18 August 2014

The danger of waiting too long


Six Days of the Condor by James Grady
Loved, loved, loved, loved this CIA novel. Earlier this ear I watched the 1975 film Three Days of the Condor starring Robert Redford and loved it. When I saw the book Six Days of the Condor at a charity shop for $1, I thought it might be fun to compare. What I didn't expect was to be totally drawn into the book. I loved every minute of it. Couldn't put it down. This is the kind of spy thriller I like. Fits well into my recent fascination with Eric Ambler. I am going to have to see if I find Grady's other books as interesting.

Now that I have finished the book (in record time) I need to go back and watch the film again. I know for sure there are a few things that are different. I think the film may have taken place in New York. The book takes place in DC and is full of familiar locations without seeming name-droppy.

The Good House by Ann Leary
I've seen some lukewarm reviews for this book since it was published in 2012. I liked it way more than lukewarm. Story of a real estate agent in a small community on the Massachusetts coast. I almost thought I wasn't going to like the book. Her life is kind of unravelling. Business isn't doing so well, she had been to rehab but was backsliding. As I do, I wanted her to be getting her crap together and being successful. But I am glad I got over that because I really enjoy the story, the characters, the setting. It felt a bit like Marge Piercy meets Claire Messud.

Oh dear. I may have waited too long to write about some of these books. And I rarely keep notes. You know what that means? Bullet point reviews.

According to Mark by Penelope Lively
  • Biographer Mark gets involved with granddaughter of the (dead) subject of his latest project.
  • He's married already.
  • I love a Lively and I found I loved this Lively more than usual.
  • There were moments when I felt the book was very much akin with Barbara Pym's novels.

Hotel of the Saints by Ursula Hegi
  • A collection of short stories that was much better than my bad memory would have you believe. (I think.)
  • I liked the various settings (Europe, Mexico, the United States)
  • One or two stories were quite moving.

The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones
  • Given to me by Frances at Nonsuch Book.
  • Down on their luck but genteel family in 1912 England waits for house guests arrive for the weekend.
  • Then some other guests arrive.
  • I found the book pretty enjoyable, but I think it would have been more effective without the metaphysical aspect. (Big surprise for me, I know.)
  • I'm interested to read the other Sadie Jones novel Frances gave me.
Scarred by Monica Dickens
  • A Monica Dickens published in the 1990s thankfully feels a little old fashioned.
  • About a brilliant and caring plastic surgeon who is stalked by an unbalanced patient.
  • The patness of the story line has a bit of a Nevil Shute or DE Stevenson quality to it. But the tragic bits don't.


  1. I had to buy Six Days of the Condor immediately - love a vintage spy story!

    1. Oooh, I hope you like it. It really hit the spot for me.

  2. I loved The Good House on audio... definitely an all-time favorite. You can listen to a sample at audible.com if you're curious. Mary Beth Hurt WAS Hildy!

    1. I'm not sure why I was somewhat predisposed to not like TGH, my expectations were low. But I really enjoyed it. I think I could only enjoy an audio book (so far I haven't listened to more than a snippet of anything) is if the narrator has a British accent.

  3. Replies
    1. I may have to watch Three Days of the Condor, I haven't seen it years. Nice photo of Robert Redford! And I must look for Penelope Lively, one of my best new author discoveries of 2013.

      And I know just what you mean about books being name-droppy!! I just started a book that does that EXACTLY. It's one of the reasons I don't think I'll be able to get into it. I'll give it about 25 more pages and if it doesn't improve, it's going into the library sale bin. Life is too short to waste on books I don't enjoy.

  4. I love a Lively as well and I haven't read this one so must do at some point.

    I've only read The Outcast by Sadie Jones but think it's excellent and have been meaning to get to her new novel.

  5. Very interesting book stash you have acquired through one way or another.

    If you're looking for more books by people of color, try Malla Nunn's crime fiction series set in 1952 apartheid South Africa.
    Starts with "A Beautiful Way to Die." It features Emmanuel Cooper, a former soldier, now quasi-cop who despises this
    horrific system, violates its laws and has close friends, Shabala, an African constable, and a German Jewish doctor
    who was victimized by the Nazis during WWII. Nunn writes very well.


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