Ferre, Rosario. The House on the Lagoon. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 1995.
The House on the Lagoon is a clever story within a story. At the center it tells the tale of Quintin and Isabel Mendizabal. Isabel is trying to become a writer. The House on the Lagoon is her latest project. Multigenerational and historical it sounds a little too much like Quintin and Isabel’s own ancestors and personal history. Quintin, being a historian, finds Isabel’s manuscript and he simply cannot leave it as fiction. He has to edit the historical details and set the record straight. The more he edits the more he realizes the truth about his own marriage. Her unhappiness and his sense of betrayal create a powerful cauldron of simmering disaster.
Ferre’s writing is grand. She writes about a time when grand patriarchs presented their heirs with gifts such as steamships weighing eight thousand tons each. A time when segregation had an unsettling effect on Puerto Ricans. Not used to inequality they worried about the color of their skin not being as pure lily white as their northern neighbors.
Quotes I loved, “If you wanted to know who someone’s relatives were, you only had to visit your grandmother slumbering in her rocking chair, wake her up, and ask her to whisper you her secrets” (p 22), and “A sovereign with shoulders spread like infantry battalions, strong cavalry thighs, and eyes so blue they made you want to sail out to sea” (p 27). Wow. Can you hear me licking my lips right now? Last one – “It wasn’t an easy victory; she had to fight for her bed as if it were a castle under siege” (p 83). Poor woman!
Reason read: In honor of Cinco de Mayo, a little Latin American fiction.
Author trivia: According to Amazon, Ferre was First Lady of Puerto Rico (1970 – 1972) while her father was governor after her mother passed away in 1970.
Book fact: This has nothing to do with House on the Lagoon per se, but my copy was underlined, notated and dog-eared. Someone definitely loved this book more than they should!
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Latin American Fiction” (p 144).
Boyd, Martin. Outbreak of Love. New York: Penguin Books, 1984.
Throughout earlier Boyd books (Cardboard Crown, etc) we have been following the Langton family. In Outbreak of Love we focus on Diana. She has been married for twenty-three long years to egotistical and stuffy musician named “Wolfie.” Wolfie is an adulterer and it’s this unfaithful behavior that brings the drama to the book. Diana, of course, finds out and decides she needs an interesting relationship of her own. Of course there is the requisite high society blah, blah, blah such as who is going to invited to so and so’s ball and have to sit next to the bore.
Quotes that caught me, “Will we have a little love first, or will we go straight out to tea?” Wolfie’s mistress asks. Here’s another, “It shook my egoism, but I was not prepared to abandon reason” (p 53).
Oddly enough, I read this one better than the last two Boyd books. I don’t really know what I meant by that except to say my attention didn’t wander as much.
Reason read: to continue the series started in honor of the best time to go to Australia (March/April).
Author fact: Boyd was born in Switzerland.
Book trivia: This is the third book in the four-book series called The Langton Quartet.
BookLust Twist: Book Lust in the chapter called “Australian Fiction” (p 29). Here’s a laugh – Pearl lists all four books in the quartet but she mixes up the order in which they should be read. She lists When Blackbirds Sing before Outbreak of Love. According to the back cover of Outbreak of Love, When Blackbirds Sing is the last book of the quartet.
O’Brien, Tim. In the Lake of the Woods. Read by L.J. Ganser. Grand Haven, Michigan: Brilliance Audio, 2011.
This is many different stories rolled into one. It is the story of an abused childhood. It is a vicious Vietnam War documentary. It is a quiet mystery. It is a love-with-abandon story and a tangled tragedy. John Wade is an Vietnam vet who lost the election for a seat in the U.S. Senate. The campaign was a complete disaster prompting John to take his wife, Kathy, to a secluded cabin in Lake of the Woods, Minnesota, so that he might lick his wounds in private. After a week away from the world Kathy inexplicably disappears. Using flashbacks to John’s childhood, college days, tour in Vietnam & relationship with Kathy, John’s psychological history is revealed. As a young child his father taunted him about his weight, teased him relentlessly about his obsession with magic. John learned at an early age to hide his feelings by imagining mirrors in his head, mirrors that reflected the world he wanted to live in and how he wanted people to treat him. In college his obsession with his future wife Kathy was like a sickness. He would spy on her incessantly, claiming he loved her too much to leave her alone. He would not spend hours doing this, but entire days. Then there was Vietnam. His enduring love of magic prompted the soldiers in his company to nickname him “Sorcerer.” This, along with the mirrors still in his head, allowed John to become someone else during the atrocities of war. He believed his violent actions were not his own because they belonged to Sorcerer. Throughout dating in college and during the political campaign as man and wife Kathy and John’s relationship was never on the same page. He spied. She needed space. She wanted children but when she became pregnant he convinced her to abort. He loved the campaign trail. She wanted off it. But did that mean John had something to do with her disappearance? O’Brien introduces a kernel of doubt when he describes Kathy lost in the maze of rivers beyond Lake of the Woods. The boat is missing after all…
My one complaint? The “evidence” involving quotes from wars other than Vietnam. I know why O’Brien did it. He wanted to show that the atrocities of war were not limited to the actions of soldiers involved in the My Lai massacre. It was overkill (pardon the pun).
