Happy Friday, all!
It’s March! Which means we’re in the final lead up to my kids’ spring break and the launch of Two Wars and a Wedding, which occur at the same time. Next week is Pajama Day, bring your instrument to school day, Donate a Book Day, talking to my daughter’s class about Women’s History Month, and trying to make sure all my flights and hotel rooms are booked. There is a universe in which all of these get muddled and it’s Bring Your Pajamas to Book Tour Day.
I’m also just back from Arizona, where I had the fun of speaking on panels with the rest of Team W (Beatriz Williams and Karen White) and Kristina McMorris, Sue Meissner, and Jennifer Coburn– and (drum roll, please) Team W finished the manuscript of our next book! Oh, and it snowed. In Arizona. I’m convinced the weather did this just for Karen, because we know she loves snow so.
Those long plane rides gave me a LOT of reading time, for a mix of the old, the new, and the not out yet.
Starting with the new, I’ve just finished Rebecca Makkai’s I Have Some Questions For You, in which a podcaster goes back to her old boarding school to teach a class and finds herself revisiting the murder of her sophomore year roommate, raising all sorts of ghosts from the past and issues of assumptions and justice and #metoo. The protagonists graduated high school in 1995– which happens to be my graduation year!– so I felt a particular appreciation for the look back at the then and for the ways in which those of us from that era are wrestling with the now, in a world where pay phones have been replaced with cell phones and norms have changed dramatically.
While Team W was editing, I fell back on some comfort reads, chain reading my way through Elizabeth Daly’s 1940s Gamadge series, about an antiquarian expert turned accidental detective. For some reason, when I first read them, I read them out of order– and I really shouldn’t have, because the series builds on itself and there’s so much that doesn’t make sense when you hop around. So I’ve gone back and I’ve been reading through from the beginning, relishing the return to a much older New York, in which old families still live in their decaying old Gilded Age homes (undoubtedly bound for the wrecking ball in another decade or so). This week it was The Murders in Volume Two, The House Without a Door, Nothing Can Rescue Me, Evidence of Things Seen, and Arrow Pointing Nowhere. I have a theory about Gamadge being our American Lord Peter Wimsey, so if you like Sayers, try Gamadge.
As for the not out yet, I read two very different World War II books back to back on the way to Arizona: Sarah Freethy’s The Porcelain Maker, in which a woman in the 1990s traces porcelain objets d’art in the hopes of finding the true identity of her father, to whom her mother, a German artist who left Germany for Britain after World War II, refers to only as The Porcelain Maker; and Renee Ryan’s The Paris Housekeeper, in which the lives of a wealthy American widow and two maidservants at the Paris Ritz, one Jewish, one not, intertwine as the Ritz is commandeered by Nazi officers and the women find themselves making difficult and dangerous choices. The Porcelain Maker felt very Kate Morton and The Paris Housekeeper very Pam Jenoff.
And now it’s back to the endless to do list and trying to find respectable pajamas (and an instrument!) for my preschooler for Monday…. Also book tour prep.
What have you been reading this week?
p.s. if you haven’t seen it yet, my initial book tour dates are up! Some of the events are ticketed, so make sure to grab your spot while you can. You can find the details here.