Congrats to Debbie Carney and Heather Leah who won books in the October giveaway! Thank you to all who entered. I’ll be doing another giveaway shortly so keep in touch. Sign up for the newsletter to hear about it first.
I did my fall road trip last week, traveling west to visit family in Seattle and Bellingham. The autumn scenery on the western slope of the Rockies was spectacular with the larches glowing on the hillsides, the ribbons of fog over the rivers, and the aspens and cottonwoods in full dress uniform. On the eastern slope the trees are nearly done. The aspens have dropped their leaves and the bite of winter has come. But farther west autumn lingers, glorious and, yes, rather damp, but stunning for a few more weeks. Follow me on Instagram to get my on-the-fly photos of Montana and more.
Road trip means audiobooks, of course. I listened to two good ones again. The first one continues my longtime obsession with Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, first read in high school and many times since. This is a new twist, a bibliophile mystery about the first draft of Pride and Prejudice that has never been found. In Charlie Lovett’s First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen, a young Oxford grad is caught in a search for an obscure book that may or may not prove that Austen plagiarized her most famous novel. The audiobook narration by Jane Entwistle is brilliant, as the English say. The book, which switches back and forth in time from the present to Austen’s time, is really an exercise for ardent fans though it definitely has its charms, including the dashing man who may not be as trustworthy as he seems (a la Wickham) and a romance of sorts for Jane. For the bookish Jane-ite (no wonder I liked it!)
Speaking of Pride and Prejudice spinoffs, have you been watching Death Comes to Pemberley on PBS? I was hesitant since I read the PD James book when it came out several years ago and was — underwhelmed. But curiosity got the best of me. What did you think? Great country house, right?
The second audiobook I listened to was James Lee Burke’s Wayfaring Stranger.
Burke, who lives in Missoula, is best known for his mysteries including the Dave Robicheaux novels and the Billy Bob Holland stories. Wayfaring Stranger features the Holland family but is not a mystery but a sprawling American story full of morality and depravity in that crossroads of both, the oil business and the great state of Texas. You read Burke for the evocative language; he does not write down to the lowest common denominator/reader. He makes you listen (in the case of audio) to his descriptions, to the struggle of emotion and ethics, to the setting. He doesn’t really care about the plot in this one. He cares about the characters, deeply, their similarities and differences and inner demons. Great stuff. Highly recommended.