Thursday, February 23, 2012

And now for something completely different...


A few weeks ago, I read the final book of The Hunger Games trilogy.  I put off reading it as long as I could because I knew how quickly it would go, and how sad I would be when it was over.  My predictions were correct.  I suppressed the urge to go back and start the series again at the beginning.  I was able to do this mainly because we don't actually own the books. 

After such an emotional roller coaster, I was faced with the ever-difficult question of what to read next.  I had recently read a book by P.D. James, The Lighthouse.  Then, last week, my friend Laura offered me a copy of the next book in the same series that she had picked up at VV.  It seemed fated.  

When it comes to mysteries, I am picky.  I went through an Agatha Christie phase in middle school, but since then, no single mystery writer has captured my attention.  Jonathan Kellerman is a good companion for beach vacations, but his books don't hold up in the harsh light of everyday life.  James Patterson's books are laughably bad, particularly when they feature a female protagonist.  I have started The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency three times, wanting badly to like it, but never quite actually achieving this aim.  But, there is something about P.D. James that has tickled my fancy. (Can I write that on the Internet?)

In reading a second book of hers, I have realized what it is that I like so much.  There are two things, really.  First, the books are pretty good, and not just for mysteries.  The writing is lyrical, the plot lines make sense and the characters are interesting, particularly some of the less important ones.  Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, the books are so very British.  Seriously, the characters spend at least a third of the book sitting around drinking tea (or sometime coffee).  I don't know if that is actually what life in England is like, but I seriously hope so.  In a way, the books are the anti-Hunger Games.  Rather than a breathless sprint to the finish line, they are a meandering walk through the foggy countryside.  And sometimes, as I drink my herbal tea with a side of biscotti, that is exactly what I need. 

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