Sunday, October 14, 2007

Jacob's Room - Virginia Woolf

Once it gets into its stride, this is an astonishingly evocative read. By dint of outward descriptions from other characters' points of view only, we build up a deep picture of the inner life of Jacob Flanders. Some of the passages describing daily living in London are so vividly real and present it's spooky just how powerfully they evoke memories of places and memories of feelings. In terms of the quality of writing this is head and shoulders above the bulk of what I read and I'm in awe of the insight and skill deployed here.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Miss Mapp - E.F. Benson

This second volume of the famous series of "Lucia" books actually doesn't feature Lucia herself. From Riseholme we move to Tilling and a whole new cast of characters, led by the eponymous Elizabeth. Constantly in ferocious social competition with Diva Plaidstow, with a full cast of supporting characters every bit as varied, outrageous and hilarious as those populating the first book, Miss Mapp comes close to losing her grip but finally survives the volcanic intrusion of the real life Contessa and the normal order of Tilling society (if not peace and goodwill) is restored by Christmas. Sharp, wicked and tremendous fun.


The Exile and the Sorceror - Jane Fletcher

Now marketed as "Book One of the Lyremouth Chronicles" this book covers the first half of Lorimal's Chalice which I enjoyed so much when I read it back in 2004. We first meet Tevi, the exile, and follow her adventures as she abandons her island home and starts to make a new life in the lands of the Protectorate. In the second half of the book we meet Jemeryl, the sorcerer, who has to abandon her comfortable life of research to accompany Tevi on the quest to recover Lorimal's chalice. The quest proper follows in the next volume but this first part is nonetheless a very readable and thoroughly enjoyable trip back and forth across the Protectorate.

Fletcher creates a fascinating and multifarious world featuring a believable balance of powers and guild mechanics. The two central women are portrayed very sympathetically and the reader's enthusiasm for the success of the adventures to come is fully engaged. A wonderful read.