I love pea soup.
Both the foodstuff, and the weather phenomenon that moniker now commonly represents. And, this morning, I had the lovely treat to wake up to a delightfully foggy world!
And, as I’ve been wending my way through Blogville, I’ve been seeing posts about Dickens, about The Woman in White, and I’ve had a yearning to immerse myself in that spooky literary setting all over again (I haven’t read many of those classics since I was about eleven or so.).
As fate would have it, I was at the end of a TBR stack that’s been gathering dust for years (I just can’t seem to escape this constant state of upheaval. Sigh.).
The last book (hooray!) was The Solitary House by Lynn Shepherd.
Since it’s so foggy out, I doubt you would have seen this coming, but . . . surprise! . . . the book was set in London, in 1850.
I couldn’t have planned my next read more perfectly.*
As I was reading it, a little postcard slipped out. “Oooh, what’s this?” I asked, when I saw the mysterious handwritten note.
It was from Random House, and it was inviting me to “share your thoughts” via @EarlyBirdRead and #EarlyBirdRead.
Oops, I thought, as I checked the book’s publication date. (It was released in 2012.)
I felt really bad.
But, admittedly, that sense of regret was fleeting, as I began to read.
It follows a disgraced detective named Charles Maddox, who now has to take the investigator’s equivalent of odd jobs that draw him even further into seedy back-alley London.
I’m going to interrupt this Book Talk post to say that I can, and have, written proper book reviews. (Especially if someone wants to give me pots of money for writing book reviews! Cough, cough, hint, hint.) But what it comes down to in the end is: “Is it a book?” and I just love the process of reading a book so much that even if it’s not very good, there’s always something that I take away from the journey. And, if I just can’t get into the book, I set it aside, and wait for the right time to read it.
There’s dimensions to this process, but for simplicity’s (and this blog post’s) sake, that about sums it up.
So, I don’t really do traditional book reviews. Mostly I just five-star it on Goodreads. Plus, I have this thing where I just want people to make up their own minds about the book, and I don’t want to lead them too much.
*lights dim and curtain rises*
Okay, now that I’ve taken my place back in the middle of talking about The Solitary House, I’d suggest not doing what I did, which was unknowingly being in the slightly blasé mindset that I was in for a typical “mystery-set-in-Pea-Soup-London” and I think I skimmed over some of the atmosphere and early chapters when I first started to read it.
Don’t do that. Not even if you’re tired, burned out, and/or preoccupied with life stuff, like me. Take your time, read slowly, and let yourself be immersed in this book.
Because, wow. Especially as the weather (finally?) turns more inclement this week.
Also, I love the unusual vignettes the author has woven in that allow us into the world of key characters.
Remember when I was just talking about the right time to read the book, in the intermission above? It doesn’t throw the reader out of the historical setting of the story, but there’s an eerie parallel to what’s been going on recently, and what is currently going on, to the events in the book.**
I’m even going to take my own advice, and give this book an immediate re-read, despite the stacks of other books that are clamouring to be read (including the ones I got with my Amazon gift card a few years back).
I’m highly recommending not only The Solitary House as a perfect read for the holidays, but I’d even suggest the rest of the Charles Maddox series (even though I haven’t read them…yet!). I’m a “diehard” fan, for sure! (See what I did there? Well, maybe some of you. Maybe . . . one? No?)
*Nothing I plan has even remotely reached within (several) ballparks of perfectly. Just saying. Speaking of not planning, I was thinking of the decor suggestions I put in for my “Cultivating Inspiration for Winter” post over at Horror Tree, and I was thinking of the movie Beetlejuice and how it’s not really holiday-ish, but I somehow always associate it with the winter holidays, and guess what came on 95.5 classical music station I listen to? Yep, the main theme for Beetlejuice! Maybe things are looking up for this ole blogger!
**Okay, maybe a teeny hint-that’s-not-really-a-hint–the first book in the next TBR stack is Sexual Justice: Supporting Victims, Ensuring Due Process, and Resisting Conservative Backlash by Alexandra Brodsky. It’s definitely a fitting “right place, right time” chaser to The Solitary House.
Thanks to Delacorte Press for the copy of The Solitary House!
Rating: Five out of Five “Pea-Soup-London” Days!
Pairs well with: A nice stiff Brandy to settle the nerves, Read in your cozy armchair in front of a crackling fire. Don’t forget your hearty bowl of pea soup!
Links to the book/author website: