02 December 2013

Missives from Mexico

Hellooooo! After seventeen only somewhat grueling hours of travel, I arrived in Cancun, Mexico, where my life was ROUGH, let me tell you.

So rough.

I had a bit of a family emergency in the days before I arrived and ended up taking a quick 4-day trip to rural Illinois, where my grandmother was suffering from septicemia (/shudder). Thank goodness we're not living in a post-antibiotic world... yet.

My brother and I are genetically incapable of taking a normal picture, but Grandma is doing fine! 

ANYWAY. I got home at 11:30pm on Monday and left again for work at 9am on Tuesday, so there wasn't a lot of time for the languid "what shall I take to read?" decisions I had been anticipating. So instead of making a decision, I just threw all of the library books I'd checked out to "test" into my suitcase and figured I'd sort it out when I got here:

It's moments like this that make me grateful that international flights often allow one free checked bag. No carrying 25# of books across four time zones for this girl! But I did manage to do quite a bit of knitting and listening to the third James Herriott book during my layovers, as well as to start and finish the utterly delightful The River of No Return by the Bee Ridgway.

Like Raych, I was somewhat disdainful of the idea that I could thoroughly enjoy a time travel book that didn't involve the plague or the Blitz. But this book was wonderful.

So, Nick is a lordling fighting for Wellington in Spain, and in the heat of battle gets jumped forward to 2003, where he is picked up by The Guild, whose job it is to monitor people who jump from one time into another. He spends 10 years settling in to rural Vermont on the Guild's dime, then gets a summons from his Alderwoman, who has some revelations for him.

Then there's Julia, who grew up (in 1815) with her craggy grandfather, the Earl of Dorchester. But he passes away, leaving her in the hands of his successor, who is a total dick and also probably nuts.

The Captain is pretty sure this is a terrible idea.
There are funny bits and surprising bits and a few naughty bits and the cover is gorgeous. Some of the characters that you think are for comic relief aren't, and the other way 'round. Ridgway leads the reader by the nose from one revelation to the next, and there were moments where I said, "HAH!" out loud in the airport or on the beach, then looked around furtively to see if anyone noticed.

A few people noticed.

The story spins out gorgeously. And it deals with cultural changes that we avid readers of historical fiction aren't always exposed to; I found myself thinking more carefully about my own assumptions and prejudices, and how they may seem absurd 200 years from now.

Good books make you think, regardless of what genre they get filed under.

I jumped straight from this to a Georgette Heyer and I'm disappointed in the Heyer because there's no time travel. That's how delightful this was.

10 out of 11 Secret Cupolas on Top of the Mansion

(Since I know you're all curious, I read 5.5 of the 12 books I took with me. /brushes off shoulders)