Weekly Reading Round-Up

It’s been a week of re-reads for me. There may have been (okay, there was) a Barnes & Noble run this week (I admit to a weakness for both their books and their cafe), but I’m hoarding the new books for all the flights I’m going to be on over the next week.

Here’s the re-read round-up:

— Melissa Nathan, Persuading Annie.

I already rambled on about this earlier in the week, but, for those who didn’t see it, this is Nathan’s rewrite of Persuasion. I will admit to a preference for her P&P take-off, Pride, Prejudice and Jasmin Field (the Spot the Ashtray scene still makes me laugh myself silly), but Persuading Annie is an incredibly clever take on a novel that’s hard to translate to the modern context.

I was trying to think of other Persuasion remakes, but the only other one that came immediately to mind was Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. Am I missing some?

— Florence King, Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady.

Whatever else one might say about Florence King, she’s one hell of a prose stylist. Whenever I get particularly stuck, I go back and read snippets from the The Florence King Reader, just to marvel at her turns of phrase and her erudite and eclectic blending of recondite subjects. Only Florence King would refer to an annoying contemporary as “Messalina with a master’s degree”.

This is her memoir of growing up in the South in the 1930s and 40s in the midst of an unabashedly barmy household. My favorite bit of the book? When she’s sent to kindergarten and suffers the disillusionment of realizing she’s a child, not just a very short adult.

— Florence King, The Florence King Reader.

Having gone on at some length above, all I’ll say is that one of my favorite bits of this book is her intro to the excerpt from the romance novel she wrote, under another name, back in the 80s (The Barbarian Princess by Laura Buchanan), in which she explains that, as the book was set in Latin-speaking Britain, she wanted to get some Latin words in. The solution? The heroine spends most of the book shouting “Desiste!” as various people attempt to ravish her (hey, it’s an 80s romance novel; it’s a ravishment per minute!)– except, of course, when she’s ravished by a whole gang, at which point she shouts “Desistite!” One wouldn’t want to be incorrect in one’s verb endings, even during a ravishment.

If anyone’s seen the Merchant Ivory spoof, Stiff Upper Lips, this always makes me think of the drowning scene, where the pompous classicist shouts, “Adjuvate! Adjuvate!” (Using, of course, the correct soft classical “v”).

You probably had to be there.

Okay, I’ll stop babbling now and get back to the round-up.

— Susanna Kearsley, The Shadowy Horses.

After all this time, this is still my favorite Susanna Kearsley novel– and that’s saying a lot. Set around an archaeological dig in Scotland, it combines the best elements of Mary Stewart and Barbara Michaels.

What have you been reading this week?


  1. AngelB on April 6, 2012 at 11:30 am

    Read Lauren Royal’s Jewel Trilogy – Amethyst, Emerald and Amber. A series of a Royalist siblings starting in 1666 struggling to re-establish their properties and the loves they find through various adventures. Strong female characters in the first two books. The heroine of the 3rd, the sister of the family, was good as a side characters, but as a heroine, came across truly spoiled, which is really more realistic than the women of the first two books. But I can see how that can turn some readers off.

  2. Rhiannon Rowland on April 6, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    I just finished Lisa Kleypas’ Rainshadow Road! I adored it and am now awaiting the next book with eager anticipation. Thank goodness I only have to wait a few months. I stayed up extra late last night to finish, had my eyelids propped open with toothpicks, LOL.

  3. aniko on April 6, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    This is so exciting. I have The Shadowy Horses on my shelf waiting to be read, but there have been so many other things to do and read. I loooove the idea of an archeological dig in Scotland and I love her love-through-the-ages themes. I didn’t know it was your favorite. Now I really need to get to that book!!

  4. aniko on April 6, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    I’ve been reading Letters to Juliet by Lise and Ceil Friedman about the legend of Juliet of Verona and the tradition of sending letters to “Juliet” about love troubles. Apparently, every letter gets a response from a volunteer “secretary” for Juliet. It’s a lovely whimsical idea in this serious, intense world. So far, I like the book very much.

  5. Kayse on April 6, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    This week I finished the Dovekeepers, by Alice Hoffman. It was such an incredible book, and I’d recommend it to anyone who admires strong female characters.

    Lauren–my favorite Persuasion remake is Jane Austen in Scarsdale.

    Aniko–I loved Letters to Juliet; it made me want to send a letter to Verona!

  6. CĂ©line on April 6, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    Aniko, I read Letters to Juliet a while ago, after discovering the film! That book is really great, I loved it! I liked particularly the except of letters received by the secretary…

    As to me, I read Silk is for Seduction, by Loretta Chase (and it pains me to admit that I hated the hero…), and I’m almost at the end of Imperial Scandal. A book that has shattered my world with its revelations! 🙂

    Lauren, being a Persuasion fan, I have to recommand Persuade Me, by Juliet Archer. A very truthful retelling of Persuasion with a few changes that have made my scream, because absolutely not justifed… but even with them, I was hooked all along! There is a strange mood in this book, like a mixing of Jane Austen’s and our time…

  7. Gina on April 6, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    For the first time I don’t know how long, I’ve been reading! I finally finished The Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson (can’t remember if I mentioned that last Friday, oops), and then I picked up French Lessons by Alice Kaplan. It was really quite interesting. I think maybe to write a memoir, it’s required to be a little bit insane.

