New Post at Thornfield Hall Redux: “Reading in a King Size Bed: Short Reviews”

It was  my first vacation in two years, and I had my choice of rooms at the hotel (and beds). While I lounged in a King Size bed, hurried through Shena Mackay’s ironic, surreal, horrifyingly violent novella, Toddler on the Run; a too-clever, disappointing fantasy novel; and Margery Allingham’s brilliant Golden Age mystery, The Fashion in Shrouds.

I hope you’ll enjoy the post. You can read the rest here:

New Post at Thornfield Hall Redux: “Relic” by Louise Glück

The Nobel Prize-winning poet Louise Glück can take apart a classical myth and reassemble it exquisitely.  In “Relic,” Eurydice expresses subtle anger at Orpheus’s narcissism.  “How would you like to die/while Orpheus was singing?”  In Glück’s collection Vita Nova, there are other references to the myth and a few poems from Orpheus’s point-of-view.

Read the rest here.

The Embezzlers, or Life Is a 19th-Century Novel

The chaos began when the will arrived in the mail. It did not resemble a legal document. Was it junk mail?

And suddenly my life became a19th-century novel. In George Eliot’s Middlemarch and Tolstoy’s War and Peace, there are dramatic scenes in which relatives hover in sick rooms in hopes of inheriting wealth.  Of course there is no actual money is to be had by this will, but a chimera can cause just as much trouble.

You can read this saga at

The Daily Book Shortage: Something New to Hoard!

This fall, newspapers and book blogs declared the following weird news to shoppers:  “October is the new December.”  What, I wondered, does that mean?  The augurs explained that there is likely to be a shortage of books in December. The bookstores are  going to run out of books, I guess.

That sounded unlikely.  Microchips, maybe.  There might be a shortage of robots.  But USA Today, NPR, and The New York Times warn us about the book shortage. 

Read the rest here.

New Post at Thornfield Hall Redux; “The Book Journal Verdict: Ruled, Squared, or Dot?”

In recent years, I have kept a book journal in an oversized Nava Notes paperback notebook. It is now grimy and about to retire, and I must replace it. These days some people have very elaborate book journals, where they record MLA-style bibliographical information, multiple star ratings, TBR lists, and lists of mystery series. How much data is enough? And do you prefer ruled, squared, or dot notebooks?

You can read the rest here.

New Post at Thornfield Hall Redux: “Fabulous Fun: The Lifeline by Hugo Charteris”

I was delighted  to discover the Scottish writer, Hugo Charteris, author of  The Lifeline (1961),  a hilarious novel recently reissued by the publisher Michael Walmer.  

The Lifeline is an unmitigated pleasure.  I relish Charteris’s witty observations about life in a gossipy Scottish village.  The hero, Tulloch Traquhair, a character actor who has been fired from his role as Little John in a Robin Hood TV series, retires to a Scottish village to run the Strathire Arms, a pub he plans to turn into a hotel.  When he debarks from his Rolls Royce, he hypnotizes the villagers with his charisma and a peppering of Gaelic phrases. But his rival  pub owners, Brian Creevie and his vengeful mother, Mildred Creevie, are determined to take Traquhair down.

Read the post here.

New Post at Thornfield Hall Redux: The Surprising Excellence of Rose Macaulay’s “Non-Combatants and Others”

Those of you who are fans of twentieth-century women’s literature will probably have come across Rose Macaulay’s novels in old Virago editions. I love her comic masterpiece,  The Towers of Trebizond, a hilarious chronicle of the trek of a group of English travelers from Istanbul to Trebizond.And now Macaulay’s early books are having a comeback, due to publisher Kate MacDonald’s efforts at Handheld Classics.   And so we finally have a chance to consider Macaulay’s pacifist novel, Non-Combatants and Others.

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The Haunted Bookshop and Elsewhere in The Athens of the Midwest

On a visit to Iowa City, we worried about The Haunted Bookshop, a used bookshop named after Christopher Morley’s The Haunted Bookshop, a novel set in a bookshop of the same name. The website said it was open only by appointment.

Had the pandemic killed the bookstore?

Read about it at

Weekend Reading: In Which I Recommend Books

I hope you’re ready to read  “real” books this weekend, because you will get text neck if you don’t get off the phone. You only need the phone to call Uber and you know it. Meanwhile, books are bursting out of mahogany bookcases or bricks-and-boards shelves at your house.

Here are three recommendations for perfect weekend reading.

Read the rest of the post at Thornfield Hall Redux. Here is the link:  

New Post at Thornfield Hall Redux: “2020-2021: Why I Can’t Get My Head Around it”

Life used to be perfect.  We did not know it. We quote Joni Mitchell:  “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”  What I mean to say is, our  lives were at the normal end of the “perfection” spectrum.  We lived contentedly in modest dwellings. In our leisure, we read or went to movies. Sometimes we took a walk.  Occasionally we saw a ball game (peer pressure).  Some of our peers aspired to a suburban house with a three-car garage, but we never understood the appeal of the three-car garage.  Then we met a man who drove straight from his heated garage to a heated underground garage downtown every morning.  He boasted, “I never wear a coat.”

I couldn’t get my head around it.  

Here is the link to the rest of the post at Thornfield Hall Redux.

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