THE PASSION OF ARTEMISIA by Susan Vreeland. This book, about a seventeenth-century female painter, has long been on my virtual to-be-read pile, but after hearing Ms. Vreeland speak at this June's Historical Novel Society Conference, it moved to the top. I was so impressed by her impassioned arguments on the role fiction plays in fostering compassion and human connection that I am very eager to read her work and experience her creative vision for myself.
BAUDOLINO by Umberto Eco. My college-age son had to read THE NAME OF THE ROSE for class this past summer, reminding me how much I enjoyed that novel when I read it years ago. Although I once attempted (and failed) to make it through FOUCAULT'S PENDULUM, I thought I'd try Eco again with this novel.
MY NAME IS RED by Orhan Pamuk (winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize for literature). This curious novel is set in sixteenth-century Istanbul and deals with the murder of a court miniaturist selected by the Sultan to illustrate a great book in the European style--a dangerous proposition, given that figurative art can be deemed an affront to Islam. Mixing romance with mystery, fantasy and philosophical discussion and narrated from multiple viewpoints ranging from that of a corpse to the color black, this novel promises to be a challenging and satisfying read.
HUNGER'S BRIDES by Paul Anderson. I was tempted to check this book out from the library once, but its size daunted me--at 1358 pages, it weighs 4 1/2 pounds and is 2 1/2 inches thick! It explores the life of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, a seventeenth-century Mexican nun who wrote plays, poetry and theological arguments before signing a vow of silence in her own blood at the age of forty. Anderson frames the historical portions of the book within a contemporary academic mystery plot. I'm curious to see whether this book, which breaks every taboo for a first novel, lives up to the hype.
I think I did pretty well for a grand sum of $4! Now if I could only purchase the hours to read them... Readers? Have you read any of these books, and if so, what did you think?