Sunday, February 12, 2012

Time To Choose Again!

I love getting to choose the selection for the next Slaves’ book meet, but I find it so hard to decide which books to offer. I ended up with two lists this time. The first was a list of classic novellas, because I thought it seemed a while since we’d had a classic, but I didn’t want to condemn us all to a chunkster. But then I wondered whether we wouldn’t be better off with a really fun and entertaining contemporary novel. So I asked Mister Litlove what I should do, and he suggested I pick out the best and combine the two lists, which is what you will find below.

Henry James – The Aspern Papers

‘In an elegant and crumbling palazzo old Miss Bourdereau lives on with her niece, closely guarding their most precious treasure, a hoard of letters written to her in her youth by the great American love poet, Jeffrey Aspern. Adopting a nom de guerre the tale’s narrator, a literary researcher, arrives at the palazzo and inveigles the two ladies into taking him in as their lodger. There he watches and waits for the moment to pounce. For he is determined to gain possession of the Aspern papers and willing to pay almost any price. James’ tale – in part a warning to over-zealous historians and biographers – grips the reader with steadily mounting suspense and is regarded by many as the most brilliant of all his stories.’

Willa Cather – My Mortal Enemy

‘Through the eyes of a young girl, Nellie, we view the life of Myra, a legend in the Southern town where both were born. Myra has romantically abandoned the luxury she was born into to elope with the impoverished Oswald Henshawe. Twenty-five years later, Nellie is dazzled when she meets them living in the elegant poverty of an apartment frequented by singers, actors, poets – in the heart of the artistic community of old New York. But this shabby gentility gives way to real poverty in a jerrybuilt West Coast hotel, and the high purpose of Myra’s life – love itself – is revealed to be the enemy within. A finely-wrought study of the great rewards and punishments love brings, My Mortal Enemy is an exquisite example of Willa Cather’s art.’

Justin Cartwright – Other People’s Money

‘The Trevelyan family is in grave trouble. Their private bank of Tubal & Co is on the verge of collapsing. It’s not the first time in its three-hundred-and-forty year history, but it may be the last. A sale is underway, and a number of important facts need to be kept hidden, not only from the public but also from Julian Trevelyan-Tubal’s deeply traditional father, Sir Harry, who is incapacitated in the family villa in Antibes. Great families, great fortunes and even greater success collide in this gripping, satirical and acutely observed story of our time.’

Daphne Kalotay – Russian Winter

‘When Nina Revskaya, once a great star of the Bolshoi Ballet, decides to auction her jewellery collection, she believes she has finally drawn a curtain on her past. Instead she is overwhelmed by memories of her life a half-century before. It was in Russia that she fell in love – and where, spurred by Stalinist aggression, a terrible discovery led to a deadly act of betrayal. Now living in Boston, Nina has kept her secrets for half a lifetime. But two people will not let the past rest: Drew Brooks, an inquisitive young associate at the auction house; and Grigori Solodin, a professor who believes the jewels may hold the key to his past. Together these unlikely partners unravel a literary mystery whose answers hold life-altering consequences for them all.’

Tom Rachman – The Imperfectionists

‘The newspaper was founded in Rome in the 1950s, a product of passion and a multi-millionaire's fancy. Over fifty years, its eccentricities earned a place in readers' hearts around the globe. But now, circulation is down, the paper lacks a website, and the future looks bleak. Still, those involved in the publication seem to barely notice. The obituary writer is too busy avoiding work. The editor-in-chief is pondering sleeping with an old flame. The obsessive reader is intent on finishing every old edition, leaving her trapped in the past. And the publisher seems less interested in his struggling newspaper than in his magnificent basset hound, Schopenhauer. The Imperfectionists interweaves the stories of eleven unusual and endearing characters who depend on the paper. Funny and moving, the novel is about endings - the end of life, the end of sexual desire, the end of the era of newspapers - and about what might rise afterward.’

I’ll tot up the votes next weekend!


Danielle said...

I love your list and would be happy to read any of them (and really will try hard to actually read this time around), but as I have Russian Winter on my pile and heard good things about it I'll cast my vote for it. Thanks, Litlove!

SFP said...

These all sound like wonderful reads, but I'm going to vote for My Mortal Enemy--it was my intro to Cather back in the early 80s and I'd love to revisit. Plus, it's short, so even if I wait till the last minute to pick it up, I should be able to finish it in an evening.

Rohan Maitzen said...

What a lot of tempting choices. I have read no Cather but would love to, so my vote goes to My Mortal Enemy.

Lilian Nattel said...

I'm going to be crazy busy for the next 2 months so I won't have time to read Russian Winter though I definitely want to--so I'd vote for Willa Cather. But if other people are keen to read Russian Winter I'd be happy to read the reviews since I do want to read the book.

Rebecca H. said...

I'll vote for the Cather as well. Thanks, Litlove!

Stefanie said...

I'd go for James but I have read it already and if anyone is wondering, it's really good.

I cast my vote for Russian Winter with Cather a close second.

harriet said...

I'd love to join in for once, and my vote would be the Cather, with the James as second choice.

Jodie said...

I would like to try Willa Carther, but this one seems a bit hard to get hold of for some reason, so I'll vote The Imperfectionists.