A Good Book for Christmas

Christmas at our cottage in northern Wisconsin has become one of the rare occasions when I allow myself the luxury and pure enjoyment of reading–actually turning the pages, I mean. Let me set the stage: Outside, snow is falling. The Christmas tree is lit and a fire is blazing in the hearth. At my elbow is a cup of steaming spiced tea. The dog is curled up next to me on the sofa. So what am I planning to read this year? Five books in two weeks. Here’s my list.

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Business or Pleasure?

My husband and I returned last Monday from a long-awaited trip to England. The most common question we were asked was, “Are you here for business or pleasure?” We answered truthfully. “Both.”
My main purpose was to scout out locations and inspirations for the next Kate Hamilton mystery, but there’s no harm in enjoying yourself at the same time, right

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If Walls Could Talk

Last week my husband and I spent the better part of a day trekking on Dartmoor in Devon. There we saw stone walls built in the 1300s. The stones, we were told, were so skillfully fitted together, they rarely fall. These dry stone walls have long outlived their human makers. They have witnessed births and deaths, celebrations and wars, abundance and famine. If walls could talk, think of the untold stories they would tell.

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Sometimes You Have To Leave Home

Setting can be a character in its own right. It can also be a metaphor. Setting creates a mood, grounds a story in reality, informs the characters, and often determines plot. Think of the wilds of Cornwall in Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca, or the bleak, treacherous moors in Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles or the Dustbowl of the 1930s in Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath. These stories couldn’t have happened anywhere else, and the job of the author is to transport their readers to another time and place.

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