Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Summer Reading…and Summer Movies

For a variety of reasons, this hasn’t exactly turned out to be the summer I envisioned. No, there haven’t been a lot of lazy days suitable for plopping tired feet in cool grass and getting lost in a page-turner, no time for digging toes aimlessly in sand packed hard by endless laps of white-green, bubbly-soft ocean foam that occasionally sprays the pages of a book, not even an afternoon sipping green tea and flipping pages amidst the traffic and noise of a sidewalk café. No matter, though. I have managed to find two books that—if this was a different summer—would make cameo appearances in each of these scenes.

The first, lent to me by a friend, tells the story of the Nazi occupation of the Channel Island of Guernsey during World War II. (Yes, I’m behind in my reading and just discovered this treasure that so many others enjoyed years ago, many in book groups.) Filled with colorful characters and a riveting story in a simpler time, when letter-writing was still an art (and a primary means of communication), the end of the page turning came all too quickly for me. If only there were more letters (and more time to read them) from Juliet, Sidney, Sophie, Amelia, Dawsey and the rest, I think I’d have kept turning pages indefinitely. Perhaps a movie will be forthcoming? I hope so…

I’ve written about the second book before (once here, and once here), but never actually read it. And, even though I’ve finished only 20-some of its 460+ pages (excluding the notes and the index), it, too, is already riveting, filled with colorful characters and, perhaps best of all, is a true-crime murder mystery. In this case, though, the mystery isn’t as much a whodunit as a how’d-they-solve-it, much of which remains to be revealed in the unread pages. And, although I find that the movie often isn’t nearly as good as the book, a fictionalized account of this story was made into a 1959 flick starring Orson Welles and E.G. Marshall. Hello, Netflix