Reason read: Minnesota become a state in May.
Book trivia: I am shocked this has never been made into a movie. Really. Another piece of trivia – this is the equivalent of an ear worm. I haven’t stopped pondering the possibilities since.
Author fact: There are a few autobiographical elements to In the Lake of the Woods.
BookLust Twist: You can always tell when Pearl loves a book. She either mentions it a few times in one Lust book or she mentions it in all of them. In this case In the Lake of the Woods was found in Book Lust in the chapter called “Vietnam” (p 238), twice in More book Lust in the chapters “Big Ten Country: the Literary Midwest (Minnesota)” (p 28) and “It was a Dark and Stormy Novel (p 128), and once in Book Lust To Go in the chapter “Vietnam” (p 246). Four mentions!
Rawicz, Slavomir. The Long Walk: the True Story of a Trek to Freedom. guilford, CT: Lyons Press: 1997.
The Long Walk came about because of a journalist for the London Daily Mail was writing a story on the Abominable Snowman. Ronald Downing was told Slavomir Rawicz had seen the creature. So what started as a story about a yeti gave birth to Rawicz telling his own seemingly incredible tale. Ronald Downing became the ghost writer for the project. The short story: Slawomir Rawicz was imprisoned by the Soviets after the invasion of Poland in World War II. After being sentenced to 25 years of hard labor Rawicz managed to escape and, along with seven other companions, supposedly made a 4,000 mile trek to India. I have some skepticism in my words because some say the story is not true.
True or not, time and time again I was amazed by Rawicz’s resolve even if it was only in his head and he had no witnesses. First, during his endless “trial” when he was questioned repeatedly about being a spy. I believe every word. A lesser man would have cracked under the pressure and finally given a false confession. Then, after being sentence to 25 years hard labor in a remote part of northern Siberia Rawicz never gave up believing he could survive his sentence. The idea for escape was planted after being summoned to fix a commandant’s radio. Unbelievably, the commandant’s wife subtly suggested it to Rawicz. The idea percolated gently while Rawicz worked out the details in his bunk at night. There were so many elements that needed to be in place. He needed men and he needed supplies. Then he needed the perfect storm, a blizzard, to cover his tracks. It reminded me of Shawshank Redemption when Andy Dufresne planned his escape from prison.
Whether Rawicz’s story is 100% true or not remains a mystery. There is no one to confirm his story. What remains is an incredible tale about an impossible journey made possible only by hope.
Lines that got me, “The Soviet Supreme Court was showing me a very cold and businesslike face” (p 18), “I was never allowed to meet any of the unfortunates” (p 26). How unfortunate.
Reason read: At the end of May I will be undertaking a long walk of my own. Definitely not as long or as arduous as Mr. Rawicz’s trek, but an honorable walk nonetheless.
Author fact: Rawicz died in 2004 and some say his long walk never happened. Boo hiss. I’d like to think his tale of courage is true.
Book trivia: A movie version of The Long Walk was made in 2010 starring Colin Farrell.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Armchair Travel” (p 25).
Boyd, Martin. A Difficult Young Man. New York: Penguin, 1984.
I have to admit this story lagged for me. It wasn’t as non-directional as The Cardboard Crown but it still couldn’t hold my attention for long periods of time. Shoot, I couldn’t get through ten pages without straying from the page. A fly crawling along a windowsill could capture my attention faster and hold it longer.
So, right from the start I need to tell you the “difficult young man” of the story is Dominic Langton, grandson of Alice (writer of the journal in The Cardboard Crown). Dominic’s story is being told by his younger brother, Guy. Dominic is indeed difficult and troubled and sort of a loose cannon. He kills a horse, after all. But, it’s also the story of a family who is discontent wherever they are. Bounding between England and Australia, the grass is always greener on the other side.
