Tuesday, September 08, 2020

WWW.WEDNESDAY

WWW. WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here

 1. What are you currently reading? The Father Hunt by Rex Stout. It's good to revisit the Manhattan brownstone of world-famous detective Nero Wolfe. This time his assistant Archie brings him a case. A woman Archie met socially takes a shine to him -- women are always taking a shine to Archie -- and asks him for help with a personal matter. She wants to learn the identity of her biological father. With her mother dead, she thinks it's an impossible ask. Archie and Wolfe expect this simple case of paternity to take about a week. It becomes more complicated than they anticipated, with twists and turns along the way and even an unsolved murder. Every time I think I know who the father is, and whether he is somehow involved with the murder, I'm wrong. I do love being fooled, and this one has me going.
 
This is #43 of the 45 books Stout wrote. While the earliest stories take place in the late 1930s, this one is set in 1967. Wolfe's brownstone has air conditioning and a color TV and his client wears a miniskirt. (Wolfe only approves of air conditioning.) While it's modern compared to the rest of the series, it still seems primitive at times. There's no such thing as a DNA test to prove paternity, and no one considers blood tests reliable. I wonder if mysteries are easier, or harder, to write now, with today's advancements in STEM.
 
2. What did you recently finish reading?
My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella. A completely charming book. Motherless Katie grew up on an English dairy farm, just her and her dad. When she hit her 20s she reinvents herself as "Cat" and moves to London. She gets a bottom-rung job at a marketing agency and wants to make a success of herself. She creates perfect Instagram posts of her not-so-perfect life, and assumes that if she works hard enough, some day her real self with match her cyber self.
 
Cat has a love-hate relationship with her boss, a beautiful and brilliant woman in her early 40s who has countless awards but few people skills. In this way, the book is kind of like The Devil Wears Prada, only here I like our protagonist. (I wasn't at all fond of Andrea on the pages Prada; I liked her better in the movie.)

Katie-Cat is a three-dimensional character and she keeps the story grounded. That's important to note because while Kinsella is a very funny writer, sometimes she veers off into silly. Some of her later Shopaholic books and a standalone I read, The Undomestic Goddess, descended into slapstick unreality. I'm happy to report that this is NOT the case with this book. 

In short, this is the best chick-lit I've read in a while and I recommend it.

3. What will read next?
Eighteen Acres by Nicolle Wallace. Now that she's on MSNBC (at least) two hours every day in the run-up to Election Day, I forgot that between being a GOP political operative and a TV analyst, Nicolle Wallace tried her hand at writing. This is her novel about the first woman President and I'm looking forward to it. After all, Wallace worked for Bush 43 and has inside knowledge. For example, the 18 acres of the title refer to the space taken up by the White House grounds.

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