Sandell, Laurie. The Imposter’s Daughter: A True Memoir.

NY: Little, Brown, 2009.

This is an odd sort of graphic novel — though, actually, it’s a graphic memoir or confessional biography. The author grew up in a home ruled with a heavy hand by her father, who always was the center of attention. According to him, he had multiple graduate degrees, had been a combat hero in Vietnam, had corresponded with the Pope when he was still just a Polish priest, had advised Henry Kissinger, and had fought a duel in his homeland of Argentina. He was also a genius.

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Published in: on 29 June 2011 at 12:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Sayers, Dorothy L. The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club.

NY: Harper & Row, 1928.

Gentlemen’s clubs are a peculiar facet of British upper-class life, serving as a place of retreat from family, from the hoi-polloi, and from all women. Most of London’s clubs are rather different places now, but in the 1920s they still were going strong.

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Published in: on 26 June 2011 at 6:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Sayers, Dorothy L. The Nine Tailors.

NY: Harper & Row, 1934.

To the geeks among her readership, this is one of Sayers’s most thoroughly fascinating novels featuring Lord Peter Wimsey. Peter and Bunter are driving through the Norfolk fens late one blizzardy New Year’s Eve when the car goes into a ditch and they have to hike through the blowing snow to the nearest village, Fenchurch St. Paul. They’re taken in by the elderly rector and his wife, who assure them the car can be rescued in the morning — but just now, the rector is planning a big event in the huge 11th century parish church across the road.

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Published in: on 23 June 2011 at 11:22 am  Leave a Comment  
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Davies, Robertson. What’s Bred in the Bone.

NY: Viking, 1985.

This is the second volume in the “Cornish” trilogy, but it mostly comes chronologically before the first volume, Rebel Angels. That book began with the death at an advanced age of Francis Cornish, eccentric, miserly, and very wealthy collector/accumulator of great and not-so-great art, and the appointment of his four executors; all the rest of the plot derives from that event.

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Published in: on 20 June 2011 at 8:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Fraser, George MacDonald. Flashman and the Mountain of Light.

NY: Knopf, 1991.

Even though this is the ninth-written of the “Flashman Papers,” by internal chronology it’s the (I think) second installment, set in 1845-46, only shortly after the retreat from Kabul in which young Lieut. Flashman figured so prominently in the first volume. He’s back on the Northwest Frontier of India now, angling for a way to get home to England and out of constant danger, but events and his own growing (and entirely bogus) reputation aren’t going to allow that.

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Holland, Cecelia. The High City.

NY: Forge, 2009.

Holland, one of the very best historical novelists in the business, is almost exactly my age. She wrote her first book, The Firedrake (about the Norman invasion of England), as an undergraduate and I read it the summer after I graduated from college. That was thirty-plus novels ago and I’ve read each of them with great appreciation as they appeared. I even collect First Editions of her work. Not all of them are of equally high quality, of course — but even her relatively weakest stories are far, far above those of most other writers.

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Furst, Alan. Dark Voyage.

NY: Random House, 2004.

This is a very well told and very affecting story of the life and death of a Dutch tramp freighter in the early days of World War II. It’s April 1941 and Germany has occupied nearly all of Europe. Dutchman Eric DeHaan, at sea all his life, citizen of a seagoing and mercantile nation, is captain of the Noordendam. His crew is made up of men from everywhere — Poland, Greece, Egypt, Spain — and none of them can go home again.

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Rankin, Ian & Werther Dell’Edera. Dark Entries.

NY: DC Comics, 2008.

I read a fair number of graphic novels — not usually the mere collections of previously published comic books (especially the superhero stuff) but the stories written at much greater length for original publication in book form. And while this is technically one of the former (I think), it’s presented strongly as one of the latter.

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Published in: on 8 June 2011 at 4:56 am  Leave a Comment  
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Whitlock, Ralph. The Warrior Kings of Saxon England.

NY: Dorset Press, 1991.

The author is (apparently) a well-regarded local historian in the south-central part of England which used to comprise Wessex, realm of Alfred the Great. Here he provides a graceful, enthusiastic, generally non-technical survey of the Anglo-Saxon period of his country’s history, from the landing of Cerdic the Saxon in the late 5th century (though, puzzlingly, “Cerdic” is a Celtic name) through the reign of Edmund Ironside more than five hundred years later.

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Published in: on 5 June 2011 at 8:04 am  Leave a Comment  
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Johnson, Diane. Le Divorce.

NY: Dutton, 1997.

When Isabel Walker, a recent dropout (for no very good reason) from the USC film school and a quintessential California girl from Santa Barbara, gets off the plane in Paris, she thinks she’s there to hold the hand of her poet stepsister, Roxy, through her second pregnancy. She doesn’t yet know that Roxy’s French artist husband, Charles-Henri, has just left her for another woman.

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Published in: on 2 June 2011 at 8:17 am  Leave a Comment  
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