Thursday, July 16, 2009

Planes, Trains, Automobiles -- and Books

Being on vacation and on the road during the last couple of weeks brought more than my usual amount of reading time, during which I was able to develop an obsession: Maisie Dobbs. In the last two weeks, I have read the first three of the Maisie Dobbs mysteries:

22. Maisie Dobbs, by Jacqueline Winspear, in which our heroine is introduced, we learn her unique background, capabilities and heartbreaks, and she solves her first mystery.

23. Birds of a Feather. Maisie's missing person case becomes more complicated when it appears to be connected to three murders.

24. Pardonable Lies. Maisie is asked to prove that a soldier, son of a prominent attorney and Lord, actually died in World War I.

All these books are set in London in the early thirties. The Great War is the shadow that lies behind all of the books. In fact, in the Reader's Notes to one of the books, the reviewer notes that "the war is the underlying crime", a fascinating motif for me. So far, I have enjoyed all of the books, although the third one has been the best and most thought-provoking.

A few weeks ago, the topic of the Danish Resistance during World War II came up. My friends had never heard of it, claiming they had never learned anything about it at school. I mentioned King Christian's habit of wearing a Star of David on his sleeve, and the fact that the Danes rescued most of the Jews from their country, sending them to safety in Sweden. Recounting these stories made me decide to re-read Lois Lowry's wonderful book,

25. Number the Stars, which I recommend to everyone. The high school I went to had a significant Jewish presence. One of my high school counselors told me one day, "The Jewish people love the Danes," which made me proud that I even had 1/8 Danish blood. My Swedish grandmother once confided that she was ashamed that Sweden had been neutral, but I pointed out that if they had not been, the Danish Jews would not have had anywhere to go. Life is complicated.


Barbara B. said...

I always appreciate your book reviews!

PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

People always seem to have summer reading lists. I suppose that they have fewer meetings in summer. But I've never been able to read more in summer. I like to be outside (in general) or gardening. Or having company. Or at the lake. And then there is baseball, for my kids when they were young; now the Twins on TV. And on vacation: scenery to see and perhaps a journal to write, plus hiking.

So how do you find more time to read in summer?

The only time I read more during a vacation was at Holden Village where there were no "media" of any kind.

Diane said...

Well PS, I don't know if I read more in the summer "in total", but I read on the plane both ways (my husband does too, so it's not rude), and I read on the train rides from New Jersey to New York and back.

There isn't confirmation, and I'm a terrible gardener. If I was good at it, there'd be less time for reading.

Jan said...

I always love Maisie Dobbs!! Connected with the last book you mention, have you read "The Book Thief"? So good.

Diane said...

Jan -- John got it a long time ago, for ME, but then he read it and I didn't. still on my list. On your recommendation, I'll read it soon.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

I've heard of Number the Stars, but I don't think I've read it. (I know that sounds weird, but sometimes on my old job, I would have to read three young adult novels in a day. They tend to blur together.) I should check it out.

Eigon said...

I definitely recommend Number the Stars. I read it while I was working for the Children's Bookshop, here in the Town of Books, and I was very reluctant to put it back on the shelf for a customer.
There's a scene in it that gives a good use for cocaine, too!