A Month, a Hobby, and a Mythical Creature

I haven’t posted an update on the treasure hunt reading challenge for a while, but I have read a couple more books, crossing off two clues.

elegy-for-april1

The first, for the clue of “a month” was a crime novel called “Elegy for April”, described as:

April Latimer has vanished. A junior doctor at a local hospital, she is something of a scandal in the conservative and highly patriarchal society of 1950s Dublin. Though her family is one of the most respected in the city, she is known for being independent-minded; her taste in men, for instance, is decidedly unconventional.

Now April has disappeared, and her friend Phoebe Griffin suspects the worst. Frantic, Phoebe seeks out Quirke, her brilliant but erratic father, and asks him for help. Sober again after intensive treatment for alcoholism, Quirke enlists his old sparring partner, Detective Inspector Hackett, in the search for the missing young woman. In their separate ways the two men follow April’s trail through some of the darker byways of the city to uncover crucial information on her whereabouts. And as Quirke becomes deeply involved in April’s murky story, he encounters complicated and ugly truths about family savagery, Catholic ruthlessness, and race hatred.

Both an absorbing crime novel and a brilliant portrait of the difficult and relentless love between a father and his daughter, this is Benjamin Black at his sparkling best.

I don’t read a lot of crime novels these days, as they scare me too much ;-). This one, however, I found so dull as not be worthy of any scared feelings. It is set in 1950s Dublin and my main impression was of lots of descriptions of rain, dingy bars and people smoking cigarettes. Not sure about this being the author at his “sparkling best”. Perhaps if I had read the previous two books in the series I might have felt more empathy for the characters, but as it was I struggled a bit. Ah well, that’s the “month” category ticked off. And I read something I probably wouldn’t otherwise have read, so a success in that respect.

Second up was for the “hobby you have” category, for which I read Marie Duenas’ fine novel “The Seamstress”.

seamstress

Spain, 1936 and the brink of civil war.

Aged twelve, Sira Quiroga was apprenticed to a Madrid dressmaker. As she masters the seamstress’s art, her life seems to be clearly mapped out – until she falls passionately in love and flees with her seductive lover.

But in Morocco she is betrayed and left penniless. As civil war engulfs Spain, Sira finds she cannot return and so turns to her one true skill – and sews beautiful clothes for the expat elite and their German friends.

With Europe rumbling towards war, Sira is lured back to Franco’s Nazis-friendly Spain. She is drawn into the shadowy world of espionage, rife with love, intrigue and betrayal.

And where the greatest danger lies. . .

This was much more gripping. There’s history, espionage, doomed romance, wonderful friendships and even beautiful descriptions of fabrics. Yep, a much more satisfying read and definitely recommended, if you can face picking up a book of 600 plus pages 😉

I have now started reading Tracy Chevalier’s “The Lady and the Unicorn” which should nicely fit the clue of “mythical creature”.

If you don’t have a “clue” what I’m talking about, read my first post about the challenge here.

And as always, if you have any recommendations for any of the categories I have left, then feel free to share them. These are the remaining treasures to hunt:

Something you’d find in space
Geological formation
A colour

A farmyard animal
A type of building
An illness
A country
A girl’s name
A boy’s name
A body of water
A mode of transportation
A kind of food
A kind of drink
A flower
A hobby you don’t have
Something made of metal
Something made of wood
Something made of plastic
A toy or game
A family relationship
A number
A shape
Something you don’t like
Something scientific
A question mark
A bird
A time of day

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9 thoughts on “A Month, a Hobby, and a Mythical Creature

  1. Hi Viv! Oh it’s funny how the titles of the books simply vanish when you have to recall them in a different light! I’m so hooked now. I will just have to get back to you again and again as I trawl through my collection. Just remembered one for A Family Relationship – The Storyteller’s Daughter by Saira Shah. I read it about four years back when I was in Kabul. Ok, I’ll be back with more when they come back to me! This is fun 😀 Sharon

    • vivjm says:

      Thanks Sharon. That sounds like a good read. Unfortunately, my library service doesn’t have a copy, but I will keep my eye out for it.
      Look forward to any more suggestions you come up with :-). It’s certainly proving to be a fun way to make reading selections!

  2. textileshed says:

    I was going to suggest for ‘a family relationship Thrity Umriga’s book THE SPACE BETWEEN US. I finished it this morning… wow.

  3. Gjeometry says:

    Oooooh, I am heading to the library as we speak (type) to get The Seamstress. It’s about sewing and set in Spain. Win-win!

    My suggestion for A Type of Building: a Gaudi building in Barcelona. There will be lots to look at, read and write about and sketch for that!

  4. sewbusylizzy says:

    A type of food: The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society.
    A hobby you don’t have: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
    A Boy’s Name: We Need to Talk about Kevin
    An Illness: Love in the Time of Cholera

I will reply to comments here on the blog, so please check back if you are looking for a response! I love hearing from you x

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