Book Fortyseven: Cotillion

Cotillion, Georgette Heyer

I couldn't resist reading another Georgette Heyer. And, you know, I liked this one even more than Black Sheep! I found it funnier and wittier, and it had more interesting and sympathetic characters. What's the nutshell plot of this one? Young Kitty Charing will inherit her guardian's vast fortunes, but only if she marries one of his great-nephews. She very much wants to marry one of them, Jack Westruther, who is a handsome, rakish flirt, but he refuses to propose (is he toying with her?), so in order to make him jealous she schemes with another of his nephews, Freddy, to pretend that they are engaged. And then hilarity ensues!

I agree with nearly every other person who has read and loved this book, in that Freddy is an unlikely, but lovable hero. Of course, he's no Mr. Darcy, but he has his own sweet quirky charm. And I loved all the subplots and minor characters, like Lord Dolphinton and Meg and the Chevalier and Miss Plymstock. And now, two questions for any other Georgette Heyer fans out there: what Heyer book should I read next and has anyone made any of these books into movies?

Book Fortysix: White Noise

White Noise, Don DeLillo

Another book club pick. Admittedly, I read this book over ten years ago, sometime after college. However, as I read it again this week I could not remember anything about it at all. Seriously, it was almost entirely new to me. I did remember the airborne toxic event (because, honestly, how can you not? and hey, look, it's also now the name of a band) and the very last scene in the book seemed remotely familiar, but everything else was completely fresh and new. Well, not all of it was "fresh" as it was sometimes obvious that it was written in 1985 (wow, 1985 is almost 25 years ago!). But Don DeLillo, at the same time, seems somehow prophetic, too.

I finished the book in a mad dash yesterday afternoon, with only 20 minutes to get to book club. As I was driving across town, I had this weird feeling of unease, which I'm sure came from the book. I mean, it's not the happiest message in the world. All that toxic exposure, fear of death, Hitler studies, consumerism stuff does not make for warm fuzzies. And it's one of those books where all the characters speak in the same voice, which, yes, is probably the point of the book (the constant drone, the white noise, if you will), but is rather unsettling. I'm glad the feeling wore off after spending a few hours with some lovely friends, because I would hate to feel that way all the time. I'm sure that's the feeling of depression, of hopelessness, and fear of just having to exist in this sad, screwed-up world.

Book Fortyfive: The Historian

The Historian, Elizabeth Kostova

If 2007 was the year of the mystery, then I declare 2008 the year of the vampire! Seriously, I can't get enough vampires lately. If I didn't have to be reading another book for my next book club, I'd totally be reading Bram Stocker's Dracula already. And can we talk about Twilight, which opens in just a couple of short weeks? We can't, because I'm just too excited!

Finishing this book (just moments ago, really), left me feeling a little empty, but I think it's the emptiness of having finished a really good book and knowing that there's no more. That's it, it's over. Given that feeling, it's hard for me to write about it now, but I will say that if you are all at all interested in vampires, history (seriously, Vlad the Impaler as Dracula, which was also the inspiration for Bram Stocker's novel, too) or just reading really good books, this is totally the book for you.

Book Fortyfour: Frankenstein

Frankenstein, Mary Shelley

Okay, so this is not the book I was expecting. Of course, when I thought of Frankenstein I always thought of the classic movie with the creepy castle and the mad scientist Frankenstein shrieking, "It's alive!", and the giant grunting monster with the nubbins on the side of his neck and big square forehead and the torch-bearing mob of villagers and the little girl with the flower and... well, you're probably thinking of it, too. So, big surprise to me that Mary Shelley's Frankenstein bears little resemblance to the movie. I mean, the book opens with the monster on a dogsled zipping across the north pole. What the?

But, wow, what a book! And this edition is pure loveliness, what with the Dan Clowes cover art. In fact, I only knew of this edition because I saw the original panels at the Clowes show at the Fantagraphics store in August. I was kind of hoping for a full comic of the Frankenstein story, but this Penguin Classics Deluxe edition is a pretty good tradeoff. There's also an introduction by Elizabeth Kostova, whose book, incidentally, is next on my list as I continue my spooky Halloween-themed book bonanza.