Sunday, March 8, 2015

My February Reading

This is a little late, but here's what I read in February.

1.  Song of the Vikings:  Snorri and the Making of Norse Myths by Nancy Marie Brown.  

Snorri Sturluson was an Icelander who lived in the middle ages (13th century) and wrote down many of the Norse myth stories that are the basis of what we know today about Scandinavian mythology, including the stories on which Wagner's Ring Cycle is based as well as "The Lord of the Rings".  This is a biography, in a general sense of the word, of Snorri that also gives a lot of information about what Iceland in the medieval times was like.  The biography of the author says she keeps an Icelandic sheepdog, which I had to Google. I'm a bit of a geek when it comes to these things so I enjoyed reading this book, but even I had a hard time keeping track of the tangled family tree of Snorri.  A chart would have helped. This book took me a while to get through so I didn't read as much this month as I might normally.

2.  The Red House Mystery by A.A. Milne.

Yes, that A.A. Milne, of Winnie the Pooh fame.  The amateur detective in this mystery at times reminded me of Christopher Robin, all grown up and surrounded by bears of very little intellect.  The mystery was pretty standard British country house fare of the type published in the 1920's.  I happen to like that genre of mystery so I enjoyed it.

3.   I am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley ( a  Flavia de Luce Mystery).  In this volume, Bradley opens up the home of the somewhat reclusive de Luce family to a film company.  Of course, murder ensues and Flavia is helpful in solving it, to the amusement and chagrin of Detective Inspector Hewitt.  Although time moves on in these mysteries, it moves very slowly so Flavia hasn't aged much and she is still at war with her two older sisters (although perhaps there is hope of a truce).

4.  Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I loved this novel.  Adichie is a Nigerian author who spent much time in the United States and her main character, Ifemelu, experiences being a black person in the United States who is not African American. Ifemelu is born in Nigeria and spends her formative years there where she meets and falls in love with Obinze.  Ifemelu leaves to attend college in the United States, where her Aunt and cousin live.  Obinze cannot get a visa and ends up an undocumented alien in London.  Eventually both return to Nigeria.  The ending was a little too "love story" for me but the rest of the novel was a knock out.  Ifemelu says: "I came from a country where race was not an issue; I did not think of myself as black and I only became black when I came to America."   Adichie is also capable of writing beautiful description:  "In London, night came too soon, it hung in the morning air like a threat, and then in the afternoon a blue-gray dusk descended, and the Victorian buildings all wore a mournful air."  Parts of the novel required the suspension of disbelief (specifically that she could be so financially successful as a blogger) but the story hung together and I couldn't put it down.