Monday, January 14, 2013

What I read over Christmas vacation

The Child’s Child by Barbara Vine (pseudonym of Ruth Rendell) 

Rendell employs the pseudonym to write compelling psychological thrillers, often with at least one very unpleasant protagonist. In this particular novel, parallel stories of two siblings (one an unwed mother and the other a gay man) have startling similarities across time. In present day England, Grace and Andrew inherit their grandmother’s house and move in together; Andrew’s lover James’ arrival creates deep divisions between brother and sister. As a diversion, Grace reads a manuscript from the 1950’s detailing the story of John-afraid that his homosexuality in 1929 will be prosecuted-and his sister Maud, abandoned by their family due to a child born out of wedlock.

Innocent victims by Minette Walters

Walters uses the short format to good advantage. “Chickenfeed” is based on a famous English murder and subsequent trial in 1924: the aspirations of a hapless chicken farmer and a woman desperate to marry him end in death; “Tinder box” explores suspicion and secrets when an English village is all too willing to think the worst of an Irish laborer accused of murder.

Irish way: becoming American in the multi-ethnic city by James R. Barrett

The Irish succeeded in early 20th century America well beyond their proportion in the population. Barrett uses the backdrop of politics, the arts, religion and the workplace in the cities of Boston, Chicago and New York to explore this phenomenon and its effect on other ethnic groups who arrived later, seeking to emulate the same success for themselves.

Leon and Louise by Alex Capus

Leon meets Louise in a French village during World War I; they fall in love but German shelling intervenes. Louise disappears and Leon is wounded. Each believes the other is dead, but their paths cross years later in Paris. Leon is now married with a child-will love lost become love reclaimed?

Twelve clues of Christmas by Rhys Bowen (#6 of the Royal Spyness series)

An English country manor in 1933, a Christmas house party with paying guests and bodies suspiciously piling up in the neighborhood-what could be better for financially strapped Lady Georgiana Rannoch and her dashing beau Darcy?

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