Thursday, February 17, 2011
This is the best time of year to curl up with a good book and a hot cup of tea. I'm always looking for new authors to add to my personal library. After the last meeting, Chris and I went to our usual hangout and discussed books we love. Of course, Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House topped our list. This is one book that is a must read once a year. I recommended two of Susan Hill's novels, The Woman in Black, (one of my favourite novels) & The Mist in the Mirror. Both have elements of Shirley Jackson's horror and occult.
Chris mentioned that Susanna Kearlsey has a new novel coming out in March. I looked up The Rose Garden online and can't wait to buy it. The plot is about a woman who travels to England to an old house and encounters a haunting. This one sounds a bit different in that the main character can communicate with the ghosts. I admire Susanna's writing and recall the chat she gave a few years ago at a WCDR meeting. She described how she had stayed in a small cottage in Wales (I think) to get the feel for her setting. When the locals learned she was writing a novel, they all came calling to give her facts and tips about the area.
The book I'm reading now is Sarah Waters' The Little Stranger. I borrowed it from the library and the sticker on the spine says 'horror', but it really isn't. It's a psychological thriller, very similar to Hill House. The actual haunting in the novel progresses very slowly and it's more than halfway through the book that the first truly terrifying scene takes place. The scene is long and builds tension gradually until I was holding my breath waiting for what might and did happen. I think I will buy this one for my own book shelves.
My last read was Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, a first novel by Helen Simonson. My sister recommended this one and she and I have very different tastes in novels, but I bought it anyway and loved it. The theme is an unlikely romance between a staunch, retired British major, and a Pakistani widow set in a small village in the English countryside. There are many belly laughs as selfish secondary characters try to break up the lovers.
I usually have several books that I read at the same time. Never two novels, but I adore non-fiction and especially biographies. I received Appetite for Life, the biography of Julia Child for Christmas and her life was quite fascinating.
What will I read when I finish The Little Stranger? A mystery or horror most likely, but I hate finishing a novel I've enjoyed. It's like saying goodbye to dear friends.