Books to curl up with: a librarian's musings

Monday, June 26, 2006

Castles with bats and rats

Some people choose to buy sunny little villas in the south of France. Judy Corbett and her husband Peter decided to buy a derelict building in Wales named Gwydir Castle. The ancestral home of the Wynn Family has seen better days. The roof leaks. Parts of the house were gutted by fire. Bats, rats and other creatures have moved in through the holes in the roof and windows. An early auction even sold off the paneling from the walls. Did I mention that the electric and plumbing don't really work in the few parts of the house that have them? Oh, and floods go through the basement every spring.

Knowing all that, you must believe the subtitle to Castles in the Air , which is The Restoration Adventures of Two Young Optimists and a Crumbling Old Mansion. You'd have to be a cockeyed optimist to take this on. Judy and her husband are passionate about history and want to do a proper job. They take on the various critters and leaks. They find a motley band of helpers to help them repair their castle on a budget. Along the way they confront a malevolent ghost. They track down one of the rooms from William Randolph Hearst to the New York Museum of Art. The two shy castle owners, even gasp, gather their courage and give tours of the work in progress to pay the bills.

I really enjoyed this book. My only remark would be that the book covers five years and it seems more compressed when you read it. However this is a small quibble. I hope that she writes more. I'm dying to see if they can track down the other room from the old auction. After all Prince Charles is helping them now.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Anna, another Walsh girl

One of my favourite authors, Marian Keyes, has written a novel about another girl in the Walsh Family. Anybody Out There is the story of Anna, the former flaky hippyish sister. Anna has gotten her act together and moved to NYC. So why she wonders is she lying in her mom's Irish living room all battered and scarred. And where is Adrian?

This novel is a wonderful book as Anna tries to figure out what has happened and then come to terms with it. As with all Keyes novels there are dark moments leavened with laughter. The only bad part is we only have Helen left and then no more Walsh girls. sniff, sniff. Maybe Mrs. Walsh will have an adventure then.

Monday, June 05, 2006


As you know I am a big fan of the author Earlene Fowler and her ongoing mystery series, which features Benni Harper and her family and friends.

Fowler has left Benni behind in Saddlemaker's Wife. Ruby's husband dies in a car crash without skid marks. She is left bewildered by why her husband of six months would kill himself. It seems he had a number of secrets that burdened him. She also learns that his family wasn't deceased as he had said. Ruby travels north to put his ashes to rest and learn what could have driven her husband to his end.

I really enjoyed this new character and book. Somethings seemed to echo from the Benni Harper novels, but it stands well on its own and will bring Fowler new fans.