Queen of the Tambourine

by Jane Gardam

It was the title of this book that hooked me. I envisioned a tale about a street gypsy with pretty skirts and musical talent shaking her tambourine in a band, and having delightful love affairs with men who were ever-so-slightly disreputable.

Instead, I got a story about a woman who had been through a hysterectomy thirty years before, and still hadn’t gotten over it. If people who exhibited cerebral palsy symptoms gave up as easily as this woman did, there would be no triumphant stories, and that comedienne from The Facts of Life would never have had a career.

But I digress. Eliza is clearly mentally unstable, but we don’t really see how far gone she is because this is an epistolary novel – a series of letters all sent to a woman named Joan who may or may not be a real person. She’s always been a little odd, apparently, but now that her Diplomatic Service husband has left her, no longer able to put up with her idiosyncrasies, whatever was holding her together has cracked.

Through the letters we meet a woman who has no children, no friends, no real life outside of her husband, and while I also don’t have children, It was difficult for me to empathize with Eliza, who appeared, more than anything, to need a really good shaking.

There are the requisite revelations of the secret horrors of her life, of course, made to strangers rather than to friends, but I find myself a bit empty after finishing this book. It was well written, well crafted. I just couldn’t relate.

Even Bibliophiles Do Memes Sometimes

I was tagged by my blog-buddy Green Tuna with this meme, and since the alternative to blogging tonight is to read about individual health insurance plans, and then write about them (which is important, yes, but kind of dry), I thought I might participate.

Ms. Tuna provides the following, rather familiar, instructions:
1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people.

Like her, I have some issue with the closest book. Technically the closest book to me is the instruction manual for my Blackjack, which was stashed in the back of my night stand and may never leave. But that would be kind of dry.

Then there’s the pile next to the bed, running along the window sill. Is the top one on one section of the pile significantly closer than the top book on another? Not really.

I’ve chosen, therefore, to use a book that is on the stack, as yet unread, Garden Spells, by Sarah Addison Allen:

Sydney watched Claire work for a while. “I wonder why I didn’t inherit it,” she said absently.
“Inherit what?”

As to tagging people, if you have a book in the room you’re in when you read this, consider yourself tagged.
Or not.

A Lick of Frost

by Laurell K. Hamilton

If sex really does assist in weight loss, Merry Gentry is probably the healthiest, fittest faerie princess in creation, but in her most recent appearance, sex takes a back seat to…lawyers.

Yes, it’s true, the most recent offering in the Merry Gentry series not only has a plot, but there’s so little sex it can’t rightfully be termed faerie porn, though there’s still a lot of commenting on the beauty of her posse of gorgeous preternatural men.

The plot, by the way, involves Merry’s uncle, Kind of the Seelie Court, pressing charges against one of her men for the alleged rape of one of the women in his court. The legal conference takes up the first quarter of the book, and then we move into the political machinations of the UnSeelie vs. Seelie leadership.

If this sounds like a really flippant review, let me just say, I loved this book. The character death at the end made me cry, and there were so many plot twists, including answers to some lingering questions, that despite the tears I came away from the book feeling really satisfied.

The problem is, there’s no way I can say any more than this without spoiling everything.

If the last book in this series was PWP, this one completely made up for it.

Read with a box of tissues close by.