1. What are you currently reading? Jane Darrowfield, Professional Busybody by Barbara Ross. This is book #1 in a new series by the author of the popular Maine Clambake Series. The library didn't have #1 in the Maine series, so I snapped this one up instead.
Set in Concord, MA, this book introduces us to Jane Darrowfield. She's recently retired from a corporate job with the phone company. She lives alone and has organized/reorganized her home. She traveled to Italy. She was just starting on a garden renovation when she received an intriguing phone call. The Walden Spring retirement community is having morale/social trouble, and Jane has earned a reputation in the community as a diplomat and problem solver. Maybe a staff job would be a nice new career for her. She's surprised when she's asked to move in, because maybe living at Walden Spring would help her get an inside perspective on the social cliques that seem to be at the heart of much of the trouble. She's shocked when a Walden Spring resident is found murdered on the golf course.
This book is a fortuitous fit for me at this time of my life. Four of my friends are now retired -- though only one did it on her own timeline and is enjoying the stereotypical golf/sun/travel life and the others have money woes. I know that I'm at my last fulltime job in my chosen profession and I wonder what the future will hold. So I'm enjoying reading about characters that feel more and more like me and my friends than some cozy mystery series.
2. What did you recently finish reading? Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho by Stephen Rebello. As I read this book -- and then rewatched the film, of course -- I realized the much of the power of the movie Psycho is the character of Norman. Yes, he's twitchy and hesitant and weird. And OK, so he commits two murders on camera and it's revealed he likely killed four more people. But he's also handsome, vulnerable and so very damaged. He's the victim of sexual child abuse in a town and at a time when these things weren't discussed at all. Even with the iconic shower scene, I can't help feeling sorry for Norman. He wasn't born bad, he was created by his mother. The real villain of Psycho was dead ten years before the movie opens: Mother is the monster.
I learned through this book that the movie iteration of Norman was Hitchcock's idea. The bones of plot, the basic points, were all in the novel Psycho by Robert Bloch. Even the famous shower murder. So the blueprint of how to shock us was there by the time Hitch got his hands on it. But Bloch's Norman was bulky and strong, prematurely balding, alcoholic and addicted to porn. The movie Norman's quirky fragility came from Hitchcock and Anthony Perkins, who threw himself all in. We got a villain who looks and behaves nothing like we expect a villain to look or behave.
If you're interested in how (great) movies are made, pick up this book. It's a treasure trove.
3. What will read next? Time for a biography.