A marrow is a sort of squash; imagine a zucchini. I mention this because you may otherwise be distracted from the delightful opening of this book. I wA marrow is a sort of squash; imagine a zucchini. I mention this because you may otherwise be distracted from the delightful opening of this book. I wouldn't spoil you on the mystery of Mr. Spivens. When you discover it, you will feel delighted at having been deceived. But I'm fairly certain there was not meant to be any mystery about the marrows.
To Say Nothing of the Dog is my favourite novel written by Connie Willis. I love almost everything she writes, so this is not faint praise. The back piece says it is "at once a mystery novel, a time-travel adventure, and a Shakespearean comedy," which I feel is putting it fairly well. The title warns you that the author is fond of Jerome K. Jerome, and that there will be literary allusions. This is putting it mildly. Each chapter is headed by a quote; from Alfred Lord Tennyson, Jerome K. Jerome, Lewis Carroll, and persons I have not heard of. The first chapter begins:
"It would have been nice to start fresh without those messy old ruins," she said. "They're a symbol, my dear," said her friend.
CHAPTER ONE A Search Party -- Wartime Headgear -- The Problem of Nepotism -- Royal Headgear -- The Bishop's Birdstump is Missing -- Jumble Sales -- A Clue to Its Whereabouts -- Astronomical Observations -- Dogs -- A Cat -- Man's Best Friend -- An Abrupt Departure.
I adore this, but if it bothers you, it's easily skipped.
The story is a bit reminiscent of an Elizabeth Peters mystery. The mystery is really more of a clotheshorse to hang the characters on, and unless you are serious about your mysteries, I don't think you will mind. If you are serious about your mysteries, you may mind, because I'm not sure that the author plays fair with the reader: knowing the solution, I don't really believe there was any way to derive it from the evidence presented.
Connie Willis is an author who, in my opinion, just keeps on getting better. This is good news for her readers, and also means that if you pick up some of her earlier work, you may be, as I am, somewhat amused....more
Diana Wynne Jones' Power of Three is, if memory serves me correct, the first book I ever owned. It was given to me for Christmas, when I was quite youDiana Wynne Jones' Power of Three is, if memory serves me correct, the first book I ever owned. It was given to me for Christmas, when I was quite young. I loaned it to a friend in seventh grade and it came back to me smelling of applesauce. It no longer smells of applesauce, but I remember pressing my face into the book for the smell. I've glued the spine back together once, and a section is currently trying to fall out again. I don't want to replace it.
Jones' particular genius is writing books for children that adults can enjoy. I probably don't need to tell you this, given how many people on my flist have Diana Wynne Jones listed as an interest. This book fills me with joy in the same way that Darwyn Cooke's New Frontiers does: it's a story of human endeavour, and possibilities. It's uplifting, never trite. I believe it may actually cure cancer.
The theme of the book is making peace. Well, that and a coming of age story, and a story about fathers and sons, and etc., but I find the making peace story the most compelling. It's a fix-it for most of human history (never mind the actual species involved) in which things go right. Yes, great sacrifices are called for, yes, there are stupid misunderstandings, but in the end, it is possible for peoples to get along. A hopeful modern myth for peoples taught to despise each other....more
A book that made me gleeful to read. Why? It's urban fantasy in an imagined casbah on a desolate world. It gives me a protagonist who's smart enough tA book that made me gleeful to read. Why? It's urban fantasy in an imagined casbah on a desolate world. It gives me a protagonist who's smart enough that when he's stupid, he'd really stupid. It teased me with the possibility of an mpreg (and you're going to have to trust me on this one) that made me think "neat!" rather than "ew." It was a mystery and and a romp at once, and half the mystery was the entire nature of their world. There were no helpless maidens, the villain was never certain, and danger menaced on all sides. Also, people commented several times on the prettiness of the male protagonist, which made me happy.
Martha Wells always uses her books to look at how societies regulate interactions between men and women, and although a minor theme, this is here too. (rough paraphrase: "If I'd stayed, I'd be someone's second husband and looking after six kids.") Her B.A. in anthropology is an asset to her writing: the society and economy of the city is layered and complex. (I like that sort of thing, okay?) Xenophobia is a recurring theme, and never simplified. Recommended....more