The summer has been filled with good books, outstanding books and “why did I reserve that one?” Let me begin with the one I wish I were reading right now instead of writing this column.
I have had real struggles about putting it down. To begin with, I have loved Florence, Italy, ever since I met it in a book I read as a very young girl. Actually, getting there was the fulfillment of a long-cherished dream.
I first saw the Arno River in Pisa when we got off the train to view the Leaning Tower. Then a few hours later we took another train and went to Florence — my Mecca. When I first saw the Ponte Vecchio, I cried! All those years of dreaming about that magical city where the Renaissance began and then I was there. And I’ve been back, too.
In addition, I had been fascinated by Dante and his writing — his visions and use of language and poetry — and his life, also. And now there is a book centered in my Florence and named for Dante: It’s “Inferno.” Yes, the best-seller by Dan Brown.
Now I had read “The Da Vinci Code” and enjoyed it somewhat, but I decided to skip Brown’s second book. Enough, I thought. And then my neighbor across the street brought over “Inferno,” thinking I’d enjoy it. Bless you, Mercedes, I am loving it. I’m about halfway through and absolutely captivated.
The reader follows several characters simultaneously, although our protagonist is Robert, whom we met in “The Da Vinci Code.” I like him even more in this book. This book is a grabber. What more can I say?
My daughter lent me “Dreaming Water,” written by Gail Tsukiyama, and I am very grateful. Reading it was sheer pleasure. It took a bit of getting used to because each of the characters narrates chapters, but Hana, Cate, Laura, Josephine and Camille were all people I enjoyed meeting and hearing from, and the descriptive passages titillate your senses.
I think you’d enjoy it.
My daughter also lent me “Last Night at Chateau Marmont.” This one is by Lauren Weisberger. It’s very light entertainment: The husband becomes a huge music star, and the wife, who has been the main financial support for the family, is now consigned to the role of adoring wife, who has a career of her own.
You’ll read about the life of a rising star — performances, schedule, demands, gossip, et al. And it’s a fun trip you might enjoy. A grammarian may have a bit of a problem because there are errors that should have been edited out before publication, but I have found that true in a few other books lately, too.
“The Tenth of December” is a book I had to see because that’s my birthdate. It’s by George Saunders. I was surprised to see it is a book of short stories.
Usually, I enjoy short stories, and what is better than O. Henry and Guy de Maupassant and Edgar Allan Poe? But these didn’t appeal to me. I think it’s the author’s style of writing. At any rate, if you’re a short- story fan, maybe you’ll like this more than I did.
And then there’s “Gone Girl,” by Gillian Flynn. I had to see what all the excitement was about, so I bought it. I don’t want to say too much about it because I don’t want to spoil it for any of you who haven’t read it yet, but I’ll tell you I was caught up in it in a hurry.
You do know, don’t you, that it’s about a wife who out of the blue disappears — and it looks as though maybe she has been kidnapped, maybe even murdered. And as you turn pages you begin to wonder just how innocent the husband is and what is his fate?
You’ll have to fight the urge to turn to the back to find out how it ends. Everyone I’ve talked with about it has found it gripping, very gripping.
I’m not going to write any more about it, even expressing my weighing its plausibility. Read it, and then let’s talk about it, OK?
I’m going out on the porch now with “Inferno.” More anon.