Interesting lines, “It was difficult to run a house that was being looted” (p 105). good point.
Reason read: to continue the Langton Quartet (in honor of April being a good time to visit Australia).
Author fact: According to Penguin books Boyd had a preoccupation with his family and out of that preoccupation rose the mostly autobiographical Langton Quartet.
Book trivia: This is the second book in the Langton Quartet. It should be read before Outbreak of Love.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter “Australian Fiction” (p 29).
Homer. The Iliad. Translated by Robert Fitzgerald. New York: Everyman’s Library, 1992.
If there is one thing I cannot stand it’s writing a review for a classic, especially one that has been analyzed eight ways to Sunday. I mean, I honestly do not think I can add anything new or enlightening to what has already been said. Everyone knows the story of Achilles, right? Having said all that I wish I could pull out a quote from something I wrote in high school or even college. I’m sure I was much more profound in my narrow minded, get good grades, academic-driven youth. Probably the most meaningful element of The Iliad continues to be its grandeur. It is an epic poem of enormous scope with the dominant theme of mortality. According to most other reviewers, translation matters. Everyone has a favorite version. I honestly couldn’t say I felt one way or another about the Fitzgerald translation I read.
Reason read: April is National Poetry month.
Author fact: Homer was a speech writer. He excelled at persuasiveness.
Book trivia: The Iliad andThe Odyssey go hand in hand.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Poetry: A Novel Idea” (p 186).
Shannon, Mike. Diamond Classics: Essays on 100 of the Best Baseball Books Ever Published. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarlane & Company, Inc., 2003.
According to Shannon, one of the major purposes of Diamond Classics is to “function as a sort of “Reader’s Digest” of baseball books” (introduction, p xiii) and he is right. It is jam packed with information about all kinds of books about baseball. I think he covers every type of book from every perspective. The information is extensive. For starters there is the mandatory title, author, publisher, page numbers information (in other words the perfect citation). But it goes further than that. This is a great book for research purposes. Let’s say I wanted to write an essay on the great Jackie Robinson (since there is a new movie coming out about the legend). I could use Shannon’s Diamond Classics to compile all the relevant and useful baseball books that feature Jackie. But, wait! there’s more. Shannon reviews each book for writing style as well as content. He includes the critical reception to the book (if there was one). Shannon is careful to add other baseball books written by the same author. Even his reviews of photography books are descriptive and analytical. He includes books by seasoned sports writers, former athletes and even fans. And, and! And, everything is in alphabetical order…but of course.
Reason read: April 1st marked the first day of the official baseball season. Opening day saw the Red Sox beat the Yankees. Yay.
Author fact: Mike Shannon is a huge baseball fan. You can just tell by the many other books he has written on the subject.
Book trivia: It was cool to see some of the books I’ll be reading for the Challenge reviewed inDiamond Classics.
BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” (p 230).
Boyd, Martin. The Cardboard Crown. New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc. 1953.
This is the story of Alice Verso told through her grandson’s discovery of her diary. From its pages half written in French he is able to uncover generations of intricate and complicated relationships. Alice marries into the Langton family and brings the clan financial stability. But, despite this Alice discovers her husband is having an affair with a childhood friend named Hetty. Told across three generations and bouncing between Australia and England everything about this story was strange. As a reader, I couldn’t stay engaged with the story or the characters. There wasn’t a single person I connected with or cared about. It was the kind of story I often lost place with – meaning, when I put it down I couldn’t remember the last thing I read.
Favorite lines, “All history is a little false” (p 43), “If she could bring her prey to bed, she wouldn’t have cared if she had mutton fat in her hair and a smut on her nose” (p 46), and “We must accept that people do behave idiotically…” (p56). And the follow up to that quote, “Any idiot can reproduce himself” (p 112). Too true!
Reason read: April is the best time to take a trip to Australia.
Author fact: Boyd is one of Australia’s best loved authors. He was a talented poet as well.
Book trivia: The plot of The Cardboard Crown is “founded on fact” according to the author.
BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called “Australian Fiction” (p 37).
Loos, Anita. “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes: the Illuminating Diary of a Professional Lady.” Grosset & Dunlap, 1925.
