International Dagger winner 2012

I am delighted to learn from Euro Crime that The Potter’s Field by Andrea Camilleri, translated by Stephen Sartarelli, has won the International Dagger for 2012. From the CWA website:

The judges said ‘Camilleri’s Montalbano novels show just how much can be achieved with familiar materials when a writer conveys the sense of life in a recognizable place. He combines characters, plots, and reflections on Italy’s particular social and political problems, with wry—but never bitter—satire. In this novel the late-afternoon shadows lengthen; Montalbano is feeling his age.’

I reviewed this novel (as well as most of the others in the series) for Euro Crime. From my review:

THE POTTER’S FIELD is an excellent book. All the familiar characters are here, but events have taken a darker turn. Salvo is feeling his age, and with reason is increasingly depressed about the state of his beautiful country and the way in which it is ruined by politicians and gangsters alike. The novel is more than a crime novel – though the plot is very clever and convoluted, because of the way Salvo decides to proceed with it – it is a meditation on getting older, on failing powers, and on the uncertain future we all face.

Read the complete review here.

Euro Crime: Andrea Camilleri’s books in reading order, with links to reviews of all the titles.

The 2012 shortlist for the CWA International Dagger:

Andrea Camilleri – The Potter’s Field tr. Stephen Sartarelli (Italy)
Maurizio De Giovanni – I Will Have Vengeance tr. Anne Milano Appel (Italy)
Asa Larsson – Until Thy Wrath be Past tr. Laurie Thompson (Sweden)
Deon Meyer – Trackers tr. K L Seegers (South Africa)
Jo Nesbo – Phantom tr. Don Bartlett (Norway)
Valerio Varesi – The Dark Valley tr. Joseph Farrell (Italy)

My own personal shortlist for 2012.

Already we are forced to think about 2103, as several books have already been published that must be strong contenders for next year’s award. Watch this space!

All my posts on the International Dagger awards.

Petrona’s International Dagger page – includes a list of each year’s winner with links to my reviews of each; a link to the shortlist for each year; and a link to Euro Crime’s comprehensive list of all the eligible titles for each year. A reader’s treasure trove.

June reading report and book of the month

June was not as productive for me as May, but I did manage to read and review 14 books, two for Euro Crime and twelve for Petrona. Eleven are by women and three by men, but unfortunately only three are translated. Geographically, the books range from England (7) to the USA (3), Sweden (1), Iceland (1), France (1) and Canada (1) – with one of the England-set books by an Australian author (Annie Hauxwell), and another by an Irish author (Jane Casey). Six of the books are debut novels, hence are by authors new to me – one other novel is not a debut but by an author new to me (Ridley Pearson).

When I read Black Skies by Arnaldur Indridason I was convinced that it had to be my book of the month this month. It is just such a good crime novel, and I highly recommend it. Even so, a book I read later in June is, without a doubt, my top tip – Lorraine Connection by Dominique Manotti. It’s an original novel, and depicts so well how a small crime can extend into a complicated mesh involving corporations, countries, and the cosy way everyone helps each other out in return for present or future favours. Cynical does not begin to describe it, but how refreshing to read an intelligent, hard-hitting crime novel that gets to the roots of the political and economic mess of present-day Europe. (This is also one of the themes of Black Skies.)

You cannot do much better, in terms of crime fiction, than reading either of these books. Most of the others that I read this month also come highly recommended. There are appealing female protagonists in some of these novels (Catherine Berlin, Annie Hauxwell’s protagonist, the most original in a debut novel), and the police procedural thriller is alive and strong in the hands of Ridley Pearson. Julia Spencer-Fleming, N J Cooper and Jane Casey provide solid, readable entries in their series, and Carin Gerhardson produces an accessible slice of Swedish crime.

The full details are below, with links to my reviews. The score is out of 5, but should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Euro Crime:

Black Skies by Arnaldur Indridason, tr Victoria Cribb 4

A Willing Victim by Laura Wilson 3


Track of the Cat by Nevada Barr 2.5

Amuse Bouche by Anthony Bidulka 2.5

The Last Girl by Jane Casey 3

Vengeance in Mind by N J Cooper 3.5

The Gingerbread House by Carin Gerhardsen, tr Paul Norlén 3

Missing Persons by Nicci Gerrard 2.5

In Her Blood by Annie Hauxwell 3

Lorraine Connection by Dominique Manotti, tr Ros Schwartz & Amanda Hopkinson 5

The Pied Piper by Ridley Pearson 3.5

Broken Silence by Danielle Ramsay 2

Crossbones Yard by Kate Rhodes 3

A Fountain Filled With Blood by Julia Spencer-Fleming 3.5

The scoring system is explained in my 2012 reviews page.

