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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Books Read During March

Since we last met I've walked around the Golden Mount in Bangkok, been lost in beautiful San Gimignano, lamented being snowed in in Venice, and had a sleepless night on a train from Venice to Paris. I apologise for being away for so long but I had a lovely holiday.

That Summer in Sicily by Marlena de Blasi


This book has everything - a moving love story, exciting history, and a villianous enemy. It concerns a romance between a poor but strong woman who falls in love with a prince in the Italy of the 1930's. Unfortunately, the Mafia plans revenge on the prince because of his reforms which help the peasants.

I enjoyed this book and I liked reading it in Italy. However, I preferred Marlena de Blasi's autobiographies.

Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik

This was about an American man who moved with his wife and young son to Paris. It has great detail about the minuitae of family life in Paris and gives a child's view of this enchanting city. Gopnik has interesting insights about the contrasts between Americans and the French. I found the chapter on a war crimes trial the most interesting, however.

This book did annoy me somewhat. I felt that Gopnik was very keen on himself and he included a lot of information on baseball. I really couldn't care less about baseball so I skipped these parts of the book. (Apologies to Americans who love baseball!)

Katherine the Virgin Widow by Jean Plaidy

Jean Plaidy brings Katherine of Aragon to life in this easy-to-read novel. She analyses her character brilliantly and shows how young and shy Katherine, who is ordered about by Henry VII and her duenna, Elvira, when she first leaves Spain, gains strength of character.

The book also involves other interesting characters, including Elizabeth of York and Katherine's ladies-in-waiting.

Casanova's Women

I didn't like this book much at all and left it on the train between Venice and Milan after I finished it. It was rather prurient and sickly. Perhaps I'm just prudish.

However, Casanova's women were a very interesting lot. They included a runaway aristocrat, a woman pretending to be a castrati, and a women who ran a business in London organizing balls. The writing wasn't bad so I'm willing to try more of this author's books.

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