This gorgeous picture of a blooming artichoke is one of 365 plates in The Flower Garden -- based on original hand-colored copper plate engravings in the Hortus Eystettensis (ca. 1620,) one of the great treasures of botanical literature.
Pym is a 20th century Jane Austen and one of the standards I turn to for a comfort read. These four books did not disappoint with their quietly witty studies of ordinary people leading quiet lives.
One of my students asked me what I thought about The Silent Wife. She said:
To be very frank, I thought it was weird. It does not follow the guidelines that you and others provide for writing a murder novel. The murder does not take place until the very end of the book. ... Nor did it contain more action than narrative. In fact, the majority of the book is narrative, such as the constant musing of the two main characters, particularly the female. The actions of the two main characters seem completely contradictory to what we are told about their personalities and their life together.
All of which is true...but I really enjoyed the book and read far into the night to find out what happened. It's not at all your standard murder mystery -- it's more of an in depth character study of two people, told from alternating points of view. I'd classify this one as literary.
And this last book -- a Young Adult ( translated from the Italian) -- is the story of a young girl living in Venice whose fiercely independent grandmother slowly turns into a tortoise.
It's complicated... but strangely charming.
Did you get books for the holidays? Tell us about them!