This semester I teach Tuesday afternoon and on into the evening until 8:30 and then again on Wednesday morning (and I teach Monday and Thursday, too, but those days are easier), and I’m realizing today just how taxing that schedule can be. So far this semester I haven’t actually had to teach a full week because snow days always got me out of it, but now I’ve done it and my brain is shot. So I thought I’d just chat a bit here before I turn to my books.
I’ve been meaning to write about Peter Ackroyd’s The Lambs of London, but I’m not sure I’ll get around to it. It’s been a couple weeks since I finished it, and I’ve lost the sense of urgency to write about it and don’t have a strong sense of what I want to say. I didn’t love the book, although I wanted to. It’s historical fiction about Charles and Mary Lamb and their obsession with Shakespeare, and that sounds fun. But the book never quite grabbed my attention or captured my imagination or made me care all that much. I think I wanted a little more narrative tension, and the characters always felt a little bit unreal. Which is odd, since many of them were really real. Perhaps this is often a problem with historical fiction that turns real people into characters? I imagine it would be very hard to turn their real lives into an interesting plot for a novel and to make up enough about the people to ensure they are strong characters without violating what we know about the real people’s lives.
Those of you who know Ackroyd’s work, is The Lambs of London typical? Are his other books better/worse?
I’ve begun reading Dorothy Sayers’s book Gaudy Night for my mystery book group, and while I’m only a little ways in, it’s turning out to be such a fun book. I do like reading about Oxford and all its odd people and interesting traditions, and Harriet Vane is a great character — she’s a successful mystery novelist with some experience as a potential suspect herself, and she now has Lord Peter Wimsey pursuing her in search of a romantic relationship. She can’t quite decide how she feels about this. I haven’t gotten to the crime yet, but surely something will happen soon …
I think I’ll go find out!