At lunch break I was browsing some bookstores near campus without much of an agenda. Like I mentioned yesterday, summer is just around the corner, with Memorial day weekend being a few days away. Bookstores are gearing up for summer reading sales, rolling out books that cater to every reader’s palate. Instead I found myself standing before table full of discounted books. They’re not the publisher returns or overstock. They are books, some even by bestselling authors, that were just hot off the press. I was stunned, and so disheartened that many of the books were unsold, unread, and virtually ignored by the public. It really hit home about the plunging sales and diminishing reading culture. I was delighted that I got The Darlings by Cristina Alger, An Unexpected Guest by Anne Korkeakivi and At Last by Edward St. Aubyn, all published within the last year, at heavily discount prices but sad at the same time that these books should be marked down so soon. I might be overly concerned, hoping that more people have switched to e-books. Honestly, I find a hardcover priced at $27 a bit steep despite the labor cost for manual binding. I hardly buy hardcover at full price. The cost of doing business seems to be forcing publishers to keep their prices exorbitant. But this seems to lead to a downward spiral since most people try to recoup money, and that leads them to the sale pile.
” He was a doctor, but medicine was not an exact science. There was no cure for everything. As in life. The cause of death was always life. Across many years now, he had comforted people he knew would soon die. He hoped his consoling whispers would do them no harm. ” (3:46)
North River is what know as the Hudson that separates New York from New Jersey. In this novel, set in the 1930s, against this river that symbolizes both impermanence and closure, Peter Hamill gives us what he knows best—New York City. Rich in ambiance and period details, North River draws closely and intensely from the city, in the tight grip of Depression, where people are addled, desperate, and lonely.
But he had lost prayer somewhere along the way, along with faith. He had been educated to deal with the body, not the soul. In the Argonne, he lost what remained of the affairs of the soul, among the torn and broken bodies of the young, until the day came that he cursed God. (Ch.5, p.94)
In winter 1934, 47-year-old James Delancey ministers to poor patients in the tenements of Lower West Side. They are burst-outs who cannot afford to pay him but he treats them nonetheless. Among his patients are old stubborn heads who refuse to go to hospital, neighbors who blame him for loss, and lush husbands who beat their wives. On a snowy morning he finds his toddler grandson at his door with a note from his daughter, who is off to Spain looking her husband, a revolutionary from Mexico pursued by the FBI. Although flustered by his grandson’s impromptu arrival, the little boy infuses life and warmth into his home. To cope with his new domestic arrangement, Delancey enlists the help of Rose, a tough, decent and intelligent Sicilian woman with a secret in her past.
But across the days of other people’s illness and damage and painful unhappiness, the days of endless casualties, he carried Rose with him now. She and the boy had formed a current in his life, like a secret stream flowing south through the North River . . . It was a stream that was always in the present, not in the past, nor the future.” (Ch.9, p.164)
Indeed the past has haunted him that the nobly beleaguered doctor has transmuted his attention to the poor and needy. The influenza pandemic claimed both his parents’ lives. His wife Molly was furious with him for volunteering duty overseas. Unable to shake off her angry feelings of abandonment, she walks off to the river leaving him with his daughter Grace. This new life with Carlito and Rose is threatened by a mafia who is angry at Delancey’s treating the bullet would of a rival and refusing to reveal his whereabouts.
North River is both character- and plot-driven. Stewed in guilt, self-doubt and misery until his grandson arrives, the doctor has always lived in the past, held captive by dreams of his disappeared wife and haunted by the carnage of battlefield in France. Portraits of rouges and rule benders, along with the budding romance with Rose propel the novel, which truly evokes the Irish, for no other ethnic group so easily lends itself to such fertile inner conflict as shown in Delancey and the characters that populate this book.
341 pp. Back Bay Books. Paper. [Read/
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With 17 books under his belt, I have a lot to catch up with Pete Hamill. I have recently bought North River and Forever and started the former. The story is simple enough: a stroller with a three-year-old boy was left at the door of James Delancey’s walkup on asnowy morning. The boy, Carlito, is his grandson. His mother left for Barcelona to look for her revolutionary husband who was a member of the Mexican Communist Party. So the beleaguered doctor who ministered to the poor and the down-and-out now has one more person under his roof, a little boy who needs more than just nourishing—an emotional upbringing and a safe home. Hamill’s New York is one that is cottage industry in literature and film—the Irish misery. But the ground has been covered so often at this point that it risks cliché. Presumably the only trick left is to go even farther than your predecessors did, pile on the misery even thicker. At 77, Hamill is at his best when he writes about his city. He knows New York present and past, and he is able to make us taste the early-20th-century time frame of “North River”, which is the Hudson River.
