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26 april 2015

Early in Dumas fils's Dame aux camélias, a copy of Prevost's Manon Lescaut plays a key part in getting the story told at all. The narrator finds the book at an estate sale and bids outrageously to keep it. It seems to have been a prized possession of Marguerite Gautier, the famous lady with the camellias who has lived and died lavishly like a latter-day Manon. The book brings the narrator into contact with Armand Duval, whose life has been tragically blighted by his relationship with Marguerite. In Armand's case, 'twould have been way better never to have loved at all.     read more

18 april 2015

Amos Fortune was a real person, so Elizabeth Yates's 1951 Newbery Medal book about him is catalogued by the Library of Congress as non-fiction; but like many biographies for juvenile readers, it's told in such a novelistic mode that the boundary between truth and historical fiction nearly disappears.     read more

14 april 2015

Hugh Warwick's Hedgehog is among the very best of the excellent Reaktion Animal series. Reaktion Animal authors begin from varying degrees of expertise on their animals; some of the books are explorations of new territory, and prior knowledge is neither necessary or sufficient for a good book about a given animal. But Hugh Warwick really knows his hedgehogs, and the resulting book is marvelous.     read more

7 april 2015

The late Walter Dean Myers was remarkable for his consistency, writing books in a number of modes and genres, for different age groups; he always delivered something readable and often something especially memorable. I first read some of his happier sport-themed books for younger readers, and then some of his better-known texts with themes crime and war. But I hadn't read Scorpions, another crime/gang novel but, like Myers's other books, of high quality and sure in its achievement of what it's after.     read more