In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

In Cold Blood has been on my to-read list for a while. Honestly, I'm not sure why I put it off. I enjoy both true crime and crime novels and since this is one of the classics in the genre, chances were pretty good I'd enjoy it, which of course I did. Well, as much as you can "enjoy" the story of a horrible murder, of the men who committed it, and the law enforcement trying to track them down. On November 15, 1959, Richard "Dick" Hickock and Perry Smith, on a tip from another inmate, went to the Clutter household in Holcomb, Kansas expecting to find a safe or $10,000 cash in the home. There was neither money nor a safe, but they had agreed to leave no witnesses, so the four family members in the house were killed. Due to the relentless work of the Kansas Bureau of Investigations led by Alvin Dewey, Hickock and Smith were eventually...
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The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim

The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim

The Enchanted April is a charming novel, light and breezy and sweet. It's about love and life and being oneself. It's funny and perceptive. The writing is descriptive and witty. Four women, more or less strangers, are escaping dreary London and their dreary lives to spend April in a castle in Italy. They are each unhappy and lonely in their own way, dissatisfied with their lives. Lottie and Rose are in unhappy marriages. Lady Caroline is tired of being fawned over and surrounded by people clamoring for her attention. Mrs. Fisher is a grumpy older woman, a widow who relies on a cane. She, by the way, has some of the funniest moments in the book. Then San Salvatore works its magic on them, first one then more slowly the others. They come out of their shells and relax. They begin to realize what is actually important. They enjoy the beauty around them and in general become more happy, more loving...
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Anatomy of a Murder by Robert Traver

We know the facts in Anatomy of a Murder from early in the book. The defendant's wife, Laura, was raped by the local innkeeper and the defendant, army lieutenant Frederic Manion, took a gun, went to the bar, and shot and killed the rapist. He reported that he had done so and was taken into custody. It becomes Biegler's duty to try to get him off. The defense? Irresistable impulse, a type of temporary insanity. The story was broken into two parts: the investigation and the trial. The investigation is not a whodunnit , obviously, it was looking at all the players in the story, finding out all the ins and outs, who knew what when, what the people involved were like. The trial was fascinating. The back and forth between the lawyers, the interjections from the judge, the witnesses' statements, and jury reactions all kept me involved in the story. Our defense attorney and the narrator of the story,...
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High Rising by Angela Thirkell

High Rising by Angela Thirkell

I loved High Rising. Laura Morland is a fabulous character. I appreciate how she looks at the world. She's an author of popular novels set in the fashion world, which she chose because she knew women would enjoy reading about it. She has a pretty clear understanding of the people in her life, both their strengths and weaknesses. Other characters include train-obsessed children, loyal but opinionated servants, devoted secretaries with their own agendas, an unflappable schoolmaster's wife, the village doctor, and several potential couples. We get to see the ins and outs of the characters' relationships, the scheming (in a good way), and the helping each other out. It's just charming and witty. The dialogue is wonderful. The characters have fun talking to each other, if you know what I mean. They enjoy the conversations, they don't just have them. High Rising is a slice of life in this fictional corner of the world. People are ridiculous and silly and...
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Passing by Nella Larsen

Passing by Nella Larsen

More of a novella than a novel, Passing starts with a chance encounter at a tea shop between Irene Redfield and Clare Kendry. Once childhood friends in Harlem, New York, Irene and Clare are separated when Clare decides to leave the Black community behind, to ‘pass’ for white, marry a white man, and live as a white woman. While the two women catch up, Clare asks Irene if she could come to one of her parties, explaining that she misses being around Black people. Irene agrees and then she meets Clare’s racist husband. Irene is shocked and angry. She lives within the African-American community, is married to a black man, and is anxious about passing though she does it when convenient, like at the tea shop. In fact, Irene’s biggest desire in life is for security, while Clare is a risk-taker. A couple of year later, Clare reaches out to Irene again, and begins spending more time with Irene, her family,...
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The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

The Haunting of Hill House is more eerie than scary. Jackson's writing is so tight and so descriptive in ways that make you think about ordinary things, like houses, differently. The plot itself is not outstanding, maybe because it's almost become a template of haunted house stories. Three people, Eleanor, Theodora and Luke, are invited to stay in a supposedly haunted house for the summer to aid a scientist, Dr. Montague, in his pursuit of paranormal investigation. We some started banging, laughs, cold spots, a ghostly scene, but really the story is about Eleanor. We see this world through her eyes. Eleanor's eyes. She is insecure, introverted, and often finds herself fantasizing about her current and future situations. She's not a reliable narrator to any extent. Eleanor is affected by the house more than any of the others. While they all see and feel some of the manifestations, but some she only hears and others are directed at her by...
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