Category Archives: fiction

The Goldfinch

I decided early this year that I was not going to finish books I wasn’t enjoying.

Generally, I have always finished books I didn’t enjoy (except Moby Dick, fuck that book). I have a pretty strong sense of what I like, and most of what I didn’t like I was reading for school (again Moby Dick). Plus:

Image result for sansa mama didn't raise no quitter book meme

I didn’t actually set out to make this decision. I made it after listening to four hours of the audiobook of The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.

I enjoyed Tartt’s debut novel The Secret History so much. I read it back in college, I related very much to the predicament of some of the characters (some, definitely not all), and the story was so interesting that I could barely put the book down.

But let’s start with the only thing I did like about the book (I can usually find one thing). And that one thing here is that the book led me to the painting. The Goldfinch is an actual painting (which, after looking at for awhile), I’ve decided I really like. It’s one of the few surviving paintings of Carel Fabritius, an extremely promising and talented student of Rembrandt’s, but who was unfortunately killed in an explosion that destroyed much of Delft, a city in the Netherlands, where he was living and working. Most of his paintings were also destroyed in the explosion.

But the book itself? No. And it’s my own fault, really. There were signs. I ignored them.

The first sign I wasn’t going to enjoy The Goldfinch was that my friend hated it. She would have put it down, but was trapped on a flight from New York to Los Angeles and so hate-read it the entire way there. My friend and I have different taste and different opinions on a lot of stuff (for example, intersectional feminism) but being from similar background and having similar interests and education usually means we like a lot of the same novels. She, too, loved The Secret History. She, too, based her choice on her love of that novel.

The second sign I wasn’t going to enjoy The Goldfinch was I read the first couple of chapters and switched to the audiobook. Usually, I listen to the audiobook at work and if I’m really enjoying it, I end up picking up the book to finish it at home (as I did after this with The Girl in the Spider’s Web). It’s not good when I read a bit and decide “Ugh, maybe listening to this will be better.” I now find this is just about never the case. There are books that are enhanced by their audiobooks – actual examples for me being David Sedaris reading his own work, Amy Poehler reading her own work, etc… but I’ve never not liked reading something and enjoyed the audiobook better.

Here is the cliff notes summary of the book, because even the cliff notes are too long:

A boy (Theo) and his mother are victims of a terrorist attack at the Met. Theo’s mom doesn’t survive, and in the chaos following the explosion, Theo, in an effort to comfort a dying man, takes a painting called ‘The Goldfinch,’ puts it in his pocket or his backpack, and forgets about it. The entire rest of the novel is about how this one innocent action, which could easily be solved by returning the painting to the museum, ruins his life.

So I got about four hours into The Goldfinch. A lot can happen in about four hours. You can do several loads of laundry. You can watch an entire ‘Lord of the Rings’ film. You can fly from New York to several other destinations within the northern hemisphere.

The Goldfinch barley got past the terrorist attack. No joke, it took two hours to get to the defining moment of the story, and in book time, we’re barely a month or two past it. The kid’s deadbeat dad hasn’t even shown up yet, and there’s like 12 more hours at least.

It was another awkward meal with the Barbours when I decided to call it quits. Theo’s friends with a Barbour kid from school and his friend’s wealthy parents take him in for awhile while authorities try to figure out what to do with Theo, and Theo, suffering from PTSD, barely speaks to them. In his own head though, he whines incessantly and is incredibly obnoxious, and it was around this time that I realized that I just don’t care about Theo.

I stopped the audiobook, went into the app, returned the book to the library (yes, I’m sure I want to return it early – TAKE IT BACK, STOP ASKING ME!) and called it a day.

I know The Goldfinch won a Pulitzer. I know it was critically acclaimed. I know. I know. I know. Supposedly the story deals with the nature vs. nurture debate as well as the fate vs. free will debate. I don’t care.

I know somebody out there likes this book. I disagree. It’s boring and awful and I highly suggest skipping it if you require anything in your novels beyond the psychological development of a traumatized 13 year old boy – you know, stuff like a plot. I learned that The Goldfinch is a genre of literature called ‘bildungsroman,’ which is a coming of age story in which character development was extremely important. There was not enough character development at a fast enough rate to justify continuing.

I live in the minutia of daily life. I don’t need to read it book form.

And so this is how I decided that life is too short to read/listen to books I don’t enjoy. I’ve quit a couple books this year, and I feel so free!

The Stalin Epigram

Woohoo, I’m finally reaching 2017 books. That’s actually THIS YEAR. I know it’s almost August. Still, go me.

