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Austen to Zafón

Reading widely since 1972.

Currently reading

A London Family, 1870-1900: A Trilogy
Molly Hughes
The Cellist of Sarajevo
Steven Galloway
Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher
Lewis Thomas
All the Names
José Saramago, Margaret Jull Costa
A History of the World in 100 Objects
Neil MacGregor
Down the Garden Path
Beverley Nichols
Virtue Betray'd, Or, Anna Bullen
John Banks
Year of Wonders
Geraldine Brooks
Swallows and Amazons
Arthur Ransome
Illusion in java
Gene Fowler

Lot's Life

Lot's Wife - Tom Wakefield This was my third Tom Wakefield book, after [b:Forties' Child: An Early Autobiography|2682815|Forties' Child An Early Autobiography|Tom Wakefield|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1267020917s/2682815.jpg|2708117] and [b:War Paint|1272541|War Paint|Tom Wakefield|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1312038674s/1272541.jpg|1261495]. This one was different, as it takes place in the 1980s in a retirement home. The very elderly Peggy and Henry live in their respective pasts almost as much of the time as in the present. Though they've had very different experiences during and after WWII, they are drawn to one another and want to be a couple. Enter the domineering killjoy Veronica, who runs the home and is so self-satisfied and condescending that she alienates everyone she meets. Wakefield is known for his tender treatment of his underdog characters and this is no exception. And while Veronica might seem like the enemy, she's as much of an underdog as the other characters.

I don't want to say this is a book about redemption, because when I read that, I usually run far and fast from the cloying, often obvious plots that center around redemption. But it is about making your way, about being kind, and about facing your own truths. Of course, now I've made the book sound serious and sanctimonious, but it's not. One of my favorite scenes is when a group of children come to the home dressed in costume. The residents are supposed to dress as well, and 80-something Mrs. Oakley-Fenham floats down the stairs in a skimpy 1940s negligee, dressed as "Sleeping Beauty." She proceeds to lie down on the settee, to feign sleep, and to wait expectantly to be kissed. Wakefield is a master at these kinds of scenes, which could make fun of everyone, but where the only people who actually come off poorly are the mean and the hypocritical.