Feb. 4th, 2014

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Finished The Beautiful Visit, Elizabeth Jane Howard's first book. She died recently; I read her Cazalet Chronicles a few years ago and loved them, and didn't realize till I read the obits that there's a new book in the series. I'd had this one, unread, so it appealed. It's a memoir by a young girl in the years before and after World War I. I liked it a lot; she's good at describing thought processes and feelings. Framing the story is a visit she makes to some happy and glamorous cousins, which makes her question her own life and seek more, and another visit years later. There are some odd and memorable characters that she meets along the way, and she succeeds in conveying some of the horrors of WWI with deftness.

It has a few first-book problems with a rather unbelievable love affair but what the hell, it's sweet and moving even if it strained credulity. There were a couple of superb moments that made me put it down to think for a bit, which I love.

Now reading A Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan, because I'm trying to read more fiction (it's challenging) and I liked The Keep when I read it years ago. So far I'm finding it so-so; I just can't care about men's erectile difficulties and I can't relate to 9-11 sadness. I don't have to like protagonists but I have to carea bout them. Also I know I read part of it in the New Yorker (probably) already so I'm sort of waiting for something new to happen.

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