The first book I read this year was called The Stalin Epigram by Robert Littell.

This book wasn’t what I thought it was going to be and for that reason was somewhat disappointing. While it does create an atmosphere of suspense, it really isn’t much of a thriller, which is what I thought I was getting. It’s based on the life of Osip Mandalstam, a widely admired Russian poet, who writes a satirical (and not so satirical) poem about Stalin during the height of Stalin’s power and purges (the 1930s).

Mandalstam writes a forbidden poem, reads it to a bunch of people, gets ratted out to the “Organs” (which is the name for the secret police) and he goes to prison, where he’s tortured, and then into exile with his wife. After he gets out of exile, he’s super jumpy and paranoid and depressed as you would be after being tortured and exiled, so he goes back to Moscow, where he isn’t supposed to go. He is discovered again, sent to a labor camp or a Siberian prison (this time without his wife) and he dies.

I don’t know what the point of this book was beyond telling a fictional account of something that’s well documented. The book is told through several points of view, the main one (to me) being that of Mandalstam’s wife. Other points of view are a weight lifter, one of Stalin’s bodyguards, an actress both Mandalstams are boning (again, more pointless sex writing, ugh), another Russian poet or two (both friends of Mandalstam) and maybe a few others.

The writing was fine, and the characters were interesting and varied, but nobody seemed to really do anything. Like I said, there was no point. The author, I think, has put some pretty serious research into Mandalstam, which is why I thought we were going to get more spy story paranoia and not just “Hey this is what happened.” I think Littell might have actually visited Mrs. Mandalstam in the 1970s before her death to accomplish some of this research, and included his thoughts on the conversations and what they were like after the novel was finished, but again, I’m not sure of the point.

I skimmed a lot of this book, which I guess is why I can’t remember much and entirely missed the point. Like my previous read, this wasn’t great. It was okay. But the font was much smaller, and it was at least 100 pages longer. It took me three months to finish and I put it down for extended periods.

Overall, I wouldn’t recommend it. It doesn’t seem to really know what it wants to be. If you do choose to read it, you won’t regret wasting your life. It’s not that bad. You may, however, find it to be generally disappointing.

City of Dark Magic

Ah yes. The last book I read in 2016: City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte. I picked this one up at Barnes & Noble because it was $6. As good a reason as any to pick up a book, right?

I have a couple of issues with it, although I didn’t hate it.

Basically, music doctorate candidate Sarah Weston, who helps support herself by giving music lessons to/nannying the precocious only child of a wealthy Boston family ends up in Prague for the summer when her doctoral adviser, who was already in Prague, mysteriously dies. He was cataloging and chronicling possessions of one Prince Max, who has just regained possession of a castle from the Czech government after the Nazis took possession and occupied it during World War II. Sarah and a number of other experts in their fields are staying at the castle to do this research so Prince Max can open a family history museum.

Sarah’s adviser, and later Sarah, end up looking for evidence of Beethoven’s ‘Immortal Beloved,’ which is apparently a real academic mystery, where nobody knows who the addressee of this famous love letter that Beethoven wrote actually is. There are several theories, which the book delves into for the sake of fiction.

After her arrival in Prague, Sarah begins to suspect her adviser was murdered. That theory is later confirmed when someone else close to the project is murdered, and so Sarah finds herself at the center of an escalating mystery as a series of murders threatens this important summer project.

Now, this is clearly a fantasy book, so the alchemy, the ageless servant, the nearly clairvoyant precocious little girl, etc… I was ready for.

The detours into Sarah’s sex life, particularly early in the story, I was not only not ready for, I felt they added to almost nothing except the author’s word count.

I know that sex is part of life and having had it before, I like it as much as anyone. But I don’t really want to read about it in detail. I find the writing is generally cringeworthy (as this was) and I find that most of the time, it’s not relevant. In this case, Sarah gets horny on the plane and blah blah her sense of smell and blah blah blah ends up banging a guy who she thought was another guy in a closet or something at the castle during dinner.

To me, this is the least interesting “mystery” in the whole book, because I really don’t care. Sure, this ends up being somewhat relevant but you could have left it out entirely and I wouldn’t have had to roll my eyes and wonder if I should bother continuing. This happened maybe 50 pages into the book? I don’t read romance for a reason. I don’t find it interesting. I didn’t find this aspect of the story interesting. I found it rather annoying.

Sarah was something of a Mary Sue as well, but it wasn’t so unbearable I felt I had to put the book down. It was a little annoying sometimes.

