Red Land Black Land is a historical exploration of ancient Egyptian civilizations that discusses religion, rulers, and artifacts, but also focuses on the daily lives and experiences of ancient Egyptians – peasants and pharaohs alike. Some of the topics I found most interesting centered on the smaller details of life, like how people viewed pets, how clothing was made, what foods were popular, and what people did in their spare time.
The Portrait follows the journey of Pierre-François Chaumont, a married Parisian attorney. As a boy, Pierre is influenced by his uncle to become a collector of objects. He begins with scented erasers, but quickly raises the level of sophistication and moves on to antiques. By the time the reader finds Pierre in present day, his collection is massive and a point of contention between him and his wife. It is his latest purchase, a portrait of a man, which really puts their marriage on shaky ground.
Mikael Blomkvist is an investigative reporter and co-owner of a magazine, Millennium, in Stockholm, Sweden. A bygone behemoth of Swedish industry hires him to solve the 36-year-old mysterious disappearance of Harriet Vanger. Lisbeth Salander is the 24-year-old genius computer hacker (complete with tattoos, piercings, and black lipstick) who aids Mikael in his search for the answers. In uncovering what happened to Harriet, they discover a much bigger secret in Sweden.
Need a break from American foibles? Here is a perfect chance to laugh at both the English and the French instead.
For lovers of The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Love in Lowercase, by Francesc Miralles, shares many of the same elements, but with a lighter touch; philosophical, humorous, it is a story of loneliness and love, coincidence – and cats.
Isabelle comes back to her family home after the death of her sister to find an autistic savant growing up in her sister's home. She teaches the girl, Karen, how to function in the world. Karen learns how to interact with the whole, not only through her aunt's patience, but also through the animals with whom she shares a special connection. Me, Who Dove into the Heart of the World is Karen's story.
It’s pretty daunting to even attempt to recommend something written by the Pulitzer Prize winning author, Jhumpa Lahiri (Interpreter of Maladies) and try to do it justice.
Jim Brodie conveniently runs an antique business in San Francisco and a security company in Tokyo. He also speaks Japanese and is a martial arts expert. When a family is gunned down in San Francisco, Brodie is hired by the brother of the victim to find out who did it. The reader learns that Brodie lost his wife, who was Japanese, in a suspicious fire and that the same kanji (Japanese language character) was left at the scene of each crime.