Excellent - Historical Fiction
A tale of 1790's London with Mr. William Blake (poet) and Mr. Philip Astley (circus) along with a family from Dorsetshire
I tend to enjoy Chevalier's portrayals of famous historical artists. This one was slightly different as Blake and Astley were secondary characters to the children that formed the basis of the story, but still interesting.
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett - 11/10/2011
Good - Classic
Ten year old orphan Mary Lennox comes to live with her uncle in England and discovers an unkempt garden behind a locked door.
A re-read for me, as well as a book club selection. If you've only ever read a children's version (or heard the Focus on the Family radio play), you will find this different. I was motivated this time to do some research into Burnett and her involvement in spirituality and the "New Thought" which is the basis for the "Magic" in the story.
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens - 11/16/2011
Excellent - Classic
Nine year old orphan Oliver Twist runs away to Victorian London and falls in with a gang of pickpockets.
I read Oliver Twist over the summer in preparation for the class I am teaching and I re-read it along with the students. Loved it even more the second time through.
Pride and Prescience by Carrie Bebris - 11/26/2011
Good - Historical fiction
Mr. and Mrs. Darcy find themselves caught up in a controversy regarding the mental competence of the former Miss Caroline Bingley, now married to an American, Mr. Parrish.
An interesting mystery but a bit more on the occult side than I would have preferred. Bebris has written a mystery as a counterpart for each of Austen's novels, and I plan to search each of them out.
The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian - 11/28/2011
Poor - Thriller
Chip Linton, an airline pilot whose plane crashed, moves to a small New England town with his wife and twin daughters where he is haunted by the ghosts of three who lost their lives on the flight. The friendly people in their new town all seem to have greenhouses and have a special fascination with the twins.
Starting with Bohjalian's Midwives, I've searched out several of his novels, but this one disappointed me. I almost returned this far-fetched story to the library before I finished reading it, and now I wish I had.
Jane Austen: A Life by Claire Tomalin - 11/29/2011
Excellent - Biography
Heavily documented and interesting biography of Regency author Jane Austen
Started reading this as research for my NaNoWriMo book and read it slowly over the course of a few weeks. Lots and lots of factual material here, as well as some speculation.
A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - 11/29/2011
Good - Classic
The 1st Sherlock Holmes novel, in which he meets Watson, takes rooms at 221B Baker St. and solves a murder that has ties to the Salt Lake City Mormons.
I'd decided not to read any more Holmes stories after disliking The Hound of the Baskervilles, but I am pleased that I chose to ignore that decision. Because the BBC Sherlock series was based in part on this introductory Holmes novel, we chose it to read both for Brit Lit (that I am teaching) and for Rollicking Readers (book club). I enjoyed it far more than Baskervilles and plan to read more of Conan Doyle's work.