This was a positively silly book and it almost embarrassed me to be reading it. Luckily, it was incredibly short (less than 200 pages) so I was able to get through it in one weekend. It is the journal of Lorelei Lee, a Midwest girl making her way in the New York City with gal pal Dorothy. Lorelei’s idea of making her way is to see how many men she can charm into “educating” her with their wallets. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is Lorelei’s diary from March 16th to July 10th and chronicles (complete with spelling and grammatical errors) her trip to Paris, France and Europe beyond all the while juggling many different male suitors. She starts nearly every sentence with “So” to the point where it got on my nerves the way someone says “like” all the time (and not the “like” on FaceBook, although that can get annoying as well). Lorelei uses shopping as her weapon and is quite good at it. I had a few laugh out loud moments. My recommendation is to find the 195 version. The illustrations are priceless.
The line that made me know I was in trouble, “I mean I seem to be thinking practically all the time” (p 11). That’s on the first page of the book.
Reason read: Anita Loos was born on April 26th so I am reading Gentlemen Prefer Blondes as a Happy birthday to Loos.
Author fact: Anita Loos was also an actress. Too cool.
Book trivia: Every one knows of the movie version starring Marilyn Monroe, but did you know there was an earlier version from 1928? Obviously, it didn’t do as well.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “100 Good Reads: Decade By Decade (1920s)” (p 176)
Bausch, Robert. A Hole in the Earth. New York: Harcourt, Inc., 2000.
If you are anything like me you won’t be able to decide whether you love or hate or just feel sorry for Henry Porter. On the surface he is a selfish, superficial s.o.b. who never knows the right thing to say or do. He doesn’t know how to greet Nicole, his only child he hasn’t seen in six years. He has a strained relationship with his girlfriend and doesn’t know how to respond when she tells him she is pregnant with his child. He comes across as shallow and callous. Case in point: “I calculated that if she really wanted to get my understanding, she would ask for it” he says (p 32). But, having said all that, it’s his very attitude that makes him human. We all have our moments of being selfish, superficial, shallow, awkward, cold and callous. Henry Porter is real and you can’t help but identify with him, even if it is just a little. As Henry’s life becomes more complicated (Nicole gets in trouble with a boy and Elizabeth breaks up with him) Henry starts to find his way through his inability to respond to tragedy. It’s a good thing because things go from bad to the very worst and Henry must change in order to survive.
Favorite lines, “I wanted to tell her but my mind would not surrender the words” (p 239), and “Upstairs Nicole was building a cathedral of faithful hatred…” (p 275).
Reason read: National Problem Gambling Week was three weeks ago (March 3 – 9) but in recognition of those struggling with the addiction I read A Hole in the Earth.
Author fact: I loved Robert Bausch’s short bio on the back flap of A hole in the Earth. See if you can figure out why! “He has worked as a salesman, taxi driver, library assistant, and waiter.”
Book trivia: The cover of my edition features a boy jumping off something. While he is in mid-fall he looks anticipatory and almost excited. It’s a scene from the book that is also a metaphor for Henry’s adult life.
BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called “All in the Family: Writer Dynasties” (p 6). So, Pearl’s chapter doesn’t have anything to do with gambling. Instead A Hole in the Earth is mentioned because Robert and his brother, Richard, are both writers.
Berton, Pierre. The Arctic Gail: The Quest for the Northwest Passage and the North Pole, 1818 – 1909. New York: Viking, 1988.
This is a “take two” book. I started it in 2011 and didn’t finish it. Didn’t even come close. I think I borrowed it too late in the month of February and realized I couldn’t read all 600+ pages before the start of March. This time I was smart and ordered it before February 1st so that I could start reading it on the very first day of the month (which was a neat 25 pages per day).
The Arctic Grail: the Quest for the North West Passage and the North Pole, 1818 – 1909 is exactly that – an extensive and wide angled look at the explorers who took on the quest to find the North West Passage between 1818 and 1909. A variety of influential characters are detailed, starting with Sir John Ross and William Edward Parry and ending with Frederick Cook and Robert Edwin Peary. Parry, probably the most unique of the group, was young (only 29), big into keeping his crew entertained with music, theater and even a newspaper. He was also deeply religious. “His greatest accomplishment was his understanding of his crew and his determination to keep them healthy in mind as well as body” (p 34). Other explorers were drawn to the Arctic despite wanting family lives. Several married just before embarking on trips that would take them away from their new brides for several years. The obsession to find the North West Passage was strong and unyielding. This obsession almost takes on a quality of mental illness for some of the explorers, risking the health and even lives of their ships and crew. When John Franklin goes missing his wife, Lady Franklin, becomes just as obsessed with finding him.
