TxtingMrDarcy Reads: “Worth Waiting For” Edition

“The Little Book”~ Selden Edwards

Book Description (From Amazon):  Thirty years in the writing, Selden Edwards’ dazzling first novel is an irresistible triumph of the imagination. Wheeler Burden-banking heir, philosopher, student of history, legend’s son, rock idol, writer, lover, recluse, half-Jew, and Harvard baseball hero-one day finds himself wandering not in his hometown of San Francisco in 1988 but in a city and time he knows mysteriously well: Vienna, 1897. Before long, Wheeler acquires a mentor in Sigmund Freud, a bitter rival, a powerful crush on a luminous young woman, and encounters everyone from an eight-year-old Adolf Hitler to Mark Twain as well as the young members of his own family. Solving the riddle of Wheeler’s dislocation in time will ultimately reveal nothing short of one eccentric family’s unrivaled impact upon the course of human history.

Edwards, author of The Lost Prince, brilliantly weaves romance, art, history, and culture in this unforgettable and dazzling debut novel.

Hello? *taps microphone* Is this thing on? I mean, it’s been so long I’m beginning to question if this little channel to the Internet is even still open.

Fortunately for me, it appears to  be. That means I can fill you in on the little secret that I discovered thanks to Shelf Awareness. (Yes, since I am spending so little time communing with my fellow book bloggers anymore, Shelf Awareness is quickly becoming my sole source of all things bookish. They have yet to steer me wrong, I’m happy to say.)

About two months ago, they shared a review of the book “The Lost Prince,” by Selden Edwards, referring to a wonderful time travel plot and delicious female characters. And joy of joys, it was a SEQUEL to “The Little Book.” Which I had never even friggin’ heard of. I promptly hightailed it to my library, reserved a copy, and dug in.

Let me preface by saying this: If you enjoyed “The Time Traveller’s Wife,” this book is for you.

The book begins with Wheeler Burden waking up in 1897 Vienna with absolutely no idea how he arrived there. The last thing that he remembers is a book signing in 1980s San Francisco, so he’s really stumbled into quite a dilemma. Fortunately for him, he had a Wise Older Mentor who was FROM 1897 Vienna, so he has a bit of an advantage right off the bat. He allows himself to travel through the city as an observer, and then to gradually become absorbed in the exciting turn-of-the-century culture. He’s aware of the care he needs to take when interacting with people, lest he inadvertently affect the future he is to be born into. That becomes exponentially more difficult when he starts to stumble across figures from his own past, and the resulting complications are delightful to witness.

Selden Edwards is obviously deeply in love with the time period he writes about, and his book reflects it. The story is deeply sensual, with descriptions of everything from glorious coffee with cream to intricate gowns, and even a night at the opera. There is a rich cast of characters both male and female, and it wonderfully prepares the reader for the next installment, in which we get to revisit one of the female characters. The reader also is treated to encounters with a host of historical figures, including a young Sigmund Freud and Gustav Mahler. With a time travel plot, it’s difficult to discuss too many details without giving away spoilers, but I am so glad that I was clued into this book’s existence. With my crazy schedule, it took me far longer than usual to get through its packed pages (Hint: I renewed it at the library TWICE. Oh, the shame!!), but it was worth every minute. I’d highly suggest it as a great read for the cooler weather ahead.

Four and a half cups of strong coffee.

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TxtingMrDarcy Reads: “Skip the Blood Pudding” Edition

 “An Irish Country Doctor”~ Patrick Taylor

Plot Summary (From Amazon): Barry Laverty, M.B., can barely find the village of Ballybucklebo on a map when he first sets out to seek gainful employment there, but already he knows that there is nowhere he would rather live than in the emerald hills and dales of Northern Ireland. The proud owner of a spanking-new medical degree and little else in the way of worldly possessions, Barry jumps at the chance to secure a position as an assistant in a small rural practice.

At least until he meets Dr. Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly.

The older physician, whose motto is to never let the patients get the upper hand, has his own way of doing things. At first, Barry can’t decide if the pugnacious O’Reilly is the biggest charlatan he has ever met, or the best teacher he could ever hope for….

Soundtrack: “Learn Me Right” ~ Birdy & Mumford and Sons (from the “Brave” soundtrack)

Best Enjoyed With: A cup of tea and some soda bread (Or a dram of Jamesons!)

I have a confession to make, friends. See, I used to have a very intimate relationship with my local library. I worked there one summer in college, and I frequented its cool dim interior to keep myself supplied with escapist novels while working the production line at our local chocolate factory. Nothing made down-time go faster than the twisted tales of Stephen King or a steamy bodice ripper.

And then? Once I started working after college and had less limitations on my funds? I dropped the library. Its hours weren’t always convenient, and the instant gratification of buying what I wanted when I wanted it was too alluring.

I am so ashamed.

My point? About two weeks ago, Army Boy and I started planning for our trip to New Hampshire, and we knew we needed something for the ride. Army Boy is not a wonderful car traveler, to say the least. Plagued with car sickness if he tries to do, well, anything, he gets rather impatient during lengthy road trips. I thought that an audiobook or two just might be the solution to our problem, and we decided it was time to renew our prehistoric library cards.

I had forgotten just how amazingly fun the library is! I could walk in… and pick up a book I wanted to read, and they’d just GIVE IT TO ME. FOR FREE. This could escalate my book-hoarding tendencies to a whole new level, you realize. Amazon is probably going to come to my house wondering why I’m not buying all the things lately.

I’d been wanting to start reading this series by Patrick Taylor, and imagine my delight when they had a copy in stock. I’ve had the worst case of wanderlust lately, and thought that reading about Ireland may help to quiet the urge to obsessively plan hypothetical overseas trips. (It didn’t, much.)

From the book description, I got the idea that these books would be similar to James Herriot and I wasn’t far off. Yes, the plots are a little predictable and the characters occasionally twee, but that’s really what I was hoping for. I wanted a sweet, comfortable story that would allow me to mentally travel abroad and experience the quirks of being a country doctor in the 1960s.

Taylor has created a story populated with notable characters who linger with you after the tale is over. Dr Fingal O’Reilly is a well-meaning bear of a man who has mastered the art of treating country practice after years in a small town. Seeing Barry Laverty taken down a peg during the course of the book is entertaining, and he also learns lessons about not holding himself to impossibly high standards. Their housekeeper Mrs. Kincaid (or “Kinky” as she’s known for most of the book) is always ready with a story or a treat, and even the animal inhabitants of the house have their own personalities.

The villagers, their ailments and their sometimes unconventional treatments are just as interesting as the rural setting. It’s jarring to be taken back to a time and place where a woman had to wait a week for the results of a pregnancy test, and St John’s Wort tea was the preferred treatment for depression (or “feeling a bit off” as the patient describes it.).

This was a simple, enjoyable read and I’ll definitely continue with the next book in the series.

Four out of Five Rocking Ducks.