Friday, December 27, 2013

Meritorious Fiction

I took a silly on-line quiz, which told me that the literary character I am most like is Mma Ramotswe, of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.   I think highly of Mma Ramotswe, but I could never be her.  I cannot drive a tiny white van, nor can I solve mysteries, except when it comes to finding the ketchup in the fridge.

I am not going to give you the link to the quiz, because it lumps together “introverted” with “stubborn and inflexible” which is not acceptable to me.  But it leads me to think I could post about the fiction I most enjoyed reading in 2013.  Many of these are books I read to complete my Summer Reading Merit Badge.

Category: My favorite
My favorite book this year was Cyrano de Bergerac, by Edmund Rostand (translated into English by Lowell Bair).  It was my favorite not only because it is ridiculous and clever, but also because Younger Daughter and I read it together.  Since it is a play, it works well to read it out loud.  In fact, if we hadn’t been reading it together, I wouldn’t have read it on my own.  YD ended up memorizing one of Cyrano’s speeches and used it to audition for the fall play.

Category: Hard to Categorize
The Good Lord Bird by James McBride
A remarkable book.  Is it a coming-of-age novel?  A portrait of insanity?   A historical novel?  It’s hard to say, but the writing is superb.  There are some very funny scenes, and some very violent scenes.

The Commissariat of Enlightenment by Ken Kalfus.  This is a very well written and very, dark book, about a specific time in history, but it does not come across as a traditional historical novel.  The despair and dissembling that began the Soviet era pervades the whole book.  I am amazed that I was able to finish it, because I usually cannot make it through such a bleak landscape, but the good writing spurred me on to the end. 

Category: Books which include the drinking of tea
Tea Time for the Traditionally Built by Alexander McCall Smith
Another Mma Ramotswe book.  It is good to know that in some books there is always time for a cup of tea.

I really loved reading Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson – I found it to be amusing.  All the tea drinking is, well, very British.  As a tea drinker, I appreciated the prominence of tea in this book.

Category: Books by or about Dorothy Parker
Dorothy Parker stories by Dorothy Parker
Man, she was snarky!

Farewell, Dorothy Parker by Ellen Meister
In this book Dorothy Parker comes alive!  Sort of!  And saves the day!  Quite enjoyable.

Category: Ladies Looking for Love
Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day, by Winifred Watson
Shenanigans while finding true love in British night clubs.  No relation to the above mentioned Major Pettigrew. 

Emma by Jane Austen
A childish and bossy protagonist tries to make love matches for other people, with disastrous effect. 

The Dearly Departed  by Elinor Lipman
A young woman returns to the small town where she grew up, to find some surprises.  Quite entertaining, I thought, and kind of Austen-esque.

We Are All Welcome Here by Elizabeth Berg
A fascinating and amusing story of a girl whose single mother raises her in spite of being paralyzed by polio.  Features an appearance by Elvis.

Category: Mysteries Silly and Serious
Rumpole on Trial by John Mortimer
I always love me some Rumpole.

Quaker Silence by Irene Allen
A Quaker sleuth?   Yup.

Nine Tailors : changes rung on an old theme in two short touches and two full peals
by Dorothy L. Sayers
I remember a fine BBC TV series way back when, featuring Lord Peter Wimsey.  I’ve read two of her mysteries in the past year, and liked them, although I was disappointed to discover some tendency toward anti-semitism in her writing.


Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I really like your taste in books. I'm going to have to read the ones you listed that I haven't checked out yet.

Cassi Renee said...

I see some in your list I'm going to need to check out :-)

BTW, have you seen the movie made from Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day? I don't know how close it is to the book, but I really enjoyed the movie, and it has a great cast.
Here's the trailer:

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

Of all of these, I've only read Emma and Major Pettigrew's Last Stand.
I should probably feel ashamed but I'm generally not a mystery reader so I hope that gives me a "pass" here.

Common Household Mom said...

I have not seen the movie of "Miss Pettigrew". I will have to hope that it makes its way to Netflix!

The Crislers said...

Well, I found several on here I need to read! I don't know if that's a good thing- I mean, I do love books- or a bad thing, as my To Read is already frighteningly long.