Local Customs

My latest Evergreen book was Local Customs by Audrey Thomas. It’s loosely based on the true story of Letty Landon, a writer in the 183o’s, and her marriage to George Maclean that transplants her from London to West Africa. A few months later she’s daed, seemingly by her own hand.

The story is primarily told from Letty’s posthumous point of view, quite an interesting technique. We also get passages from other main characters, but what I especially liked was the way some passages ended with dialogue asides from the characters. I really liked this, it kind of reminded me of watching a DVD with the cast and crew commentary turned on. It’s like seeing the story unfold while also getting all these voices jumping in and saying ‘this is what I meant by that comment,’ or ‘I was thinking that action would lead to this result’ – it’s just getting that little bit of extra perspective that really makes this novel stand out.

I have to be honest, certain parts of this book made me really uncomfortable. Living in Canada in this day and age I’m just used to a certain way of being, and this book had a definite ‘Us and Them’ vibe to it. I just had to keep reminding myself Thomas was representing a certain time and place very different from my own.

The ending is kind of ambiguous, understandable given that this is based on historical facts. I think Thomas did something really interesting though – there’s one passage where the actual text is a bit different from the rest. At first I thought this was just a printing error, but having read the novel and thought about it for a while, I think that passage was actually the key to the mystery. Overall this was a skillfully crafted text, one that I think I will be reading again.

Cats in Hats

Every once in a while I come across something that is so deliciously absurd that I just have to have it. I came across the Sara Thomas book Cats in Hats at work the other day and had to scoop it up.

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The absolute best knitting book I have ever come across

It’s pretty self explanatory. The patterns are fairly easy, the ones I made took about 45 minutes or so. Of course you’re going to want to see pictures – read on for more!

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The Hunger of the Wolf

The first Evergreen book I chose this yer was Stephen Marche’s The Hunger of the Wolf, a sweeping family saga. It follows the Wylie family over the course of three generations from their hardscrabble beginnings in the early twentieth century to the death of the last true Wylie in present day, head of a multinational conglomeration and one of the richest men around. The whole time they are hiding a deep, dark family secret (I’m pretty sure I read a review and/or synopsis that mentioned it, but it’s not on the book jacket so I won’t reveal any potential spoilers).

The novel has an interesting framework; although about the Wylie family it’s told form the perspective of Jamie Cabot, the son of the caretaker at their remote cabin in Northern Canada. He pieces together their story from old documents, bits of local gossip, and of course his own childhood memories. I liked getting this mix of first person narrative (such as when we are treated to letters written by the Wylies) and third person perspective.

I had high hopes for this one, and I did enjoy it at first, the whole thing had the feel of a literary fairytale mashup. But I started to lose interest about half-way through and it was a bit of a struggle to finish it. I don’t know how else to put this other than to say it was a very manly novel – it felt like one of those macho fast-paced movies about greedy Wall Street big shots, understandable given how much it focused on how the Wylie family clawed their way to the top of the corporate world. It wasn’t a bad book, in fact I think it was quite skillfully crafted, but it just wasn’t to my taste.

Nemesis, Part 1

Time to cast on my next pair of socks. These are knit up in the glorious hot pink sparkly yarn that is Knit Picks Stroll Glimmer in Runway; I’m making these for my mom for Mother’s Day and she’s quite fond of bright colours.

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Looking good!

The pattern is Susan Dittrich’s Nemesis from Knitty. You might be wondering why I would choose a pattern called Nemesis if I’m making these for my mom. Well, according to the pattern description these are inspired by the twists and turns in an Agatha Christie mystery. My mom and I love watching cozy British mysteries, and Miss Marple is a particular favourite of ours, so when you think about it these are quite fitting.