Monday, February 16, 2015

Remarks on Recent Reads: February Edition

I hope that all is going well with your reading. Mine hasn't been all that it could be, mainly due to my getting over a cold, and the other reason is I've been in a bit of a reading slump.

Here's how things have been looking on the reading front:

The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella. This novel is an example of what Sophie Kinsella does best, and that is to create a wonderful romantic comedy. Samatha Sweeting is a high powered London attorney. Her work is her life, and she's on the fast track to becoming partner. Then, she makes a mistake, and not just a small one. Unable to face her boss, Samantha walks out of her office, gets on a train and ends up in the middle of nowhere. She stops at an estate to ask directions and through a comedy of errors, Samantha is mistaken for the new hired help. This was a fun read and one I recommend.

The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O'Farrell. The novel begins with university student Lexie, who leaves home and moves to Soho, London of the 1950s to be with magazine editor Innes Kent. In the present day, Elina is dealing with the physical and emotional challenges of recovering from a cesarean that almost ended her life. (And she has to care for her newborn son through this without any help!) Her partner, Ted, is preoccupied with his job as film editor. The story line from the past and Elina and Ted's story line are intertwined, although it takes awhile to see how. The novel has to do with how we remember things and how damaging family secrets can be. O'Farrell's writing is beautiful, but I found this novel to be a bit of a disquieting read.

Living on Yesterday by Edith Templeton. This was Templeton's second novel, published in 1951. Here, we meet Baroness Kreslov, who is good at arranging everyone else's lives. Her daughter, Hedy, is the obedient daughter. When the Baroness sets eyes on handsome Count Szalay, she wants him to marry her daughter. The count has no money, but he has a more damning secret. He's happy to marry Hedy for her money. Hedy is on to the count's secret and is in the mood to defy her mother. This is a novel that has a little comedy and a little drama. I loved the pithy, honest observations the servants make about their employers. I recommend this novel (despite the hideous book cover).

The Ice Princess by Camilla Lackberg. I wanted to like this mystery. The back cover of the book calls it an "electrifying tale of suspense from an international crime-writing sensation" in which "a grisly death exposes the dark heart of a Scandinavian seaside village." And yet, one hundred pages into the book, I found the writing style to be pedestrian and found nothing remarkable about the characters, so I didn't read more of the book. This novel is a translation, and I wonder if that is the problem with the book. I don't read many translations of books. (This edition was translated by Steven T. Murray.) Have you read The Ice Princess, or are you familiar with Lackberg's work?

If you've read any of these novels, or even if you haven't, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Happy reading! 


  1. The Maggie O'Farrell book is one that I've wanted to try. Hope you are having a good week Monica.

  2. I'd love to hear your comments on the Maggie O'Farrell book when you get a chance to read it.

  3. I've been wanting to read Maggie O'Farrell for a while and have The Hand that First Held Mine on the shelf. My mother borrowed it last year and had a reaction similar to yours.