October 2002

I think I was grumpy for the past couple of months. I read a lot, but there were so few books that I found absolutely satisfying. Let's hope I cheer up soon. A Citizen of the Country by Sarah Smith This book was a wonderfully enjoyable, but I find it frustrating that the author made comprehension of the book so dependent on having read the prior books in the series. The Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason This is another of those first novel mega advances. It's beautifully written (if a little 'lyrical') but it suffers from the problems of its genre. The plot is kind of nowhere.

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett It's a pleasure to watch an expert at work. This book is fabulous, and I'm not even an opera buff. They Came Like Swallows by William Maxwell All those 'lyrical' young writers should be force-fed a diet of William Maxwell. Genius without excess. Mr. Maybe by Jane Green This woman is nice, generous, and a great sport.

The Elusive Embrace by Daniel Mendelsohn Okay, he's my friend, but even if he weren't I would be blown away by the originality, the creativity, the verve of this book. Life After Death by Carol Muske-Dukes This was a good enough read, but I ended up a little dissatisfied at the end. The Frog King by Adam Davies A boy Brigit Jones, with a thesaurus. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith Thank God this book is back in print. It's absolutely delightful. Kingdom of Shadows by Alan Furst Furst is definitely the master of this genre. Remarkable. I love the kind of languid pace of this thriller. And I mean that in the best possible way. Mrs. Caliban by Rachel Ingalls This book was completely fun, although I kind of wished for a happy ending with the sea creature. The Last Noel by Michael Malone This writer is an inspiration - a man who was a 'mystery writer' who has successfully crossed genres.

Almost by Elizabeth Benedict I sort of wished for more of a disclosure - a mystery solved or something - in this book. I know that's shallow of me, but there it is. White Oleander by Janet Fitch A little too fraught for me, but a good read. In the River Sweet by Patricia Henley The relationships, the people, in this book felt absolutely and completely real.

The Hatbox Baby by Carrie Brown This is a great idea, a wonderful sense of place and time, and an ultimately unsatisfying novel.

Blessings by Anna Quindlen There's no doubt that this author can write, but I wished for more with this book. The Grave Maurice by Martha Grimes Why oh why did I buy this book in hardcover? An Italian Affair by Laura Fraser I loved this book, and I usually have zero patience for things like novels written in the second person.