September smorgasbord, with books from all over the place.
Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories from History without the Happy Ending by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie This audio book started off well, with sly innuendo and auditory sleights that let the listener feel like they were in on a joke with the author. But then Cassandra Campbell, the reader, starting using a breathy, childlike voice to impersonate all the princesses and that got irritating really fast. Especially when the princess in question was neither young, romantic, or innocent. While some of McRobbie's historical accounts were interesting, some were little more than an encyclopedia entry, brief and dry. about a third of the way into the book the focus shifted to the sexual exploits of many of the women. Surely they were important for other reasons? Surely they did other things? This feminist reader hates seeing people objectified, regardless of the justification, which most of the time renders the subject an object, just as these accounts did. The WWII spy who was arrested, tortured, and executed by Gestapo was dealt with very perfunctorily but the peccadilloes of Napoleon Bonaparte's sister went on and on and on. Tending to mediocre despite a good start.
Black as He's Painted by Ngaio Marsh I love Ngaio Marsh and have a tremendous fictional crush on her detective, Roderick Alleyn. Sadly, this particular title doesn't age as well as others in the series. There are too many period terms that are cringeworthy today: e.g., "nappy head" which it hurts to even type. I literally grimaced every time the phrase "the smell of people of other races" appeared, and is appeared way too frequently to be ignored. However, there were several side plots that were delightful and charming: the descriptions of the acroabtics of Lucy Locket the cat are so perfect I assume Marsh was a cat lover who had plenty of opportunity to witness cat behavior; and The brief presentation of Rory and Troy's marriage, which is always so solid and deep and inspiring. Despite the skin crawling that the offensive language caused, I did feel, some ways, the racism so evident in the behavior of certain characters in the book is very timely in 2017. Recommended
The Impressions of Theophrastus Such by George Eliot I'd never read Eliot, so when my book group selected this, her final literary effort, I was intrigued, especially when researching and learning that it was social commentary disguised as fiction. I was further intrigued upon reading it. The first half was good but somewhat uneven in my opinion, although Eliot's sly humor often poked out. But she hit her stride in the second half, with scathing social commentaries such as "So Young" and "The Too Ready Writer." In the current political milieu, "Moral Swindlers" should be read by every journalist and opinionator. Skewered by rapier words. Recommended.