Saturday, 18 February 2012

Perfect Puppy, The Paris Wife & other fiction

Otto has been for his annual check up and is in 'superb condition' and very fit according to the vet.  Below: Otto a year ago.

Much enjoyed The Paris Wife by Paula McLain, a fictionalised account of Hemingway's first marriage to an upper-crust American, Hadley Richardson. (Here's a Guardian review.)  If you've seen Midnight in Paris, you will recognise the scenario.  Having read and admired Hemingway a long time ago, I found it interesting that he drew his characters from among his hard-drinking, deep-thinking, free-living literary friends.
'Set during a remarkable time, the same period as Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast and The Sun Also Rises, the novel captures the voice of Hadley as she struggles with her roles as a woman—wife, muse, and mother—and tries to find her place in the intoxicating world of Paris in the twenties.'

I was impressed and moved by My Dear I wanted to Tell You by Louisa Young. (Here's a review from the Independent.)  An R&J choice.
'Set on the Western Front, in London and in Paris, MY DEAR I WANTED TO TELL YOU is a novel of love, class and sex in wartime, and how war affects those left behind as well as those who fight. While the men fight for country, survival and their own sanity in the trenches of Flanders, Nadine and Julia do what they can at home. Beautiful, obsessive Julia and gentle Peter are married: each day Julia goes through rituals to prepare for her beloved husband's return.  From different social backgrounds, Nadine and Riley, only eighteen when the war starts, want to make promises - but how can they when the future is not in their hands?'
The title is taken from a standard letter handed out to wounded men to write to their families 'My dear, I wanted to tell you that I have been wounded in the leg/arm/head and am at hospital in..... etc.'
I will definitely buy the sequel. Do read this one.

The Apothecary's Daughter by Charlotte Betts
'It is 1664. Susannah Leyton has grown up in her father’s old apothecary shop in bustling Fleet Street. She's a skilled student of the apothecary’s craft, but everything changes when her father remarries and she is caught in a battle of wills with her step-mother. She is desperate to escape.
When she receives a proposal of marriage from handsome and charming Henry Savage, she believes her prayers have been answered.  But her new husband is a complex and troubled man and married life is not what she expected. Lonely and sad, Susannah longs for love.
As the plague sweeps through the city, tragedy strikes and the secrets of Henry’s past come back to haunt them.'  
A well-researched, atmospheric novel and a good, easy read.

The Little Shadows by Marina Endicott would be suitable for readers interested in the history of vaudeville/variety shows in Canada before the First World War. This 500pp novel has clearly been meticulously researched, but, for this reader, too much of the research has been included. Despite the good descriptive writing, I found I couldn't become involved with the characters or the plot, due perhaps to the fragmentary style.


suzy doodling said...

Cute photos Susie, thanks for the book reviews.

Deborah (Debs) Carr said...

Otto is such a handsome chap!

I loved The Paris Wife and The Apothecary's Daughter too. Great books.

Susan Bergen said...

Are you going to make darling Otto sit in that same position every year for his Photo? Reminds me of marks on the door jamb to show how we were growing as children haha

liz fenwick said...

Otto looks so gorgeous!

Love the reviews Susie.

Bluestocking Mum said...

What a handsome chap Otto is. My five month old black Lab, Bruno would like to meet him. What a delight black lab's are!

I shall add The Paris Wife to my 'to read' pile as I particularly loved Charlotte's
The Apothecary's Daughter.

warm wishes

Jenny Haddon said...

Otto is v. handsome and sounds a nice chap.

Thank you for the reviews. Read the Paris Wife after I heard an excerpt on Radio 4 somewhere.Glad I read it but not a keeper - Hemingway always feels like a caricature to me when he crops up in fiction. He was in Midnight in Paris, too. His own fault, of course.

The Apothecary's Daughter was already on my list but I was thinking of passing on My Dear I Wanted to Tell You. Now I won't.

LindyLouMac in Italy said...

Otto a year old already, where did that year go, thanks also for some more titles to check out.

Susan Alison said...

What a handsome lad that Otto is! Hugs from me and high-paw from Jeff-Dog.

Nan said...

How about an Otto blog? :<) Honestly, that boy is so cute, particularly that nose!

Susie Vereker said...

Thank you all for your kind comments about Otto. I'll pass them on to him, esp Jeff's.

Yes, do read My Dear, I Wanted to Tell You, Jenny.

I've been much impressed by the historical novels I've read recently.

callmemadam said...

Oh, Otto!

I see The Paris Wife is the next reading choice for the Virago book club.