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text 2020-07-13 17:30
Around the World in 80 Books Mostly by Female Authors: Master Update Post

[World map created with Mapchart.net]

 

The aim: To diversify my reading and read as many books as possible (not necessarily 80) set in, and by authors from, countries all over the world.  Female authors preferred.  If a book is set in a location other than that of the author's nationality, it can apply to either (but not both).

 

On the map I'm only tracking new reads, not also rereads.

 

This is a project continued from 2019.  2020 reads for a country already covered in 2019 will override the 2019 reads.  (2019 books listed below the page break.)

 

The Books:

Africa

Nigeria

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: We Should All Be Feminists (new)

 

South Africa

Agatha Christie: The Grand Tour: Letters and Photographs from the British Empire Expedition 1922 (new)

 

Ghana

Yaa Gyasi: Homegoing (new)

 

Burundi

Gaël Faye: Petit pays (Small Country) (new)

 

 

 

 

 

Americas

USA

Martha Wells: All Systems Red (new)

Sarah-Jane Stratford: Radio Girls (new)

Various Authors, Lee Child (ed.): Mystery Writers of America Presents: Vengeance (new)

Tamora Pierce: Alanna: The First Adventure, In the Hands of the Goddess, The Woman Who Rides Like a Man, and Lioness Rampant (all new)

Scott Lynch: The Lies of Locke Lamora (new)

Sonia Sotomayor: My Beloved World (new)

Charles Portis: True Grit (new)

Sara Paretsky: Indemnity Only (new)

Lee Goldberg: Lost Hills (new)

Anne Fadiman: Confessions of a Common Reader (new)

Martha Grimes: The Horse You Came In On (new)

Anthony Boucher: The Case of the Baker Street Originals (new)

Otto Penzler (ed.) & Various Authors: Murder at the Racetrack, Dangerous Women, and Bibliomysteries (all new)

Ian Doescher: William Shakespeare's Star Wars - Verily, A New Hope (new)

Ellery Queen: The Roman Hat Mystery (new)

 

Antigua

Jamaica Kincaid: A Small Place (new)

 

Peru

Nicholas Shakespeare: The Dancer Upstairs (new)

 

 

 

 

Asia

Philippines

Mia Alvar: In the Country (new)

 

Syria

Rafik Schami: Murmeln meiner Kindheit (My Childhood's Marbles) and Eine Hand voller Sterne (A Handful of Stars) (both new)

 

India

Barbara Cleverly: Ragtime in Simla (new)

 

Armenia

Eve Makis: The Spice Box Letters (new)

 

Iran

Anita Amirrezvani: The Blood of Flowers (new)

 

 

 

 

 

Australia / Oceania

Australia

Holly Throsby: Goodwood (new)

 

 

 

 

 

Europe

United Kingdom

Gladys Mitchell: Death Comes at Christmas (aka Dead Men's Morris), Speedy Death, and The Mystery of a Butcher's Shop, The Saltmarsh Murders, and Death at the Opera (all new)

Agatha Christie: 12 Radio Mysteries, Towards Zero, Ordeal by Innocence, The Harlequin Tea Set and Other Stories, Cat Among the Pigeons, and Dumb Witness (all revisited on audio)

E.M. Delafield: The Diary of a Provincial Lady (new)

Dorothy Dunnett: The Game of Kings (new)

David Ashton: McLevy, Series 1 & 2 (new)

Elizabeth George: I, Richard (revisited on audio)

Ngaio Marsh: Scales of Justice (twice), Overture to Death, Light Thickens, Dead Water, Death at the Bar, Enter a Murderer, A Man Lay Dead, Death on the Air and Other Stories, When in Rome, Singing in the Shrouds, False Scent, and Final Curtain (all revisited on audio)

Tony Riches: Jasper and Henry (both new)

John Bercow: Unspeakable (new)

Patricia Wentworth: The Case of William Smith, The Case Is Closed, and Pilgrim's Rest (all new), Miss Silver Comes to Stay (reread)

Colin Dexter: Last Bus to Woodstock (revisited on audio)

Raymond Postgate: Somebody at the Door and Verdict of Twelve (both new)

Ellis Peters: The Sanctuary Sparrow and An Excellent Mystery (both revisited on audio)

J. Jefferson Farjeon: Thirteen Guests (new)

Terry Manners: The Man Who Became Sherlock Holmes (new)

Margery Allingham: The Beckoning Lady, Black Plumes (both new), Death of a Ghost, Mystery Mile, Sweet Danger, Dancers in Mourning, Flowers for the Judge, and Police at the Funeral (all revisited on audio), My Friend Mr. Campion and Other Stories (new), and The Case of the Late Pig (twice) (reread)