The resolution of the story was a little strange, and I think I must have missed a part while skimming (I tend to do that). There’s a US Senator involved in this whole thing, who is a sociopath, but I don’t fully understand why she’s involved. Anyway, she gets sucked into a vortex of doom and that’s basically how her plot line is resolved. Not the greatest writing but also not the worst.

Actually, the whole book was not the best book, but also not the worst. One of the things it did have going for it is that it wasn’t very long, so it wasn’t so slow that I had to put it down, unfinished, a mistake thus far only reserved for the books I really find boring.

The premise of the story was interesting enough for me to keep reading even though a couple of things early on turned me off. I’m glad I did, because while some of the novel really fell flat, there were enough fun elements to make consider reading the sequel. I’m a sucker for historical mysteries – Shakespeare’s lost plays are some of my favorites.

I also liked the setting. I haven’t spent a lot of time in Europe, but I’d like to, so it was nice to spend a story in Prague. Prague is one of those cities everyone seems to visit and talk about in college. I never went, and I think this is the first book I read that was set there.

Oh. So yes, there’s a sequel. It’s called City of Lost Dreams. That takes place in Vienna. I may pick it up, but I’m in no rush.

This is a good – for lack of a better term – beach read. If you’re a huge fantasy nerd who wants something denser and more detailed, this isn’t for you. It’s pleasantly surprising, but it isn’t anything fantastic.

Jamaica Inn

Daphne DuMaurier’s Jamaica Inn had been sitting on my shelf for quite some time before I finally picked it up late last year, and as usual I don’t know why I waited so long to get around to reading it. I think I ended up reading it this time because I recorded the movie off Turner Classic Movies and wanted to read the book first.

Jamaica Inn follows Mary Yellan, a very serious, stoic girl whose mother just died to the hotel of the title, where her Aunt Patience lives.

There is a real ‘Jamaica Inn’ on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall. It still exists, people still go, and it inspired DuMaurier’s novel, however, the book does mention that the fate of the inn in real life and in the book are not the same and the novel is merely something DuMaurier made up. Apparently it’s a touristy spot these days, but in the novel it’s old and nearly abandoned.

So Mary is dropped off in the middle of the night at a dark, cold inn that “honest people” now avoid. In fact, if I remember correctly, she wasn’t even dropped off at the inn, because the carriage driver wouldn’t get close enough. She was dropped off a few miles away, across a moor, and probably wouldn’t have made it to the inn at all without the help of a passing vicar.

Aunt Patience, who Mary remembers from her childhood as lively and bright, is now cowering and meek, married to Joss Merlyn, the inn’s proprietor, as well as a drunk and local bully.

Mary and her uncle clash routinely, and Mary can’t stand her uncle, but is trapped in Jamaica Inn because Mary can’t bear to ignore her mother’s last wish – which was to go live with and care for her Aunt Patience. Mary also figures out that something is off – the inn never has any guests and the bar/restaurant portion rarely has visitors.

As with DuMaurier’s other novels, this story is full of rich language that creates a dark, brooding atmosphere. Mary is a spunky heroine, if not a little grating. Yes, we get it, Mary has little sense of humor and doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty and is pure of heart and spirit. WE GET IT. The supporting characters are more interesting, with my favorite of them being the vicar. There is a pretty good mystery involved, and some twists you don’t see coming until the very last moment, which I always appreciate. I’ve solved several plots way before the end and it always makes the story less enjoyable.

While Jamaica Inn is classified as a book of “romantic suspense,” I wouldn’t label it as such. It’s a suspenseful novel, certainly a mystery novel, but there isn’t that much that’s typically “romantic” about it. Mary does meet a man named Jem, and his identity and his job are parts of the mystery, but they’re not the main parts, and not even the most interesting parts.

I would recommend the book as a pretty good read, with this added tip: when you come across a word you don’t know because it’s not the 1800s anymore, look it up. The story will make way more sense. Jamaica Inn isn’t as good as Rebecca or My Cousin Rachel, but it’s enjoyable anyway and fairly short. I think the whole thing was 300 pages, tops. Probably more like 270.

Finally, as I previously mentioned, there is a film version of this novel that was directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starred Maureen O’Hara and Charles Laughton. The movie was terrible. Supposedly it was hijacked by Laughton who would revise the script to make his role better or more appealing to the audience and what not. For whatever the reason, the film was really bad. And I’m a huge Hitchcock fan, so it’s not like me to dump on one of his films. He killed it adapting Rebecca, and I’ve really come to love and appreciate The Birds. But the screen adaptation of Jamaica Inn? It was bad. It was just bad. It didn’t follow the novel, it eliminated the most interesting character, it featured Charles Laughton as the world’s most obnoxious squire.

