Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Contemporary Fiction

I often have dismal experiences with contemporary fiction. My weakness for always judging a book by its cover doesn't help.
The most notable dismal experience recently was a novel from a bargain table at Barnes & Noble. I have happily forgotten the title. Its cover was a work of art - a pastoral scene viewed through an open window with curtains fluttering in the breeze. I bought it and looked forward to a relaxing evening with a good book. By the third chapter the main character, an English single mother, was making love - on the kitchen table - to a Muslim fellow she had just met . I'll never know how that book ended.

The book I'm reading now is only semi-dismal - A Beautiful Blue Death by Charles Finch. It's a murder mystery with a gorgeous cover - old-fashioned bottles on a shelf. The setting is Victorian England. The victim is poisoned with an exotic poison called "bella indigo" - or "beautiful blue." It's not a bad story, but the writing is a little amateurish, I think. I wonder how some people get published?

Ever the optimist, I bought another contemporary novel yesterday at the new Borders book store in Baton Rouge. It's entitled The Tale of Hill Top Farm - the first in a series of books called "The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter" by Susan Wittig Albert. Here's the description on the back of the book:

In this first of the Cottage Tales, animal lover and all-around Good Samaritan Beatrix Potter, author of Peter Rabbit, is ready to help solve local mysteries. And with her entourage of animal friends, she sets out to win over the human hearts of Sawrey . . .
I do believe this is my kind of book. The English village is masterfully described. The characters are quirky and the animals talk to each other. I'll keep you posted . . .