I checked in at the Booking Through Thursday blog, which is the host for a weekly book meme or blogging prompt. Here is this week’s prompt:
What book(s) do you find yourself going back to? Beloved children’s classics? Favorites from college? Something that touched you and just makes you long to visit?
(Because, doesn’t everybody have at least one book they would like to curl up with, even if they don’t make a habit of rereading books? Even if they maybe don’t even have the time to visit and just think back longingly?)
I find myself returning to books that sparkle with contemplative prose. Many stories have stayed with me over the years but certain books have really stuck with me because of how the stories were told. Without further ado, I give you my treasured list and urge to grab these reads:
CROSSING TO SAFETY by Wallace Steger. The intense narrative power of the quiet prose brings into life a friendship between two married couples. It’s really a love story, not in the sense that it explores romantic dialogues and actions, but in the sense that it explores private lives. In the guise of friendship, sustained through births, outdoor adventures, job losses, war, moving, unrealized dreams, and thwarted ambition, Stegner offers, with an uncanny sensitivity, a glimpse of the physical and emotional intimacy in marriage that go largely unspoken out of respect and loyalty.
THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald. A tragic love story that takes place in a society of which the values have gone awry. Gatsby is a man of desperate love who has been blinded by rotten values. He doesn’t know that while pursuing his dream, it’s already behind him and that Daisy will always be like that green light at the end of the dock in an unreachable distance. Fitzgerald’s language once again proves that his prose is unfilmmable, without the latest release of the film adaptation.
THE REMAINS OF THE DAY by Kazuo Ishiguro. Subtly plotted, this novel gives the impression that characters and scenes in the beautifully paced novel become no more than mouthpieces and backdrops for Ishiguro’s concern for the human condition: A desire to exceed one’s limitations. We are all obsessed with the upstairs-downstairs world as Downton Abbey has brought to life, but Stevens is, to me, the most capable butler in service. Not only is Stevens loyal to a fault, his former employer, Lord Darlington, however decent, honest, and well-meaning he was, was also playing a dangerous game by allowing himself to be used as a pawn in Hitler’s schemes.
THE MASTER AND MARGARITA by Mikhail Bulgakov. What good is good without evil? This novel gives you the best answer in the backdrop of Stalin Soviet Union. Despite the atmosphere of terror that deepened all through the years he was working on the novel, the book takes on a surprisingly light tone, one of multifaceted humor, without compromising its philosophical depth. It is Bulgakov’s embittered and sarcastic response (and indictment) to his era’s denial of imagination and its wish to strip the world of divine qualities.
THE NAME OF THE ROSE by Umberto Eco. This is the one book that hits me by this author. It deals with issues from an age of classics; so in other words, because it’s set in Medieval times, is written in Dark Age vernacular and includes historical details worthily accurate of the respected academe Eco is. It is not just an exciting DaVinci-Code-style historical thriller, but also a densely layered examination of stories about stories about stories, of symbols about symbols about symbols, of the meaning behind meaning behind meaning.
” Oh, Lord. It had never occurred to me that there would be a companion! Of course there would. How dense of me. What king would send his daughter, newly released from the convent, across from the Continent without a chaperone. ” (Ch.6, p.54)
[Her Royal Spyness series #2] About two months after Lady Georgiana, a Windsor who is thirty-fourth in line for the throne, solved the mystery murder case that would have incriminated her brother and threatened her life, she returns to her normal life and makes a living by cleaning houses. She belongs to a branch of the family that has been down on its luck. In disguise she dons her maid uniform and maintains appearance of the upper crust when she is off.
