Thursday, August 25, 2011

Spirits in the Material World

I’ve been so busy reading The Hunger Games that I haven’t stopped to write about anything else. I don’t know why no one told me how good they were and hid them from me at the bookstore. I’m just kidding, people have been telling me to read them since the first one came out, but I’m glad I waited until they were all out so I don’t have to wait impatiently to get to the next part. I was trying to explain the plot of The Hunger Games to my sister and I realized how stupid it sounds to enthusiastically talk about children being hunted for sport and people with their tongues cut out and oh my heavens I could not make these books sound more unappealing, could I?

It happens all the time. An online friend and I went off a message board and into email because we realized that our excitement over books about people dying on Mount Everest was perhaps unseemly and maybe a little disconcerting to others. (Some delicate people don’t like to talk about crazy people who climb mountains without oxygen and die. Sissies.)

One of my favorite books is Nancy Atherton’s Aunt Dimity's Death. A young-ish woman, Lori Shepard, is reeling from the death of her mother and the end of her marriage. She’s pretty clearly depressed, living in one room and working temporary jobs to get by. One day, she gets a letter from a local law firm that summons her to their office. She finds out that Aunt Dimity, a woman her mother had used as the basis for Lori’s bedtime stories and someone Lori had never known was even a real person, has died. In her will was a request that Lori travel to England and write the introduction to a collection of these Aunt Dimity stories. It’s a really sweet story, a British cozy with a little mystery added in.

So, here’s the part that I can’t leave out, but makes me sound like a lunatic with my recommendation. Aunt Dimity is dead, yes, but she’s also a ghost who “speaks”to Lori by writing in copperplate print in a journal. I totally understand why Atherton included it – It was a great hook for a series, but it really serves no purpose except to make me sound like an idiot for loving a ghost story that really has absolutely nothing to do with a ghost. Aunt Dimity shows up on the page, Lori recaps exactly what we’ve just read, and we move on from there, with no advancement in plot. Maybe it’s like a “Previously on” for people who only read a few pages at a time?

Anyway, read the book. Nobody hunts any children in it or cuts out any tongues and they talk a lot about cookies.


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