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Literature Reviews Uncategorized

J.R.R. Tolkien: The Hobbit – Performed by Andy Serkis

Like its magnificent sequel, The Hobbit is, I think, many things to many people: the first exposition of the universe that would become Middle-earth; prelude to The Lord of the Rings; a bite-sized visit to Middle-earth whenever you don’t feel up to the full blow of the War of the Ring(s); one of the most […]

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Literature Reviews

Karen Wynn Fonstad: The Atlas of Tolkien’s Middle-Earth

Blurb: “Find your way through every part of J.R.R. Tolkien’s great creation, from the Middle-earth of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to the undying lands of the West … The Atlas of Tolkien’s Middle-earth is an essential guide to the geography of Middle-earth, from its founding in the Elder Days – as […]

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Literature Reviews

J.R.R. Tolkien: The Lord of the Rings – Performed by Andy Serkis

In another online community, we recently talked about the new Andy Serkis Lord of the Rings recordings.  Well, it turns out that the pull of The Ring is still mighty strong, for however much it may have been destroyed in Mount Doom. I had barely gotten my hands on these audios and I found I […]

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Literature Reviews

Ngaio Marsh: Swing, Brother, Swing (aka A Wreath for Rivera)

Blurb: Lord Pastern and Baggot is a classic English eccentric, given to passionate, peculiar enthusiasms. His latest: drumming in a jazz band. His wife is not amused, and even less so when her daughter falls hard for Carlos Rivera, the band’s sleazy accordion player. Aside from the young woman, nobody likes Rivera very much, so […]

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Literature Reviews

Ngaio Marsh: Death at the Bar

Well, as it turns out, I can’t leave well alone with just two books by Ngaio Marsh in a row, so here we go … As I revisited Overture to Death — the book immediately following Artists in Crime and Death in a White Tie — last year as part of the Appointment with Agatha […]

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Literature Reviews

Ngaio Marsh: Artists in Crime

Blurb: One of Ngaio Marsh’s most famous murder mysteries, which introduces Inspector Alleyn to his future wife, the irrepressible Agatha Troy. It started as a student exercise, the knife under the drape, the model’s pose chalked in place. But before Agatha Troy, artist and instructor, returns to the class, the pose has been reenacted in […]

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Literature Reviews

Vladimir Nabokov: The Real Life of Sebastian Knight

Hoo boy. This starts out really nicely, as the story of two Russian half brothers growing up remote from each other (even though in the same home), from which beginning we segue more or less seamlessly into the surviving younger brother’s quest for the life and identity of his elder sibling, who under the English […]

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Literature Reviews

Georges Simenon: Maigret: Collected Cases (Maigret Goes Home / Maigret in Montmartre / Maigret Has Scruples / Maigret in Society / Maigret Sets a Trap)

Radio dramatizations of five novels from various periods of the Maigret canon, originally published (in the order in which they appear in this collection) as L’affaire Saint-Fiacre Maigret au Picratt’s (also translated as Maigret at Picratt’s and Inspector Maigret and the Strangled Stripper) Les scrupules de Maigret Maigret et les vieillards (also translated as Maigret […]

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Literature Reviews

Margaret Millar: Vanish in an Instant

  The Appointment with Agatha group’s April side read, and the third book by Millar I’ve read this year alone. Though I didn’t like it quite as well as my very first foray into her oeuvre (An Air That Kills), it’s not very far behind, and I can definitely see how the two novels came […]

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Agatha Christie: Murder in Mesopotamia

Any fan of Agatha Christie’s knows that this is one of several novelizations of Christie’s own experience gained during the months and years she spent with her second husband Max Mallowan on his archeological expeditions to (today’s) Syria and Iraq: To what far-reaching extent this is true, though, only occurred to me when I read […]

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D.E. Stevenson: Miss Buncle’s Book

Next to the Golden Age mystery writers, another group of seemingly long-forgotten writers who seem to be experiencing a mini-renaissance in recent yeas are the women writers of the interwar years — Winifred Holtby, Angela Thirkell, Stella Gibbons, Dorothy Whipple, Mollie Panter-Downes, Miss Read, and, well, D.E. Stevenson are all seeing a renaissance of their […]

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Literature Reviews

Elizabeth Lemarchand: Death of an Old Girl

Lemarchand was a contemporary of Ellis Peters and Catherine Aird and, like them, a representative of the “Silver Age” of crime fiction (i.e., the post-WWII decades, roughly from the 1950s-60s to the end of the 1970s / beginning of the 1980s). Death of an Old Girl is the first book of Lemarchand’s Pollard and Toye […]

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Literature Reviews

Q1 / 2022 Reading Recap

Well, as it turned out 2022 began as 2021 had ended — all work and no play, albeit with the addition of a hospital detour to boot.  (Nothing serious, just way more painful and, all told, protracted, than it had any right to be.)  So I’m back to posting one summary post for the first […]

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Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West: Love Letters

  The final entry of my exploration of Vita Sackville-West’s life and literature, and part 2 of circling back to Virginia Woolf, here via the two writers’ personal relationship. Both writers’ letters had previously been published individually; so had their diaries — you’d think an edition collecting their correspondence with each other in one volume, […]

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Literature Reviews

Virginia Woolf: Orlando

As I said elsewhere, given the fact that Virginia Woolf was a 2021 (M)DWS author in residence, too, as part of my exploration of the life and work of Vita Sackville-West’s life and work I decided to circle back to Woolf; or rather, to the link between the two writers, which far exceeds their almost […]

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Literature Reviews

Vita Sackville-West: Selected Writings

An anthology giving a taste of every aspect of Sackville-West’s considerable oeuvre, from her memoirs and diaries, letters and travel writing to her literary criticism, her writing on gardening, her fiction (both longer works and short fiction), her poetry, and finally her reflection on animals (which she loved). I haven’t read the whole anthology yet […]

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Literature Reviews

Vita Sackville-West: Seducers in Ecuador & The Heir

Two novellas from 1922 (The Heir) and 1924 (Seducers in Ecuador) that both deal with transformative experiences — and I suppose that is why they are typically published together –; however, in tone and setting they couldn’t be any more different. Seducers in Ecuador was the first piece of fiction writing by Vita Sackville-West published […]

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Vita Sackville-West: All Passion Spent

The lovely, understated and gently ironic story of a woman who has had to lead a life opposite to the one that she wanted to live — that of an artist — for over 60 years, and who is at last liberated from the forces of social and family convention by the death of her […]

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Literature Reviews

Margaret Millar: Ask for Me Tomorrow

Blurb: Tom Aragon, a young Hispanic lawyer, is hired by Gilda Decker to find her husband who disappeared in Mexico after reportedly amassing a fortune. Aragon travels to Mexico to unravel the past, which he finds shrouded in mystery. But as he starts getting close to his quarry, witnesses start dying. The first of Millar’s […]

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Literature Reviews

Vera Caspary: Laura

Blurb: In the doorway of an elegant New York apartment, blood seeps over silk negligee, over polished wood floors and plush carpet: a beautiful young woman lies dead, her face disfigured by a single gun shot. But who was Laura? What power did she hold over the very different men in her life? How does […]

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