I have no idea how I found out about this book, but I really enjoyed it! First of all, it takes place in one of my favorite places and times: New York...moreI have no idea how I found out about this book, but I really enjoyed it! First of all, it takes place in one of my favorite places and times: New York City at the turn of the twentieth century. But whereas most of the other books I've read about this time and place deal with well-to-do types, this one focused more on working people, and poor people.
Simon Ziele, a former New York police officer, has moved to Dobson, New York, in the Hudson Valley to start over once his fiancee dies. Dobson is a pretty quiet small town, and Ziele is trying to convince the only other police officer, the captain, that he is not there to put him out to pasture.
When a young woman visiting one of the wealthy families is brutally murdered, Ziele finds himself in New York again, trying to learn more about the young woman and her associates. He becomes involved with a professor at Columbia and his colleagues who are involved in the relatively new science of criminology, and who are sure that one of their subjects has committed the murder. Finding him becomes the hard part.
This was a really interesting look into the life of early New York from the standpoints of those who, for the most part, would be considered the "have nots." Ziele works hard to find the killer, not just to solve the case, but to prove to himself that he hasn't lost his touch.
I thought this was an interesting read, and that the characters were well-drawn. I certainly couldn't wait to get to the end to find out what really happened!(less)
Grace Munroe is a young English woman in London in the 1950s who has just learned that her husband is cheating on her. She also receives notification...moreGrace Munroe is a young English woman in London in the 1950s who has just learned that her husband is cheating on her. She also receives notification from a lawyer's office in Paris that she has inherited the estate of a recently deceased woman. The thing is, Grace has never ever heard of the woman, Eva D'Orsey. She travels to Paris to meet with the attorney, and to try and figure out what exactly is happening.
Eva D'Orsey's story takes place in the early part of the 20th century, into the 1920s. Though born in France, she starts out as a maid in a New York City hotel after her parents die, and her aunt and uncle in American don't quite know what to do about her.
The story is told in chapters that alternate between Grace's story and Eva's story. Grace has had a relatively easy life, though as a married woman she is not very happy. Eva struggled for years, and had to take advantages of opportunities that came her way, even if they were not always elegant or all that legitimate.
I enjoyed this book. The story was nicely paced, and the characters of Grace and Eva were interesting and somewhat different. I liked learning about how perfume is made, and I always enjoy stories that take place in the post-WWI period. The primary supporting characters were also well-drawn, and I think the author did a good job of making us appreciate each woman's situation. And in the end, it made me even more determined to visit Paris one day.
Barbara Buncle is a single woman who lives in a small English village called Silverstream. She is not known for anything in particular, other than liv...moreBarbara Buncle is a single woman who lives in a small English village called Silverstream. She is not known for anything in particular, other than living there and being thought somewhat dowdy.
When money gets tight, she writes a book, about life in a small English village called Copperfield, using the pen name John Smith. To her great surprise, not only does a publisher grab onto it for release, but it becomes a best seller!
That is when Miss Buncle's problems begin. The folks in Silverstream read the book, and decide/realize that the characters are based on them. And they do not always like what they see. It becomes quite a sore spot for certain people, and more than one do everything they can to have it recalled, with no success. Finding out the true identity of John Smith becomes a regular pastime, particularly for those who feel they were treated poorly, a society leader in particular. On more than one occasion, she admits to being John Smith, but of course no one believes her. The ending of the book turns out to be rather amusing, and not necessarily as contrived as it might sound if I described it.
This book was fun to read. I liked the tizzy that the villagers got themselves into over a book that in the end, was harmless. There were some really amusing characters, and it was also amusing to be inside Miss Buncle's head.
Not quite the level of Barbara Pym, but evocative of her work.(less)
Flavia de Luce, child chemist and detective, is at it again in this second installment of the series. This time, she befriends a well-known puppeteer...moreFlavia de Luce, child chemist and detective, is at it again in this second installment of the series. This time, she befriends a well-known puppeteer with a BBC show and his assistant when their van breaks down in the village. The vicar convinces the duo to do a show for the residents while their van is being repaired.
The show draws a big crowd, but during the second performance, the puppeteer is murdered. This means that Flavia is again challenged to use her wits and her science to solve the case. Between the pregnant assistant, a German POW, and a little boy in the village who hanged himself years ago, there's a lot to keep track of, while also dealing with Flavia's unbearable older sisters and a visit from her Aunt Felicity.
But, being the determined type that she is, Flavia perseveres, and eventually the murderer is identified and other secrets are revealed.