Previous months’ reading reports and books of the month.

As ever, Kerrie has a round-up post of bloggers’ book choices for the month, so for more recommendations, please head on over to Mysteries in Paradise.

Sunday Salon: translated fiction to read this Summer

TSSbadge3 With the holiday season well-advanced in some regions of the world, and about to hit this small island mid-next-week with the end of the school term, I present a few holiday reading recommendations from books reviewed in the past few weeks. The two parameters I've chosen are: (1) translated into English; and (2) not on the shortlist for the CWA 2009 International Dagger award.

First, my review of Island of the Naked Women, by Inger Frimansson and translated by Laura A. Wideburg, is up today at Euro Crime. From my review: "I thoroughly enjoyed this book, which is a strong candidate for my "best of" list for this year. As well as the satisfying "on the surface" mystery, there is an allegorical aspect to the story, which gives it a haunting quality. The island of the naked women (Shame Island) is where legend has it that, in the olden days, wives from the village who had been unfaithful to their husbands were sent, naked, to fend for themselves. It is presumed they starved. The wives in the story told in the book live in more enlightened times, but is their fate any better than that of their historical counterparts?" Read my full review at Euro Crime.

Second, up last week at Euro Crime, is my review of The Water's Edge by Karin Fossum, translated by Charlotte Barsund. "As usual, I am very impressed by Karin Fossum's talent and originality. In THE WATER'S EDGE she has taken an upsetting and controversial topic– the painful death of a child or children – and has made it palatable and interesting even to a sensitive reader who, frankly, cannot usually bear to think about the subject. The author uses the events in the book to look at people, their attitudes and relationships, in both small and large ways." Read the whole review here.

Over at Reactions to Reading, Bernadette reviews Karin Alvtegen's Missing, translated by Anna Paterson (I presume, if it is the same edition as the one I read). Bernadette writes: "I  intended to read a few pages of this before going to sleep last night. I quite literally could not put it down and finished the whole thing in one sitting ….Here is story telling at its absolute finest: I was hooked from page one of this simple and moving tale." The rest of Bernadette's 5/5 review is here.

For those, like me, who enjoyed Johan Theorin's debut Echoes from the Dead, Peter of Nordic Bookblog writes an early review of the second in the series, The Darkest Room Peter says that like Theorin's "first novel, this too is an intelligent book somewhere in between a crime fiction book and a ghost story." I am shocked to note that there is no mention of the translator of this novel either in this review, or at the publishers' website, or Amazon, or on the Guardian review. I guess that it is translated by Marlaine Delargy, who translated the author's first novel, but I hope the name of the translator is provided in at least some of these places by the time the book is on sale.

Finally for this post, a new (to me, and in fact quite new) blog called The View from the Blue House posts a review of The Devil's Star by Jo Nesbo, translated by Don Bartlett (a.k.a. Harry Hole). Rob Kitchin, the reviewer, calls the book "a highly enjoyable read and I zipped through it, picking it up at every opportunity so I could find out what happened next. Nesbø is particularly good at keeping the pace and tension high, running several sub-plots simultaneously and linking them in and out of each other." Read on here. [If you are tempted to read this book, my strong advice is don't do so until you've read first The Redbreast and then Nemesis – the correct reading order is here.]

Sunday Salon: The Chalk Circle Man, by Fred Vargas, translated by Sian Reynolds

The Chalk Circle Man
By Fred Vargas, translated by Sian Reynolds.

