Prague Cemetery, by Umberto Eco
“I hate, therefore I am” describes the main character Simonio Simonini in this historical novel set in mid-nineteenth century Paris. Simonini, as well as his alter ego Abbe Dalla Piccola, is a talented forger and conspirator who seems to be behind numerous slanders concerning Jews, Jesuits, Freemasons, the Illuminati, and other groups lurking behind government and heads of state, all trying to subvert the body politic with their schemes for world domination. Simonini hates the Germans, the French, the Italians, the British, and just about everyone else. He is phobic about women and values fine cuisine. The novel is about his escapades during the Franco- Prussian war and his involvement in “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” and the Dreyfuss affair.
I like Eco’s writing because he is funny and erudite, but it is an acquired taste. This book is not for everyone as it shows the rampant anti-Semitism present in Europe at that time. The Prague Cemetery takes conspiracy theories to the ultimate level, and is recommended for fans of conspiracy thrillers.
Ysabel, by Guy Gavriel Kay
A historical mystical fantasy with Celtic elements and a harrowing love story; Ysabel, by Guy Gavriel Kay, has been called astonishing. It swept me away. Winner of the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel in 2008 and a Locus Award finalist.
See the author’s web site to find out more about Ysabel.
The Darling Dahlias and the Naked Ladies, by Susan Wittig Albert
In 1930s Darling, Alabama, the ladies of the Darling Dahlias garden club garden, cook, sew, “make do”, and solve mysteries. Their first appearance was The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree. The latest excitement in town is the arrival of Nona Jean Jamison and her friend Lily Lake, come to stay with Nona Jean’s reclusive aunt. They are rumored to be the Naughty and Nice Sisters from the Ziegfeld Frolics, and are followed to town by a nosy man from Chicago, who may be an investigator or connected to Al Capone. Liz Lacy, along with Verna, Bessie, and Myra Mae investigate, while coping with domestic dramas along the way. The colorful characters seem real, as does the setting. The naked ladies turn out to be beautiful lilies that bloom above a naked stalk. For more about the Dahlias, visit their web site.
The Big Read is coming! The 2012 Big Read selection is The Paris Wife, by Paula McLain. A wide variety of programs and book discussions will be offered by 10 southwest suburban public libraries during March and April, 2012, with an author visit in May.
For more information, visit thebigread.org.