Book List – January 2011

Reneé has challenged me to keep track of what books I read from month to month like she does. I know she has me beat for January in terms of how many books she’s finished, but then, I’m beating her in posting the list promptly, so I’ll call it even.

The Scarlet Pimpernel, by Baroness Emmuska Orczy, © 1905. (Audiobook) Finished January 3.

From the first chapter, you might think this book is going to be an adventure story about a daring and mysterious figure sneaking aristocrats out of revolutionary Paris before they can be executed by the Reign of Terror. Then you hit several chapters of people in an English tavern having political discussions about the Revolution. Then the main character gets introduced, and things really slow to a glacial pace that persists through the end of the book. Then you realize it’s not an adventure story at all, but a romance novel, about a wealthy Frenchwoman who married into British aristocracy, is bored of her husband, and secretly longs for the daring and mysterious Scarlet Pimpernel who — spoiler alert — turns out to be her husband. The reader can figure this out many chapters earlier than she does. The worst part about all of it is the persistent feeling that there’s a vastly more interesting and exciting story happening in the background that gets shut out by yet another chapter of the main character going on and on about her feelings.

My Man Jeeves, by P. G. Wodehouse, © 1919. (Audiobook) Finished January 15.

Despite the title, only half the stories involves Jeeves and Wooster; the other half involves Reggie, a character roughly similar to Wooster, except that the situations he gets himself into are more serious and Jeeves-less. For example, Jeeves and Wooster might conspire to help a cousin by tricking a relative into thinking the cousin is living it up in New York, whereas Reggie might conspire to cover up a friend’s apparent drunken murder of a member of the local royal family. Kind of an odd shift in tone switching between the two characters from one story to the next. Not enough to ruin the collection of stories or anything, but if you’re like me, you’ll catch yourself at one point thinking, “wow, this Reggie guy is really a terrible person.”

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