Saturday, February 27, 2010


It's been a long time since I've read a book set during the Regency period. I'd forgotten how enjoyable such stories can be.
The Silent Governess falls squarely in the enjoyable category. It's a long book, over 400 pages, but reads quickly with all the absorbing plot turns. The story concerns Miss Olivia Keene, who flees her home believing she's committed an unforgivable act. Her flight ends in a stolen moment outside Brightwell Court, a sprawling manor house some distance from her home.
Quite by accident she overhears Lord Bradley and his father speak of a deep family secret. When she is discovered outside the manor, Lord Bradley feels his only choice is to bring her into service in the home, to better ensure that she won’t reveal his secret. Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer, as the saying goes.
The book gets its title from a combination of circumstances which leave Olivia mute. Since no one in the community where she finds herself knows she can speak, people believe her to be truly unable to speak. Even though Lord Bradley is not fully convinced that she’s not pretending to be mute, her affliction plays into his plans to protect his secret.
Several of the characters in The Silent Governess are not who they appear to be, and figuring out relationships between one another kept me guessing throughout the story.
After reading The Silent Governess, I’m a new Julie Klassen fan. As soon as I can, I plan to read Lady of Milkweed Manor and The Apothecary’s Daughter.
For now, The Silent Governess gets top marks from me. I recommend it highly.

Monday, February 15, 2010

MEANDER SCAR, by Lisa J. Lickel

Lickel's third novel, Meander Scar, weaves a tale of surprises and heart-wrenching emotional dilemmas. The term, "Meander Scar" refers to scars on the landscape left after high water causes a river to temporarily change course. When the overflow evaporates, a scar is left in the place where the river once ran.
Meander Scar uses this as a metaphor for protagonist, Ann Ballard's, life. Ann is a forty-something woman who lives alone when Mark Roth, who lived next door as a boy, shows up on her doorstep. At first she believes he’s there to visit his old neighborhood and contact his boyhood friends. But there’s a deeper reason for Mark’s appearance. As the story progresses, Mark’s history makes it clear why he’s come seeking Ann.
Although Ann is attracted to his dark good looks, she reminds herself that Mark is eleven years younger than she is. As he overcomes her initial doubts about his motives, more serious complications come to light from Ann’s own background. Some of the most profound questions raised in this book arise from Ann’s reactions to discoveries about her past.
Lickel has written a convincing novel about love in all its forms. If you want to be intrigued by an unusual plot, Meander Scar is for you.

Monday, February 8, 2010


Tea Time for the Traditionally Built is McCall Smith's tenth novel in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. I have the whole series, and can think of no better books to read when I want something peaceful and reassuring.
In the case of Tea Time for the Traditionally Built, "traditionally built" refers to the protagonist in all of these novels, Precious Ramotswe of Botswana, Africa. Mma Ramotswe prefers to think of herself as traditionally built, rather than fat, as she is sometimes referred to by unkind persons.
Mma Ramotswe is a staunch defender of all that is traditional about Botswana, and often muses on the old ways she remembers from her childhood. Each of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency novels involves cases to be solved by Mma Ramotswe’s agency. In the case of Tea Time for the Traditionally Built, the cases include discovering who might be throwing the games of the local football team and advising a woman who is juggling two boyfriends.
While she works her inimitable way through these mysteries, Mma Ramotswe is struggling with worries of her own. Her tiny white van is on its last legs (wheels?) and she is trying to hide the fact from her husband, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, a mechanic, for fear he’ll send her much-loved vehicle to the scrap heap.
If you haven’t discovered this series yet, I recommend you start with Book One, The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, and prepare yourself for hours of delight.