I’m home in hot, sunny Florida. Did you miss me? It’s ok to say no because I wasn’t thinking about books much while on vacation in western Canada. Too much gorgeous scenery to look at. And while the weather felt blessedly cool to us Southerners, it was warm for residents. I had to resist the impulse to make a snow angel on the Athabasca Glacier because it was mushy/slushy in the sun. Still, the ancient ice beneath our feet measured somewhere between 300 and 1,000 feet deep. Pretty cool, eh?
So, I did have my nook — Nanook — with me, and it sure beat hauling a bunch of books along on the trip. But I overpacked even e-books, misled perhaps by the “Reading Woman” calendar from the Boston Museum of Fine Arts above my desk. The painting for July is John George Brown’s wonderful “Reading on the Rocks.” What was I thinking? I can read on planes but not in cars or trains. At night, I was reading the back of my eyelids. It was still light when I fell asleep, and light again when I woke up.
But I did get through two books, one old, one new, both recommended. Josephine Tey’s The Franchise Affair is one of my favorite rereads because after a few years I always forget the neat trickery of the plot. Was young Betty Kane really kidnapped by two eccentric women living in an isolated English country house, or is she the original pretty little liar? The book was written in 1949, but the tabloid hysteria it depicts is similar to today’s cable TV coverage. Now I want to go back and reread the rest of Tey’s tales, especially Brat Farrar and The Daughter of Time.
David Nicholls’ One Day has been hailed as a British When Harry Met Sally, and it is to a degree, with Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew hooking up in the early ’80s on their last day of university only to go their separate, intersecting ways. Nicholls catches up with them every July 15th — St. Swithin’s Day — as their youthful dreams melt in the big chill of real life and are then reshaped over the next 20 years. Growing up is hard to do. Funny, poignant, clever, heartbreaking — I bookmarked a dozen or more passages on the nook for rereading. So it’s not as deep as a glacier. Pretty cool, though, for summer reading wherever.
Open Book: I have two copies of Josephine Tey’s The Franchise Affair (Simon & Schuster), a mass market paperback here in Florida and a trade paperback at my mom’s in S.C. I picked up the latter the day before we left for Calgary and finished it a week later in Whistler. I purchased the e-book of David Nicholl’s One Day (Vintage Contemporaries) and read it on four planes from Vancouver to Orlando.