There is just something about Helene's voice that makes her feel like my funniest friend. She just knows her way around a good story. While 84 CharingThere is just something about Helene's voice that makes her feel like my funniest friend. She just knows her way around a good story. While 84 Charing Cross Road will always be first in my Hanff-heart, Underfoot in Show Business is a very close second and should not, NOT BY ANY MEANS, be out-of-print. Hanff's stories about she and her friend Maxine* struggling to make it as a playwright and actress (respectively) in 1940s Manhattan are just hilarious. They make me profoundly nostalgic for that time period without ever overtly romanticizing it. Just the way that certain people have of making everything sound fun without every being dishonest about it, Helene's got that, in spades. She also has genuinely hilarious stories-- like my favorite, of Oklahoma! and its out-of-town opening, in the chapter "No jokes. No legs. No chance."
If you love 84 Charring Cross Road, but haven't read any of Hanff's other books, start here. And if you haven't read either, MY GOD READER, what are you waiting for?? SNAP TO!
*Who always makes me think of the line from When Harry Met Sally-- "People were always crossing rooms to talk to Maxine." ...more
Someday, I need to go through and just transcribe all my favorite quotes. It will basically be typing out the whole book over again, but it will stillSomeday, I need to go through and just transcribe all my favorite quotes. It will basically be typing out the whole book over again, but it will still be worth it....more
I've just finished the fourth and final book in this series, so I'm working my way back through as a way of doing Reginald.* It's only moderately effeI've just finished the fourth and final book in this series, so I'm working my way back through as a way of doing Reginald.* It's only moderately effective, because mostly it's just reminding me how much I love Roo, and how badly I'm going to miss her.
Likewise, it's hard because I now know what gets worked out by the series's end, and what doesn't. I don't want to give anything away, but there was one character I was really hoping would be redeemed by the end of the series who actually got worse. So, it's especially heartbreaking to know that some things that are broken don't get fixed.
That said, it's also a wonderful reminder of how great these books are. This is, at least, my third time reading The Boyfriend List, and I'm still finding moments that surprise me with their brilliance. The characterizations are just so sharp, and the psychological insights Ruby gains are so well-articulated, and hard-won. It's kind of hard to read a book when a character this vivid is going through such horrors. I just want to break down the fourth wall and hug Ruby all the time! It's stressful! I think this element of the books is what made the connections I found between The Treasure Map of Boys (Roo 3) and Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth so striking. Lily Bart is another deeply real fictional character whose tragic story made me fiercely protective, and then utterly heartbroken. Both she and Ruby are just these warm-hearted, trusting women trying to function in a tank full of sharks, always losing games because no one has told them the rules. Your empathy is so engaged that the stories become more suspenseful than any thriller. There are definitely times I've been so worked up I wanted to yell at Roo, in a very "THE KILLER IS RIGHT BEHIND YOU!" way, only it's because she's about to sit at the wrong table, or open herself up to someone untrustworthy. It's exhausting, but also wonderful, to care about a character so much. Thankfully, and this I promise, Ruby's story ends MUCH more happily than Lily's.
I should write more explicitly about the plot, and the elements I think are done well, but I am a lazy critic and cannot be bothered. You should read the book, and find them for yourself. I promise, it will be much more fun.
*N.B. Not a euphemism for having sex with a guy named Reginald. It's Ruby and her therapist's code name for "the grieving process" because phrases like "grieving process" make Ruby (and me) gag....more
I can hardly even review this right now-- beyond saying that I loved it, and Ruby, so much that I cried when I finished, I'm a little incoherent.
If yI can hardly even review this right now-- beyond saying that I loved it, and Ruby, so much that I cried when I finished, I'm a little incoherent.
If you like smart, funny books about smart, funny neurotic girls, or simply narrators so authentic they feel like friends, do yourself a favor and read these books. If you don't fall for them head over heels, then you're a stronger person than me....more
I appear to have read this book every gloomy November forever-- once in 2003 (after being rejected by my very first college crush in an oppressively tI appear to have read this book every gloomy November forever-- once in 2003 (after being rejected by my very first college crush in an oppressively thorough conversation at 2 in the morning) and then again in 2004 (the day George W. Bush was reelected, God help us and save us). Which is only two, but still seemed like a significant enough pattern that, when I opened the book a couple weeks ago, it felt like I *had* to read it, just to keep the tradition alive.
There are so many small moments in this book I adore. The scene in Master John's evidence room. Kate and Christopher's conversations about The Manor. The Weight. Gwenhyfara and the Lady of the Hill. The final conversation between Kate and the Lady, and the conversation between Kate and Christopher that immediately follows. Partly this comes from love, from reading the scenes over and over. But it also comes from their perfection, from the very real characters Pope has created and the very complicated conflict they're enmeshed in. It's just a lovely book. ...more
This little honey is a perfect gem, not so much for the classic "locked room" mystery set-up, but for the delightfully wacky sleuth, Professor GervaseThis little honey is a perfect gem, not so much for the classic "locked room" mystery set-up, but for the delightfully wacky sleuth, Professor Gervase Fen. Teaching classics at Oxford, Fen is an absolute riot, recruiting bands of rowdy students to help round up the criminals at the novel's end, and frequently speaking about himself in the third person as... the hero of a mystery novel.
Simply beautiful, original, and fun. For a while, this was the only Crispin I could fin din print, but they have recently re-released his books, and The Gilded Fly awaits my eager perusal back at school. For now, I can't comment on the quality of the others, but I can *HEARTILY* recommend this book to everyone....more
This book, which I presume contains Witness for the Prosecution as well as The Mousetrap, therefore contains two of my absolute favorite Christie mystThis book, which I presume contains Witness for the Prosecution as well as The Mousetrap, therefore contains two of my absolute favorite Christie mysteries. The Mousetrap, when I read it now, is classic Christie, and therefore a bit predictable for someone who has consumed the volume of Christie I have- nevertheless it's one of her best who-done-it formulas, executed superbly. Witness for the Prosecution, on the other hand, is quite simply one of her best surprise endings. If you can, watch the movie staring Marlene Dietrich- it's awesome....more