Chamberlain's novel is a classic of that post-war genre, 'literary fiction'. Perhaps 'literary fiction' is wrong: quite a lot of it wasn't literary as in concerning literature, just wordy It's still going, but the readership is tiny and for me it reeks of smugness and self-regard, founded not in anything positive, but in a rejection of genre. This isn't fair, but it's because I read a lot of Iris Murdoch in my twenties. Every novel stuffed with indistinguishable upper-middle-class types undergoing existential crises over the sherry bottle or bridge table, or swapping Oxbridge High Table gossip as though it mattered. There's a good deal of admirable technique and thought, but there's very little interest in the world outside a very narrow social sphere.
Chamberlain's a bit different: her canvas was the wider world and social change, though I do worry that a novel about the travails of a Welsh artist and poet (they say 'write about what you know') travelling Europe with her French husband to meet her aristocratic German ex-lover is going to be a mite insular. That said, Chamberlain's an unjustly neglected stylist, so there's going to be a great deal of pleasure in immersing myself in her language and structure. She was an artist, printer and poet of considerable talent and it's about time she was read again.
The 'interesting' book I was alerted to is a 'paranormal romance' starring a feisty female half-banshee American 'tec and her sexy, smouldering counterpart from the vampire world. Said sexy, smouldering etc. amusingly shares my own meatspace forename and surname, which is pretty rare outside Ireland. Obviously I can't direct you to this work of art as my cover would be blown (though it would take about 0.3 seconds for you to find the text), but suffice to say that the fans are pretty damn enamoured of my fictional doppelgänger:
While the killer eludes her, she does discover handsome Plashing Vole, an investigative counterpart from the enigmatic Otherworlder Enforcement Agency. Mac typically runs her investigations fast and hard, but with Plashing at her side, she’s running this one “hot” as well. But Plashing knows more than he’s letting on—something that could shatter their blazing romance and add Mac to the killer’s growing body count…
And he's just like me:
A man—or something that looked like one anyway—sat at the oak table. He was reading a book. He set the book down and smiled at me. It was one heck of a smile on one heck of a face. A strong jaw covered in five o’clock shadow, dark eyes, and a head of messy black hair set on a very fit, long body.
“Ah, Kiera McLoughlin, I presume?” I thought I detected a slight Irish lilt to his voice, but if he had an accent, it was subtle.
And he runs his literature classes in the same way:
His smile turned into a full-on flirtatious grin. “Why don’t you put your gun away so we can talk? About your interesting taste in books, perhaps.”
I pushed down the temptation to glance at Plashing. Something about the man drew my gaze and made me very aware of how much time had passed since my last date.
Purely for egotistical purposes, I'd be tempted to buy a copy, but this literary feat is only available as an e-book and frankly I can't be bothered. If it's not worth chopping trees down for, it's not worth peering at a tiny screen for. But the fans like it (or me):
Vole was hot and charming
And the hero...well...I loved him from the beginning. The charming grin. The dark hair and blue eyes. His concern for Mac's well being. Everything about him enticed me. Plashing is a man of mystery and strength--two of my favorite things. Oh, and he's uber hot in bed. Love that.Anyway, after all that excitement I must cool down with a solid bout of re-sit marking. It's not much fun this year, I can tell you.