Sunday, March 21, 2010

Two Female Sleuths and a Cello Suite!

I've made the most of no-marking weekends lately -- that's the end of them for a while, so I'm glad I did. Some good escape reading: Alan Bradley's Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. This is rather like Nancy Drew or Trixie Belden, but for grown-ups "of a certain age." Nor is the protagonist, young Flavia, as "goodie" as those other sleuths. Adding to the fun is the period setting -- small English village, ancestral home, 1950s, wonderfully transitional time. As well, Bradley gives us all sorts of fabulous almost-esoteric information -- chemistry, music, literature, botany. Really, just fun, fun, fun AND the second book in a series of at least three is already published, waiting for me on the shelves of the local bookstore!

Also read Jeffrey Deaver's latest Kathryn Dance mystery, Roadside Crosses, a novel which carries on Deaver's critique of the internet's assault on our identities and our privacy, this time looking at social networking sites and, wait for it, blogs! As usual, Deaver's plot borders on the baroque -- I've learned to expect at least one more twist, and then another. I think he draws characters well, though, and I appreciate his tactic of moving from one series to another so that he doesn't appear weary or slapdash from burnout.

Right now, I'm working my way through Eric Siblin's charming (and prize-winning and well-reviewed) look at the history of Bach's Cello Suites (Siblin's book is called The Cello Suites). Siblin moves back and forth between Bach's biography and his composition of the suites, Casals' biography and his discovery and performance of these works for cello, and Siblin's own growing appreciation for the suites and, gradually, for Bach's work in general. As well, his narrative unfolds against the backdrop of world events, particularly the 2nd World War and the Spanish Civil War. I have a few more chapters yet to read, but I've already been inspired to download the Casals' recording of the suites into my iPod -- damn that iTunes store; it's too hard to resist! Yesterday morning Pater and I enjoyed a glorious morning reading our weekend papers in our big leather armchairs, fuzz and pop and beautiful cello sounds mixing together on the old recording (digitizing, luckily, never cleans all that messy sound up completely).


  1. I too enjoyed Flavia's adventure and look forward to her next one.

  2. Thanks for commenting, Tessa -- wasn't that a fun book! The second is going to be a great book for summer reading. . .

  3. They all sound interesting, and unfamiliar to me. I need to expand my horizons, and add more to my list.

  4. I think you'd really enjoy the book about the Cello Suites, especially since you're a chamber music enthusiast. And Flavia is just such fun, especially for us bookish-nerdy girls to see how early selves depicted in such a positive feisty light. Let me know what you think if you get to either of these.