I began to think that Granddad was right. The princess was rapidly turning into more than I could handle. The small stipend from Binky certainly wouldn’t cover outings like lunch at the Savoy and I couldn’t risk letting Hanni loose in any more shops. (Ch.16, p.121)
The Queen is constantly troubled by her son’s intimate liaison to Wallis Simpson, an American divorcee and asks Georgiana to play hostess to a Bavarian princess whom Her Majesty likes her son to be interested in. Georgiana has no servants, no funds to entertain a friend, let alone a royal guest. With a small stipend from Binky, she is to hire a short-term maid, and to install her grandfather and his neighbor as butler and cook.
The book is lighter than what I expect a “whondunnit” to be. When the princess arrives with an overbearing baroness, she proves to be more than a handful—she drinks like a fish speaks like American gangster in movies, and sets her sights on Darcy O’Mara, the one man who makes Georgiana’s heart flutter. To makes matter worse, upon her arrival, three people have died in a remarkably short space of time with no seemingly obvious connection. Parts historical fiction, comedy, and mystery, Bowen’s prose really sparkles. I find myself reading sentences over again just for the sheer pleasure of her words. On top of the clever twist at the end, the book shines in the historic description of the society and the ways people conceive the relations and their ways of thinking. This is a comical royal romp.
307 pp. Berkeley Prime Crime. Paper. [Read/
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To be a man is not to be rooted for a baseball team and playing hoops, Esquire magazine comes up with an unranked, incomplete, utterly biased list of the greatest works of literature ever published. This list has probably made its way around the blogging sphere since it was published back in 2008 for the magazine’s 75th anniversary. How many have you read? I boldfaced the ones I have – 28 in all.
1. The Adventures of Augie March, by Saul Bellow – high priority on TBR pile
2. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain – read it in high school, not thrilled
3. Affliction, by Russell Banks – want to read
4. All the King’s Men, by Robert Penn Warren
5. American Pastoral, by Philip Roth
6. American Tabloid, by James Ellroy
7. Angle of Repose, by Wallace Stegner – doesn’t measure up to Crossing to Safety
8. As I Lay Dying: The Corrected Text, by William Faulkner – one of the most difficult books
9. The Autobiography of Malcolm X
10. Blood Meridian, Or, the Evening Redness in the West, by Cormac McCarthy – don’t care for McCarthy
11. The Brothers Karamazov: A Novel in Four Parts With Epilogue, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
12. The Call of the Wild, White Fang, & To Build a Fire, by Jack London – read it in high school, zzzZZZ
13. Civilwarland in Bad Decline: Stories and a Novella, by George Saunders – never heard of this
14. A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole
15. The Continental Op, by Dashiell Hammett
16. The Crack-Up, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
17. Deliverance, by James Dickey
18. Dharma Bums, by Jack Kerouac – don’t care for Kerouac
19. Dispatches, by Michael Herr
20. Dog Soldiers, Robert Stone
21. Dubliners, by James Joyce – not as difficult as Ulysses
22. A Fan’s Notes: A Fictional Memoir, by Frederick Exley
23. For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway – boring
24. Going Native, by Stephen Wright
25. A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories, by Flannery O’Connor
26. The Good War: An Oral History of World War II, by Studs Terkel – really want to read this one, enjoyed Working
27. The Grapes of Wrath: John Steinbeck Centennial Edition (1902-2002), by John Steinbeck – my favorite is East of Eden, this list seems to pick the wrong books all the time
28. Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad
29. Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga, by Hunter S. Thompson
30. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
31. The Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara
32. The Known World, by Edward P. Jones – want to read
33. Labyrinths: Selected Stories & Other Writings, by Jorge Luis Borges – Borges is a genius
34. Legends of the Fall, Jim Harrison
35. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men: Three Tenant Families, by James Agee – only read A Death in Family
36. Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov
37. Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry
38. Lucky Jim, Kingsley Amis – want to read
39. Master and Commander, by Patrick O’Brian – want to read all his books
40. Midnight’s Children, by Salman Rushdie – read Satanic Verses and had since stayed away from him
41. Moby Dick, by Herman Melville – absolutely the most boring book ever
