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Name : Angela V.

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Fool: A Novel by Christopher Moore
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Brilliant, Graphic
Skulking + skullduggery + heinous f*ckery = A Very Good Time

If it weren't for the f'ing French, King Lear might have had a happy ending. At least, that seems to be part of the premise behind Christopher Moore's take on this Shakespearean tragedy.

Moore introduces us to the court of Lear through the eyes of Pocket, the Fool of the title, and through Pocket, to all of the "...gratuitous shagging, murder, maiming, spanking, treason, vulgarity, profanity, and heinous f*ckery..." that lies behind the throne and the Machiavellian machinations to attain said throne. For anyone not familiar with the play, a brief teaser: King Lear summons his three daughters and asks each to proclaim the depths and bounds of her love for him. Daughters Goneril and Regan comply with prose purple enough for a Prince. Daughter Cordelia, however, responds with Biblical simplicity, letting her yes be yes and her no be no*. Outraged at this seeming lack of devotion, Lear marries Cordelia off to the first f'ing Frenchman who'd have her, and divides his kingdom between his two toadying offspring. From thus such act, all manner of conniving and scheming and aforesaid treason, vulgarity, etc., ensue.

All the major characters are here: Kent, Gloucester, Oswald, Burgundy...all have their plots and plans and schemes and skullduggery. But Moore doesn't stop there: he tosses references and characters from assorted Shakespearean (and Seussian) sources into the mix, as well as introducing more than a few memorable characters of his own. As one might suspect, all the really interesting stuff happens in closets and belowstairs.

While this is not my favorite Moore novel -- he has a very long way to go to outdo Lamb -- it's a worthy addition to the canon, and well worth reading, if only for the footnotes.

Oh, by the way, in all that gratuitous shagging and general skullduggery? Do not dismiss the banished Cordelia. She has a surprise or two up her sleeves.

*James 5:12

Book Club Recommended
Fun, Adventurous, Interesting
More pie, please!

What happens when a precocious 11 year old girl whose interests lean to the macabre literally stumbles over a dead body in the garden?

Flavia de Luce, the young lady in question, is the youngest daughter of an aristocratic family in decline. Her two older sisters, Daphne and Ophelia, alternate between tormenting her and ignoring her. Her mother, Harriet, died when she was an infant. Her father, Colonel de Luce, spends the majority of his time locked in his study alone. Thus, and except for the servants, young Flavia is essentially without supervision, and therefore free to indulge her hobby: chemistry, with a special interest in and predilection for poison.

Early one morning a dead snipe mysteriously appears on the door step. A peculiar postage stamp is perched on its bill, the sight of which causes the Colonel to blanch. Flavia's curiosity is piqued -- the Colonel never speaks of his past, and this bird and stamp must mean something very important. Late that night, Flavia overhears her father arguing in his study with an unknown man; Early the next morning, while strolling through the garden, she trips over a nearly dead stranger who, with his last oddly-scented breath, utters a Latin word, "Vale."

Flavia is on a mission now: She almost recognized that scent. Who is the stranger? Why was he at her home? Why is he dead? Was it murder? Who killed him? And what is the significance of "Vale"?

With determination, perseverance, and a logical thought process that would do Sherlock Holmes proud, Flavia sets forth to solve the mystery. Along the way, she confounds the local constabulary, annoys the local librarian, investigates the goings-on at the local inn, and generally makes a nuisance of herself all over town. Bless her little heart, she's absolutely adorable, if more than a little terrifying: Scout Finch with a Bunsen burner and access to controlled substances.

Told entirely from Flavia's perspective, Alan Bradley's novel is sheer joy to read: captivating, charming, and utterly original from the first word to the last.

I sincerely hope this is not the last we see of Flavia de Luce.

Insightful, Dramatic, Interesting
Well written but manipulative

Jodi Picoult's story of a school shooting in a small town is so blatantly designed to tug on every heartstring and push every emotional button that it made for an extremely difficult read. Her prose is gorgeous, but I didn't like being manipulated in such a fashion. This is the first book I've read by this author and, by all indications, this sort of emotional blackmail is typical of her style. No, thank you. I have one other title of hers on Mt. TBR. I plan to give it away without even opening the cover.

The book generated some lively discussion at our meeting, so it's good for that at least. I still won't recommend it to anyone.

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