1. What are you currently reading? Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin. My friend Will virtually put this book in my hands.* I know why: it's about a girl who grew up loving baseball, and I was certainly a girl like that.
But that girl was Doris Kearns Goodwin, who gave us Team of Rivals, The Kennedys and The Fitzgeralds, and No Ordinary Time. She is a gifted storyteller, expert in making American history accessible to the masses. She maintains she learned to spin a yarn while listening to Brooklyn Dodgers games on the radio and then recounting them to her dad each evening.
But it's more than tales of Jackie Robinson and PeeWee Reese. It's about how baseball helped define her. It was her identity within her family -- she was the daughter who inherited Dad's love of baseball; within the community -- theirs was a Dodgers household, while the neighbors were Giants fans; and on the playground -- the first boys she ever spoke to, she talked baseball.
It's nostalgic but not overly sentimental. I recently finished The Nine of Us by Jean Kennedy Smith, and her story of growing up whitewashed a great deal. Ms. Goodwin, on the other hand, addresses her father's own difficult childhood and her mother's harrowing health issues, and the impact these things had on her, but she does it recalling her younger self's outlook. It makes her narration more poignant, like Scout's in To Kill a Mockingbird.
So Scarlett packs up and moves to London to join Cousin Vivian. Only Vivian is nowhere to be found. Then a high-profile millinery customer is found murdered ... stabbed and nude except for the hat Vivian designed for her. (Hence the title.)
This is the first in The Hat Shop Mystery series, set in London. The protagonist, Scarlett, is good company. She's gutsy and smart but amusingly flawed (example: no one gets her jokes). There were things about the story that bugged me, though. She becomes an enduringly infamous internet celebrity through a YouTube video that in real life would be forgotten in a day. It's an unnecessary and silly distraction. And then there's the mystery itself. I won't spoil it, but I felt let down when the murderer was revealed. There is no way any of us could have guessed whodunnit.
Still, it was an entertaining cozy mystery. Taken on its own "Hallmark movie" terms, it was fine.
3. What will you read next? Road to Jonestown about Jim Jones. I think. Maybe. After all, I hadn't figured on Wait Till Next Year.
*Virtually because we haven't seen each other since March. But he waved it at me during a Zoom gettogether.