This month was another mixed bag, mostly because I started April with a holiday and wanted my choices to be as free as my days. Yet I found myself wishing I had themed the month. I’ve come to enjoy the practice and am looking forward to returning to themed reading in May.
A Pancake House Mystery #1: The Crêpes of Wrath by Sarah Fox (audiobook)
I listened to this cosy mystery in the car during a road trip with my parents to Kasouga, where we attended a family wedding (said holiday). The Crêpes of Wrath had all the right ingredients for a cosy mystery including plenty of wordplay, the best of which is the name of the pancake house, The Flip Side.
The Stars’ Tennis Balls by Stephen Fry
I enjoyed this a lot even though it took a completely out-of-left-field turn and became a story I was not expecting at all. It’s inspired by The Count of Monte Cristo, which I’ve read, yet I forgot this factoid and did not see the “schoolboy becomes falsely imprisoned in a loony bin” storyline coming. Fry sets a great pace and his characters are well-drawn, especially while establishing the relationship between protagonist Ned Maddstone and his fellow not-so-loony loony bin inmate. It starts out in the 1980s and progresses until the dawn of the 21st century, when Ned finally escapes and remerges into the world, an escapade written with great humour and tension by Fry. Considering how much I enjoy him as an actor and host, it’s hardly surprising that I loved his writing too.
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Dumb Witness by Agatha Christie
This whodunnit is set just after Easter and I started it just after Easter. How apt. I guessed the murderer as soon as they appeared in the story, but spent the rest of the book doubting myself, as Christie yet again proved her masterfulness with the craft and the genre.
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A Market for Murder by Rebecca Tope
Someone who is not so au fait with genre, is Tope. I picked this up in the hopes of it being a cosy mystery, and while it was a murder mystery it wasn’t cosy. In fact, it felt like it could not decide whether it wanted to be a gritty crime thriller or a cosy countryside mystery. Not that it needed to be either, but it felt like it was trying to be both, yet not committing to either. The characters are mostly unpleasant and it’s unclear who the protagonist is meant to be. I also chose it because the story blurb suggested it dealt with important food themes, and while it touches on these, it never provides any significant detail or insight.
The Moon and the Bonfire by Cesare Pavese
This Italian novel put me very much in mind of George Orwell’s Coming Up for Air, which I read in January. It’s also set after a war (in this case World War II) and follows the story of a man who returns to his childhood home. Between this and Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan series, I’ve come to learn of a very different side to Italy.
…it’s the money that does it, always the money, whether you had it or not, as long as it existed there was no way out for anyone.
Gigi by Colette
This novella is charming and funny. I watched the musical adaptation many years ago and while I don’t remember the movie well, I remember loving it. However, the opening scene of the book did recollect the movie’s opening to my mind – and of course, I will never forget Maurice Chevalier singing Thank Heaven for Little Girls.
The Cat by Colette
Another novella, contained in the same volume as Gigi, this is an odd, little story about a man who prizes his cat above his wife. Jealousy and animosity spring between the wife and cat, and while I don’t condone the woman’s actions nor the cat’s attitude, the husband really is nothing more than a whiny baby. Colette illustrates this herself, but the ending suggests an interesting reason for his affinity towards the cat.
Reading Colette’s work definitely calls for a movie binge including Gigi and Colette, with the latter starring Keira Knightley as the famed French author.