Last month Helen Simonsen, author of the Texas City Reads pick for the year Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, paid a virtual visit to the library via the magic of the Internet. We got a chance to ask her for her own book picks and what she's reading now:
Old Filth / Jane Gardam: FIC GARDAM
"Filth is a lawyer with a practice in the Far East. A few remember that his nickname stands for Failed In London Try Hong Kong. But Old Filth is not as pompous as people imagine, and his past contains many secrets and dark hiding places” —Publisher
Three Men in a Boat / Jerome K. Jerome: AD FIC JEROME
Recounts the adventures and mishaps of George, Harris, J. and his remarkable dog Montmorency during a boat trip along the River Thames in England from London to Oxford.
Room / Emma Donoghue: FIC DONOGHUE
“Narrator Jack and his mother, who was kidnapped seven years earlier when she was a 19-year-old college student, celebrate his fifth birthday. They live in a tiny, 11-foot-square soundproofed cell in a converted shed in the kidnapper's yard. The sociopath, whom Jack has dubbed Old Nick, visits at night, grudgingly doling out food and supplies. But Ma, as Jack calls her, proves to be resilient and resourceful —and attempts a nail-biting escape” —Publisher.
Song of Achilles / Madeleine K. Miller
(Not released until March 2012; reviews below from Amazon.com)
“At once a scholar’s homage to the Iliad and a startlingly original work of art by an incredibly talented new novelist. Madeline Miller has given us her own fresh take on the Trojan war and its heroes. The result is a book I could not put down.” —Ann Patchett, bestselling author of Bel Canto and State of Wonder
“Although the details of the story are Miller’s own, the world is one that all who love the Iliad and its epigones will recognize. Reading this book recalled me to the breathless sense of the ancient-yet-present that I felt when I first fell in love with the classics.” —Catherine Conybeare, Professor of Classics, Bryn Mawr College
"The Iliad turns on Achilles’ pride and his relationship with Patroclus, but Homer is sparing with the personal — so much so that, though we believe in their friendship, we do not understand it. The Song of Achilles brings light to their love. This is a beautiful book.” —Zachary Mason, author of The Lost Books of the Odyssey
The next book she’s going to read:
King of the Badgers / Phillip Hensher: FIC HENSHER
"Hanmouth, situated where the Hand River flows into the Bristol Channel, is usually quiet and undisturbed. But it becomes the center of national attention when an eight-year-old girl vanishes. This tragic event serves to expose the range of segregated existences in the town, as spectrums of class, wealth, and lifestyle are blurred in the investigation. Behind Hanmouth's closed doors and pastoral façade, the extraordinary individual lives of the community are laid bare” —Publisher