I’ve seen Jo Walton books – mostly in the sci-fi sections – a lot and never before went to pick them up. Seeing her speak on the Literary Tastes panel at ALA encouraged me to read the giveaway book – My Real Children. This book won the RUSA Reading List genre award for Women’s Fiction. Jo seemed a little surprised to be winning in that particular category but took it well. She talked about doing a lot of crossover fiction – fiction that crosses genres – in this case an alternative history that focuses on women and issues of interest to women (which is different than Women’s Issues with capital letters). This book was interesting to read – I like her clean narrative style. It didn’t have the emotional depth that I look for in fiction. It read like a wikipedia entry – many things to interest the brain but nothing that evokes feeling. I’m OK with this, but I miss the empathy. The plot revolves a woman sliding into dementia who remembers living two distinctly different lives that forked from a single decision about whether or not to marry a specific man. Jo handles this cleanly and does a great job of portraying these different worlds. There is a little bit of discussion as to how this one decision of one woman could have had such an impact on world events, but frankly I found that a bit hand-wavy and disappointing. Still, a good, imaginative exploration of some possible results of the decisions we make every day.
It’s so hot these days that I couldn’t handle anything that required thought so I picked up a cozy mystery from my ALA haul. Deadly Desires at Honeychurch Hall by Hannah Dennison. Readable, ok characters, a little stupid. It’s a little irritating that much is being made of a kind of connection to “Downton Abbey” but it’s really a tenuous connection at best. A manor house figures not too prominently in the story and a young girl takes a position as a maid in the house in order to better prepare herself for an audition for the Downton Abbey series. That’s it! Pleasant enough read if you like cozies. Didn’t stress me out before bedtime 🙂