Favorite and/or intriguing lines, “The British Navy was never comfortable with dogs” (p 43) and “She devoured books (295 in one three-year period) – books on every subject: travel, education, religion, social problems…” (p 122) and the sentence that sums up the obsession, “He was..obsessed with the Arctic, a quality that more and more seemed to be the prime requisite for would-be northern adventurers” (p 345).
Reason read: in honor of the birth (and death) month of Elisha Kent Kane, one of the medical officers in the British Royal Navy who attempted to find lost Navy officer Sir John Franklin. He intrigues me because he was a crowned a hero despite the fact several of his crew revolted.
Author Fact: Towards the end of Berton’s life he admitted he had been a recreational pot smoker for over 40 years. He even went on a Canadian television station to “educate” people on how to roll a joint correctly. I Kid You Not. It’s on YouTube. Funny stuff.
Book trivia: With Arctic Grail cataloged at 672 pages long this book was very heavy to carry around. I left it in the office and made sure I read 30-40 pages every lunch break.
BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called “Here Be Dragons: The Great Explorers and Expeditions” (p 110).
Orczy, Baroness. The Scarlet Pimpernel. New York: Signet Classic, 1974.
When I first saw this on my list as a book to read in honor of love and Valentine’s Day I almost thought there was a mistake. The beginning of the book is mayhem. Taking place during the French Revolution and the Year of Terror people are being sent to the “Madame Guillotine” left and right. To make matters worse, the heroine of the story, Lady Marguerite Blakeney is disgusted by her dull, slow-witted and lazy husband. Death and indifference. What kind of love story is that?
My advice? Keep reading. This is a classic love story wrapped up in an adventure mystery full of intrigue. Lady Marguerite harbors a horrible skeleton in her closet. Out of revenge for her brother (because blood is thicker than water) she sent an entire family to the guillotine. The punishment didn’t fit the crime and Marguerite is ashamed of her prior actions. However, this event taints her marriage to Sir Percy Blakeney and as time goes on their relationship grows colder and colder, falling further and further out of love. Complicating matters is a crafty hero calling himself the Scarlet Pimpernel. He and his “League” are going around and rescuing citizens from the guillotine. His arch enemy, Chauvelin, is determined to uncover his real identity and he enlists Marguerite’s help (using her brother as bait). She has already proven that she’ll turn against anyone for the sake of her brother. What Marguerite doesn’t know is that her dull, slow-witted, lazy husband is none other than the Scarlet Pimpernel himself.
I love the opening sentence: “A surging, seething, murmuring crowd of beings that are human only in name, for to the eye and ear they seem naught but savage creatures, animated by vile passions and by the lust of vengeance and hate” (p 1). Powerful stuff. Another favorite line, “Fate is usually swift when she deals a blow (p 95). And one more, “The weariest nights, the longest days, sooner or later must preforce come to an end” (p 165).
Reason read: In honor of love trumping all. Even though Marguerite and Percy’s marriage is initially on the rocks they come to each other’s rescue in the end.
Author fact: When researching Baroness Orczy I discovered that her full name is a mouthful: Baroness Emmuska Magdolna Rozalia Maria Jozefa Borbala Orczy de Orczi. Really? Craziness.
Book trivia: The Scarlet Pimpernel is laced with real-life individuals. Imaginative nonfiction or historical fiction. You be the judge.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Romance Novels: Our Love is Here to Stay” (p 205).
Bleeck, Oliver. The Brass Go-Between. New york: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1969.
An African artifact has been stolen by thieves specializing in art heists. They have offered the museum $250,000 to buy it back and want Philip St. Ives to facilitate the exchange, shield for money. Philip is a character so real-to-life with hangups just like the rest of us. What is not so alike is his occupation. He is a self professed go-between; the broker between kidnapper and ransom, blackmailer and reward, and in this case, art and buy back “fee.” Philip always takes a piece of the reward as a charge for his services but he considers himself a professional mediator and refuses to take sides. He will not help the police catch the criminals and he will not commit a crime to carry out the deal (or try not to at any rate). Having said all that, it wouldn’t be a thriller if something didn’t go wrong with the exchange of money for the African shield. Despite its short length Bleeck packs a ton of adventure into The Brass Go-Between. It should be a movie.
Quote I liked, “…I’m highly susceptible to fiction portrayals of food, whether written or filmed” (p 97). I have to admit it cracked me up that Philip had to go make himself a cucumber sandwich just because he was watching a British film where someone was eating cucumber sandwiches!
Reason read: Ross Thomas/Oliver Bleeck was born in February.
