Sunday, May 31, 2015

Recent Reading

Right after we returned from our vacation in Maine, my local branch library notified me that it was my turn for the latest Elly Griffith / Ruth Galloway mystery.  I adore Ruth Galloway, her complicated personal life, and her professional life as an archeologist.  This book also engaged my fascination with abandoned WWII air fields.

A body is found in an airplane crashed during WWII and buried in a field.  Ruth sees, however, that although the body is from that era, it has only recently been placed in the plane.  The police discover the identity of the man, Fred Blackstock, a soldier whose family lives near by.  And what a family they are!  The patriarch, Old George, is half crazy, tended by his milquetoast son, Young George, and his ditzy wife, Sally, and their two grown children, Chaz, a pig farmer, and Cassandra, an aspiring actress.

A strange man appears when the soldier is re-buried.  A body is found mostly devoured by Chaz's pigs.  Someone hits Cassie over the head and she and Dave, one of the policemen on the case, fall in love.

Ruth and DCI Harry Nelson, the father of her daughter, do their usual relationship dance.  Nelson's very forgiving wife, Michelle, buys a lovely present for her husband's illegitimate daughter's birthday.  Michelle also explores the boundaries of her marriage.

In the dramatic wrap up, Ruth is trapped in the Blackstock family ruin with both Georges in a raging storm and a terrible flood.  Nelson can't get in to rescue her and she can't get out.  Don't worry, there's a tragi-comic rescue, so she'll be around for another episode.

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One of my favorite podcasts is the video podcast of The Book Club (which used to be called The First Tuesday Book Club), from Australia.  I like the host, Jennifer Byrne, and the two regular guests, Jason Steger and Marieke Hardy.  They also have two special guests on each episode.  They read and discuss contemporary books, classics, the whole range of reading, often with very different opinions about what they've read.

Alan Cumming, is to be a guest on the upcoming show and the book he chose for them all to read  and discuss is Enid Blyton's Five on a Treasure Island.  I had heard of Enid Blyton and was aware that her books were a big part of the childhoods of many children in Britain, but I had never read any of them.  I decided I wanted to be part of the discussion, so I downloaded Five on a Treasure Island and just finished reading it.

Yes, it's a children's book.  Yes, it's dated.  Yes, it has flaws.  But it was a ripping adventure story about four independent children and a dog and a ruined castle on an island and buried treasure and thieves and a time when children were allowed to go off on adventures.  I'm looking forward to the discussion on the show.  Marieke never holds back and I can just imagine some of her comments.  Then again, maybe she'll surprise me.  Either way, it'll be fun to listen to the Five on The Book Club talk about Five on a Treasure Island and find out why this book is important to Alan Cumming.

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