitterature link-up is now called Quick Lit. Go there to get more - lots more - recommendations and short reviews of books.

Oddly, after so many Twitteratures of mostly non-fiction, this time all I have is fiction...

Marilynne Robinson: Lila

Neglected child, cared for by a migrant worker woman, grows into a woman who feels she's an outsider everywhere. How does she become an old pastor's wife in the small Iowa town called Gilead? Will she find her identity, and a way to feel at home?
Now this was a good book, and I tried to enjoy it slowly. Lots of food for thought. And now that I have some inkling of what Lila might be thinking and feeling, I want to re-read Gilead, too.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky: The Idiot

A naive man enters society in St. Petersburg (in the late 1800s, I assume). He's so trusting, open and candid that he's quite a puzzle to everyone he meets.
The book is a witty social commentary mixed up with emotional instability, downright madness and volatile, self-destructively impulsive people - well, there are many sorts among the large cast of characters, but the impulsiveness made the biggest impression on me.
 I read this because it was chosen for an online book club, and many people in the online book club have enjoyed it. I wasn't thrilled with it, but having started, I persevered.
And I just have to give kudos to the Finnish translation by Olli Kuukasjärvi. So good!

Earlier this autumn, as I was dragged down with a persistent cold and cough, I went on a comfort reading binge of my favourite detective novels.
First, a bunch of my favourite Dorothy L.Sayers books:
The Nine Tailors
Murder Must Advertise
Gaudy Night
I love these more for their settings - the Fens, a 1930's advertising agency and a fictitious women's college at Oxford respectively - than their plots.
(I have a feeling I could say this for all the detective novels I love. Because I love them as novels, not as detective stories.)
Though I like Sayers's detective, Lord Peter Wimsey, a lot, I enjoy the other characters at least as much. The inimitable Bunter. The entire village of Fenchurch St. Paul, especially their enthusiastic vicar. The colourful bunch of people working at the advertising agency. The dons and students at Oxford. Gaudy Night is mostly Harriet Vane's story and POV, and that makes this book special, too.

And, lastly, a book that I have read many times before, too:

Josephine Tey: The Daughter of Time

A bedridden police inspector and his "looker-upper" aka research assistant investigate the case of Richard III's nephews. Was Richard III really the monster that popular history had painted him through the centuries? What really happened to the young Princes?

I don't have the words to express how relevant this story is in our time, when the Internet and social media have opened up the way for anyone and everyone to write their own version of history. What is reliable? How is it possible to evaluate how people's perspectives, sympathies and wishes influence the way they tell a story?


  1. Stopping by from MMD. I enjoyed Gilead, and I'm looking forward to Lila. Wondering if I should read Home first? And the Lord Peter series is one of my favorites. :-)

    1. Thanks for stopping by :-)
      I don't think it's necessary to read Home before reading Lila. The events in Lila all happen before the events in Gilead, whereas Home is parallel with Gilead, just a different POV. If anything, I think it might have enhanced my experience of reading Home if I had had this insight into what Lila might be thinking.

  2. Hi,
    I found your site from MMD and was suprised because I am living in Espoo! It is always great to get good book recommendations.
    I also really love the library system here. As an American living in Finland, the selection of English books is really impressive. Also being able to order books to my local library, renew and manage my account all online is so handy!
    I have also read a few books in Finnish, one recommended by your blog, 'Naiset ilman Maata' and have really enjoyed them.
    I find it difficult to find decent fiction books so am happy to try Robinson soon.
    Thanks! -tonja

    1. Hello, and thanks for commenting!
      Hope you like living here :-)
      Over the years I've become more and more choosy about the fiction I read, but the quick reviews at MMD have helped me a lot. (Also to know what probably isn't my cup of tea...) I found Marilynne Robinson's books through MMD, too.

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