So I come to the last book I have to read that is on the shortlist for the 2009 International Dagger award. It’s French, and the first in the Adamsberg series that has already won Fred Vargas this award for two years in succession (2006 and 2007).
Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg has been, until the start of this novel, a provincial police inspector of great unconventionality but with an unusually high success rate in solving cases. Therefore, as the novel opens, he’s recently promoted to commissioner in the Parisian force, and we see his eccentricities through the eyes of his close colleague, Inspector Danglard – himself a single parent of two sets of twins and additionally looking after a fifth child belonging to but abandoned by his ex-wife and her lover. Adamsberg has an instinctive, bordering on supernatural, style, as is shown by an initial vignette in which he correctly identifies the criminal in a case long before any evidence is found to force a confession from the suspect.
Despite the internal and external strangenesses of the sensual Adamsberg and the lugubrious Danglard, the story told in The Chalk Circle Man is at its heart a straightforward police procedural. Someone is drawing chalk circles on the Parisian streets at night, leaving strange objects in their centres. Adamsberg’s forebodings about the person behind this activity are soon borne out when a murdered body is found inside one of the circles. Despite intensive police activity, other murders follow, at different parts of the city.
An eccentric range of suspects is assembled even before the first body is found. An academic whose research speciality is deep-sea fish, Mathilde, has a hobby of following people round the city. One of these characters, a beautiful blind man called Paul Reyer, has disappeared and Mathilde, professing to be worried, reports him as missing to the police. She is ignored by all but Adamsberg, who rapidly finds the “missing” man (not missing at all). Soon, Reyer and another wanderer on the streets, an elderly woman called Clemence, are lodging with Mathilde in her fish-obsessed house. Clemence is addicted to answering lonely-hearts adverts, but is perpetually disappointed because each time she arranges to meet someone, he immediately abandons the old woman on sight.
How these three oddballs are going to become involved in the chalk circle story is not clear – but involved they are, not only with the mystery but also, in Mathilde’s case, with Adamsberg in a much more personal sense. As events reach their climax, the author plays fair with her readers and provides a satisfying, if sad, solution to the bizarre conundrum. At the same time, the author has piqued the reader's interest in the affectionate relationship (mainly unspoken) between Adamserg and Danglard, two men of very different outlook, to be explored further in future novels.
Much has been written about Vargas's alternative universe. I see her characters as acting like children in adult’s bodies. This novel is a fable, in which people live out their impulses, creative or destructive, without thought of consequence. Nobody plans for the future, living in the existential present. Yet the motivation of the murderer is cold and logically carried out – and would pass muster in a novel firmly rooted in pedestrian reality.
The book is peppered with acute social observations; cynical yet funny barbs at the media and  modern society (the excerpts from the newspaper reports of the chalk circles are hilarious); and myriad tiny delights – Mathilde’s plan to spend a day following a man who is interested in the mythical rotation of sunflower stems, Clemence’s pointed teeth for which Mathilde likes to provide zoological comparisons, or little exchanges between Adamsberg and Danglard about Byzantium and the emperor Justinian (actually highly relevant to the mystery). If the reader is prepared to take this world as it is, then the book is very satisfying. Its eccentricities are charming (though the author is ruthless within her creation, which is no fairy tale) – they are bound up in the pace and focus of the novel, rather than distracting the reader from these essentials.

Thanks to Karen Meek of Euro Crime for my proof copy of the book.

Fred Vargas at Euro Crime: a listing of all the books translated into English, in order, with links to reviews.

Crime Scraps discusses The Chalk Circle Man and order of translations of the Vargas books, in a series of posts.

L A Times: Sarah Weinman discusses Fred Vargas's novels and the order in which they have been translated.

Other reviews of The Chalk Circle Man at:

