Monday, January 17, 2011

Discovering a New Author

Is there anything more satisfying than finding a new author you really like?

This happened to me this week. Someone recommended Hazel Holt, a British writer, and told me she reminded her of Barbara Pym. Since Pym is one of my favorite writers, I ordered Gone Away on my Kindle and it popped up a few minutes later (a miracle that I’m still not used to) and I began to read. Four hours later, I finished the book, and promptly ordered another one. This is not the best way to start a new year and a terrible way to stick by your resolutions. However, Mrs. Malory, the heroine of Ms. Holt’s stories, is the perfect companion on a snowy afternoon—or evening—or even morning. Finding her is like making a new friend who is completely simpatico, and what better way to start a new year than that?

Ms Holt has a light touch, her characters are mostly congenial (except for her villains), and her detective thinks and behaves just the way I do. (Not necessarily a good thing, but it's always reassuring to find that you aren't the only oddball in the world.) And she doesn't stint on description. Her depictions of the English countryside in vile winter weather and of Oxford in the spring, are wonderful. She's also good with cats and dogs.

For anyone who has a few hours to spare (or not), I highly recommend Ms. Holt's novels.

—Robin Hathaway

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