Friday, January 11, 2008

Happy New Year! I have actually read a couple of books in the last week. Touchstone by Laurie R. King is a departure from her Mary Russell and Kate Martinelli series. This book takes place in England in the 1920's and introduces some fascinating characters. Big, bluff, handsome FBI agent Harris Stuyvesant is looking for the man he thinks is responsible for terrorist attacks in the US. One of those attacks resulted in seriously wounding Stuyvesant's younger brother so the search is personal.
Aldous Carson is a shadowy man of great influence in British intelligence. He leads Harris to Bennett Gray, a shell shock victim whose wounds have left him sensitive to the emotions of the people around him - so sensitive that he has imprisoned himself in a remote corner of Cornwall.
There are stately homes, members of the landed gentry, labor disputes, the passions and foolishness of the age and all of this comes into play as Harris tries to entrap the man he is sure is responsible for bombs and mayhem. There is also romance. Read the book.

Then I read Barbara Delinsky's Family Tree. King and Delinsky are totally different writers. With King, I feel the need to pay attention to every word. Delinsky's writing is much easier on the reader. Dana and Hugh are expecting their first child and when she is born, her complexion and hair belie the genetic make-up of one of her upper-middle class white parents. Hugh's family can trace their tree back to the Mayflower (or something like that). Dana has never met her father. Hugh's family is incensed at the child's birth and accuse Dana of having an affair but a paternity test proves that Hugh is young Elizabeth's father. A search for Dana's father, the support of the women at Dana's grandmother's yarn shop, the damage this does to the young couple's relationship and the revelation of their family heritages make an absorbing and even uplifting read. I have never read Delisnky before but I will read her again.

I visited the home of a local author for a Victorian Christmas event this week. Jeanne Lefevre lives in a 19th century farmhouse and the house is a major character in her novel, Whispers from the Past. She told a group of us from the library about the history of her house and about her book and described what people would do at Christmas time when visiting with one another when the house was new. Her home was so beautifuly decorated, with everything placed with care. It was delightful.

Now back to work.