Marie’s Reading: “The Cellar” by Minette Walters

CellarThough the blog doesn’t reflect it, I’ve been on a Minette Walters kick lately.  I like her unlikeable characters, and I like her feel for misdirection.  The Cellar is different than her other books, and it’s a dark, sad, creepy story.

A family of African immigrants brought along their slave, Muna, to England.  She has been with them since she was eight years old, when they stole her from an orphanage.  Muna is forced to live in the cellar, to cook and to clean, and to endure all manner of abuse from the Songali family.  And all this time, she’s been plotting her revenge.

There’s a slow, creepy build to this story.  At the start, one of the sons of the family has gone missing, which brings police to the door.  To cover Muna’s true place in the household, she’s finally given real clothes and a bedroom.  As the tale continues, you discover how much Muna knows and understands–from the fact she can speak English to the lengths she’ll go to to exact some vengeance on this family.

There’s no one to like in this novel, but you can certainly understand how tragic and twisted poor Muna is.  Even in the more grotesque moments, it’s hard to feel much but a sick pity for her.  This is one of those horror stories that unwinds the disturbing truths slowly, and stays with you for a while after reading it.

If you enjoy claustrophobic horror stories and tales of revenge, give this a look.  But if the winter darkness already has you in a funk, maybe put this one off until summertime!



Marie’s Not Reading This

Lots and lots of blogs and websites present a feature where they talk about the TBR (“to-be-read”) pile.  Those ominously swaying stacks on your coffee table, the scribbled list on a napkin you carry around in your pocket, your “to-read” virtual bookshelf on Goodreads, they all count.  Your TBR Pile consists of the books you have on-deck, the ones you’ve been meaning to get to, the ones you’re going to start soon.

Marie at home.

I haven’t really got one of those.  What I do have, though, is a Not Reading This pile.

I’ve talked about this before.  I’m not saying I’m not reading these books because I don’t like them.  I’m actually hoarding them because I like them so much.  I read a chapter or two here and there of each, and just cycle through the pile as the mood strikes me.   I’m particularly bad at this when it comes to books I own.  There’s an entire shelf of books in my office containing books that all have bookmarks in them.

So here are the books I’m not reading.  Or just barely reading.  The list is in descending order based on how long I’ve been working on them.
The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor by Flannery O’Connor
The Provincial Lady in America by E.M. Delafield
The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith
Something From the Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950’s America by Laura Shapiro
The Shape of Snakes by Minette Walters
The Crooked House by Christobel Kent
Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression by Morris Dickstein

In my defense, those first two (which, incidentally, live on that shelf I mentioned above), are really nice nightstand reads, ones to keep close and dip into as more of a comfort kind of thing.  The others…I have no excuse besides the simple fact that everything just looks so good.

I’ve also been reading Dancing in the Dark pretty hard, even though it’s taking me a while.  Book club is coming up, so I have to focus!

In closing: I hope you accept this list in lieu of actual content.  A proper post will be forthcoming.  I’ve just got a lot I’m not reading.