Before I head for bed with another good book, just a couple of comments on Your Scandalous Ways by Loretta Chase, which has created a mini-furore in RomanceLand because the heroine is a colourful courtesan at the top of The Game in Europe. Nope, she is not a virgin. Yup, she has had sex with men other than the hero and enjoyed it. Nope, she is not repentant. Yup, she is different from other heroines.
This issue is a real hot button for a lot of readers. On one or two boards, people's comments have been very condemning, although those come from people who haven't read the book and have no intention of reading the book because the heroine is unchaste.
That doesn't bother me. It's a slight, frothy book, and the only thing that interfered with my enjoyment is the plot which is by and large missing. It's quite screwball/zany stuff - e.g. hero and heroine dunk themselvs in a Venetian canal for no apparent rational reason. On the other hand, I didn't find this a wallbanger. I liked the hero. But it all seemed very thin to me. Which is a rather more serious issue than whether the heroine has had sex with more than one man.
A better book altogether was one passed to me by a friend who said, "It's a very good beach read", but I glommed it up in a gulp or two before getting anywhere near a beach. It was called Water For Elephants, and has been very successful in the US but seems scarcely to have caused a ripple in this neck of the woods. It is the story of a young man, Jacob, who is propelled by personal catastrophe into the world of a very ropey circus in the early 1930s, touring the US by train. There is plenty of plot in this one, lots of things happen, and it rollicks along at a fair old pace. It was an extremely easy, engaging read, especially after the Murakami. But as time passes, I know that the Murakami will stay with me - I ended up talking about it today to a student, where Water for Elephants will go down on a list of suitable summer reads for the 14+ book list - the main feature is the unusual setting which is full of opportunities for the introduction of weird and wonderful characters - and then be forgotten. Except that it has been optioned to be made into a movie, and it should be a good movie if they get the right cast. Big If.
In the meantime, have fallen in love with a new band: Fleet Foxes are a weird combination of let's see, Kings of Leon meet Beachboys with Arcade Firey-Midlake type vibe. Lots of harmonies, mandolins and walls of sound. Yumm. Not quite knocking Vampire Weekend off their perch as number one on the iPod, but v. infectious. First time I listened through, I thought, hmmm, then the songs earwormed me.