Marissa Lingen (mrissa) wrote,
Marissa Lingen

Books read, first half of December

I am in Thick Nonfiction Tome mode this fortnight, and at least some of it will continue: there are three of that category on my library book pile, with more I can grab from our own stacks if I feel the urge. So while it's not the only thing I'm reading -- I can't read just nonfiction, never could -- it's taking up a lot of the time and energy.

Nancy Nichols Barker, Brother to the Sun King: Philippe, Duke of Orleans. Oh dear. This book started out well enough for the first chapter or two, but...why oh why oh why would someone with a circa 1952 stifled attitude about what we would now call homosexuality or bisexuality write a biography of Monsieur, of all people? I mean, really. If you know anything about Monsieur, it's likely to be that he was Louis XIV's brother and that he had sex with men. It's not like this is an aspect of his person that can be quietly ignored, no matter how dedicated one is to quiet ignorance because of one's attitudes towards "inverted" sexuality. (Yes. She kept using the word "inverted." And explaining earnestly how previous theories of how Anne of Austria made him that way were wrong and hers was right. Uff da.) Interesting when it was not impinging upon Monsieur's sexuality, but...that was just not very often.

Olivier Bernier, Words of Fire, Deeds of Blood: The Mob, the Monarchy, and the French Revolution. This was one of those books whose focus went slightly off from what I was hoping for but did a decent job with its own aims, so far as I can tell. I'm not at a point of being ultimately comfortable with Louis XVI, so I can't swear this was well-handled. But none of it was wretched. It had the unfortunate effect of making me want to go off and read other books on tangential topics instead of it rather than in addition to it, though.

Charles de Lint, The Blue Girl. I hadn't read this one when it came out, and for some reason people were giving me other de Lint books from my Amazon list right and left and never this one. It didn't have the "everyone in Newford makes a reappearance, albeit briefly" problem, and it didn't get into the magic magiccy magicness of artists again. So that's two de Lint pitfalls dodged completely. On the other hand, it didn't hit me as well as Widdershins did.

Tim Flannery, The Future Eaters: An Ecological History of the Australasian Lands and People. Some very cool bits of naturalism here -- the "looking at birds" kind of naturalism, not the artistic school. I'm getting my grandpa a copy for Christmas so I can get his phone calls when he gets to the point of reading about the eucalyptus forests or the moa chapter or whatever strikes his fancy. His fancy will be struck. I will get the phone calls. It'll be good. I could probably evaluate the later chapters better if I knew more than "dry and sheepy" about the modern Australian environment, but we will work on a remedy for that in the weeks/months ahead.

Irene Mahoney, Royal Cousin: the Life of Henri IV of France. Is it bad that Henri IV now has a Gin Blossoms theme song in my head? It's not because Mahoney was writing this book very recently and had a pop culture sensibility. He just feels that way in my head. I wish this book about a guy running around France fighting and having sex had been more interesting, because I know lots of people -- some people on this very list, in fact -- who could do a lot with that premise. It was informative, though, and not excessively draggy if not excessively interesting, either.

Ian McDonald, King of Morning, Queen of Day. I liked the first section of this book all right, but I fell in love with the second. Jessica is a character I can keep forever. Also I really liked that it was set in historical Ireland without being set in either Historical Ireland or "Historical" Ireland. The Troubles play their part, but not in the absolute center of the book's focus, and it is not a shamrocky sort of book. Not that I wouldn't love a fantasy novel set smack the middle of one of the more active troubled periods of Irish history with the politics of the time as a center focus (if they were well-balanced and interesting politics) -- I have been a sucker for bloody revolts since...umm...before kindergarten, I think, due to my dad's influence. The Scarlet Pimpernel and Westmark and all that. But sometimes having historical stuff be both accurate and slightly marginal is lovely.

Rex Stout, And Four to Go. Another collection of Nero Wolfe novellas. Several of these had holiday themes, which didn't manage to offend my sensibilities. I will often groan, "Oh, Lordy, not A Classic Christmas Tale!", but not with this; Archie is not much for shallow goodwill towards men, and his shallow goodwill towards women is often thwarted. So. More Wolfe, who is Wolfe is Wolfe is Wolfe.
Tags: bookses precious

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