THE HISTORIES by Herodotus
Having studied Latin in high school and some classics in college, the ancient history of the Mediterranean was not entirely strange to me.
Still what is most surprising about The Histories is its accessibility. There is no high-brow language. The only slightly confusing moments come with the antiquated, unfamiliar names.
In fact, it is full of friendly humor.
The two men came up with quite the most harebrained scheme I have ever heard of, certainly in recent times — and all the more so because the Greeks have long been distinguished from other people by their intelligence and general lack of gullibility, just as the Athenians, who were the victims of the trick, are widely acknowledged to be the most intelligent of the Greeks. ~Pg. 28
It does make you read a bit slower, to take in the finer points, but it has certainly much to recommend it. Don’t be put off by the length of the book or its age. It is less formal than you might expect, and have a chuckle or two.
Many thanks to Penguin Classics for the review copy.
Series: Penguin Classics Deluxe
Paperback: 880 pages
Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (May 19, 2015)
Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1.4 x 8.4 inches
This internal dialogue novel is one character’s impression of the enigmatic Shirley Jackson. Rose, a young wife and soon-to-be mother and her husband Fred, move in with Jackson and her family.
She finds a bizarrely and simultaneously nurturing and destructive environment. Shirley and her husband Stanley have a strange relationship that is hardly model for a young couple. Their parenting skills are nothing to complement either.
There are tense dinners, awkward silences, overreactions and intense moments.
The strongest part of the story is how the narrator changes over the arc of the book. She goes from waifish and suggestible — a Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby type — to a strange yet strong figure.
The woman was graceful, blond, conservatively bloused beneath her beige car coat. But stranger than her quiet, pulled-together appearance was the carefully composed nature of her face. Shirley’s eyes, even deflected through the thick panes of her cat’s-eye glasses, were bright and inquisitive, always darting. ~Pg. 77
Merrell succeeds in finding the unsettling tone of a Jackson story without mimicking it.
Thank you to Plume for the review copy.
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Plume; Reprint edition (July 7, 2015)
Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
What starts as a strong, emotionally laced thriller, gets bogged down by a cheesy, forced romance. A magazine editor who recently lost her son is understandably shaken and unable to cope with her high-stress job. She takes a long-term assignment to write a book about an unsolved case in small-town Louisiana.
With unprecedented access to the estate and its elderly inhabitants, she quickly becomes determined to crack the case. With a bit of supernatural dusted around the edges, it is set up to be an intriguing book.
Unfortunately, a hunky carpenter who works on the estate and who just happens to be related to the case, shows up. The narrator’s otherwise sensible decisions and investigations are constantly interrupted by her feelings for this new man, and then her guilt about liking him. She sounds like a weak-minded teenager rather than a successful NYC magazine editor.
Not my type — too pretty, too groomed — but intimidating in his physical perfection. I can’t meet his eyes. I think they’re hazel.
“Welcome to Evangeline.” Coming from anyone else, the oh-so-French pronunciation of “Evangeline” would be pretentious. “I’m Jules Sicard, the estate manager. Pleasure to meet you.” He lacks any trace of a Southern accent.
“Charlotte Cates. Thank you for having me.” Already I can feel my brain vaporizing. This always happens to me around really attractive men. An instinctive response left over from junior high, I guess. ~Pg. 59
If the author could have set aside these immature moments, and focused on how the character is healing while solving this case, it would be a much stronger novel.
Thanks to Putnam for the review copy.
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons (September 1, 2015)
Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.4 x 9.4 inches