P.D. James: BBC 4 Radio Collection (7 full cast adaptations) (revisited)

Keith Frankel: Granada's Greatest Detective (new)

Cyril Hare: Tragedy at Law (new)

Georgette Heyer: No Wind of Blame (reread)

Joy Ellis: The Patient Man (new)

Anne Perry: Defend and Betray (new)

Michael Cox: A Study in Celluloid (new)

Emmuska Orczy: Lady Molly of Scotland Yard (new)

Val McDermid: Broken Ground (new)

Josephine Tey: A Daughter of Time (reread), Miss Pym Disposes, Dickon (as Gordon Daviot), The Man in the Queue, To Love and Be Wise, A Shilling for Candles, and The Singing Sands (all new)

Detection Club: Ask a Policeman (new)

Susanna Gregory: An Unholy Alliance (new)

R. Austin Freeman: The Red Thumb Mark (new)

Alan Melville: Weekend at Thrackley (new)

Dorothy L. Sayers: Busman's Honeymoon and Love All (plays) (both new)

Bernard Capes: The Myystery of the Skeleton Key (new)

Ruth Rendell: A Judgement in Stone (new)

P.G. Wodehouse: Thank You, Jeeves and Jeeves in the Offing (both new)

Clemence Dane & Helen Simpson: Enter Sir John (new)

Pete Brown: Shakespeare's Local (new)

Christianna Brand: Green for Danger, Death in High Heels, Tour de Force, Heads You Lose, and Suddenly at His Residence (all new)

Bernardine Evaristo: Girl, Woman, Other (new)

Arthur Conan Doyle: The Ultimate Sherlock Holmes Collection (posthumous compilation) (audio revisit of selected short stories)

Clemence Dane: A Bill of Divorcement (new)

E.F. Benson: The Blotting Book (new)

J.K. Rowling: The Tales of Beedle the Bard, Fantstic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and Quidditch Through the Ages (all audio)
 

Iceland

Yrsa Sigurðardóttir: The Legacy (new)

 

Italy

Patricia Moyes: Dead Men Don't Ski (new)

 

France

J. Jefferson Farjeon: Seven Dead (new)

Freeman Wills Crofts: The Cask (new)

Jean-Francois Parot: L'énigme des Blancs-Manteaux (new)

 

Sweden

Helene Tursten: Night Rounds (new)

 

Hungary

Patrick Leigh Fermor: Between the Woods and the Water (new)

 

Romania:

Olivia Manning: The Great Fortune (new)

 

Austria:

Lili Grün: Alles ist Jazz (new)

 

Bosnia and Herzegovina:

Saša Stanišić: Wie der Soldat das Grammofon repariert and Herkunft (both new)

 

Croatia

Ranka Nikolić: Mord mit Meerblick (new)

 

 

 

The "Gender Wars" Stats:

Read in 2020, to date:

Books by female authors: 95

- new: 61

- rereads: 34

 

Books by male authors: 38

- new: 36

- rereads: 2

 

Books by F & M mixed teams / anthologies: 5

- new: 5

- rereads:

 

 

 

The Reading Lists:

AFRICA: 

http://booklikes.com/apps/reading-lists/974/africa

 

LATIN / SOUTH AMERICA AND CARIBBEAN: 

http://booklikes.com/apps/reading-lists/975/latin-south-america-and-caribbean

 

EAST / SOUTHEAST ASIA AND OCEANIA: 

http://booklikes.com/apps/reading-lists/981/east-southeast-asia-and-oceania

 

MIDDLE EAST AND CENTRAL ASIA: 

http://booklikes.com/apps/reading-lists/977/middle-east-and-central-asia

 

EASTERN AND CENTRAL EUROPE: 

http://booklikes.com/apps/reading-lists/978/eastern-and-central-europe

 

WOMEN WRITERS (global list):

http://themisathena.booklikes.com/post/1618777/women-writers-reading-list

 

 

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text 2020-05-28 22:32
DNF @ just over 40%.
The Stories of Eva Luna - Isabel Allende,Cynthia Farrell,Samantha Desz,Timothy Andres Pabon,Gibson Frazier,Joy Osmanski

Meh.  There's nothing inherently wrong with these stories, but I'm interminably bored -- I just may be over Allende at this point.  So, I'm just going to cash in on the 40% I've listened to and roll again.

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text 2020-05-18 18:03
DNF @ 30% (approx).
A Judgement In Stone - Ruth Rendell,Carole Hayman

"Illiterate" (read: dyslexic) working class home help kills her well-meaning but utterly clueless upper class employers.  The end.  (And because it's an inverted mystery, we know literally from the first sentence that this is going to happen.)  Aaaannnd ... I'm out.

