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Fiction Books for Book Lovers

November 19, 2007

I have so many book reviews to catch up on!  I usually keep my pile of to-be-reviewed books on my nightstand; it’s now too tall to fit under my lamp, and the other day it tumbled into a big pool of books on the floor.  This is pretty ridiculous, so I’ll have to make multi-book posts for the next few days, organised by theme.

First up today is Bachelor Brothers’ Bed and Breakfast by Bill Richardson.  bachelorbrothers.jpgI was so excited when this came up on bookmooch!  I’ve been aware of it since high school, but I could never find a copy (and I never got around to buying it).  Written by a Canadian (I’m always happy when I happen to read a book by my northern neighbour…it doesn’t happen often enough), the book is basically a collection of sketches.  All of the stories center around a B&B located in some remote corner of Canada; fifty-something twins Hector and Virgil run it as a retreat for book lovers.  They’ve never advertised, but they’re always full of people taking a vacation in order to get around to what they’ve always meant to the be reading.  Most of the book consists of either stories from Hector or Virgil’s point of view or “Brief Lives,” which are shorter tales taken from the guest book.  Tossed in between are a couple of book lists (my favourite is the top ten authors over ten years), a recipe, and even a poem.  As you can tell, the book is pretty eclectic, but Richardson is a master of writing in very different voices.  Each of the narrators, even if they only have a paragraph, feel like distinct people.  This is the kind of book for people who enjoy quiet humour and the little oddities of life.  It’s not big on plot, but it definitely has charm.  Personally, I loved it!

Favourite Passages
Kimberly belongs to the generation that has turned “parent” into a verb. (53)

For me, croquet is nothing less than a transformative experience. Nothing sings so eloquently of summer as those mallets, balls, stakes, and hoops. There is no sound so sweet as the cracking report that issues when you thwack your opponent’s ball clear into the distant shrubbery. There is no thrill like leaving that of leaving the others in the dust as you move from hoop to hoop with the grace of a gazelle and the accuracy of a surgeon. It is the only game that stirs in me some jungle instinct, that makes me want to beat my chest and gird my loins with the skin of an endangered species and drink blood fresh from the vein. (77)

The worst injuries are those we bring on ourselves: the booboos that are visited on us through carelessness or unalloyed stupidity. The thumb whacked instead of the nail. The ankle twisted when stairs are taken too quickly. The lap scalded by a carelessly held cup of coffee. And most galling of all, the drumming, brow-splitting, sick-making headache that follows a night of alcoholic excess. The hangover is surely one of the most exquisite and excruciating incarnations of self-inflicted suffering. (108)

Now, for a complete change of pace, books three and four in Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series.  lostplots.jpgI bought them with the gift certificate I won in the read-a-thon (Thanks Sarah!). Personally, I enjoyed The Well of Lost Plots more than Something Rotten, but both were a lot of fun.

In The Well of Lots Plots, we catch up with Thursday in her self-imposed exile. In order to protect herself and her baby from Goliath (the evil, multi-national corporation that runs England in this alternative universe), Thursday has decided to live in a book (a pulpy detective manuscript unlikely to ever find a publisher) for a couple of years, working as a Jurisfiction agent. Jurisfiction is the police/security force found within books (confused, yet? I promise it makes sense in the books), so basically we get to follow Thursday around jumping with books and dealing with the extensive bureaucracy built up over the years in Book World. Miss Havisham is Thursday’s mentor, and together with Granny Next, these two sprightly old ladies are a ton of fun (they make the book for me). It’s difficult to provide favourite passages from a book like this (everything seems to depend on context), but there is one:

“Books”-Snell smiled-“are a kind of magic.”

I think this is my favourite of the series so far!

Something Rotten catches up with Thursday a couple years down the road. She has a son now, Friday, but her husband is still missing (Goliath’s nefarious work), so she decides it’s time to come back to the real world to try to get him back. Soon, she’s caught up in several new plots, and she must figure out how to save the world from apocalypse (hint: it involves a croquet game). Those who have read the series will find the expected crazy twists and weird, parallel universe differences, but it isn’t quite as satisfying as the second and third were (at least for me). I’d put this more on par with The Eyre Affair. Of course, it was still a fun and compelling read!

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. November 19, 2007 12:43 pm

    Just today I saw the name Jasper Fforde in a list I have of authors I want to read, and I had no idea why it was there, or where I’d heard of him. Thanks to your review I now have a reason to want to read him!

  2. November 19, 2007 5:36 pm

    I’m really looking forwards to reading the first Fforde book in the First in a Series challenge. And the first book made me smile, because we always take tons of reading when we go away for the weekend to this bed and breakfast we love about 3 hours north of us.

  3. November 20, 2007 9:26 am

    Thanks so much for the reviews. I’ve never heard of the B&B book, but it sounds great. I’ll definitely check it out. I’ve started The Eyre Affair twice and can’t seem to get into it. I don’t really know why. I have it as part of my TBR challenge, so I need to get on with it. I think I’ll probably like it once I give it a fair chance.

  4. November 20, 2007 9:31 am

    Bachelor Brothers B&B sounds like a lovely idea for a book – and actually a lovely idea for a real-life place as well! I’ll bookmark your post.

  5. November 20, 2007 12:29 pm

    The Well of Lost Plots is the next book up for me in the series. I keep forgetting that I have it in my stacks! Eek! Maybe I’ll remember now in light of your fantabulous review. :)

  6. November 21, 2007 3:19 pm

    I loved the Brothers B&B book. It’s been such a long time since I’ve read it though that I don’t remember much. I do wish I could find a B&B like theirs though when I travel :)

  7. November 22, 2007 2:50 pm

    Bill Richardson is one of the funniest people around. He’s a staple of Canadian radio and he used to write newspapers columns. And he’s a librarian, woo!

  8. November 24, 2007 4:05 pm

    I’m so glad you discovered the Bachelor Brothers B&B! I’ve longed to visit a place like that ever since I first read this one.

  9. November 26, 2007 9:41 am

    Bed & Breakfast sounds really neat. I love the new color scheme, btw!

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