Friday, April 14, 2017

Have A Lovely Weekend.

Edmund Tarbell, In the Orchard, 1891
Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The 1951 Club: They Came To Baghdad by Agatha Christie

I'm excited to take part in the The 1951 Club, the creation of Simon over at Stuck in a Book, where bloggers read a book published in the year 1951. I chose They Came to Baghdad by Agatha Christie. Rather than a straight murder mystery, this novel is more of a thriller and reminded me of an action packed film.

In They Came to Baghdad, the city is the site of an upcoming secret meeting of superpowers. A group of anti-capitalists is trying to prevent the meeting and will stop at nothing.

They Came to Baghdad is not the usual type of detective story I'm used to from Christie. Instead of a detective, the protagonist is the intrepid and impetuous Victoria Jones, a beautiful young woman who has lost her job. She has a happenstance meeting with Edward in a London park and from this one meeting, Victoria decides that it must be love. She decides to follow Edward to Baghdad where he is beginning a new job.

While Victoria longs for love and adventure, once she's in Baghdad, she doesn't count on a dying man, known as Carmichael, bursting into her hotel room, demanding a place to hide from the police. Before he dies, Carmichael tells Victoria a message which seems to make no sense but actually contains clues that will save Anna Scheele whose very life is threatened by her knowledge of financial affairs and her important role in the upcoming secret meeting. 

The plot of They Came to Baghdad is quite intricate, and there are lots of characters to keep track of from spies to archaeologists. I love the setting, and Christie's writing is so evocative. Her love of Baghdad is obvious. Although the plot is quite intense, there are also moments of humor. The pacing of the story is excellent and kept me turning the pages.

They Came to Baghdad has a little something for everyone--action, romance, adventure, a plucky heroine who has to use her wits to save herself, a great twist that only Agatha Christie can deliver, and a happy ending.

I really enjoyed They Came to Baghdad, and I recommend this novel.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros: The Last September

Happy Tuesday! Today, I'm taking part in First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea, where bloggers share a bit about what they're reading or about to read soon.

In my mountainous TBR pile, there are several novels by Elizabeth Bowen, and I'm looking forward to reading The Last September (originally published in 1929).

From the back cover:

"The ambushes and burnings of the Irish Troubles of 1920 seem far removed as up at the 'Great House' tennis parties and dances continue to divert, and flirtations with English officers from the local garrison amuse. Yet a sense of brooding, nostalgic melancholy pervades--the sense of a tragedy coming to its climax in the calm, opulent sunlight of an Irish autumn."

The opening:

"About six o'clock the sound of a motor, collected out of the wide country and narrowed under the trees of the avenue, brought the household out in excitement on to the steps. Up among the beeches, a thin iron gate twanged; the car slid out from a net of shadow, down the slope to the house. Behind the flashing windscreen Mr. and Mrs. Montmorency produced--arms waving and a wild escape to the wind of her mauve motor-veil--an agitation of greeting. They were long-promised visitors. They exclaimed, Sir Richard and Lady Naylor exclaimed and signalled: no one spoke yet. It was a moment of happiness, of perfection."

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Friday, April 7, 2017

Wishing You A Lovely Weekend.

Thomas Wilmer Dewing, Spring, 1890
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros: An Experiment in Love

Happy Tuesday and Happy April to you! I hope your reading is going well. Today, I'm taking part in First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea, where bloggers share a bit about what they're reading or about to read.

An Experiment in Love is a novel I've been reading, and it's the first novel I've read by Hilary Mantel. It's turned out to be complex, witty, tragic, and so much more than I thought it would be.

From the back cover:

"It was the year after Chappaquiddick, and all spring Carmel McBain had watery dreams about the disaster. Now she, Karina, and Julianne are escaping the dreary English countryside for a London University hall of residence. Interspersing accounts of her life as a university student with recollections of her childhood and a difficult relationship with her longtime schoolmate Karina, Carmel reflects on a generation of girls desiring the power of men, yet fearful of abandoning what is expected and proper. But in late-1960s London, they are confronted with a slew of new preoccupations--sex, politics, food and fertility--and a pointless, grotesque tragedy of their own."

The opening:

"This morning in the newspaper I saw a picture of Julia. She was standing on the threshold of her house in Highgate, where she receives her patients: a tall woman, wrapped in some kind of Indian shawl. There was a blur where her face should be, and yet I noted the confident set of her arms, and I could imagine her expression: professionally watchful, maternal, with that broad cold smile which I have known since I was eleven years old. In the foreground, a skeletal teenaged child tottered towards her, from a limousine parked at the kerb: Miss Linzi Simon, well-loved family entertainer and junior megastar, victim of the Slimmer's Disease."

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros: The Enchanted April

Happy Tuesday to you! Today I'm taking part in First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intro, hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea, in which bloggers share a bit about a book they're reading or planning to read soon.

I've been reading mostly non-fiction and mysteries lately. In looking over my TBR pile, The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim looks like a great choice for my next read. I saw the film years ago, and I'm curious to see what the book is like.

The opening:

"It began in a woman's club in London on a February afternoon--an uncomfortable club, and a miserable afternoon--when Mrs. Wilkins, who had come down from Hampstead to shop and had lunched at her club, took up The Times from the table in the smoking-room, and running her listless eye down the Agony Column saw this:

To Those who Appreciate Wistaria and Sunshine. Small mediaeval Italian Castle on the shores of the Mediterranean to be let Furnished of the month of April. Necessary servants remain. Z, Box 1,000,
The Times.

That was its conception; yet, as in the case of many another, the conceiver was unaware of it at the moment."

What do you think? Would you keep reading?