fivemack (fivemack) wrote,

Books read in January

I carried on through the Anthony Price thrillers; maybe reading them in quick succession over a month was a mistake, since the main perception I got was that, towards the end of the series, the introspective paranoia and multiple conflicting layers of plots had grown nearly to the point of self-parody. One last one left, which I'm saving for a day when I don't have quite so many thick library books on which the renewal count has expired. I think I particularly appreciated the Mitchell-Loftus relationship in The Old Vengeful, and the way that Audley has set up his whole village as willing bodyguards in Gunner Kelly.

Bill Bryson's At Home, which is essentially a scrapbook of episodes in Victorian social history, amusingly narrated and assembled around the shape of the house; I'd recommend it although I felt that I'd seen all the episodes somewhere else - it felt almost self-consciously written as a sourcebook for QI.

Jill Paton Walsh's A Piece of Justice, which is a good Cambridge-college detective story. Niven and Pournelle's Escape from Hell, which is a really strange book set in Dante's Inferno after the changes wrought by Vatican II; filled with the sound of authorial axes being thoroughly ground, though probably not as loudly as Dante's own hatchet-job on Florentine officials. Niven and Pournelle wrote Inferno 35 years ago, as a remix of Dante with more modern sins punished by more modern demons, but this sequel gives the narrator a free run of Hell, while he knows from his previous travel that the way to get out is to guide other inmates to redemption despite themselves. I haven't read enough of or about Sylvia Plath to have the slightest idea whether Niven and Pournelle got her right. The other explicit influence is C S Lewis's theology, which I haven't read, and probably should.

And N K Jemisin's The Broken Kingdoms, which I liked rather more than the previous one in the series - I think because the character through whose unusual eyes we were watching the events at least starts off at relative ease in her environment, and so it didn't feel so much work to get started. I rather regret having donated the previous one to the library, since it hasn't appeared on the shelves - obviously what I want is the ability to donate books on a use-or-return basis, which would be hopelessly annoying to the librarians.
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