I started the week by staying up way too late reading Elise Hooper’s upcoming Angels of the Pacific in one sitting. Isn’t that always both the worst and the best? When you think, okay, I’ll just read a few more chapters, but you have to, have to, have to know how it’s all going to turn out, so you keep going and going, even though you’re starting to get an exhaustion headache. The book follows an American army nurse in the Philippines and the younger daughter of a well-to-do Filipino family in Manila as each struggles with the hardships of the Japanese occupation. What they endured and what they dared– both the nurses and the civilians– is truly incredible.
After all the World War II feels, I needed something calming, so it was time for two of Charlotte MacLeod’s Sarah Kelling books, The Withdrawing Room and The Bilbao Looking Glass. I started reading these back in grad school, snatching up the old, battered paperback copies as they popped up in the used book section of the basement of Harvard Bookstore– so I’ve never actually read them through in order before. (Of course, I’m not really entirely reading them through in order now, since I’d meant just to reread Book 2 and skipped over my favorite, Book 1. But now that I’ve started, I think I might keep going and see how different they feel actually read sequentially.)
Right now, I have Susanne Dunlap’s upcoming historical novel, The Portraitist, lined up: the true story of Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, an artist struggling to be recognized in a male-dominated profession in Ancien Regime France– who then finds her life upended by the Revolution and Robespierre’s Reign of Terror. So it’s back to Scarlet Pimpernel territory! I read up on Adélaïde Labille-Guiard’s great rival, Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, when I was writing The Orchid Affair (this month’s Pink Carnation Read Along book!), because my hero’s (deceased) wife in that book was a female painter in France in that era. So I’m very curious to learn more about Labille-Guiard!
What are you reading this week?