Last week, when I talked about the books I'd been reading, Deana mentioned that she'd just finished The Uncommon Reader -- a novellas about Queen Elizabeth II becoming a voracious reader. As a life long fan of Her Majesty (I was ten when she was crowned and successfully cajoled my grandparents into buying a television so that we could watch the coronation,) and as a life long reading addict, I immediately checked out the sample on Amazon. The novella opens with HM interrogating the French ambassador about Jean Genet, the homosexual/jailbird/writer.
Done. I downloaded the book and read it pretty much in one gulp. It was charming, watching The Queen go from a non reader to an addicted one -- somewhat to the chagrin of those around her ( she figures out how to read while in a car or coach and waving at the populace).
I didn't want it to be over. So I read it again. Then I noticed a note at the end of the Kindle edition If you enjoyed this book... and they suggested another novel about The Queen. It was equally delightful and almost a seamless segue from one book to the other -- though in Mrs. Queen, HM is not a reader. In fact, she references the The Uncommon Reader and snorts, "Fancy making me out to be a reader. There's imagination for you. "
I re-read this one immediately too.
Mrs. Queen Takes the Train review HERE
Finally having gotten my fill of Elizabeth II, I picked up a book a friend lent me months ago. Written by John Berendt, the author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, The City of Falling Angels is a fascinating look at the non-tourist side of Venice -- the intrigues, the politics, the families, the history, the gossip. . .
I've been to Venice twice -- never for long and never with the sort of money it would take to see the things Berendt describes. But even as the lowliest of tourists, I was mesmerized by the charm and magic of this amazing city.
And as I read, Berendt mentioned that Henry James had set a short novel (The Aspern Papers) in Venice and immediately I flashed on the Queen Elizabeth of The Uncommon Reader -- "It was Henry James she was reading one tea-time when she said out loud, 'Oh, do get on.'"
Exactly the way I have felt at times about James. But, as she reads more, HM begins to appreciate his work. So, finding the The Aspern Papers was a free download for the Kindle . . .
What a pleasant surprise! The Aspern Papers is a delicious little read -- James's fictionalized account of a writer trying to obtain of the love letters of a famous (and deceased) poet to his mistress. The writer attempts to ingratiate himself with the aged mistress and her niece and discovers he may have to give more than he is willing to for a look at the papers.
Where will it all end? The Stones of Venice is one of those books I've heard about forever and never read. It's a three volume history of the art and architecture of Venice. It was extremely influential in Victorian England and I've seen many references to it without ever actually reading it. But s. Amazon tempted me with another free download. I doubt I'll read it word for word but now I can get some idea of what all the fuss was about.