Wednesday, September 20, 2023

WWW Wednesday - September 20

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading

The White Lady by Jacqueline Winspear (2023) is exactly the sort of historical fiction I most like: an intrepid heroine doing her patriotic bit during not one but two world wars, presented with impeccable research and a compelling story. Elinor White is half English, half Belgian and determined to avenge the affectionate father who is killed by the Germans. This is a standalone from the author of the Maisie Dobbs series.
Some time ago, I bought Mabel Esther Allan’s memoir, To Be an Author (1982, 1985, reprinted in 2020 by Greyladies Press) and it resurfaced when (of course) I was looking for something else. I own at least 40 of her books but she wrote more than 170! My favorites are We Danced in Bloomsbury Square, The Ballet Family, Time to Go Back, and Romansgrove.

Recently Finished

I must have read an impressive review of The Good Ones by Polly Stewart (2023) because I went out of my way to request the audiobook, and then when it digitally returned itself to the library with about two chapters left, I drove three towns away to get a print copy, not because I was enjoying it, oh no, but I did want to know how it ended. The book was illogical, in need of a good editor, and full of moments when the protagonist put herself heedlessly in danger (which infuriates me). It did have one good moment, to be fair, which I will share if I get a chance to review it.
Flirting With Fire by Jane Porter (2023) was much more satisfying. The heroine, 49, left New York and the theater, having broken up with her cheating boyfriend and come to terms with the fact that she needs a career other than acting. Reasonably content in her new life in California, she is asked to help out a sick friend by directing and performing in a summer production of Barefoot in the Park. Although a handsome TV star comes to take the other lead and romance results, the book is at least as much about Margot’s self-discovery and growing confidence in herself. I always enjoy a theater setting and appreciate an older heroine as well.
Last night, I read The Rent Collector by Camron Wright (2012), which my friend Maria chose for our book group (I managed to dissuade her in July but then I felt like a bully in August when she brought it up again). I would describe it as an overhyped fable about a woman who lives with her husband and baby at Cambodia's largest city dump, where they earn a living by sifting through the trash for recyclables and things that can be sold. Her life changes when she persuades someone to teach her to read. In our book group discussion tonight, the two doctors (and the rest of us) expressed horror about the baby’s recurring illness instead of marveling at the book’s message about the power of words.


A Starlet’s Secret to a Sensational Afterlife by Kendall Kulper (2023), a local author, is up next. September has been a big month for theatrical settings, and this is a historical YA novel set in 1934 Hollywood about an aspiring actress from Chicago. Like me, the author was a History and Literature major in college, so clearly a kindred spirit.  
Everyone Here Is Lying by Shari Lapena (2023) (audiobook). William is having an affair and is shocked when Nora ends it. Returning home to his unsuspecting wife and children, he has a confrontation with his troubled 9-year-old daughter and slaps her. Ashamed, he storms out, but then Avery goes missing and he is the obvious suspect. This is perfect for commuting but might not justify reading otherwise.

Lots of 2023 pubs here; are any on your list?


Sam said...

I'm about 40% of the way through The White Lady and I'm finding it to be a compelling novel. I particularly love that both the flashback and the current day plot are page turners so I don't feel the least disappointment when the book switches from one period to the other.

CLM said...

Sam, that's a really good observation. I went to a book-signing of one of my favorite authors, Susanna Kearsley, once and she said it's important for an author (like her) who uses flashbacks or writes about two periods of time not to favor one timeframe - that both have to be appealing because the reader will notice (or words to that effect). Since then I have paid particular attention and I find I usually prefer the more historical time. Here, however, as you say, both were very interesting. The biggest surprise to me was that Elinor grew apart from her family, although Winspear makes it all very convincing (still sad).

The Literary Lioness said...

These all sound interesting. I'll have to see if Overdrive has them!

Cath said...

Both you and Sam seem to have enjoyed The White Lady so I'll find a copy of that asap. Planning to read her 'Munich' Maisie Dobbs sometime this autumn too. Book 11 or 12 I think.

TracyK said...

I bought three or four books in Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series at the book sale. I had given up on the series at one point, but it seemed to take an interesting turn later in the series. The White Lady does sound very good, also.