In this case, if deciding between the two, just go with the novel.

‘Murder on the Orient Express’ trailer

I first read Murder on the Orient Express back in college – I went through a huge Agatha Christie phase my freshman year and read at least 10 (probably more) of her mysteries. Murder on the Orient Express is frequently touted as one of her best, and I agree. The book has gotten several film treatments; a couple I’ve seen but none that I’ve loved. I must say, I’m really excited about the one coming out this November! Naturally, I’ll have to reread the story before then, but it’s a great cast and I’m really looking forward to seeing if they can get it right. Is anyone else?

Here’s the trailer:

The Crooked Maid

How did I stumble across The Crooked Maid? I don’t remember exactly what I was doing but I think I was looking up something about The Quiet Twin, and found it on author Dan Vyleta’s website.

I had no idea that Vyleta had revisited Vienna, this time after the war in 1948, and bought the book immediately. It was the ebook version too, so it was near instant gratification. I started reading it that day.

The Crooked Maid isn’t a sequel to The Quiet Twin, exactly, but it does revisit some of the same places and characters. Anna Beer, wife of Dr. Anton Beer, who we met in the previous novel, is back in Vienna after separating from Beer before the war, but when she arrives back at the apartment she shared with her husband, he is nowhere to be found and in his place is a large stranger, Karel Neumann, who claimed to know Beer during the war.

Anna seems to be something of a fading femme fatale; the kind of woman men can’t resist but whose beauty, while still formidable, is beginning to fade with age. She’s smart and street saavy and quite capable of taking care of herself. Overall, she’s my favorite female character in both books.

Robert Seidel, whose first encounter with Anna opens the novel, is on his way home from boarding school to see his family when his stepfather is hospitalized after mysteriously falling out a window. When he dies, Robert’s brother, Wolfgang, a former SS officer, is charged in his death.

Eva, the hunchback maid of the title and working for the wealthy Seidels, is also interested in finding Dr. Beer.

And Vienna is working desperately at denazification, trying to purge itself of signs of its dark past, and convince the world, and itself, that it was a reluctant participant to the horrors of the Nazi regime rather than its willing cohort.

Unlike The Quiet Twin, there were likable characters in this book and the ending wasn’t nearly as bitter, although things didn’t work out quite the way I wanted them to. Ok, they worked out nothing like I wanted them to, but I guess that’s good right? I always complain about books and movies where I figure out the ending. Why should this be any different?

I did figure out Dr. Beer’s fate early on, though. I still liked the story, and getting to that point though, so that’s a plus.

As with the The Quiet Twin, I highly recommend The Crooked Maid. It can be slow in spots but gets better and better as it goes on and was a contender for my favorite book of 2016.

As a side note for anyone considering picking up the book, you don’t have to read The Quiet Twin before you read The Crooked Maid, but I recommend it. You will pick up a lot of extra info that makes finding little Easter eggs in The Crooked Maid more enjoyable.

Last Words From Montmartre

I saw Qiu Miaojin’s Last Words From Montmartre at the Strand Bookstore down in the city on one of their tables. I think it was pre-owned because it was super cheap ($6-ish) and I bought it because the back read like it was going to be an exciting psychological thriller.

This book also satisfied a requirement on the list I lost last year, but I really thought it was going to be super exciting from the blurb on the back cover:

When the pioneering Taiwanese novelist Qiu Miaojin committed suicide in 1995 at age twenty-six, she left behind her unpublished masterpiece, Last Words from Montmartre. Unfolding through a series of letters written by an unnamed narrator, Last Words tells the story of a passionate relationship between two young women—their sexual awakening, their gradual breakup, and the devastating aftermath of their broken love. In a style that veers between extremes, from self-deprecation to pathos, compulsive repetition to rhapsodic musings, reticence to vulnerability, Qiu’s genre-bending novel is at once a psychological thriller, a sublime romance, and the author’s own suicide note.

The letters (which, Qiu tells us, can be read in any order) leap between Paris, Taipei, and Tokyo. They display wrenching insights into what it means to live between cultures, languages, and genders—until the genderless character Zoë appears, and the narrator’s spiritual and physical identity is transformed. As powerfully raw and transcendent as Mishima’s Confessions of a Mask, Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther, and Theresa Cha’s Dictée, to name but a few, Last Words from Montmartre proves Qiu Miaojin to be one of the finest experimentalists and modernist Chinese-language writers of our generation.

