This morning, I’m wondering when the box of books I sent home to myself will ever get here! I collected a lot of books at the conference, of course, but since I was limited to that single suitcase and backpack, there was no room to carry books with me. Two of those books are signed editions of the latest from Anna Campbell, who has a very sweet face and professorial knowledge of her period that belies her very dark and sexy Regency historicals, and Kelly Hunter (who is tall and willowy and gorgeous–also very witty and the new president of the RWofAustralia. I hadn’t met either of them in person before, and it was a genuine pleasure to spend time with them.
I also spent time with the exceedingly intelligent and warm Stephanie Laurens, who kindly gave Jo and I a tour of her world (which is where we saw kangaroos for the first time) and her lovely, lovely home (the house that romance built!), which you can see photos of here. It’s also meant to be on television, but I don’t have those details. We’ve all read her novels of course. No introduction necessary to her passionate and single-minded heroes.
I did a great deal of reading, of course, on the many plane journeys. Most of them blur now–there was a book of essays and an indifferent novel that I think I eventually left behind somewhere. Most of the best books were mailed home (in that box that WILL be arriving soon). But on the way out of Sydney, ambling through the small number of shops available to browse in my gate area, I found a winner:
East of the Sun by Julia Gregson, is a big, juicy novel about three young women who go to India in 1928. There is trouble brewing, and the world is changing, and the way the three of them find their fortunes, discover love and trouble and eventually come to know who they are makes a compelling read. I was going to post a link to the book in the US, but it doesn’t appear to have been published here (yet?), although it is a popular title in both the UK and Australia (where it was named a Great Read by Women’s Weekly). Even if you don’t ordinarily go for India, or this time period, this is a fast, consuming read. The narrative is flavorful, but also swift and uncluttered–you won’t find long, embroidered passages of description of clothes or scenery or poverty. It’s like boarding a well-appointed pontoon on a big river–the view is rich and uncluttered and accessible and full of the beauty and danger and reward of such a journey. The vision of a young girl dancing with “arms like saplings” lingers with me, and a taste of color and a world that is about to be swept away. It was one of my favorite books this whole year and now I must find the author’s other work.
What is one of your favorite books this year?