Friday, October 18, 2013

The Opposite of a Crime Novel

Sometimes all I want to read is something soothing, populated with charming characters, witty and clever without being mean, written in beautiful English, ending happily, completely unrelated to the odious problems of the modern day. Crime novels don't fill this need. The good ones are all about dreadful unpleasantness. Murder is always dreadfully unpleasant. The phrase "cozy murder mystery" is an oxymoron. Furthermore the very best crime novels are all about modern problems. I detest modern problems. I want comfort.

For that sort of read, give me a Regency by Georgette Heyer every time.

I just finished reading Sprig Muslin, in my opinion one of her best. Dizzy young beauties, handsome gentlemen, officious clergymen, detestable aunts, pompous grandsires, bizarre intrigues, it has everything. I got it out of the Lambertville Free Public Library along with a couple of Heyer's other Regencies when I felt a fit coming on of needing to be comforted. Politics can be almost as unpleasant as murder, and you know as well as I do what the last couple of weeks have been like. The cover is red-orange buckram, that sturdy stuff that they re-bind library books with after they have passed through many loving hands.

After I read the book I sat stroking the buckram cover for a minute or two and then I popped it open looked inside the back cover. The slip of paper that says Date Due has date stamps going all the way back to April 1969. Ladies (I'm pretty sure most of us are ladies) have been entertaining themselves and comforting themselves with this book ever since 1969. Maybe even before that, since the copyright date is 1956. Maybe it was rebound in 1969.

I took the card out of the pocket in the back. These cards are no longer used by the library, since they keep all the circulation information on the computer nowadays. When they were used, the name of the person who took the book out was written in the box next to the date stamp. The last date stamp on the card was February 3, 2004.

The name in the box was mine. I must have read this book before, the last time I had a Regency fit. But, you know, I don't remember reading any of this book before. When I read it today it was perfectly new and fresh to me.

Maybe I ought to worry about that.

Kate Gallison


  1. Lovely. As I'm sure you know, Georgette Heyer wrote murder mysteries as well. If you're looking for a good Christmas mystery, I suggest "Envious Casca." People snowed in at a country house. What could be better? Anthony Trollope is my soother in times of crisis.

  2. Yes. I shall have to try Anthony Trollope.

  3. To each his own.... when I need a soother against the rough, wild world of reality... I turn to 2 places: the jokes and cartoons on line by Daniel Kurtzman - Political Humor and just heehaw at my desk!!! Or one of the high octane thrillers by Stephen Coonts that tell me stories so fabulous I feel like I'm a little girl again, reading the European fairy tales I so loved! tjs

  4. Thelma, thanks for mentioning Coonts; I always like to check out new writers
    Kate, I am very partial to the Barsetshire novels. My two favorites in the six book series are "Barsetshire Towers" (book 2) and "The Last Chronicle of Barset"
    I also love "The Way We Live Now" which has a very contemporary feel (It includes financial skullduggery) and might not be as soothing but is very involving