Unintellectual Fall & What I’m Reading: Lena Divani and Elizabeth George

Dancing with the Stars

Dancing with the Stars

I’m planning an unintellectual autumn.

Throw out The New York Review of Books, put the TLS on hold, and only read the TV criticism in The New Yorker.

In general, it’s good to eschew anything with initials or New York in the title when you’re going pop.

Did you know that Antonio Sabato Jr., the underwear-model-turned-actor, will be paired with Cheryl Burke this fall on Dancing with the Stars?  Source:  Entertainment Weekly.

Then, most important: I plain to  break out the Jean Plaidy.

Jean Plaidy is a symbol at our house.  Whenever I need a comfort read, I read one of Jean Plaidy’s historical novels.

I lo-o-o-ve her Lucrezia Borgia books, Madonna of the Seven Hills and Light on Lucrezia.  I’m thinking of going Tudor this fall.  She wrote 10 or so  Tudor books.

But I haven’t gone pop yet, and it probably won’t last long, because I’ll get bored.  Meanwhile, here’s what I’m reading:

Seven Lives...Memoirs of a Cat divani1.  Lina Divani’s Seven Lives and One Great Love: Memoirs of a Cat.  This charming, comic novel, translated by Konstantine Motsukas and published by Europa, is strictly for cat lovers.  The narrator, Zach, a white cat with a shrewd knowledge of feline psychology, informs us that cats have seven lives, and they’re pretty dumb in the first few.  But fortunately he wised up, and  spent his sixth at the London National Library.  He informs us it “was the equivalent of the jackpot in the karmic lotto.”

In his seventh life, he has “picked” an unlikely parent, a hipster writer and historian who pretty much ignores him.  He adores her and spends a lot of time figuring out how to break into her study.  He spent his sixth life with books, and now he wants to understand writers.

She won’t let him into the bedroom, but later one of her boyfriends tries to sneak her in.

When she starts wearing black after breaking up with her housemate, he says:

She had the dress sense of an existentialist widow.  Lord have mercy!  You might think that it was handy, her being all black, me being all white, a fetching combination, right?  Not so!  I molted terribly you see, against the black background, to the point where she was beside herself with exasperation.

This is an enjoyable, rather sweet little novel.  Not great, but lots of fun.

2.  Elizabeth George’s Just One Evil Act.  Elizabeth George is my favorite contemporary mystery writer.  Her books, set in England, remind me of P. D. James’, only I actually prefer George’s.  Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley, 8th Earl of Asherton, and Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers are partners at New Scotland Yard:  they’re opposites, but have grown fond of each other over the years.    He is suave, brilliant, and tolerant, while Barbara is a rather rough, reckless woman who  annoys the Superintendent with bad fashion:   t-shirts with slogans like I’M HEAVILY MEDICATED FOR YOUR SAFETY and cartoon-character socks.

In this fast-paced thriller, Barabara breaks the rules even more than usual.  Her friend and neighbor Azhar’s child has been kidnapped by her mother, who has disappeared. Barbara helps Azhar track down his former partner and their  child through an unconventional private investigator, but things get wildly out of hand after the child is kidnapped from her mother’s house.  Lynley is assigned to to Italy, because the mother and child are British citizens,.  In Italy, an Italian officer has also gone slightly off the rails.

This is truly an excellent novel and I’ve had little time to blog because I’m so absorbed.

Elizabeth George is a brilliant writer.

Let’s hope I finish this tomorrow so I can get some things done around the house!

6 thoughts on “Unintellectual Fall & What I’m Reading: Lena Divani and Elizabeth George

  1. I wasn’t so convinced by this latest Elizabeth George. I felt she tried to put too much in and that really she had two stories here each of which would have been served better by their own novel. Maybe I just want more books by her.

    I haven’t read Jean Plaidy for years but most of what I know about the Tudor period comes from her. Myself, when I want comfort reading I retreat back into the Helene Hanffs. What greater comfort can there be than spending time with a fellow reader?


    • Oh, I love Elizabeth George! She can do no wrong.:) There are two crimes here, which seem to fit together. Perhaps there will be a twist?

      I discovered Plaidy only a few years ago. Yes, it will probably help me get my Tudors straight (as did Wolf Hall). And you can’t go wrong with Helene Hanff.


  2. I read many of my mother’s Jean Plaidy titles in my teens and remember them fondly – in fact, I think I have a few in the box going to the charity shop if you’d like them! My comfort reading is pretty much always classic crime – nothing better than cosy detecting and putting the world to rights!


    • I know just what you mean about cozy detecting, and very much en;oy your classic crime reviews. Thanks for the offer of Plaidys: I picked up five or six at a used bookstore a few years ago, so I’m set. Anyway, they’re too expensive to send to the U.S. 🙂

      I love Elizabeth GEorge, and maybe I should catch up on her books and eschew the Plaidys!


  3. I appreciate the citation of the book narrated by a cat. It’s not easy to find books on cats or by them 🙂 I know I should read Elizabeth George and maybe it will be this one — I tried P.D. James this summer and didn’t care for her mysteries, and instead very much liked her autobiography. Seems intellectual enough fare to me ….


  4. You would probably like Seven Lives. We’re cat people, and it is a clever little book The cat book I now want to read is Paul Gallico’s Thomasina (out of print, and very cheap at Amazon). Now that cat has many lives. Did you ever see the movie The Three Lives of Thomasina? It’s Disney, but we watched it a few years ago and loved it. Susan Hampshire’s first role!


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