42. The Naked and the Dead, Norman Mailer
43. Native Son, by Richard Wright – violent
44. One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey – fun
45. Plainsong, by Kent Haruf – heart-warming story
46. The Postman Always Rings Twice, James M. Cain – want to read
47. The Power and the Glory, by Graham Greene – want to read
48. The Professional, by W. C. Heinz
49. Rabbit Run, by John Updike – maybe, not thrilled about the witches
50. Revolutionary Road, Richard Yates,
51. The Right Stuff, by Tom Wolfe
52. A Sense of Where You Are: A Profile of William Warren Bradley, by John McPhee
53. The Shining, by Stephen King – creepy
54. Slaughterhouse-five, by Kurt Vonnegut – want to read
55. So Long, See You Tomorrow, William Maxwell – again, this is not my favorite of Maxwell, try
56. Sophie’s Choice, by William Styron
57. A Sport And a Pastime, James Salter
58. The Sportswriter, by Richard Ford
59. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, by John Le Carré
60. The Stories of John Cheever, by John Cheever – want to read
61. The Things They Carried: A Work of Fiction, Tim O’Brien – one of his best novels
62. This Boy’s Life: A Memoir, by Tobias Wolff
63. Time’s Arrow: Or the Nature of the Offense, by Martin Amis
64. Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller – one of the books I meant to read for a long time
65. Under the Volcano, Malcolm Lowry
66. Underworld, by Don DeLillo – meh…overrated
67. War And Peace, by Leo Tolstoy – not my favorite, try Anna Karenina
68. What It Takes: The Way to the White House, by Richard Ben Cramer
69. What We Talk About When We Talk About Love: Stories, by Raymond Carver
70. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, by Haruki Murakami – not thrilled about this one
71. Winesburg, Ohio, by Sherwood Anderson – want to read
72. Winter’s Bone: A Novel, Daniel Woodrell
73. Winter’s Tale, by Mark Helprin
74. Women, by Charles Bukowski
Not my kinda reading. I find it very strange to read a must-read list without a single woman on it. This is not biased? To me this list is more likea self-fulfilling thing. Or maybe men get caught up in ideas of ‘manly books’, whereas women (and some excellent men) will generally pick up whatever’s nearby and looks good. Wait, Flannery O’Connor is a woman. So either they don’t realize this (in which case shame on them for not doing their research) or they think she’s the only woman worthy of attention!
” Any good surveillance detection run, or DSR, always begins with the assumption that the hostiles, whoever they may be, are everywhere, and watching. ” (Ch.6, p.111)
On November 4, 1979, backed by the government, Iranian student-militants stormed the American embassy in Tehran and held dozens of Americans in hostage. The situation was dire, unbearably tense. About three months after the takeover of the embassy, six American diplomats who had secretly escaped the compound were attempting to flee the country that seethed with hatred for Westerners, who they saw as liars, spies, and obstacles to the Islamic Revolution.
How could the president stand by and do nothing while sixty-six Americans were in danger? There was no shortage of critics, including political foes of Carter who used the moment to score points by decrying him as weak and ineffective. (Ch.3, p.47)
Argo recounts how CIA and Canada hid and then sneaked the six diplomats out of Iran before the militants realized they were unaccounted for in the hostage crisis. Much of the planning and execution of the escape fell to Antonio Mendez, a top-level CIA officer who specializes in forging, authenticating, and maintaining aliases and covers for clandestine operations. With the American diplomats holding out in two safe houses—specifically, the residences of Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor and diplomat John Sheardown—the rescue effort faced a ticking clock.
Hollywood film crews were typically made up of people from all over the world. And of all the groups heading to Iran, it wasn’t implausible to imagine a group of self-absorbed Hollywood eccentrics traveling there in the middle of a revolution to find the perfect locations for their movie. (Ch.9, p.172)
Much of Argo is about Mendez’s preparation to pull off this charade that would rescue the six American diplomats out of Iran. He came up with a seemingly preposterous but surprisingly plausible idea that went against the standard practice of crafting mundane, unassuming cover identities. Recruiting the help of a Hollywood Academy Award-winning makeup artist, Mendez would disguise the six diplomats as a film production crew scouting for a sci-fi film location, complete with backstopped stories for each diplomat and their alias documents. To make the cover story plausible, Mendez created a fake movie and production company, printed business cards, took out film ads and held a party at a Los Angeles nightclub.
