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It’s actually going to be quite difficult to review Anthropology, a book of 101 short stories, each just a page long and all about love in its various aspects and all narrated in the first person.

The stories are arranged in alphabetical order, so we move from Anthropology (where he explains how he lost his anthropologist girlfriend to the culture she was studying) to Words (about what keeps a marriage together). Some of them are very funny, some of them rather sad, but they are all little gems.

This was another read-a-thon book, and again I read it in one sitting. Looking back I wonder if that was entirely wise and whether some of the stories lost their impact because I read the book like a novel. It made me wonder what the best way to read short stories actually is.

I remember listening to Simon Mayo’s book review podcast ages and ages ago when he was interviewing (I think) Anne Enright and the subject of how to read stories came up. The two approaches discussed were reading one, savouring it and closing the book, as opposed to doing what I’ve just done. Someone compared it to how you might eat a box of chocolates, and I suppose I just have to confess that I handle both the same way – once that box is opened I very rarely have the self-control to just have one chocolate….

I’m going to look for some more Dan Rhodes as I really admired his style, and as a bonus they all seem (like this one) to have a fabulous David Roberts cover illustration.

AftertheArmisticeBallCat48294_fFinally getting around to reviews after another (and not yet finished) busy period at work, and of course all the excitement of the UK General Election (which is still distracting me from other things – as a civil servant I am keen to know who my next set of bosses is going to be….)

All this means that I’m not reading as much as I should – I often go through these patches driven sometimes by not being able to find something that I’m interested on reading just at that particular point, but more often (as now) just not finding the time to read regularly.

So, After the Armistice Ball by Catriona McPherson is a detective novel in the classic style, set in 1920s Scotland and is huge fun. In terms of plot, there’s a bit of a scandal brewing amongst Dandy (short for Dandelion) Gilver’s social set when some valuable diamonds are stolen after the eponymous ball. Asked by her friend Daisy to do a bit of sleuthing she gets pulled into something much darker when Cara Duffy, the youngest daughter of the diamonds’ owner dies in a fire in a remote cottage, and it becomes clear that this might not have been an accident.

Which is about all that can be said without giving away too much of the plot. It’s well-written, pacy, has a nice sense of location and time and an attractive heroine who is easy to identify. This was my first read-a-thon book and so benefitted from being read in one sitting, and I enjoyed it so much I’ve already bought the second in the series.

Bride of the Book God

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Scottish, in my fifties, love books but not always able to find the time to read them as much as I would like. I’m based in London and happily married to the Book God.

I also blog at Bride of the Screen God (all about movies and TV) and The Dowager Bride, if you are interested in ramblings about stuff of little consequence

If you would like to get in touch you can contact me at brideofthebookgod (at) btinternet (dot) com.

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May 2010