I really should get on with these because a) they were lovely questions and b) it is really not summer now. It's not even 2015. *cough*
: What's the best new-to-you book you've read so far this year?
Well, it has been a while since July 2015 when Pers asked me this, but I think it is fair to say that the answer is still undoubtedly The Count of Monte Cristo
, which I managed to read last spring. I had avoided it when reading other Dumas novels as a teenager because it was large and I thought it was about someone being in prison for years and finally getting out and having revenge. While that is kind of true, it turns out, Edmond is in prison only for a small part of the book (I know, I feel v dumb that I ever even vaguely thought Dumas
would write endless grim prison fiction, lol me) and it is surely the most entertaining revenge tale ever told.
I don't know how my brain works: I can read so little without getting a headache and then I pick up a 1000 page brick and go "ooh, now this I can manage!" and basically solely in terms of having something long and enjoyable (I so rarely enjoy
books because they are just such an effort; it's one of the main things I hate about being ill), it was amazing. I should think it is also a pretty darn great old-fashioned ride of improbable long, complicated revenge scheme even when you're not ill.
If you hate it, btw, this is one of those times when I will love you a lot if you don't feel the need to share that fact with me. Thank you.
Anyway, it is all the things (poison and runaway lesbians and treasure and random drug-taking and pirates and bandits and long-lost relatives and cunning disguises! Other things I have since forgot!) and only slows in a few sections where there is too long an absence of the Count, and it is both awesome and ridiculous, regardless of any faults, and I could have taken another few hundred pages of it, easy.
Coming up some way behind it, I thought The Invention of Murder
by Judith Flanders was pretty great, too (an NF book about the Victorians and their obsession with murder) but that was not a magical huge novel that only rarely gave me headaches. Which is not its fault. It's definitely a recommended read for people with an interest in such things and a brain. Victorians, newspapers and lurid murders and the growth of detection fiction is a wonderful subject for a history book & the author is pretty reliably good.
Plus, in Jan 2015, I managed to finally finish the last few chapters of The English Civil War
by Diane Purkiss, which was also excellent (even if I had five years or so in between the first 3/4s and the last). It deals with the Civil War (duh) but from all sorts of different points of views and aspects & is thoroughly engaging and readable. The author clearly has a passion for the era she's keen to communicate. It also mentioned my home town, which gets it extra bonus points, obviously.
But basically Le Comte de Monte Cristo
is a thing of endless delight & my brain is a mystery. I feel bad for teenaged me for missing it when I could have read it totally without any adult reservation or irony or headaches, but on the other hand, I seem to have needed it last year.