While reading may be a little slow this week (spending over a week with a book that’s good, but can’t quite intercede the distractions that make up life), I’ve decided to stop over-browsing my public library’s used bookstore and actually buy something. These two books (and many more left abandoned) have been in my hands throughout each of my visits there. And both for good reason.
First, obviously, is Nevada Barr’s Blind Descent. It’s the sixth book in Barr’s Anna Pigeon series. The problem is I haven’t read the fifth book yet, Endangered Species. After recently finding myself blow away by book four, Firestorm, I decided to cave in and buy this damn book. Eventually, I’ll catch up to it. You know, considering I’m officially in love with this series now.
But it looks like I’ll have to order Endangered Species online, before grabbing hold of Blind Descent. So I have two book problems running here: I can’t read out of order and I can’t find the next book in town. Huff and puff, right?
Anyway, as always I’m won by Barr’s premise. Blind Descent has park ranger extraordinaire, Ann Pigeon, caving to rescue a fellow ranger in New Mexico’s Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Unfortunately, Anna is hyper-claustrophobic. So I’m assuming she won’t be caving alone, but with one of her possible companions placed as the killer. We’ll see. But what does it matter? These books are an adventure. And they're led by a strong, intelligent, and capable (as well as humanized) protagonist. I also think at this point in the series Anna has given up the bottle. So I wonder exactly how she’ll handle crawling through a cave system. So far she’s submerged herself in Lake Superior to find a body. And she’s survived a forest fire using one of those bake ‘n’ shake bags firefighters carry. So yeah. If I could get my ass in gear and order book five, I’ll be in good shape for this one.
The desperation is more real than I can express.
Next I got The Kindness of Strangers by Mary Mackey. Let me see how to explain this pick. Well, first I love the author Doris Mortman. Granted I’ve only read one book by her (First Born), I have two other of her massive books on my shelf waiting on me. I mean, really. Mortman writes these huge, grandiose melodramatic books pumped by an ensemble cast of woman. And I mean women surviving abuse, betrayal, love, and other maladies familiar with any given 1980’s mini-series. Additionally, most of her stories are rags to riches themed, steeped in generational complexities. Or something of that nature. Either way, I live for the drama. Mortman is like a refined version of Jackie Collins. Or–when I think about it–a blend of Collins and Danielle Steele.
So while I do have two other Bible-size Mortman books on my shelf at home, I couldn’t help but find myself drawn to The Kindness of Strangers. It’s 607 pages long, and with a 1988 publishing date that told me everything I needed to know. Sometimes I'm kind of sharp when it comes to what I like.
So I finally picked up this fresh copy. But for those curious–and to shed a little light on why I love these books–let me share Publishers Weekly's 1988 review of the book. Only because I’ll be here all day trying to put together each woman’s story, while haven’t cracked open the book yet.
"Two wars, three countries and four famous actresses propel this weighty saga through six decades of history. The focus is on Viola Kessler, whose mother's dress caught fire from an onstage candle, whose playwright husband Joseph was doused with gasoline and ignited by a Nazi flunky, and whose granddaughter Mandy, her career at its brilliant beginning, was trapped in a flaming helicopter. After Joseph's death, when Viola is playing to packed houses in Paris, she marries the socialist Richard Stafford, who turns out to be an English milord and lures her to London with the promise of a theater of her own. Viola brings her daughter Kathe to her husband's country estate for a period of relative quiet until the Spanish Civil War erupts and Richard is killed. World War II brings other stresses to Viola's life; she smuggles Jews out of Germany, but later is accused of collaborating with the Nazis. Then her daughter Kathe departs for New York, where she marries an old friend of her mother's, a producer who teaches her the tricks of the acting trade. Earnest, courageous and well-meaning though they are, the protagonists never come to life, nor does the prose measure up to the events it recounts. But packed with incident, with stellar figures from the worlds of politics and theater, this new novel by the author of A Grand Passion will not fail to galvanize narrative-hungry readers."
|Did find this, though! WHOO-HOO!|
Do you visit your public library’s used bookstore often? If so, what amazing finds you’ve discovered in yours? Leave your comments below!