Euro Crime by Fiona Walker

Mysteries in Paradise by Kerrie

The Independent by Jane Jakeman

The Guardian (brief) by Laura Wilson

Richard and Judy and other sales figures

Amanda Ross, the producer of the Richard & Judy book club, recently "axed" from digital TV, is looking for a new home - on terrestrial TV if publishers and booksellers have their way. Wayne Brookes, publishing director at HarperCollins told the Bookseller: "For it to work, you need it on digital television, with great viewing figures and a loyalty among viewers that have a belief in what the presenters are telling them." While, according to the Bookseller, "the sale of millions of books hangs in the balance", we can perhaps take comfort in the fact that her brother-in-law, Jonathan Ross, has started a Twitter book club for the 140-character-minded among us.
Amanda Ross confirms that another six-week Crime Thriller Season is lined up for UK's ITV3 this autumn, after the success of last year's series, won by Stieg Larsson's posthumous The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I don't know which titles are on this year's shortlist, so perhaps they have not been selected yet.
Not only has 'Richard and Judy' resulted in 30.3 million books being sold for £180.4 million (discounts included), but the club has had a huge impact on the selected authors' backlists. Simon Kernick, for example, was selling on average 259 copies per week of his four titles before 2007, when Relentless was chosen as one of R&J's Summer Reads. According to Nielsen BookScan, his average weekly sales were 9,000 last year and, with total sales of more than one million, is said to be "one of Bantam's reliable book-a-year brands".
Another crime-fiction author, Sheila Quigley, has recently switched from Random House to Tonto, a small independent publisher. According to the Bookseller, she was offered £300,000 for a two-book deal in 2003 for her first two novels. Although her debut novel Run for Home sold more than 50,000 copies, her most recent novel, Every Breath You Take, has sold 8,300 (again, via Nielsen BookScan).
While on the topic of sales, you may have noticed that Dan Brown's Angels and Demons has finally made number one on the charts in the UK, eight years after publication, and courtesy of the film tie-in edition. The original, published in 2001 by Transworld for £5.99 in the UK, was selling "barely more than 20 copies per week" until 2004, when the mass-market edition of The Da Vinci Code was released. (The film tie-in of Angels and Demons sold 37,600 in the UK last week.) J. K. Rowling has UK sales totalling £225.3 million, but "none of the Harry Potter titles comes close to matching the 5.16 million lifetime sales of The Da Vinci Code" (£61.4 million in the UK).

Sunday Salon: Crime Fest edition

TSSbadge3 On the run-up to CrimeFest, the crime-fiction festival in Bristol starting on Thursday 14 May and continuing until Sunday, several of the books reviewed at Euro Crime today are by authors who will be at the meeting. Two of these reviews are by me; I highly recommend both titles.

Red Bones by Ann Cleeves is the third of her Shetland novels. It is best enjoyed if you have read the previous two (Raven Black and White Nights), but it isn't essential. I wrote: "Much of the appeal of this book lies in the wonderfully conveyed sense of place, the convincingly sympathetic portrayal of a way of life, and astute characterisation. But as well as these elements, there is a good solid mystery plot…" Ann will be moderating an exciting session at CrimeFest called Foreign Correspondent: Books in translation, featuring (as well as Ann herself) a world-class panel of Don Bartlett, Ros Schwartz, Reg Keelend (Steven T Murray) and Tiina Nunnally.

The Mind's Eye by Hakan Nesser is the first in the van Veeteren series. A quote from my review: "The plot is simple yet powerful; elemental themes are involved; there is lots of droll humour and neat touches; the solution is satisfying; and one is left hoping for more." I've read these books out of order by default, and think I would have enjoyed the later ones more had I read this one first. Never mind, the author has a very dry and wicked sense of humour; Laurie Thompson (also translator of several of Henning Mankell's books) has done an excellent job of translating not only the text but also the jokes. Hakan Nesser is a featured author at CrimeFest; one of the highlights of the programme for me will be his interview by Ann Cleeves.

See the Euro Crime home page for the rest of this week's new reviews, including books by CrimeFest authors Caro Ramsay, Andrew Martin and S. J. Bolton.

Book reviews 2009

See all my book reviews

My book reviews 2010

My book reviews 2008

My book reviews 2007

Highlights of 2009

Book reviews 2009

Missing by Karin Alvtegen (Euro Crime, April)

Shadow by Karin Alvtegen (Euro Crime, March)

Betrayal by Karin Alvtegen (Euro Crime, June)

True Murder by Yaba Badoe (Euro Crime, November)

Skin and Bones by Tom Bale (Petrona, January)

A Place of Safety by Helen Black (Euro Crime, February)

Three Weeks to Say Goodbye by C. J. Box (Petrona, December)

City of Fear by Alafair Burke (Petrona, February)

The Paper Moon by Andrea Camilleri (Picador blog, January)

August Heat by Andrea Camilleri (Euro Crime, July)

The Twilight Time by Karen Campbell (Euro Crime, March)

After the Fire by Karen Campbell (Euro Crime, May)

Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo (Petrona, November)

Gone Tomorrow by Lee Child (Euro Crime, July)

Red Bones by Ann Cleeves (Euro Crime, May)

The Crow Trap by Ann Cleeves (Petrona, September)

Hold Tight by Harlan Coben (Petrona, January)

Long Lost by Harlan Coben (Petrona, May)

The Scarecrow by Michael Connelly (Petrona, May)

