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Reading Slothfully

I was told in elementary school that I only could read at half the speed for success in college. Oh well, one benefit of slow reading is you get to live with the characters a longer period of time. I read in a vain attempt to better understand people. At my other homes, I'm known as a spouse, pop, guy in the choir, physical chemist, computer/web dilettante and child-care provider. In theory, I'm a published author, if you consider stuff like Quenching Cross Sections for Electronic Energy Transfer Reactions Between Metastable Argon Atoms and Noble Gases and Small Molecules to count as publications. I've strewn dozens of such fascinating things to the winds.

Currently reading

A Good Death
Christopher R. Cox
The Black Cargo
John P. Marquand
A Highland Christmas
M.C. Beaton
Tales from Moominvalley
Tove Jansson, Thomas Warburton
Moominland Midwinter
Tove Jansson, Thomas Warburton
On The Beach (Vintage Classics)
Nevil Shute Norway
The Maltese Falcon
Dashiell Hammett
Obscure Destinies
Willa Cather
A Start in Life (The Michael Cullen Novels)
Alan Sillitoe
Mobilizing Web Sites: Strategies for Mobile Web Implementation
Kristofer Layon

Up at the Villa

Up at the Villa - W. Somerset Maugham A short bonbon from Maugham. Maugham himself calls it a novelette, but it's really a novella, 30,364 words (I counted them).

Anyway, a young and fabulously beautiful widow, Mary Panton, has gotten away from London and memories of a bad marriage and is living in the Italian villa of some friends, in the hills above Florence. It's a relatively idle life, filled with reading, hanging out in the garden, and parties.

Sir Edgar Swift, an ambitions "Empire builder" who is 24 years her senior, is about to be shipped off to India. He asks Mary to marry him and come along. She requests a few days to think things over.

While she is thinking, she runs into Rowley Flint, a notorious bounder. She successfully repels Rowley's attentions, multiple times, but still, apparently, some kind of bond is formed.

On the way home one night, she finds an impoverished Austrian refugee, Karl Richter, an art student. She thinks to give him one great gift, an evening of wining, dining, and herself. When Richter understands that she did it only out of compassion, and not love, he kills himself. Mary calls on Rowley to help dispose of the body and clean up the mess in her sitting room.

Naturally, there are a few more complications involving Rowley and Sir Edgar. A cute, engaging story, well worth one's time.