But if you’re looking for a easy-to-read mystery with a twist, try Out of the Blackout, by Robert Barnard, which I learned about from Harriet Devine’s blog–a terrific resource. In this well-paced and unusual story the murder may or may not have happened, but doesn’t enter in till the middle of the suspense. It starts as an extra boy appears in a group of evacuees from London during the blitz. About five years old, the boy calls himself Simon Thorn. No one ever claims him, and his origins remain mysterious until he investigates them himself as an adult.
And Harriet’s blog (featuring Rumer Godden at the moment) reminded me how much I love Greengage Summer, the story of a family stranded at a hotel in southern France for a summer, due to their mother’s falling seriously ill on the journey. The children fend for themselves, and the two oldest girls each come of age in their own way. A perfect summer read. This is her best book, I think, though she and her sister Jon wrote a number of readable novels.
Is there anything better than reading in a hammock on a hot summer afternoon? Which reminds me of of another favorite, this James Wright poem:
Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island Minnesota
Over my head, I see the bronze butterfly,
Asleep on the black trunk,
blowing like a leaf in green shadow.
Down the ravine behind the empty house,
The cowbells follow one another
Into the distances of the afternoon.
To my right,
In a field of sunlight between two pines,
The droppings of last year’s horses
Blaze up into golden stones.
I lean back, as the evening darkens and comes on.
A chicken hawk floats over, looking for home.
I have wasted my life.
You can hear him read it, if you like. I love the specificity of his images, and how he telescopes the process of horse droppings to fertilizer to golden wild flowers in two lines. A short poem that builds dramatically to the conclusion. Happy August!