Saturday, July 24, 2010

BOOK: "Faithful Place" by Tana French

Faithful Place: A Novel
Last week, I finished Faithful Place: A Novel by Tana French. On the strength of her two previous books (The Likeness: A Novel and In the Woods), I preordered the book so I'd have it as soon as I could after publication. Tana French's novels are literary mysteries set in Dublin. I love mysteries, but I demand they be well-written, so I was delighted to discover French last year. In some ways, In the Woods was my favorite - it had so many layers - but the ending was unsatisfying. I was intrigued by the story and characters in The Likeness, especially the cadre of university outcasts, but the premise was so outlandish, the book stretched credibility.

French has certainly learned from her prior work. Faithful Place is compact, efficient, and well-written, not to mention compelling and fast-paced. In it, Frank Mackey, the undercover who orchestrated Cassie Maddox's operation in The Likeness, confronts the truth that his first love, Rose, did not leave him on the eve of their planned escape from Faithful Place to London, but was instead murdered. Twenty-two years after that night, Frank returns to the neighborhood of his youth to try to understand what happened to Rose and find out who killed her. Officially, Frank is not on the case, and he butts heads with Scorcher, who is the detective in charge. He also is mistrusted by the neighborhood, many of whom think he himself killed Rose.

As Frank investigates Rose's death, his past is uncovered, and it is sad and horrifying. At the same time, I wondered if he could really stay away from his family for almost two decades. Faithful Place is a neighborhood in Dublin, not another town in Ireland, not another country. While he had encountered his younger sister Jackie during an earlier investigation and reestablished ties with her, Frank had three other siblings, nieces, nephews. Would it really be possible to make such a break?

Besides this nagging issue, I really did like the novel. I found myself thinking in Irish slang! When I began the book, I was concerned - Frank was a typical, alpha male prick, rustling feathers because he could get away with it. He quickly became more likable - perhaps that persona was disrupted when he learned that Rose was dead, hadn't left him. It initiated a process of reimagining his history.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Blogs for Browsing

Swap-bot is one of the sites through which I exchange postcards. At times, I do other swaps as well, like a current swap "Be My Blog Follower." My partners' blogs are below! I will be reading these blogs, and hope you will, too.
While you are in a mood to browse blogs, please don't forget about my postcard blog!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Spanish Flu

Currently, I am reading The Given Day: A Novel, which is set in 1918-1919 (and perhaps later, though I haven't gotten that far). This is not a time period I've spent much time considering, though Bad Blood: The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment had some events in that time period. In any case, I'm finding the story and the historical context quite fascinating. So far, the novel tells two parallel stories, one of Danny, a Boston policeman of Irish heritage who is son and uncle two high-ranking members of the force, the other of Luther, a Black munitions worker who, when laid off at the factory to make room for jobs for white veterans, moves to Greenwood (Tulsa). I am very curious how or if these two stories will come together, but at the moment, both Danny and Luther have survived the influenza pandemic of 1918. In the book, the illness moves so quickly and is so debilitating and deadly. While people seem to have little protection, they do wear masks, and in most communities, it's illegal to go without them. Despite the danger, policemen in Boston must patrol their beats and deal with the violence that comes out of fear and anxiety. They are often among the first responders and are called upon to help the sick or remove dead bodies, though the police department provides no death benefits because it claims police officers could easily have contracted the grippe outside of work.

Curious, I read online about the epidemic and found some interesting photographs at the national archives.

This streetcar driver refuses to let an unmasked passenger on the car.

Postal workers who came into contact with the pubic were required to wear masks.

These Seattle police officers wore masks made by members of the Red Cross.
The Influenza Epic of 1918 at the National Archives

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

In the Hammock

Walter and I enjoy hanging out on George's hammock in the backyard.


Monday, July 19, 2010

Mosaic Monday: Giving Tree Cafe

goodbye, giving tree cafe

George and I ate at the Giving Tree Cafe (formerly ABC Cafe) every weekend for breakfast. We were very sad to learn that it closed its doors last week for good.

Thanks to Mary at the Little Red House for hosting Mosaic Monday!
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