Hiatus

EDIT: oops — I accidentally scheduled two posts for today instead of an edited version of this one for next Monday (here’s the post meant for today). Oh well. I guess you just get two today 🙂

I’m experiencing an absence of blogging ideas today, so I decided to write about another absence that has showed up in my life recently — new TV episodes to watch. Every show I like is now 1) cancelled or 2) on hiatus.

  • Almost Human — cancelled (not that I was shocked Fox cancelled a sci-fi show I liked after only 13 episodes …)
  • Doctor Who — back in August (new trailer!)
  • Downton Abbey — season 5 is filming
  • Grimm — on hiatus, but renewed
  • Falling Skies — back on June 22
  • NCIS: Los Angeles — on hiatus, but renewed
  • Sherlock — who knows. (BBC wanted a 2014 Christmas special, but there’s scheduling conflicts. Could be years. In other news, the phrase “hiatus intensifies” has come back to Pinterest and Tumbler)
  • White Collar — cancelled, but at least we get a 6-episode final season

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D is on hiatus, too, but there are episodes I haven’t watched yet and I still haven’t decided if I like that show or not. It’s been renewed, though, so I’ll have a second season to make up my mind, if need be.

This lack of new episodes isn’t all bad, though — I’ve read a mountain of books. The latest 5 are were Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, Enchantment by Orson Scott Card, Chalice by Robin McKinley,  The House At Riverton by Kate Morton, and  Shadows by Robin McKinley. I’m currently re-reading The Hobbit, and I picked up four more at the library on Friday, all young adult novels. I’m calling it “researching the target audience” for my novels.

 

 

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Kate Morton’s novels

I love Kate Morton’s books. The first one I read, about 2 years ago now, was The Forgotten Garden. It was her second novel, and spans several time periods to discover the history of a girl abandoned on a ship sailing for Australia in 1913. It is not told in chronological order, and moves between the little girl, Nell, and her granddaughter Cassandra as they both travel to England and investigate Nell’s past as tied to the Blackhurst Manor on the Cornish coast.

One of the things I enjoyed most about this novel was the way it wove two different time periods together. If told in chronological order, the story may have been interesting but there would have been no mystery. This way of telling the story does not feel contrived, however, or as if the writer is telling the story out of order simply to confuse the reader with an elaborate plot.

The same is true of Morton’s third book, The Distant Hours, which I read last year.This one has more of a Gothic element. Though the story takes place in both present-day and the relatively modern World War II era, it still has clear ties to the more distant and mysterious past.

It was not until I read Daphne du Maurier’s book Rebecca for the first time a couple weeks ago that I realized what a great influence her writing style had been on Kate Morton (the inside cover of the dust jacket on one of Morton’s books even references du Maurier). A mystery uncovered through flash-backs. A young woman who discovers the past is even darker and more convoluted than she imagined. An ancestral home filled with secrets.

And that brings us to Kate Morton’s first novel, The House At Riverton, which I finally started reading. I’m about 2/3 of the way through now. This most likely means that I’m at the point in the book where I think I have everything pretty much figured out, and all my suppositions are about to be turned upside down. As I read this book, I realize another reason I love Morton’s writing style — there isn’t an extraneous scene in the book. Everything that happens builds the plot or contributes to essential character development. In novels this size (the shortest is 480 pages), that is an achievement.

I’m enjoying this novel quite a lot, partly for the reason that Morton’s writing style is just as enjoyable in her first novel as in later works, and partly because of the many parallels with Dowton Abbey (Morton’s book was published 3 years before the first season aired, so any similarities are coincidence or the script-writer pilfering from her). Unlike the other two novels, where one character in the present is investigating another in the past, the 98-year-old narrator of this book is looking back on her own life and telling her secrets to her grandson and a film maker.

There is one more novel to read once I finish this one, Morton’s latest book The Secret Keeper. I think I will wait a little while before reading it, though, perhaps a whole year like I did in between her other books. I don’t like the thought of not having another one waiting for me when that one is over.

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