The Time Traveler’s Wife — Audrey Niffenegger. There’s some intriguingly ominous pacing in this one: the awareness of something bad that will have happened at some unspecified point. It reminded me of the countdown effect to some great termination or absence in Three Days to Never by Tim Powers, and also of how these are both in a way holding out on the effect in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, in which you’re just outright told what will happen, and then get to watch in horrified fascination as it inevitably unfolds. And the way other genres (mysteries, romances) expect the reader to know (to an extent) how the story will then, which make the thrill about the getting there. I read a few very centre-of-genre romances recently which managed to have me on the edge of my seat about how the characters would ever manage to resolve their situations.
Upright Women Wanted — Sarah Gailey. Librarians of the Wild (again) West! The Handmaid’s Tale meets Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
Red, White & Royal Blue — Casey McQuiston. Like reading a very explicit Meg Cabot for adults. It belongs in its own way to a very charming subcategory of romantic comedies set in a fantasy of Washington DC (All American Girl, Dave, etc).
N or M — Agatha Christie. There was a scene in this, in which you know something bad has happened to a character (A). The following scene is of other characters playing cards, while waiting for character A. It’s incredibly tense, because it is so mundane and you’re waiting for it to be shattered, and then it… just doesn’t happen. Nothing intrudes. It’s surprisingly stressful. Not unlike parts of Picnic at Hanging Rock.
A Civil Contract — Georgette Heyer. I liked it so much more this time around.
Ceremonials — Katharine Coldiron. This is “a twelve-part lyric novella inspired by Florence + the Machine’s 2011 album” and one of only two Gothic-adjacent books I’ve read (in the last year, too) to draw their mythic resonance from the story of the Minotaur.
Mistletoe Wishes: A Regency Christmas Collection (The Winter Wife, Her Christmas Earl, A Pirate for Christmas, Mistletoe and the Major, A Match Made in Mistletoe, The Christmas Stranger) — Anna Campbell. Look: people getting locked in a closet together is never not going to be funny.
A big, brief, catchup post, but here are some Cold Comfort Farm sketches to brighten it up. Also, I’m starting to keep track of books read on Goodreads as well.
Crusade – Peter M Ball (part 3 of the Flotsam Trilogy omnibus)
Bone Swans – C. S. E. Cooney: Such beautiful novellas. I wept. I drew fanart.
Tempting Mr Townsend – Anna Campbell
A Few Right Thinking Men– Sulari Gentill
Madensky Square– Eva Ibbotson: I had not read this Ibbotson and it is enchanting! A romance of pre WWI Vienna.
Winning Lord West – Anna Campbell
Pawn in Frankincense – Dorothy Dunnett
Q’s Legacy – Helene Hanff: So charming! So tiny! The follow-up to 84 Charing Cross Road and The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street. Has influenced my driving.
The Ringed Castle – Dorothy Dunnett. Suffocated sounds of distress.
The Foundling – Georgette Heyer: Perhaps a new favourite.
Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons: The first time I’ve read it, and I finally read it due to being presented with it at breakfast as a fait accompli by my landlady at a Devon B&B. I read it as a science fiction novel set in the world of The Fantastic Mr Fox, which was certainly memorable. I love her sheer disregard for agriscience.
The Tree – John Fowles
Stranded with the Scottish Earl – Anna Campbell
The Summer Bride – Anne Gracie
A Kiss from Mr Fitzgerald – Natasha Lester
[Can’t tell you about it yet but very good]
Cotillion– Georgette Heyer
The Devil’s Delilah – Loretta Chase
Marked for Death: The First War in the Air – James Hamilton-Paterson: Fascinating WWI aviation history.
Movies & theatre
Captain America: Civil War
The Nice Guys
The Hunt for the Wilderpeople: This is really, really good, people, I highly recommend it.
Fun Home(musical): Helpless crying.
Love & Friendship: A remarkable study in telling only the connective tissue between big events, which works because it is all about the main character’s continuous, inventive self-justification and repositioning.
Star Trek: Beyond: Suffered for being seen between Sully and Deepwater Horizon, in both of which people try to actually do a headcount of surviving passengers and crew.
In which even the contemporary Australian noir fantasy has a Regency connection.
[Lady Helen and] The Dark Days Club – Alison Goodman: Regency urban fantasy, with a beautifully precise approach to research and a heroine who doesn’t actively dislike her ladylike life (even if she doesn’t get much chance to commit to it), but I may never forgive Alison Goodman for opening my eyes to the true horror of Regency presentation gowns. Also I really, really like the typography on the cover of the edition I have. Here is Angela Slatter’s interview with her (which I illustrated): Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club: Alison Goodman
The Grand Sophy – Georgette Heyer: A re-re-read, and out loud to my dad. This time it struck me that Sophy is basically a Regency Pippi Longstocking, down to the absent indulgent father, the vast bank-account, the horse and the monkey. If you haven’t read it, Mari Ness’s reread on Tor.com (while of course containing spoilers) also discusses the, ah, problematic issues of the book and will give you a fair idea of whether you want to read (or re-re-read) it.
The Seduction of Lord Stone– Anna Campbell: I… did not read this one out loud to my father. Though I must give a general cheer for forthright, determined heroines and negotiation of relationships (and while it exceeds my tolerance levels for certain content, since I belong to the ‘curtain blew across the screen’ school of romance, I do enjoy Anna’s writing in all the other scenes).
Exile – Peter M. Ball: You may think I broke my Regency streak with these two, but the main character reads Persuasion on stakeouts. Myth-heavy hardboiled Gold Coast pre-(assorted)-apocalyptic fantasy. It resonates with the parts of my mind where American Gods took up residence.
Frost– Peter M. Ball: See above – I’m reading the third now and will report in the May read.
The Boss: Disappointing. It was two movies: a mildly crude disgraced-business-mogul-turns-good farce, and a violent-angry-girl-scouts classic comedy. Either could have been strong, but it never committed to one or the other. Which is a shame, because I like Melissa McCarthy, enjoyed Spy and I’m fairly sure would have adored the movie the end credits promised. Although we knew from Hotel Transylvania that good end-credits can retroactively ruin a decent movie.