What I didn’t know was that the Canadians had been working on the problem of the passports for quite some time. From the day that the houseguests had come under their care, I think the Canadians realized the logic of allowing them to use Canadian documentation. (Ch.8, p.152)
The book emphasizes on the Canadians’ crucial role in making this landmark operation a success. To even Mendez’s astonishment, Canadian government had quickly bypassed the necessary council hearing and granted fake Canadian passports to the American diplomats. Every page of Argo breathes tension and raises pulse rate, since the Iranian revolutionaries had suspended all conventions and rationality. The loosely-adapted film inevitably steals the limelight, but the book, less dramatic but more detailed in the step-by-step elements contributing to the rescue, is more insightful to the nature of the operation. The book shows how the success on this rescue hinges on the smallest of details and intricate thinking. It also gives you a historical and political background of Iran in the 20th century. Argo shows how truth is stranger than fiction.
310 pp. Penguin. Paper. [Read/
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” I wandered around the empty house, trying to shake off a feeling of dread that wouldn’t go away. If this had been my first brush with death, it would have been different. But within one week to have found a body in my bath, been dragged off a boat, then almost pushed under a train made this death almost too much of a coincidence. ” (Ch.24, p.275)
Thirty-fourth in line for the throne, descendent of Queen Victoria but from a not-so honorable branch, Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, daughter of the Duke of Glen Garry and Rannoch, is poorer than dirt. Though a minor royal, Georgiana is expected to observe formality of the royal family and to behave as befits a member of the ruling class. The acceptable destiny to someone like her is to marry into another royal house, for she has been bred only to marry “some lunatic, buck-toothed, chinless, spineless, and utterly awful European royal, thus cementing ties with a future enemy.”
At the moment it is a choice between marrying a ghastly foreign prince or becoming lady-in-waiting to a great-aunt, Queen Victoria’s last surviving daughter, in the depths of the countryside where the height of entertainment will be holding her knitting wool or playing rummy. (Ch.7, p.84)
In spring 1932, Georgiana decides to flee her half-brother’s castle in Scotland to escape a forced marriage to a Romanian prince. But upon the summon from Queen Victoria, a cousin by marriage, Georgiana is to spy on her philandering son, Prince Edward (the same one who later abdicated the throne for his American divorcee, thus making George VI the King). The most unusual assignment, the troubling discovery of a dead body in the bathtub of her London house, and a series of accidents that later proved to be intentional for her harm, and even death, keep foiling her efforts to make an honest living.
It was a piece of strong black thread. I couldn’t think how it got there until it dawned on me that somebody could have strung it across the top of those steps—someone who knew that I would probably be the only person who used them tonight. My attacker was indeed in the house with me. (Ch.25, p.287)
Her Royal Spyness is a multifaceted mystery and comedy of errors. As Georgiana labors to solve the murder of the waterlogged body—a Frenchman who is creditor of her brother, an eclectic cast of characters come forth to provide the inside, satirical view of the snobbery and pretension of upper-crust British society. This book is a pleasant read, but readers shall note that the mystery takes a while to be introduced. Once Georgiana’s background and predicament are established, and the murder kicks into motion, the book really takes off and inevitably cumulates into the spying for the Queen—at a house party to be attended by Prince Edward.
324 pp. Berkeley Prime Crime. Pocket Paper. [Read/
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A coworker and I talked about books that were intriguing enough for us to buy in the first place but that somehow we never got to read. I’m sure many readers have books that are collecting dust on our shelves unread. But what happened to the books that had obviously lost the appeal? Forgotten, banished, and set aside, they are not even in the TBR pile.
1. The book everyone is reading or recommedning.
I sometimes succumb to the popular opinion and sheep syndrome. Even though I know better about my taste, I still buy books that everyone is reading or talking about. Well—not Fifty Shades of Grey although a girlfriend who has never toughed a book is reading it. I’m talking about those phenomenal bestsellers that Hollywood quickly bought off the copyright to make a movie out of them. Like A Kite Runner. The Life of Pi. These books largely remain unread.
2. The book is dirt cheap.
Ever felt left out if you can’t make it to the $1 book sale at the local charity or library sale? When books cost no more than pennies and nickels, I tended to be much less selective. The result is a stack of books that I felt half-hearted about. The bargain bin can be dangerous because you never realize how quickly that pile builds up.
3. The book is a giant, intimidating-looking tome.
One day, I will read Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, and Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy. But to give me the credit, I have survived The Fountainhead (which I loved), and this year American Tragedy and The Secret History. At this point I don’t even want to think anything by Proust! It’s such a commitment to tomes.