This was as enjoyable as the first in the series, since I find Flavia to be an entertaining character. (less)
I was in the mood for something like this, and it fit the bill. It's the second in the series featuring Charlie Harris, rare book cataloger, and his M...moreI was in the mood for something like this, and it fit the bill. It's the second in the series featuring Charlie Harris, rare book cataloger, and his Maine coon cat, Diesel. When an elderly and wealthy library patron asks Charlie to help with an inventory of his collection, it seems like a great opportunity. James Delacorte is known as a collector with excellent taste. But when Charlie meets the rest of the family, he's not so sure about them. Delacorte fears that someone is stealing from his library, but can't prove anything until he checks, item by item, and that is what Charlie is hired to do. But of course it can't be that simple, because barely into the project, Charlie returns one day after lunch to find Delacorte dead in his own library! Was it natural causes, or murder?
In a side story, Charlie's son Sean has unexpectedly come to visit from Houston, where he works as a successful attorney. This gives Charlie another mystery to solve, since Sean doesn't seem like his usual self.
These books are entertaining and engaging enough to be a fun read. I am jealous of Charlie, since he gets to bring his cat to work with him ... ;-) (less)
Nursing sister Bess Crawford is asked to accompany a wounded soldier to a medals ceremony with the King of England during her leave from the fighting...moreNursing sister Bess Crawford is asked to accompany a wounded soldier to a medals ceremony with the King of England during her leave from the fighting at the front in France during World War I. She sees it as part of her duty, and makes every effort to help the soldier in her care, Sergeant Wilkins. But after the ceremony, he says friends of his will be joining him at the hotel, and begs her to allow him to host them without her interference. She makes the exception, and the next morning he has vanished.
Right at the beginning of her search for him, she learns that he is suspected of murder in a small English village. Both to resolve the issue (Scotland Yard has become involved), and to restore her good name (she is suspected being an accomplice, and suspended from the nursing service), she takes it upon herself to track down Sergeant Wilkins and determine just what has happened.
Her decision takes her to some small villages outside of London where she only gets so far before things get really complicated. Along with Simon Brandon, her father's former aide and a family friend, Bess tries to figure out who is who, and just what has happened.
With a lot of mistaken identity and family secrets, this book moves along in a small geographic area where the mysteries keep lining up. With due diligence, Bess and Simon finally find out who's who and what happened.
This was enjoyable,and much more interesting than the book just previous in this series.(less)
Oh how I enjoyed this book! I appealed to so much that is part of my personality - history-lover, trivia-lover, person who is nosy, facts geek, baseba...moreOh how I enjoyed this book! I appealed to so much that is part of my personality - history-lover, trivia-lover, person who is nosy, facts geek, baseball fan ... well, I could go on. But I did like this book.
I had never really considered the confluence of events that occurred in 1927, particularly in the summertime period covered by Bryson. Lindbergh, Babe Ruth, Al Capone, Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Prohibition, and so much more was part of this time period, and Bryson manages to bring it together in an enjoyably readable fashion. He also does one of those things where he points out what person/event was going on when he is discussing another.
I liked Bryson's writing here, as there was a lot that could have been incredibly dry and dull. Instead, he was able to present it in a way that engaged the reader, and occasionally provided some funny quotes and commentaries along the way.
Well worth the time it took me to get through it. (less)
The Blessings of the title are a close-knit, Irish-Catholic family who live in Northeast Philadelphia. The book is the story...moreI really liked this book.
The Blessings of the title are a close-knit, Irish-Catholic family who live in Northeast Philadelphia. The book is the story of their family, but not necessarily told in a regular, linear fashion. Each chapter is "told" from the standpoint of one of the characters, outlining their feelings about their families, themselves, and where they do or do not fit in. They have all been part of so many of the same experiences, both good and bad, and they have been exposed to so many family events and rituals. And yet, each person feels something different. Each person is both one and part of the larger whole.
The thing I really liked about this book was the fact that each character felt there was some watershed moment in their lives, but not necessarily the same one. So often, you assume that your siblings felt the same and experienced things the same way that you did, only to learn differently. And even though of course that makes sense, it still seems surprising.
It was also a story about a family that may have looked pretty perfect to outsiders, but was not that much different from anyone else's family. Happiness, sadness, conflict, ambivalence, frustration, annoyance, pride, embarrassment - just a few of the things that make families what they are. And probably keeps them going.
I would recommend this book. It is well-written, and the characters are not necessarily stereotypical, though like all of us, they have aspects of their personalities that are.(less)