Nine Dragons by Michael Connelly (Petrona brief, October)

No Escape by N. J. Cooper (Euro Crime, November)

Suffer the Children by Adam Creed (Euro Crime, August)

Burial by Neil Cross (Euro Crime, January)

Frozen Tracks by Ake Edwardson (Euro Crime, August)

Dead Lovely by Helen Fitzgerald (Euro Crime, June)

My Last Confession by Helen Fitzgerald (Euro Crime, August)

Inspector Singh Investigates: A most peculiar Malaysian murder by Shamini Flint (Petrona, June)

The Water’s Edge by Karin Fossum (Euro Crime, July)

Island of the Naked Women by Inger Frimansson (Euro Crime, July)

Good Night, My Darling by Inger Frimansson (Euro Crime, October)

The Shadow in the Water by Inger Frimansson (Euro Crime, November)

Thumbprint by Friedrich Glauser (Petrona, November)

The Coroner by M. R. Hall (Euro Crime, January)

The Sinner by Petra Hammesfahr (Petrona, April)

The Lie by Petra Hammesfahr (Euro Crime, October)

The Other Half Lives by Sophie Hannah (Euro Crime, March)

Skin by Mo Hayder (Euro Crime, March)

Just Take My Heart by Mary Higgins Clark (Petrona, September)

Out of a Clear Sky by Sally Hinchcliffe (Euro Crime, April)

The Darkest Hour by Katherine Howell (Petrona, November)

Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indridason (Euro Crime, October)

Dead Tomorrow by Peter James (Euro Crime, June)

To Steal Her Love by Matti Joensuu (Euro Crime, November)

Half Broken Things by Morag Joss (Euro Crime, April)

A Lonely Place/Unknown by Mari Jungstedt (Euro Crime, February)

Dark Times in the City by Gene Kerrigan (Euro Crime, June)

Publish or Perish by Margot Kinberg (Petrona, October)

The Preacher by Camilla Lackberg (Petrona, July)

<A href="; >The Girl who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson (Euro Crime, January)

The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson (Euro Crime, October)

Millennium trilogy (brief) by Stieg Larsson (Petrona, November).

City of the Sun by David Levien (Petrona, December).

Executive Privilege by Philip Margolin (Petrona, April)

Body Count by P. D. Martin (Petrona, June)

Core of Evil by Nigel McCreary (Euro Crime, November)

A Darker Domain by Val McDermid (Petrona, April)

Fever of the Bone by Val McDermid (Euro Crime, September)

Bleed a River Deep by Brian McGilloway (Euro Crime, April)

Blood Safari by Deon Meyer (Euro Crime, December)

The Southern Seas by Manuel Vazquez Montalban (Petrona, November)

Go to Helena Handbasket by Donna Moore (Euro Crime, March)

Nemesis by Jo Nesbo (brief) (Petrona, July)

The Redeemer by Jo Nesbo (Petrona, July)

The Mind’s Eye by Hakan Nesser (Euro Crime, May)

Back to the Coast, by Saskia Noort (Euro Crime, September)

Doors Open by Ian Rankin (Petrona brief, October)

Wicked Prey by John Sandford (Petrona, November)

Consorts of Death by Gunnar Staalesen (Euro Crime, November)

Lullaby by Claire Seeber (Euro Crime, May).

Bloodprint by Kitty Sewell (Euro Crime, February)

Ice Cold by Andrea Maria Schenkel (Euro Crime, May)

The Abominable Man by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo (Euro Crime, January)

Genesis by Karin Slaughter (Petrona, July)

Shooting Star by Peter Temple (Petrona, May)

The Darkest Room by Johan Theorin (Euro Crime, August)

The Herring Seller’s Apprentice by L. C. Tyler (Euro Crime, February)

The Chalk Circle Man by Fred Vargas (Petrona, July)

Close Up by Esther Verhoef (Euro Crime, September)

The Trophy Taker by Lee Weeks (Euro Crime, January)

The Trafficked by Lee Weeks (Euro Crime, May)

Dead Time by Stephen White (Petrona, August)

The Ghost Map

From the Typepad book blog, a title that sounds pretty interesting: The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson. From the "blurb" (I won’t call it a post):

"When he creates the map that traces the pattern of outbreak back to its source, Dr. Snow didn’t just solve the most pressing medical riddle of his time. He ultimately established a precedent for the way modern city-dwellers, city planners, physicians, and public officials think about the spread of disease and the development of the modern urban environment.

