Friday, July 22, 2016

Friday Fancies

Last week, the structure shown in the picture below suddenly appeared in front of one of the buildings on my block. I believe it's a Little Free Library, although the lack of any kind of label means that it might only be meant for a select group of people already in the know. I took a chance and added two books to the 3-4 that were already in there. Over the past week they've all disappeared, but the box has yet to be replenished. What to you think--was I correct in my assumption or did I just clutter up a neighbor's mailbox?

Here are a few other things that have caught my eye recently:

Test your book smarts with this quiz that The Strand bookstore requires of its prospective employees. (I scored a 46/50!)

The origin of publishers' names.

I just discovered this children's book by a favorite artist.

And I recently finished Trollope's Miss Mackenzie, which was enjoyable and might arguably be described as an early precursor to some of Barbara Pym's work. As always, Trollope's delightful character names were out in full force: Mr. & Mrs. Fuzzybell, Dr. Slumpy, and the law partners Mr. Slow and Mr. Bideawhile.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Enchanted August

As someone who has experienced a fair number of Augusts in Maine, I was eager to read Enchanted August by Brenda Bowen, a modern day retelling of Enchanted April. Like Elizabeth von Armin's original, the novel features a group of four near strangers who rent a house together for a month, this time replacing the Italian villa with an island cottage in Maine. There they form a sometimes rocky friendship with one another, reflect on issues they have been experiencing with their respective husbands, families, and careers, and begin to reassess their own lives.

It's been quite a while since I read Enchanted April--long enough for me to wonder if I actually did read it or if I just saw the movie--so it's hard for me to give a complete assessment on how  Enchanted August pays tribute to its source material. It does capture the eccentric group of four, successfully updating each of the characters while retaining their key traits from the original novel. Bowen's plot relies on a lot of coincidences that happen among the four vacationers, especially toward the end of the novel, that probably require a bit more suspension of disbelief than von Arnim needed. A few of these plot points made me roll my eyes a bit, but wouldn't be too distracting for anyone who's reading for pure summer entertainment. Another thing that Bowen absolutely does capture is the atmosphere of summer in Maine. The fictional island is set somewhere near the vicinity of Bar Harbor, so many of Bowen's references were familiar from my past vacations there, as were her descriptions of the characters' long trip up to the island, with drives along wooded roads in the rainy dusk and parking lots filled with the "official state car", the Subaru. It all provided a fun way to relive a Maine adventure.

Have you read any novels set in your favorite vacation spot?

A review copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own.


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