 

I'm not merely bored, though.

 

Chiefly, I'm furious at Rendell for deliberately framing dyslexia:

 

(1) as a class issue (which it patently is not and never has been), and

(2) what is infinitely worse, as the trigger that causes a psychopath who is secretly morbidly ashamed of her lack of literacy to fatally lash out at others.

 

Shame on you, Baroness.  You ought to have known better.

 

Let no part of the blame fall on Carole Hayman, however, whose spirited reading made me give this book way more of my time than I should have.

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review 2020-05-16 20:07
Love All, aka Cat's Cradle: Sayers Does Drawing Room Comedy
Love All and Busman's Honeymoon: Two Plays by Dorothy L. Sayers - Dorothy L. Sayers,Alzina Stone Dale

When I bought this joint edition of Busman’s Honeymoon and Love All, the obvious pièce de résistance, for me, and the reason why I spent some time hunting down an affordable copy at all, was the stage version of Busman’s Honeymoon – the final full-length outing of Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane (later transformed into a novel of the same name) and just about the last published bit from Dorothy L. Sayers’s own pen still lacking in my collection, at least as far as Lord Peter and Harriet are concerned. Love All, in comparison, looked like an also-ran – interesting, certainly, but surely no dice on the star turn of Sayers’s recently-married supersleuths?

 

Oh, ye of little faith.

 

Ostensibly, Love All (which Sayers co-wrote with her Somerville College friend Marjorie Barber, and which in an unpublished manuscript version bears the alternative title Cat’s Cradle) is a drawing room comedy, set first in Venice and later in London – but Sayers wouldn’t be Sayers if a drawing room comedy was all she had given us here. In fact, this is the theatrical expression of the thoughts also expressed in the two addresses jointly reproduced under the title Are Women Human? – that it is women’s given right as human beings to live a fully realized life, which most definitely includes the right to choose their own professional path, and the freedom not to have to place a man’s needs and demands over their own (as, however, so many of her female contemporaries had to do).

 

The play was never published in printing during Sayers’s lifetime and only had a limited stage exposure outside of London (and none at all in London itself); possibly as a result of clashing – as Sayers herself put it – on its opening night “with Mr. Hitler’s gala performance in Norway and Denmark” (i.e., the Nazis’ 1940 invasion of Norway). Another reason may have been the strictures imposed by Sayers’s son Anthony Fleming, who – jealously protective of his mother’s standing as a writer – even in this 1980s’ “resurrection” prohibited any editorial reference to Sayers’s private life or to himself, even though the play features a young boy brought up by relatives in the country while his mother is pursuing a literary career in London. And according to the play itself, he definitely had a point; the boy's mother, a successful dramatist, is observed rebutting a journalist (on the phone): “Oh, no, Mr. Mackenzie – Not the personal angle, please. No, really, what has one’s private life to do with one’s work? Well, I daresay that is the question, but I don’t want to discuss it.”

 

Whatever the reasons for the play’s having been allowed to slip into oblivion, it is a pity that this should have happened, as Love All compares favorably with other plays in a similar vein that actually have survived until today. – As the alternative title suggests, to even try and sum up the plot would be giving away major plot points, so I’m just going to end with a few of my favorite quotes: 

   “LYDIA: I thought it would be nice to marry Godfrey […] his books were so thrilling. They made me go all soppy, only he isn’t really a bit like his books.

   JANET: Authors never are. They write themselves out into their books, and the real person is just the odds-and-ends left over.”

 

   “LYDIA: And after dinner he’d read me what he’d done.

   JANET: Just so. And ask for your opinion and advice.

   […]

   LYDIA: Sometimes I tried disagreeing with something for a change.

   JANET: How did that work?

   LYDIA: Then he explained why he was right. I found that took rather too long.

   JANET: It does, rather. Has he done much scrapping and rewriting?

   LYDIA: He’s always scrapping and rewriting bits. Except the bits I disagreed with. He always kept those.”

 

   “LYDIA: Every great man has had a woman behind him.

   JANET: And every great woman has had some man or other in front of her, tripping her up.”

 

   “LYDIA: Is the next book going to be about a devoted woman who sacrificed her career for her lover?

   JANET: No, darling; that was the one he wrote just before he met you.”