The Ghost Map is an endlessly compelling and utterly gripping account of that London summer of 1854, from the microbial level to the macrourban-theory level-including, most important, the human level."

Typepad is featuring this book because the author is a "longtime Typepad blogger". Here is Steven Johnson’s blog if you want to check it out.

Link: Book Blogs and Author Blogging Services at TypePad : Steven Johsnon.

A dearth of American women novelists?

The New York Inquirer has belatedly picked up the story of the New York Times article that attempted to identify the best of American (sic– they mean US) fiction of the past 25 years. There was a much controversy about the Times article because although the winner happened to be by a woman (Toni Morrison’s Beloved), only one of the 21 runners-up was also by a woman (Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping). Many bloggers created their own lists, and one of them, Mapletree7 of Book of the Day, ran her own poll back in May and posted her results here, in June. (I mentioned that the NY Inq. is a bit late to this particular party!)

Here’s the nub of the NY Inq. piece: "From Jane Austen to the Brontes to George Eliot to Virginia Woolf to Doris Lessing, Britain’s women have produced extraordinary novels that have stood the test of time. They’re still read, studied, and loved today.

"Regarding novels written by American women, the pickings are slim. I could only find Willa Cather, Edith Wharton, Carson McCullers as possible examples of great American women novelists from the 19th and early 20th centuries, and while each author might be beloved, it’s a stretch to mention any of them in the same breath as the British women listed above.Today, the greatness of Toni Morrison is indisputable. Marilynne Robinson’s majestic prose and Joyce Carol Oates’ prolific observations of American society rank them among the best American novelists. Glimmers of greatness can also be seen in the works of Kathy Acker, the radical authoress, poet and performance artist; Mary Gaitskill, with her dark and precise incisions into female sexuality; experimental Carole Maso; Andrea Barrett, Maxine Hong Kingston and other women authors. Whether any of them (besides Morrison) can rise to the upper echelon of truly great novelists remains to be seen."

Ruiyan Xu, author of the NY Inq. article, asks for feedback about her contention — she says she would like to be proved wrong. Amazingly, there are no comments yet to her article.

Frank Wilson of Books, Inq. has picked up on the NY Inq story: "What think you readers?", asks Frank. And just take a look at the unholy row going on in the comments to the Books, Inq. post! As Peter writes there: "This is probably the most vigorous discussion I’ve seen on a blog since David J. Montgomery got called on the carpet for posting a Ten Greatest Detective Novels list that had no female writers on it." (Yes, that carpet hauler was me, I admit it.)

Please do contribute your own views on the women novelists’ question , either to the Books, Inq. comments or in the comments here. Great women "American" novelists of the past 25 years, anybody? ("American" is in brackets because Canadians seem to be excluded, which lets out Margaret Atwood — not a favourite of mine but I know she is widely respected.) My vote is for Carol Shields, somewhat hesitantly as I have read only one of her books. It was excellent, however, and I have more on my shelf to read.

Link: The New York Inquirer: A Dearth of American Women Novelists?.

The crouching monster

Link: Magnificent Octopus: The crouching monster.

Isabella writes an excellent post about Patrick Hamilton, whom I haven’t read but have often meant to. She quotes here the opening of Hamilton’s The Slaves of Solitude:

"London, the crouching monster, like every other monster has to breathe, and breathe it does in its own obscure, malignant way. Its vital oxygen is composed of suburban working men and women of all kinds, who every morning are sucked up through an infinitely complicated respiratory apparatus of trains and termini into the mighty congested lungs, held there for a number of hours, and then, in the evening, exhaled violently through the same channels.

The men and women imagine they are going into London and coming out again more or less of their own free will, but the crouching monster sees all and knows better."

This book was published in 1947.

Although I concur wholeheartedly with these sentiments of Hamilton’s, I was reminded of rather an opposite conclusion in a book which I read many years ago, and thoroughly enjoyed: The Ladies of Lyndon by Margaret Kennedy (best known for "The Constant Nymph"). I don’t remember many of the details of this 1920s (or thereabouts) book apart from the love-triangle theme, but what sticks in my mind is the liberation via commuterdom experienced by one of the characters.

I suppose commuting must once have seemed refreshing and novel.