It wasn’t sublime. It wasn’t thrilling. It was 176 pages of a woman feeling sorry for herself and being pathetic. I hated it.

I was excited about all aspects of it – a genre and gender bending queer romantic thriller taking place in far away, exotic cities? Am I tall enough to get on the ride? Sign me up.

And when I got off the ride, I got the distinct impression that I was misled on purpose. I found the unnamed narrator (another aspect of the story I liked, as it was reminiscent of Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca, another romantic thriller with an unnamed narrator) whiny, self-indulgent, and as I said earlier, pathetic.

Maybe it’s because of who I am personally, but I have never liked self-pitying wallowers. I understand being depressed after a passionate relationship ends. Eventually, though, pull it together and get over it. Go on living. I always respected myself too much to let my relationship to a significant other define me. I never gave him that kind of power and I have trouble respecting women who do give their significant others, male of female, that kind of power. The relationship in the story, from what I remember now, wasn’t an abusive relationship of any kind, so it’s not that kind of inequality that would trigger someone being unable to leave or be truly damaged by abusive behavior. It was just some woman who couldn’t/wouldn’t get over a breakup.

I had no problem with the translation. Ari Larissa Heinrich did a great job. I can’t comment on the original language, but I thought it was beautifully written and therefore must have been beautifully translated.

My distinct reaction of dislike may be a defect of me personally because a lot of people love this book and comment endlessly on the genius of the author. She has other projects people rave about (though I have no inclination to discover them). Qiu Miaojin committed suicide, which, although I loathe admitting it, darkly fascinates me and is one of the reasons I thought this book would be good. It can be read as her suicide note? What does that mean? How interesting! Let’s find out.

I FOUND OUT. I HATED IT. I WAS GLAD THE NARRATOR WAS SETTING OFF TO KILL HERSELF.

Obviously I feel bad about the author because she was a real person, but the narrator? Nah.

This isn’t the first “great book” where my reaction was one of intense dislike to what I considered to be a whiny, pathetic narrator. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley really rubbed me the wrong way too, and I was only a 16 year old high school sophomore when I read that. But it was the same kind of thing. The narrator went on ENDLESSLY, wallowing in self-indulgent nonsense and oooooh poor him.

I can’t remember for sure 13 years later but I think that narrator commits suicide at the end too and I think my reaction was the same. “Good riddance.”

I would be more specific and look up more details of this book for this post, but I gave it to a friend and she never gave it back, which was fine. I haven’t asked for it back. I don’t want it back. It was $6ish, 176 pages, and 3 or 4 hours I’ll never get back.

It was disappointing enough without remembering all the specific details.

a few thoughts on Tolkien

tolkien-darkness-must-pass

JRR Tolkien was born 125 years ago today, on January 3, 1892 (for the arithmatic-ly challenged).

My mother dragged me to see the Fellowship of the Ring in 2001. I was 13. She really did have to drag me, using the sound reasoning that she’d gone to every damn stupid god forsaken terrible film I’d ever want to go to as a kid, and I was going to come whether I liked it or not.

At the start I was outraged I was being dragged to a three hour film I knew nothing about and had no interest in.

By the end I was outraged I’d sat through a three hour film and they hadn’t answered any questions.

My mom wouldn’t tell me what happened next and said I’d have to read it or wait til the next film. I was outraged further.

But I started The Hobbit on December 21, 2001 and finished The Return of the King on August 22, 2002. I was a slow reader as a kid.

And man, those books and films changed my life.

Not in a “I’m a new person” kind of way, although I did adopt the “not all those who wander are lost” quote as a philosophy of life. I don’t think it changed my outlook on life. It did change my outlook on stories. I compare every epic saga to that of the Fellowship’s. I don’t even do it on purpose. But that’s the standard – from the personal, inner conflicts of the characters to the epic consequences of the struggle, other stories I’ve read lack the world building, the scope and the depth of Lord of the Rings. Peter Jackson’s adaptations are also possibly the greatest films I’ve ever watched in terms of grandeur and scale and faithfulness to the source material.

I’m not so devoted I’ve done things like read The Simarillion or The Children of Hurin. Or The Appendices. DEAR GOD, THE APPENDICES. But I like that they’re there if I ever want to read them.

And I do recognize greatness when I read it, and Tolkien may be the greatest.