 

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review 2020-05-16 20:06
Busman's Honeymoon: A Lethal Play, or, Sayers's Last Word on Peter and Harriet
Love All and Busman's Honeymoon: Two Plays by Dorothy L. Sayers - Dorothy L. Sayers,Alzina Stone Dale

   “PETER (frowns): You know, Harriet, this is one of those exasperatingly simple cases. I mean, it’s not like those ones where the great financier is stabbed in the library –

   HARRIET: I know! And thousands of people stampede in and out of the French window all night, armed with motives and sharp instruments –

   PETER: And the corpse turns out to be his own twin bother returned from the Fiji Islands and disguised as himself. That sort of thing is comparatively easy. But here’s a dead man in a locked house and a perfectly plain suspect, with means, motive, and opportunity, and all the evidence pat – with the trifling exception of the proof.”

Lord Peter Wimsey’s final full-length murder investigation first saw the light of day as a play – like the subsequent novel, titled Busman’s Honeymoon – co-written with Dorothy L. Sayers’s friend from her Somerville College, Muriel St. Clare Byrne. Although it enjoyed a successful run after its November 1936 Birmingham and December London 1936 premieres, the play’s success was transferred entirely onto the novel of the same name published the following year, and the playscript was never reprinted after its initial 1937 Gollancz first edition. It took another half century, the acquisition of the original manuscript and a wealth of associated papers by the Marion E. Wade Collection at Kent State University’s Wheaton College, and the express (and narrowly limited) consent by Sayers’s son Anthony Fleming for the play to be republished, along with the drawing room comedy Love All (in manuscript, alternatively titled Cat’s Cradle), which Sayers wrote together with another Somerville College friend, Marjorie Barber.

 

In the novel Busman’s Honeymoon, Sayers elaborates on the plot and the themes addressed in the play, but she remains faithful to the stage version in every respect, entire lines of dialogue are taken from there, and the play of course distills down the basic structure of the action, merging the demands of dramatic sequencing and those of a detective story scrupulously based on the fair play rule according to which, in the authors’ words, “every clue must be shown at the same time to the public and to the detective”. The detective is not to have any secret knowledge or other advantage over the audience (nor vice versa), and comparing their play’s structure to that of “a Three-part Fugue, moving contrapuntually to an ordered resolution”, the playwrights continue to explain in the authors’ note:

“It was necessary to invent a technique to express this formula, since the novelist’s approach by argument and explanation is clearly unsuited to the stage. For the First Act, in which most of the major clues are introduced, the method chosen is that of visual presentation. The clues as to Means are displayed, silently but conspicuously, down-stage, while at the same time the animated discussion of trivialities up-stage holds the ear and divides the attention of the audience. The producer’s task is thus to play, as it were, two independent tunes concurrently, concentrating upon inessentials in order to disguise, without concealing, the essentials of the plot-structure.

 

In the Second Act, the method, while still contrapuntal, is slightly varied. While the inquiry is ostensibly directed to Motive, the information actually conveyed to the audience chiefly concerns Opportunity, or the lack of it. Here, Superintendent Kirk’s unwavering canto fermo is contrasted with the freely moving descant played by Peter, who hovers continually above the action, sometimes in concord and sometimes in passing discord with the set theme. The producer may note the visual symbolism, whereby Kirk remains throughout firmly planted in his chair, while Peter wanders about the stage, darting in upon the problem from all angles.

 

In Act III, Scene 1, which for the purposes of the plot establishes Motive, the attention is held by yet another theme. This, introduced in the First Act and kept moving by occasional passages in Act II, here emerges into prominence. The human and emotional aspects of the situation, as it affects the private lives of the characters concerned, become the main source of interest. An effort is here made to do for the detective play what has already been achieved for the detective novel – that is, to combine it with the comedy of manners, and so bring it back into the main line of English dramatic tradition. In this scene, the masks are dropped all round: [along farcical-comedy and tragi-comedy lines by others and] along romantic-comedy lines by Peter and Harriet, the complete sincerity of whose emotion is the touchstone by which all the rest of the action must be tested.

 

In the final scene, both the disguised and the ostensible clues extracted from the previous scenes are presented and a fresh in a visual reconstruction to solve the problem on purely theatrical lines; and at the same time the emotional elements are brought into harmony.”

In a lengthy introduction, the book’s editor, Alzina Stone Dale, elaborates on the genesis and various birthing stages of the play, and the book’s no less than four appendices reproduce significant additional materials; including the authors’ stern warning to producers as to the truly lethal risks of the murder method employed here, coupled with several-pages-long minute instructions how Peter’s reconstruction of the crime at the end of the play should be faked, so as to avoid actually endangering anyone on stage (first and foremost the actor playing the murderer, who ends up caught in and unmasked by his own trap in the reconstruction).