    Anyway, then I picked up I’m A Stranger Here Myself and spent all afternoon looking insane as I laughed to myself while reading.

  8. SusanN on April 6, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    I read Jane Austen in Scarsdale a couple of months ago, but have to admit that it didn’t ring my bell.

    I’d never heard of either Melissa Nathan or Florence King, so I had to look them up. Sad to read that Ms. Nathan passed away some years ago at an early age. I’ll have to check out her books.

    Earlier this week, I was slogging thru a series that just became increasingly tortuous. I hate giving up on anything, but finally set the third book aside. I may try to come back to it later with a new perspective.

    In the meantime, I’m almost finished w/ Elizabeth McCoy’s Herb-Witch and will then start Herb-Wife. After that. . .?

    Happy Easter weekend, everyone.

  9. Sheila on April 6, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    Desperate Duchesses, by Eloisa James…yummy ..am now eagerly waiting for the rest of the series to get here via Amazon.

    Corduroy Mansions, by Alexander McCall Smith. This is the first in yet-another of his wonderful series, this one based in London. Smith can’t be topped for his marvelous descriptions of people you just know immediately. Of course, the Dickensian names really help. What more does one need to know about characters named Oedipus Snark, or Terence Moongrove?

  10. Am7 on April 6, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    For some reason I missed a bunch of weeks. Here are the highlights of what I read:

    1) Finished I Capture the Castle. I felt like there could have been a sequel after the war. In general I would have liked to see these characters again.

    2) Finished listening to Breathing Room by Susan Elizabeth Phillips; loved it.

    3) I read Alissa Johnson’s Nearly a Lady Not a strong recommend, but overall fans of Regency romance should enjoy it.

    4) Naughty in Nice I really liked this one. I think the more one knows and/or appreciates Coco Chanel the more the book worked. This is a very interesting time, and I fascinated in the posibility of seeing events play out through Georgie’s eyes. Still it needed more Darcy. Also I am confused, because this book ended in March and the next book in the series is about Christmas?

  11. Pat on April 6, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    This week I read “Touchstone” by Laurie E. King; she does a great Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series also. This book is a stand alone taking place in England between the world wars. Also read the second book of the Ethan Gage series by William Dietrich, called “The Rosetta Key.” Ethan is a rascal similar to Harry Flashman in his adventures except he isn’t a coward or lacking morals. Actually that’s a big difference! Obviously Ethan is much more likeable. Also read the second book of Marion Chesney’s Edwardian mystery series, “Hasty Death.” She also writes the Hamish MacBeth series as M.C. Beaton; same writing style.

  12. Am7 on April 6, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    I have Jane Austen in Scarsdale but I haven’t read it yet. I also didn’t remember the title. I was intrigued by the connection to college-picking.

  13. Michelle Springer on April 6, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    I just finished reading The Night Circus. I had a hard time putting it down, I loved it so much. It almost made me want to run away and join a circus.

  14. Nancy Kvorka on April 6, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    I just read The Orchid House by Lucinda Riley. Very good. I want to go live in a big old manor house in England now. I also read The Mask of Night by Tracy Grant. I wanted that book to end so I could find out what happened, but I also did not want it to end so I could keep reading it. I hope there is more in that series.

  15. Amy N. on April 6, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    I’m such a slowpoke. Still reading about the Gardner Art Heist. I have Wharton’s Buccaneers and Pauline Bonaparte and Madame Tussaud patiently waiting their turn but I’m getting the itch to pick up some A. Dumas at the used bookstore or that Dietrich fella. Unless, of course, my copy of Intrigue arrives. Thanks for all the great suggestions everyone. I even have a Mary Russell book on the pile… Hoping for porch reading weather this weekend~

  16. Elizabeth (aka Miss Eliza) on April 7, 2012 at 12:04 am

    Finally finished A Dance with Dragons, which kind of pissed me off… not the finishing, the fact that Martin made even more cliffhangers and resolved nothing from the previous book. Here’s hoping for any length of time shorter than the previous six years till the next one.

    I have just picked up The Enchanted April, because I’ve been meaning to read it for years, but whenever I felt I wanted to read it it wasn’t April and therefore I would wait and forget again.

    I also picked up Wild by Cheryl Strayed, it’s the bookclub pick this month… here’s hoping it’s good!

  17. jeffrey on April 7, 2012 at 5:26 am

    I’ll admit that my reading habits run to the off-beat at times. I have downloaded ALL of L. M. Montgomery’s short stories onto my Kindle and there are about 100 of them. They run the gamut from so-so to masterpieces but I’m going to read’em all eventually.

  18. Joanne M. on April 7, 2012 at 8:30 am

    Hi, Lauren — I read on Susanna Kearsley’s website some time ago that she is writing a new book featuring Robbie (the little boy with the gift of sight) from The Shadowy Horses. Of course, he will now be an adult and be the male lead of the story. Looking forward to seeing Robbie’s story continue!

    I’ve been reading more of Barbara Erskine’s novels (love her blend of history and the supernatural) — The Child of the Phoenix (set in 13th century Wales and Scotland) was excellent!

  19. Georgia on April 7, 2012 at 9:04 am

    Miss Pettigrew lives for a day! What a lovely gem of a novel. And although it was written in 1938 it is relevant and fresh. Worth of an immediate re-read.

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