This year, Adrienne has challenged us to read books that movie's have been made from and then watch the movie. I was really surprised to find how many I already had on my to-be-read shelf that fit this criteria. For April, I read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. It had been lingering on my shelf for quite awhile, and I completely enjoyed this book. What a page-turner! Full of intrigue, mystery, some really graphic horribleness, and an age old murder to be solved.
Mikael Blomkvist, a once-respected financial journalist, watches his professional life rapidly crumble around him. Prospects appear bleak until an unexpected (and unsettling) offer to resurrect his name is extended by an old-school titan of Swedish industry. The catch—and there's always a catch—is that Blomkvist must first spend a year researching a mysterious disappearance that has remained unsolved for nearly four decades. With few other options, he accepts and enlists the help of investigator Lisbeth Salander, a misunderstood genius with a cache of authority issues. Little is as it seems in Larsson's novel, but there is at least one constant: you really don't want to mess with the girl with the dragon tattoo.
I'm also participating this year in a reading challenge called What's In a Name? I've done this one a couple of times in past years and it's always fun to go through my shelves and pick books that meet the criteria for each category. Category 4 this year is a book with Fire (or equivalent) in the title, so I chose Burning Bright by Tracy Chevalier.
I love Tracy Chevalier. I can't even imagine the time and effort it takes to research the area's and people of history that she writes about. Historical fiction is my favorite genre and Chevaliers books always take us right inside another time and place, feeling the emotions, hearing the sounds and smelling the air.
Burning Bright is set in the early 1790's of London, where Thomas Kellaway has recently moved his family to try to outrun the memories of the recent loss of one of their sons. This family is from the Piddle Valley- Thomas and son Jem are chair makers while his wife Anne and daughter Maisie are very skilled Dorset button makers. Enter real-life character Philip Astley of Astley's Circus, who helps set the Kellaways up with a room as well as customers, eventually hiring Thomas and Jem as carpenters for the circus. Jem meets Maggie, a neighbor girl, and the two quickly become fast friends while also befriending the printer and his wife who live next door. This eccentric printer is thought to have loyalty for the French during this time of the French Revolution. He turns out to be none other than the now famous poet and engraver, William Blake. While Mr. Blake and Mr. Astley are the true to life characters of the book, the story is really a coming of age story centered around the fictional characters of Jem, Maggie and Maisie with the sights and sounds of 1700's Lambeth Place as the backdrop. Interspersed with Blake's poetry, this is a fantastic read!
When the painted birds laugh in the air
Where our table with cherries and nuts is spread,
Come live & be merry and join with me,
To sing the sweet chorus of 'Ha, Ha, He.'
~Laughing Song, William Blake