No, that’s not a mistake. My lovely in-laws gave me a gift certificate to my favorite indie bookstore for Christmas–or my birthday, same difference. I saved it, because January isn’t a great time to find new books, and celebrated the Victoria Day long weekend with an orgy of admiring pretty covers and feeling paper and browsing blurbs. I love e-reading for convenience and reduced clutter and giant print, but there’s a sensuous pleasure in paper books that I can’t entirely give up.
So here’s what I got:
Helene Tursten (trans. Steven T. Murray), Detective Inspector Huss Why? I’ve had good luck with the Soho Crime imprint (I love Rebecca Pawel’s books set in post-revolutionary Spain). Huss, a Swedish detective, is the middle-aged mother of teens. And look at the cover image! I think this is an aspirational book choice for me. I need aviators and a trench coat.
L. P. Hartley, The Boat Why? I’ve never read The Go-Between, the best known of Hartley’s books, but his name and the cover image caught my eye. It’s a portrait of wartime village life, apparently, “examin[ing] the multiple layers of Casson’s relationships with servants, local society and friends.” I blame Middlemarch for my love of books that take in a whole community.
Barbara Lambert, The Whirling Girl Why? An inherited Tuscan house (Goodreads showed me ads for Tuscan villa rentals on the book page), a heroine who’s a botanical illustrator, archaeology, and a blurb calling it “a fairytale for grown-ups.” I’ve been enjoying literary fiction that treads some of the same territory as genre romance, but from a different point of view. This sounds like it fits the bill. When I was paying, the bookstore owner said she’d met the author, who was lovely in person. That never hurts!
Jean-Claude Izzo (trans. Howard Curtis), Total Chaos Why? Marseilles-set noir! I love travelling via mystery fiction. And I’m a sucker for the beautifully-produced Europa Editions (it seems they have a new “World Noir” series. Israel? Algeria? Ooooh). This is probably darker than my usual fare.
Suzanne Joinson, A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar Why? I’m shallow enough to grab this for the title and cover alone. But I also like dual-timeframe novels, and the Central Asian setting of the historical part is unusual. I’m hoping for something I’ll love as much as Ahdaf Soueif’s The Map of Love rather than a colonialist disaster, but the Goodreads reviews aren’t entirely promising.
Graeme Simsion, The Rosie Project Why? The Australians I follow on Twitter have all been talking about how this would be marketed as romantic comedy or chick lit if a woman had written it. The hero is a socially-awkward scientist who designs a questionnaire to help him find the perfect wife. I’m guessing Rosie upends his plans. I had a library hold on this, but it’s “on order” at the library and those can take forever to come in (I’m waiting for one that’s been “on order” for six months already). So when I saw it, I grabbed it.
It could be years before I actually read and review any of these, of course. Less time until that blissful new book feeling turns into nagging TBR guilt.