I just finished reading THE THIRTEENTH TALE by Diane Setterfield and whew, what a rush! I loved it! I didn't want to put it down.
To be sure, it wasn't perfect. Nevertheless, while I thought the heroine seemed a bit slow on the uptake sometimes, and I would have preferred a slightly different resolution for the narrator, it was a great, twisty-turny, homage to JANE EYRE read.
There was one part I, as a writer, found really interesting and a great analogy that helps answer that age-old question (which folks probably asked Homer back in ancient Greece), "Where do you get your ideas?" Or "How do you keep coming up with new ones?" (Now that I have several books under my belt, I get this one quite often, too.)
One of the main characters in THE THIRTEENTH TALE, a writer, says:
"'All my life and all my experience, the events that have befallen me, the people I have known, all my memories, dreams, fantasies, everything I have read, all of that has been chucked onto the compost heap where over time it has rotted down to a dark, rick, organic mulch. The process of cellular breakdown makes it unrecognizable. Other people call it the imagination. I think of it as a compost heap. Every so often I take an idea, plant it in the compost, and wait. It feeds on that black stuff that used to be a life, takes its energy for its own. It germinates. Takes root. Produces shoots. And so on and so forth, until one fine day I have a story, or a novel.'"
Isn't that good? And I believe it certainly applies to me, and my tendency to remember odd bits of trivia. It's all compost for the heap, baby!
I also recently finished THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING by Joan Didion. Quite a different reading experience, yet one I'm glad to have. I wish it had been around when a family member passed away to help me understand what those more intimately connected were going through. If somebody you know has lost a loved one, read this -- but I wouldn't necessarily suggest it to them; they know what they're going through. It's more for those of use who haven't yet had such a profound loss, I think.
And just for fun, I've been re-reading the first Trixie Belden book. I'd never heard anybody refer to their mother as "Moms" before, and it still kinda jars. But in my (much older) edition of THE SECRET OF THE MANSION, there's a picture of Jim Frayne sprawled on a mattress in the decrepit mansion, and whew! I suspect that made my tweener heart go pit-a-pat without being aware of why. Now I know. :-)
I'm also adding to my compost heap by reading THE THURTELL-HUNT MURDER CASE: DARK MIRROR TO REGENCY ENGLAND. It's about a notorious crime in Regency England, set in the world of gamblers and boxers. So far, some really interesting stuff to remember -- including the idea that it was considered okay for the aristocracy or rich folks to gamble; they could afford the loses. But heaven forbid the lower classes indulge, because it would lead to their ruin. Oh, and boxing? Led to the dreadful intermingling of the classes, don't ya know?
This is the type of social information I love.
I've also got two books on hold at the library, courtesy of an article in Vanity Fair magazine, THE REASON WHY: THE FATAL CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE by a fellow with the delightful moniker Cecil Blanche FitzGerald Woodham-Smith. (I tell ya, I couldn't make up a name like that!) I also ordered his book about Florence Nightingale. I'm rather fascinated by the Crimean War and frankly, I've had enough medieval research for awhile!