 

Another appendix reproduces Sayers’s handwritten notes on the major characters:

“PETER will be 45 next birthday; & though his small bones, whippy figure & fair colouring give him a deceptive appearance of youth, his face, in its rare moments of repose is beginning to show the marks set there by time & experience. At first sight one would say that the lines of brow & chin ran back rather alarmingly; but this, too, is largely an illusion, due to the dominance of the high, beaked nose which is, one feels, a tradition handed down from the Norman Conquest or thereabouts & somewhat exaggerated in the transmission. The steadiness of the grey eyes & long, humorous mouth is reassuring, & there is certainly no lack of physical health or vitality; yet the acuteness of the facial angle, the silvery pallor of hair & skin, the slight droop of the eyelids, the sensitive and restless hands, & above all a certain nervous tautness of gesture & carriage – these signs perhaps convey a warning that the family blood will not stand very much more this kind of thing, & that in marrying a commoner he has shown no more than a proper consideration for posterity. His social poise is inborn; but his emotional balance appears to be rather a matter of discipline applied partly from within & partly by training and circumstance; his outbursts of inconsequent gaiety are the compensation for the exercise of a rigid control in other directions. A natural sweetness of disposition, allied to a freakish sense of humour & assisted by a highly-civilized upbringing, makes him easy enough to get on with, but to get within his guard is difficult. The light, high, over-bred voice is his own; but the drawl, like the monocle, is part of the comedian’s make-up which he can & does put off when he is in earnest. […] Nor does he hold any surprises for Bunter, who has known him from his teeth to his toe-nails for twenty years. How far Bunter has it in him to surprise Peter is a matter for infinite conjecture.

 

[…]

 

HARRIET is 30 years old, tall, strongly-made & vigorous in speech, movement & colouring. She has dark hair & eyes & a skin like honey; her face has more character than beauty, but the older she grows the handsomer she will become. […] Past unhappiness has matured but not tamed her; she has not learnt, & never will learn, self-discipline as Peter has learnt it. What she has got & what he loves her for, is an immense intellectual sincerity. She will commit endless errors of judgment & hold to them in the face of any emotional attack; but if her reason can be persuaded, she will admit the error freely & without rancor. It is evident that she will never be happy unless her passions & her reason can march side by side; & she is lucky to have found a man honest and unselfish enough to refrain from using her heart as a weapon against her conscience. Indeed, in this respect he is the more vulnerable, & it is her honesty that will prevent him from turning the same weapon against himself. The fact that they both have the same educational background is probably a considerable factor in the establishment of a common understanding; & though you might think that they are the last people who should ever have married one another, Oxford will in the end be justified of her children.”

 The 1980s' version of Harriet and Peter: Harriet Walter and Edward Petherbridge -- in the small screen adaptation of Gaudy Night

   HARRIET: Oh, my dear: What is happening to us? What has become of our peace?

   PETER: Broken! That’s what violence does. Once it starts, it catches us all – sooner or later.

   HARRIET: Is there no escape?

   PETER: Only by running away … (Pause) … Perhaps it might be better for us to run. If I finish this job, someone is going to hang. I have no right to drag you into this mess … Oh, my dear, don’t upset yourself so. (He goes up to her.) If you say the word, we will go right away. We’ll leave the whole damnable business ... and never meddle again.

   HARRIET: Do you really mean that?

   PETER: Of course I mean it. I have said so. (His tone is that of a beaten man. He crosses and sits on arm of chair by table L.)

   HARRIET: Peter, you are mad. Never dare to suggest such a thing. Whatever marriage is, it isn’t that.

   PETER: Isn’t what, Harriet?

   HARRIET: Letting your affection corrupt your judgment. What kind of life could we have if I knew that you had become less than yourself by marrying me?

   PETER: My dear girl, most women would consider it a triumph.

   HARRIET: I know. (Gets up and comes down-stage.) I’ve heard them. ‘My husband would do anything for me.’ … It’s degrading. No human being ought to have such power over another.

   PETER: It’s a very real power, Harriet.

   HARRIET (decidedly): Then we won’t use it. If we disagree, we’ll fight it out like gentlemen. But we won’t stand for matrimonial blackmail.”

Busman’s Honeymoon, Act III, Scene 1

I just love that dialogue (which is contained both in the play and in the novel). It’s what epitomizes Peter and Harriet to me – and it just might explain, too, why Sayers didn’t finish a single further novel featuring them but, rather, only gave us glimpses at their married life in a couple of short stories. Because really, what else is there left to be said after this?

 

 

Dennis Arundell and Veronica Turleigh, who played Peter and Harriet in the 1936-1937 theatrical run of Busman’s Honeymoon (images from IMDb)

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