Monthly Archives: November 2016

Miller’s Valley

Miller’s Valley by Anna Quindlen (Random House, 2016)

Every so often I read one of Quindlen’s new books, and they’re always pretty good. My only complaint is that they describe the characters’ lives so realistically that they’re not very good as escapism. This one, for example takes place in rural Pennsylvania and features a girl who’s good at science and eventually becomes a doctor. The major side plot interwoven around her late 20th century life involves the dam that the federal government wants to expand, which will flood her family’s farm and force them to relocate. This aspect of the book is similar to another novel I read in which residents dealt with fracking in rural Pennsylvania. Although Quindlen does a good job of describing life in Pennsylvania, she can’t have spent much time there because she never mentions Wawa, the iconic convenience store.

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The Handsome Man’s Deluxe Cafe

The Handsome Man’s DeLuxe Cafe by Alexander McCall Smith (Pantheon Books, 2014)

Although the characters and setting of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series are familiar to most readers of McCall Smith’s novels, the various mysteries that Ms. Ramotswe and Ms. Makutski need to solve keep things unpredictable. I’m glad that solving mysteries really is their paid job – so many fictional women solve mysteries only as a hobby, which is kind of sexist. As always in his books, the author’s characters frequently find themselves wrestling with the ethical choices involved in everyday situations. Precious Ramotswe falls squarely on the side of kindness every time, and has no regrets. This is a well written story that will satisfy fans.

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