Sunday, March 8, 2009

Three in one

I spent nearly all of yesterday reading, which was very pleasant, and finished three books, which I'm very pleased with. It's been a long time since I spent an entire day curled up in my chair doing nothing much but reading, and I've definitely missed it. It was an especially good day for it, too, as it was grey and rainy most of the day and then come evening there was a brief thunderstorm and enough hail that it looks like it snowed. Silly weather.

I finished that new Tamora Pierce book, Melting Stones, which I enjoyed but wasn't terribly impressed with. It was first-person, which I like much less in general, and I think her third-person novels are better. Still, it's Tamora Pierce, whom I love, so it really doesn't matter how good the book was because it was comforting to read it. It was exactly the sort of book I needed. Although apparently it didn't entirely satisfy the need for such a book, as now I'm rereading The Will of the Empress.

I also finished two books I'd been reading through DailyLit, which I just kind of decided I was going to finish all in one go. This Side of Paradise, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and The Mysterious Affair at Styles, by Agatha Christie. I enjoyed This Side of Paradise a lot, though I see why it's less-read than The Great Gatsby--it struck me as being a bit of an experiment, like he thought, "Well, I'll write this whole chapter like it's a play, let's see how that goes," whereas The Great Gatsby is more tightly reined in and concrete. The actual writing, however, is as fabulous as ever.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles is the first Agatha Christie I've read, and if I remember correctly the first one she wrote, and I liked it very much. I liked how the narrator was as fallible and disposed to assumptions as any of the characters (except, of course, Poirot), and he felt more like just another character than most narrators do, since he was very definitely not the main character. The writing was always very clear and free of any muddling, which is a quality that always reminds me of a lot of French literature. It kind of has to be clear, since the story of the murder is so complicated, and so little is known at one time or so much changes, that otherwise you'd get completely confused.

I'd like to read a biography of Agatha Christie, mostly because I want to know what her writing process was. The plot is so intricate that of course it must have been planned out in advance, but I can't imagine being able to write a novel that I've already plotted in such detail. Anyway, this just increases my idea that I should read more mysteries.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

I was a fan of Tamora Pierce in my teens, thanks for reminding me I should re-visit her books.

You're right that The Mysterious Affair at Styles was Christie's first book, written as a bet with her sister. I'm a big fan of her books and envy you the pleasure of reading them for the first time. Her plotting is superb, still the best and most surprising of any crime novelist I've read.

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