SarahMichigan (sarahmichigan) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

Books #9-10

Book #9 was "The Daughter of Time" by Josephine Tey. Tey is a "golden age" mystery writer, and I've enjoyed one of her previous books, "The Franchise Affair." This one is pretty different in that Tey's recurring character, Inspector Grant, is stuck in a hospital recovering from a back injury and broken leg and solves a historical mystery solely through research. Aided by a couple of friends and an American doing research at the British Museum, Grant tries to figure out why King Richard III got such a bum rap - was he actually the scoundrel portrayed in children's history books, or did his successors distort his record to discredit him. It *sounds* like it should be dull, but I actually found it quite entertaining, and I think it helps that there's a lot of sly humor in the book. It's also good that she kept it short, around 200 pages in paperback. While I did enjoy this book, I'd suggest checking out one of her other books with more action first, and only pick this one up if unraveling a historical mystery sounds like it would be up your alley.

Book #10 was "Vera (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov)" (also known in later editions as "Vera: (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov): Portrait of a Marriage") by Stacy Schiff. This is a superbly-written and well-researched biography that was a pleasure to read, and I was not at all suprised to find out it won the author a Pulitzer Prize. I find that, sometimes, really thorougly-researched and footnoted biographies can be dull and dry, but this one was actually a fun read. Schiff lets a bit of humor come through in the text and the footnotes. It examines the life of Vera Nabakov, wife, muse and secretary to Russian-American novelist Vladimir Nabakov, best known to most as the author of "Lolita." Of course, it's really a biography of the couple, and that seems more and more apt as you follow the story of this couple and their long and happy marriage. Despite some financial struggles, marital bumps and infidelities early on, the couple goes on to have a happy and productive 50+ years as a married couple and a literary juggernaut. Vera Nabakov tried very hard to erase her mark on the world and only serve as support and reflection of her famous husband, but the final chapter covering her life after his death shows, poignantly, that she was a powerhouse in her own right. Highly recommended.

1. The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood [non-fiction]- James Gleick
2. Stones from the River [fiction]- Ursula Hegi
3. The Penelopiad [fiction]- Margaret Atwood
4. Woman Warrior [non-fiction/memoir]- Maxine Hong Kingston
5. The Son of Neptune [ficiton]- Rick Riordan (unabridged audiobook)
6. The Poe Shadow [fiction]- Matthew Pearl
7. Nat Turner [non-fiction graphic "novel"]- Kyle Baker (illustrator)
8. Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception [fiction]- Eoin Colfer (unabridged audiobook)

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