4. The book is a classic, meaning an obligation.
I don’t know why I still feel obliged to reading books that bored the hell out of me in school. Just because something is shelved under classics doesn’t mean I have to read it. I enjoyed The Great Gatsby, A Tale of Two Cities, and The Sound and the Fury but I shouldn’t read everything written by Fitzgerald, Dickens, and Faulkner? One day, I’ll get to Les Misérables. (See #3)
5. The book is written by an author whose other work(s) I like.
Sometimes buying the entire oeuvre is a big mistake. I should have left Umberto Eco alone after reading, cherishing, and loving The Name of the Rose. Most of his other novels I cannot even get through the first chapter. Focault’s Pendulum is flat out boring and pointless, a huge mess. Cloud Atlas is another one, and the film doesn’t help. David Mitchell is the kind of author whom you just have to read one and you read them all. Number 9 Dream is gathering dust.
“You grew up in America, after all—exactly what do you know about British aristocracy?”
“Not much beyond the historical, I’m afraid,” Maggie said.
“All right, impromptu quiz—what do you say when you meet the King and Queen?”
Maggie gave David a wry look. Frain had forgotten about royal etiquette lessons. “Hello?”
David smacked himself on the head. “Oh, my dear Eliza Doolittle — we have a long night ahead of us.” (Ch.5, p.52)
This book is Maggie Hope Mystery #2, a sequel to Mr. Churchill’s Secretary. After she has discovered and broken the hidden Nazi code that points to three specific attacks in London, Maggie Hope is no longer Winston Churchill’s secretary at Number Ten. She has proven that her scientific acumen, intelligence, problem-solving skills and ability to handle dangerous situations make her a great asset to the British war effort. The beginning of Princess Elizabeth’s Spy sees Maggie entering MI-5 school for spies. Although her grades are stellar, she doesn’t do well enough on the physical tests to be sent abroad to gather intelligence for the British front.
Maggie shook her head. A decapitated Lady-in-Waiting, rabid corgis, and a man who lives with birds? ‘I thought living in a castle would be interesting, Sir Owens,’ she said, ‘but nothing—absolutely nothing—prepared me for this. . . Maggie went back into the sitting room. She stopped by the bookcase, which was empty. She squinted at it. The dust indicated books had been there for a time and had recently been removed. Now, that’s odd, she thought. Why would someone take Lily’s books? (Ch.9, p.102-3)
Instead MI-5 finds a job for her as math tutor to Princess Elizabeth, a post as an undercover, so she can keep an eye on Elizabeth, fondly known as Lilibet, who, as heir to the throne, may be a Nazi target. Soon she realizes danger is on the prowl on castle grounds when a lady-in-waiting is murdered. Her book, removed from the shelf of her quarter, is proof of connection to another murder at the Claridge’s in London. Castle life quickly proves more dangerous and her assignment, after all, is not cushy but one that involves intrigue, kidnapping, and treason. In this novel, besides the conspiracy that places the entire royal family in peril, Maggie Hope also grapples with the loss of her boyfriend and the possible truth that her father, Edmund Hope, an expert in code and cipher at Bletchley, might have been a German spy.
As Maggie needs to discern who the German agents are that have infiltrated the castle, she races against time to save England and its heir from a most disturbing fate. Although Princess Elizabeth’s Spy is not a historical fiction, more a fictional story set in the past with real characters, the book is very well-researched. The Windsor Castle, with its grandeur and staidness, is a workplace like “living in a museum—and terribly cold in winter” during the war. The King and Queen were strict about rationing, so even the princesses were limited to one egg per week, and the rest of the restrictions the British people lived through. The castle’s dungeons were used a bomb shelter where servants and the Princesses move their beds, changes of clothes, books, kitchen utensil and furniture in to keep calm and carry on. This light mystery gives one a glimpse of what it was like to live in war-time England and the story constantly keeps one on the edge using humor and red herrings.
369 pp. Bantam Books. Paper. [Read/
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Filed under: Books, Contemporary Literature, English literature, Literature, Mystery | Tagged: Books, England, General Fiction, Literature, Mystery, Princess Elizabeth's Spy, Susan Elia MacNeal | 5 Comments »