You would think based on my reading choices that I might have a multiple personality disorder; I rarely stick to one particular genre for a sustained period of time. For this reason you may find my most recent reads to be all over the place genre-cally.
In my last post I mentioned reading The Age of Desire by Jennie Fields, which is primarily about the extra-marital love life of Edith Wharton, one of my most favorite writers of all time. While I enjoyed the novel, I was disappointed in Wharton. While I understand this is a fictionalized account, the author used excerpts of Wharton's letters to Morton Fullerton. I cannot possibly understand what Wharton's marriage to Teddy Wharton was like, but she allowed for what seems like a great deal of mistreatment from Fulleron in exchange for only small bits of happiness.
Following that read, I began Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead. The novel takes place during three days of the wedding weekend of Daphne Van Meter and Greyson Duff on Waskeke Island. The wedding itself takes up only a few pages, but the two days before are rife with all sorts of turmoil. Winn, Daphne's father finds himself inappropriately attracted to one of his daughter's bridesmaids. Daphne's sister Livia is recovering from heartbreak using all sorts of wedding weekend techniques. And all the other members of the wedding party, including the families, sometimes spectate and sometimes participate in all sorts of other shenanigans. This novel is not a comedy, or maybe it is a black comedy, but it is the story of a family the reader likes but feels sorry for, roots for, and wants to slap all in turn. I do recommend this book and enjoyed it quite a lot.
(to a new genre)
Next I decided to go with Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. This is a middle grades/YA fantasy novel that takes place in a society in which dragons and humans have forged an uneasy alliance. The main character, Seraphina, is a brilliant musician who also happens to be half dragon, which as you can imagine is not an accepted species in either society. When a rogue former General begins to attack humans the fragile peace is in significant danger. This is clearly the beginning of a series or trilogy and I am eager to read more. I have also ordered this for my school as I think my kids are ready for a new dragon series.
Next I picked up The Secret Lives of Dresses by Erin McKean. I have been wanting to read this ever since I began following the author's blog, which is about the dresses she makes, generally from vintage patterns. By profession, McKean is a lexicographer, but from what I can see she could go into dressmaking or writing at any time. The book is a really sweet story about Dora who must come home from college when her grandmother, who raised her, has a stroke. Mimi runs a vintage clothing shop in which Dora has grown up and she takes over the shop when she is not at the hospital. Sadly for me I just read Jennifer Weiner's, The Next Best Thing whose main character is also a woman raised by a grandmother because her parents are deceased, but McKean wrote hers first so this is just an unfortunate coincidence on my part. Foolishly, I thought at the beginning that the story would be somewhat predictable and certainly elements of it were, but there were also some twists I did not see coming. I was drawn right into the story and was fascinated by all the descriptions of the vintage clothes Dora finds in a closet her grandmother has been cultivating for her for years as well as those in the shop.
I have just started The Importance of Being Seven by Alexander McCall Smith, the next in his series of 44 Scotland Street stories. I would recommend anything by Smith, but I like his Isabel Dalhousie series best but his No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books are wonderful as well.