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A Strange Pairing?
Last week we finished two books that could not be more different; yet, we recommend them both. We hope one of them fits the mood for your next great read. And, if they don't strike your fancy, please stay tuned for more options in our other reviews as 2023 progresses.
The Bullet That Missed by Richard Osman (2022). The third in this series is just as charming as the first; maybe more so as you now know and are invested in the main characters: Elizabeth - a possible MI6 operative, Joyce - former nurse turned narrator of the stories, Ron - the former trade union leader, and Ibrahim - a retired therapist. This time, they are investigating the disappearance of a TV newscaster whose body was never found, and of course a few other things such as romance. Read these if for no other reason than to enjoy time spent with 80something characters who are enjoying life to its fullest. I agree wholeheartedly with what the New York Times wrote, "The quartet of aging amateur sleuths…remain wonderful company,” Enjoy!
The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O'Farrell (2022). It's Florence in the 1500s and Lucrezia, daughter of the grand duke, is happily living her life - painting, sketching, checking out her father's zoo, and basically ignoring her siblings while spying on court life. Then one of her older sisters dies, and Lucrezia is substituted as bride for her sister's fiance. The novel's question then becomes is her new husband the playful person he appeared to be in her father's court or a manipulative powerful man with his own agenda - one that does not consider Lucrezia's desires? The portrait from the title is one Lucrezia sits for to preserve her image for posterity and comes to represent both her freedom and her confinement. I will be honest, it took me a few pages to enjoy this tale, but at some point I was enjoying living in Italy many centuries ago and was fascinated by how things have changed and not changed for women, and contemplating the chasms that can appear between life partners, with or without malicious intent. As the Washington Post stated in their review of this book, "O’Farrell pulls out little threads of historical detail to weave this story of a precocious girl sensitive to the contradictions of her station . . . You may know the history, and you may think you know what’s coming, but don’t be so sure. O’Farrell and Lucrezia, with her ‘crystalline, righteous anger,’ will always be one step ahead of you.. . . O’Farrell [is] one of the most exciting novelists alive.” Enjoy.
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