The blog that I wrote for the Penguin website about being an intern is up! Read it, if you can handle the ramblings of someone who is still in the “oh my god I can’t believe I’m here” phase of her job.
Monthly Archives: July 2011
I’ve been reading a lot of Santa Montefiore lately, so a general post was really necessary.
I was introduced to Ms. Montefiore with Sea of Lost Love. I read it a couple of years ago and I enjoyed it and put a few of her other books on my list, but I never got to them. Last month, I picked up her newest release, The Mermaid Garden from the library, and as soon I finished it, I immediately got on my computer and reserved as many of her titles as I could. The Italian Matchmaker and The French Gardener arrived in rapid succession and were returned just as rapidly because I devoured them within 48 hours. The Gypsy Madonna and Last Voyage of the Valentina are currently in my “to be read” pile, and I can’t wait.
The setting was what initially attracted me to Ms. Montefiore’s books; each novel is set in the English or the Italian countryside, sometimes both, and these areas almost always have a transforming effect on the discontented main characters. As an Anglo- and Italophile who has experienced this sort of transformation first hand, I could very easily relate to those aspects of Ms. Montefiore’s books. As an added bonus, the descriptions of these beautiful places make each book like a virtual vacation.
The stories themselves move between the past and the present, and I love being able to see the direct corellation between the two. As far as plots are concerned, some are better than others. I thought The Mermaid Garden and The French Gardener covered all bases as far as character development and plot resolutions were concerned, while The Italian Matchmaker went a little too fast ended a little too cleanly.
And there is always a consistent underlying theme, a moral if you will: love, family, and enjoyment of the simple things will lead to contentment. The city girl in me bridles over the emphasis on how happiness can only be found in the countryside, and I feel that very occasionally Ms. Montefiore can veer in the direction of trite–for example, in one of the books a character who began as a cynical, almost apathetic man, gave what I thought was an extremely out of character speech filled with every cliché about love. But those are principles that I try to live by, and even if it doesn’t come off as entirely believable, I love to read it anyway.
The other thing that I really love about Ms. Montefiore’s books is that I completely escape into them; I open the cover to read and next thing I know, I’ve gotten through 50 pages and it’s good that I looked up or I’d miss my stop on the train. Those books are special.
Who are your “must read” authors?
When I started interning, I promised not to review books that I read for work, but I have to break the rule with this one because it was so excellent and I want everyone to pick up a copy.
Carl Morck is a homicide detective with the Copenhagen police. When he and his partners are involved in a shooting, Carl is the only one who comes out physically unscathed–one partner dies and the other is left paralyzed–and the guilt gnaws at him and makes returning to work difficult. As a solution, the chief of police moves Carl to the new Department Q, which handles cold cases. The move is couched as a promotion, but it’s clear when Carl arrives in his new basement office that it’s anything but. Slowly, he settles into what he thinks are going to be days of surfing the internet and dealing with his eccentric assistant, Assad, but curiosity over the files on his desk gets the better of him, and he and Assad end up investigating the five-year-old disappearance of a government official, Merete Lynggard. In spite of himself, Carl gets more and more involved in the case, and as the pieces start to fit together, he realizes that Merete may still be alive.
I read another review comparing this book to an episode of the T.V. show Cold Case, and I agree. The book moves from Carl’s perspective to Merete’s, so, like Cold Case, you get a sense of the past and how all the incidents affect today’s investigation. The change in perspective also leaked out the story slowly, which really held my interest and kept the stakes very high.
Carl Morck and Assad are great characters–I loved that both are flawed and have their secrets. Some might find Carl a little too surly, but his frustration over the bureaucracy of the police department and his residual issues with the shooting and his problems at home all explained it pretty well for me (and I’ve seen characters like him on all the major cop shows on T.V., so he’s not that unusual). I look forward to charting their journey and seeing how they and Department Q develop. I’m particularly interested in learning about Assad’s past, which is the only sore point with this optimistic, smart, and fiercly loyal character.
I have the highest hopes that Jussi Adler-Olsen will have huge success with his U.S. debut. This novel is certainly worthy!
NOTE: This book is called Mercy in the UK. It had a May release and is available from Amazon UK.