Escapist Reading

The books are piling up! I’ve been on an excellent reading streak, finishing many books and liking most of them tremendously. I’ve been in the mood for escapist reading lately and have read some real winners.

If you want some escapist historical fiction, pick up The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton. Set in 17th century Amsterdam, where newly married eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman tries to find her path in her new household. When her new husband gives her an exact replica in miniature of their home, she engages a miniaturist to to supply the items for the house. This distracts her from dealing with her brusque sister-in-law Marin, who continues to rule the house even after Nella arrives, and her husband, who continually ignores her. But the objects that begin to arrive appear too close to real life, as if the miniaturist has more knowledge of the family and its secrets. Nella finally begins to find her own voice and tries to save her newfound family. It’s a great book, with wonderful detailed descriptions of Amsterdam, and some standout writing.

You also won’t regret picking up The Quick by Lauren Owen. I was attracted by blurbs from some of my favorite authors, Hilary Mantel and Kate Atkinson, which makes you think it’s going to be one thing, until a vampires appear some way into the novel. It’s a Gothic novel after all and yet the word ‘vampire’ rarely makes an appearance. They don’t refer to themselves as that, apparently, at least the members of the tony Aegeolius Club don’t. The club is composed of members of the upper echelons of Britain and it would be beneath them. You don’t find all this out until later. The first quarter of the book concerns itself with Charlotte and James, who grow up orphaned in a crumbling hall in the English countryside. After finishing school, James leaves for London and finds himself rooming with Christopher Paige, a rich neer-do-well. At least until James thinks that until he discovers that he’s hiding a more delicate sensibility. Flush from being in love, they plan to leave England on an extended trip to the continent. Through a case of mistaken identity, the Aegeolius Club gets ahold of them. The novel quickly shifts to a more straightforward adventure novel. I won’t tell you all of the twists and turns. Suffice it to say, there’s a lot of vampire lore, a few plot twists, and many interesting characters. What makes this novel even more interesting is the change in points of views, which allows you to learn back stories and learn more vampire history. Owen also displays a George R.R. Martinesque love of offing major characters, making this book even more fun to read.

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