So happy birthday to an all time great and one of my all time favorites. Thanks for a story that has given me something to bond with my mom over. And my friends. And my teachers. And the rest of the world. It’s been the best gift.

tolkien-wander-quote

Off Season

The first book I read in 2016 was over the weekend we had a blizzard, and that book was Off Season by Jack Ketchum.

It was part of a challenge I was going to do, but in the course of my life between New Year’s and now, lost the list, so I just ended up reading this terrifying book.

Basically, a group of friends from New York City go to Maine where they have a cute cabin, in the resort town’s off season (hence, the name of the book). They end up in a cabin that hasn’t been inhabited in quite some time, and it’s near a group of inbred, cannibalistic savages (who, IIRC, were originally normal people who disappeared in what everybody thought were just legends and who, over the generations of inbreeding, became these monster people).

This is the story that movie The Hills Have Eyes was based on. Really, it’s the old American urban legend of cannibal savages that attack strangers for fun.

It was a good, scary book, but it was really, really violent. This wasn’t a terror story, where you never actually “see” anything – this was a horror story, violence, gore, the works.

It wasn’t the kind of book I normally read when I go for scares, because I prefer terror, which I find more effective. That said, this book was very effective in that it was scary and not JUST gory. The whole idea of inbred cannibals is revolting in and of itself. The fact that they were extra violent just added to the revulsion.

There is no shortage of vivid description in this book, and the story is quick paced, which keeps you interested. I’d say there’s 50 pages or less before the action really picks up. I can’t say for certain that this is the case, as I read the kindle version. There were some clear typos in the kindle version, but it wasn’t too bad. Definitely not a deal breaker…especially since I’m not sure the book is still in print.

I suggest reading this book if you want a gruesome thriller. But not in Maine. Or in the woods. Or the dark. Or anywhere alone. Pleasant nightmares!

Career of Evil

Well, I’m back. My family life took a sad turn in June, and since then I haven’t been doing very much of anything productive, but I’m trying to change that now.

And so we’ve arrived at Career of Evil, the last book I read in 2015. This is the third Cormoran Strike novel by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling) and I didn’t enjoy it as much as The Silkworm, but just as much as The Cuckoo’s Calling.

A lunatic sends Cormoran’s spunky sidekick (and growing love interest), Robin, a human leg. Just a leg. No body attached, like she had ordered a turkey drumstick. This was the first of several body parts delivered to Robin. Blue Oyster Cult lyrics also arrive with these body parts and feature heavily throughout the book. Strike figures out he knows the killer partially because the killer sends BOC lyrics his mom had as a tattooed on her.

This was a pretty weird mystery that took some pretty wild turns, where the suspect is one of three very shady blokes Cormoran knows from his past including an one of his old boxing adversaries from the army, a pedophile and some other really lousy human being.

They get the right guy at the end, but not before Robin breaks off her wedding, then un-breaks off her wedding, and gets herself fired for disobeying direct orders from her boss, who can barely manage without her because she takes care of all the detailed things he can’t be bothered to think about (like, the mail).

Anyway, after their big blowout, Strike finds himself being driven by one of his childhood friends in low places to Robin’s wedding, where he shows up just in time to see Robin get married, and knock over a big vase of flowers, drawing the attention of the whole church congregation, which makes Robin laugh.

We also find out during the book that Robin was raped in college, which is why she never completed it, and that Matthew, her boyfriend now fiance/husband, had a fling with a friend of his.

At the end of this story, Robin and Strike, while no longer actively arguing and rather glad to see each other, are not actually reconciled and Robin is still fired, so hopefully this is rectified in the next book, because Robin is my favorite character, and I prefer she not be absent for any long length of time.

Now that Robin is married it is also less clear in Robin and Strike are endgame, which is less important but still kind of what I’d like to see happen because Matthew is a douche. Robin needs to get rid of him at the very least.

As I said, I enjoyed this every bit as much as the first Galbraith book, not quite as much as the second, but definitely a lot.

I don’t know how many of these books Rowling Galbraith plans to write, but as long as they remain this good, I’ll keep reading them. She’s released one book a year 2013, 2014, and 2015 in the Strike series so far, but considering it’s nearly September and there’s no release date for the next one yet, it probably won’t be out until 2017 at the earliest, which isn’t the end of the world, but I’d still have liked to have gotten my hands on it this fall.

I’m going to try to update this more frequently again. I haven’t even started writing about my 2016 books yet and it’s getting on 2017. JEEZ.

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