Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Book Report: Family Secrets

After a two-hour nap yesterday afternoon, I feel tons better. I even caught myself singing as I cooked dinner, though I didn't quite have full control of my voice and wasn't right on pitch, so I had to stop before I annoyed myself. I'm wavering on dance class tonight. The remaining symptoms are below the neck (a sporadic cough), which usually means exercise isn't a good idea, and it's rather cold out. It might be a good night to stay inside and watch the next installment of Klondike on the Discovery Channel -- a miniseries about the gold rush, filmed on location, so the scenery is wonderful. I did an emergency yarn run this morning (the yarn I need for the bedspread I just started was half off) and returned my library books, so I'm set for the day. I do think I'll dive back into work today, since I feel rested and non-groggy. The next project is starting to stir in my subconscious, so I want to finish these revisions and move on.

In the last week or so, I've found a new-to-me author who writes one of my brands of literary crack -- there's some framing story of someone learning about a family secret related to WWII and starting to research it, and then the narrative also tells the story of what was happening during the war. It cuts back and forth between the two storylines as the present-day character comes closer to learning the truth. So, yeah, throw in a ghost or some magic and do a little more romance and you've basically got the perfect book. Except the writing is more literary, which is both good and bad. On the plus side, it feels more like An Important Book than like literary crack, so there's a slight sense that maybe this is even good for me, but on the minus side, it does sometimes slow things to the point that I find myself skipping ahead to find the next big twist.

The author is Kate Morton, and the first I read of hers was The Distant Hours,  which is about a young woman in the early 90s who learns that her mother was evacuated from London during the war to a castle that was the home of the author of her favorite book from childhood. Now the three sisters her mother lived with are still living in the castle that's crumbling around them, one of them having descended into madness decades ago, as they all suffer from a terrible family secret that's touched many lives. The next one I read was The Secret Keeper, in which a woman finds a photo of her 90-year-old mother as a young woman, next to a friend -- and the friend turns out to be connected to a strange incident that happened when the heroine was a teen. She starts researching her mother's history and that of the friend so she can find out what really happened.

I liked The Secret Keeper best of the two because it was more fun, less warped and more hopeful, though I did figure out the big twist less than halfway through the book. I would call these rainy-day books, the kind of thing it's fun to read when it's cold and gray and the winds are howling around you. Curl up under a blanket and dive in. Though you may need chocolate near the end because while there's a positive ending, to a large extent, it's not what I'd call a happy ending. I would also not recommend reading multiple books by this author back-to-back because her patterns and quirks become pretty obvious that way. I'm going to have to take a break before I dig up more of these, but I will be digging them up.

And now I kind of want to write my version of this sort of thing, the one that includes a wizard, a ghost and a happy love story.

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