First up, a quick review of The Abominable by Dan Simmons. This was my fourth book for the Historical Fiction reading challenge 2021 which is being hosted by Marg at The Intrepid Reader.
The title of this would suggest a book about yetis, otherwise known as The Abominable Snowman, especially given the author's track record for horror stories. This is very much not the case! I knew it because I'd read a few reviews of the book on Goodreads so was aware that it's primarily a book about mountaineering. Specifically Mount Everest but before the three main characters ever get anywhere near there they're preparing in The Alps and Wales. Jake Perry is the young American narrator and with him go a Frenchman and a Brit, primarily to look for a climber who disappeared around the same time as the real-life Mallory and Irvine. Secretly, they also plan to make an attempt on the summit. This is quite a long book, nearly 700 pages, and if you have no interest in minutiae of mountain climbing then I would suggest you give this one a miss. So many pages are given over to ropes and ice picks and breathing apparatus and goodness knows what else that even I, with an interest in this kind of thing, felt it was a bit much. I did enjoy the historical element, lots about various attempts on Everest that was very interesting, and in the last quarter or third of the book it suddenly became a spy story, which took me a bit by surprise but did help the book jog along a bit quicker. All in all, I enjoyed this one but felt it could have lost a couple of hundred pages and been none the worse for it.
Also read this month was, A Time to be in Earnest by P.D. James.
P.D. James did not write a proper autobiograhy, what she did instead was chart a year in her life, August 1997 to August 1998 and peppered the diary with reminiscences of her long life. It works very well indeed. She was born in 1920 and died in 2014 aged 94 and like a lot of my parents' generation lived through an awful lot of history. She's most famous of course for her Adam Dalgliesh series of books and there is quite a lot of background info on those included in the book... settings, what inspired her to write some of the books, the pubicity she was required to do for each one. James was a busy person, I was rather shocked that she was on the go constantly. What I loved was how much common sense was displayed. So often when reading her opinion on something I found my head nodding in agreement. A sad loss to crime fiction and to us all but she was 94 and no one lives forever. This book was a joy. If you love her crime fiction it's a 'must read'.
And it led me on to this:
Jane Austen's Emma. The reason for this is that at the end of that P.D James book is a transcript of a talk she gave in 1998 at the Jane Austen Society's AGM. It was entitled, Emma Considered as a Detective Story. Well, 'that' had never occurred to me before and I wanted to know more. But it's donkey's years since I read it last so before reading the essay I felt I should reread the book for the third time. I thought I would meander through it slowy ho ho. I'm halfway through after just a couple of days and adore it more than I ever remember doing so before. Can't stop reading it and when I'm not reading it I'm thinking about it. I have my sights set on Sense and Sensibility next, and then possibly a reread Persuasion or Mansfield Park which I don't believe I've ever read.
Don't you just love it when one book leads to another or even a new reading project?