Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Nevermore: Brideshead Revisited, Strings of Murder, Nellie Bly, and Hiding Ezra

Reported by Jeanne

Nevermore opened with the re-reading of a classic:  Brideshead Revisited  by Evelyn Waugh.  British officer Charles Ryder is stationed at Brideshead, the family seat of Lord Marchmain.  Before the war, Ryder had become acquainted with Sebastian, the heir, and his sister Julia.  Ryder is from an affluent but not titled family, and he becomes fascinated with the lives of the Marchmains, a Catholic family among the largely Protestant nobility. Our reader enjoyed it just as much the second time around.

The Strings of Murder by Oscar de Muriel is set in Edinburgh in 1888, where a violinist is found murdered inside a locked room.  With the Jack the Ripper’s murders in London still fresh in everyone’s mind, the police try to avoid panic and enlist the help of a former Scotland Yard detective to team up with a Scottish inspector to solve the case. There’s a bit of the supernatural in this mystery, but what impressed our reader the most was the masterful way de Muriel evoked the sense of time and place.   

The next book up was Nellie Bly by Brooke Kroeger.  Bly was one of the first women reporters and was known for her fearlessness.  Our reader was fascinated with her undercover work in an asylum where she chronicled the horrific conditions.  Her book, Ten Days in a Mad House, led to reform in mental health laws and institutions.

Finally, there was Hiding Ezra by Rita Sims Quillen, a novel based on the experiences of a relative during World War I.  Ezra was drafted, but allowed to come home because his mother was dying. After her death, he stayed to try to take care of the desperately poor family and was therefore declared AWOL.  The consequences at the time could be extremely harsh: some were executed as deserters. The book does a splendid job of evoking the region and its people, and our reviewer enjoyed it. Quillen is a local author, best known for her poetry.  This is her first novel, and has been very well received.  

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