Robert Graves, I Claudius. Graves’ historical novel takes us into the world of the early Caesars — Julius, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula — as interpreted by the next emperor, Claudius. He tells the tale in his old age. This distillation of fancy from fact was the basis for the public television series starring Derek Jacoby as Claudius. Hail Caesar!
Graham Greene, The Comedians. This novel, set in the 1960s Haiti of Papa Doc Duvalier, brings us Smith, Jones and Brown. They are three “comedians” who do not always amuse, even as they continue to play their various parts.
P.D. James, Innocent Blood. This novel by the creator of Inspector Adam Dalgliesh contains neither Dalgliesh nor his female counterpart. It is tangled web of family and revenge with a couple of neat plot twists. Unfortunately the principal character, the self confident adopted daughter of an academic star, never became believable to me.
W. G. Sebald, The Emigrants. Immigrants come in; emigrants go out. These four emigrants all went out from Germany during the 20th century. Sebald’s account may be a novel or it may be a memoir; the uncertainty of his intention is part of the story. Illustrated.
John Kenneth Galbraith, The Affluent Society. Much of what Galbraith wrote in 1958 and updated in 1998 is still applicable. We are affluent in things, but not in services or the requirements for good community living. How did this happen and why do we continue to misinterpret? He explains.
Julian Barnes, Flaubert’s Parrot. Flaubert had a parrot — not a live one, but a stuffed bird who became a character in one of his novels. Geoffrey Braithwaite, the narrator here, wants to be sure about the residual museum parrots. Which one was the original and authentic inspirational bird?
David Lodge, Deaf Sentence. We have another satisfying novel by David Lodge which starts out light and funny, mostly, and ends on a more serious note. Deaf/death is the implied pun in the title and it seems a bit overdone at time, except that I have the same problems myself — currently deaf and subject to death.
Michael Connelly, Angels Flight. In this sixth book in the Harry Bosch series, the L.A. Detective unpicks a complex knot of murder, murder, more murder, and riot. Los Angeles and its discontents is part of the story.
Eva La Plante, editor, My Heart is Boundless: Writings of Abigail May Alcott, Louisa’s Mother. This collection of letters and journal entries by Louisa May Alcott’s beloved “Marmee” gives us a compelling woman who survived great difficulties in her life.