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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Books Read During June

I can hardly believe that June is almost over. Time goes so quickly. I haven't finished many books yet. It's probably because I try to read too many at a time!

Up at the Villa by Somerset Maugham

Wealthy and beautiful, Mary is staying at a villa in Florence and thinking of marrying an older man about to be promoted to an excellent position in India. The only problem is that she doesn't love him. Feeling somewhat jaded, Mary longs for an adventure. When a poor young refugee falls in love with her she gets more than she bargained for...

Maugham often writes about rather shallow women who long for more purpose in life. Mary's character is sympathetically drawn and the book is unusually exciting for Maugham. It gives a very different perspective on life from The Purple Veil and it was more fun. However, The Purple Veil was much wiser and the main character was easier to identify with.

Act of Mercy by Peter Tremayne

This is part of a series about Sister Fidelma, an engaging advocate and religeuse in ancient Ireland. She investigates rather gruesome mysteries. These are well-written and the setting and details about ancient Irish law are fascinating. However, there are too many murders in this book and it's somewhat complicated. I do prefer 'cosy' mysteries.

Lina Cavalieri by Paul Fryer and Olga Usova

Lina Cavalieri was an Edwardian opera singer who was once called the most beautiful woman in the world. She led a wonderfully interesting life, transforming herself from a cafe singer to an opera singer who received some good reviews. She sang in Russia and had an affair with a Russian prince. She also married Robert Chandler, a relative of the Astors, and wiped him clean!

This book, however, was rather dull. I didn't really want to know about every performance Cavalieri ever gave and what every critic wrote about her. I wanted to know about the scandals surrounding her and her rivalry with Mary Garden.

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