Author fact: Ross Thomas also wrote as Oliver Bleeck.
Book trivia: The Brass Go-Between was not available in my area. I think it might be out of print as well.
BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called “Ross Thomas: Too Good to Miss” (p 234).
Lethem, Jonathan. Girl in Landscape. New York: Double Day, 1998
Girl in Landscape has been compared to Nabokov’s Lolita which I have never read. As a result of my ignorance I was able to read Girl in Landscape without preconceived notions of what it was about. I’m glad I did. This was great in an extremely strange way. When you first meet old-for-her-age thirteen year old Pella Marsh and her family they are getting ready to go to the beach in what you or I would consider ordinary Brooklyn Heights, New York. Only planet Earth has become a post-apoplectic wasteland where exposure to the sun has become too dangerous without complicated protective gear. It has been decided the Marsh family will leave Earth for the Planet of the Arch-builders. Before they can leave Pella’s mother is stricken with a brain tumor and quickly dies. Pella, her father and two brothers must travel to the Planet of the Arch-builders without her. This is where things go from odd to downright bizarre. The Planet of the Arch-builders is sparsely populated with a few earthlings, a smattering of Arch-builder aliens and an overabundance of a creature called household deer. Pella’s father, a failed politician, has hopes of creating a lawful society on the Planet of the Arch-builders but soon discovers there is an ominous rift between the humans and the aliens. The plot gets darker and darker the deeper into the story you go.
The very first line to strike a nerve with me was in the first few pages, “Pella decided not to laugh today” (p 3). Another fatalistic thought, “She imagined slashing the tires” (p 87).
Postscript~ This is one of those books that annoyed me and it wasn’t the author’s fault. I have a real pet peeve when it comes to glowing reviews on the back of a different book. It’s obnoxious. It’s as if to say, “fukc the book you are reading now. This one is much better.” Yes, I will be reading As She Crawled Across the Table. Glowing review or not it is on my list. I’ll get to it just not right now. I’m reading Girl in Landscape now. I’m holding it in my hands. What do you have to say about it?
Reason read: Lethem was born in February.
Author fact: Jonathan Lethem has a website here.
Book trivia: Many people have said Girl in Landscape is dark and dreary but more people have said “go read it.” I agree with the latter.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Jonathan Lethem: Too Good To Miss” (p 145).
Smith, Alexander McCall. The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. Narrated by Lisette Lecat. New York: Recorded Books, 1998.
As soon as you meet Mma Precious Ramotswe you realize she is a force to be reckoned with. As Botswana’s first female detective she spends most of her time solving mysteries by using her intuition and her ability to read people. She is a good judge of character so while she isn’t always solving major crimes like murders, she is making individual lives better. Take the very first case for example, “The Daddy.” A man claiming to be a woman’s long lost father moves into her house and starts to take advantage of her generosity. The woman has reason to believe the man is an imposter and goes to Precious for help. Precious tells the man his “daughter” has been in a terrible accident and needs a blood transfusion. Only he can supply the blood needed…and that the procedure is highly dangerous so there is a good chance he will not survive. BUT, he will save his daughter! Precious knows a true father will lay down his own life for his only daughter while a perfect stranger will not. Sure enough, the imposter admits he is a fraud and is run out of town. The list of “mysteries” solved grows longer and as a result so does Mma Ramotswe’s reputation. She becomes the number one detective agency for Botswana. The types of mysteries Mma Ramotswe solves range from deadly serious (the disappearance of a young boy) to the downright silly (a father doesn’t want his young daughter seeing boys). Probably my favorite cases are the latter because the daughter pulls a fast one on both her father and Mma Ramotswe but I also liked the time when Mma Ramotswe has to steal back a stolen Mercedes Benz and return it to its rightful owner without anyone knowing how it all happened.
Reason read: January celebrates the female heroine of mysteries. This is the first book in a very long series. I will be reading five more. I can’t wait to read some of the others.
Author fact: Alexander McCall Smith looks a little like John Cleese to me. I have no idea why.
Book trivia: Interesting fact – I heard that HBO made a series out of the books. That’s cool. Now I wish I subscribed to HBO!
BookLust Twist: Nancy Pearl must love this book. It is mention in all three “Lust” books: Book Lust (in the huge chapter called “I Love a Mystery” (p 123)), More Book Lust (in the chapter called “Ms Mystery” (p 170)),and Book Lust To Go (in the chapter called simply “Botswana” (p 70)). I have to admit I agree. This was a great book!