52 in 52 Week 50: I am Half Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley

What better Christmas surprise for detective-in-training Flavia de Luce than a dreadful murder under Buckshaw's roof - and a snowbound house full of suspects!
It's Christmas time, and our beloved Flavia is tucked away in her laboratory whipping up a sticky concoction to trap that infamous sneak, Saint Nick, and thereby prove once and for all - despite the claims of her evil sisters - that he does exist. But she is soon distracted from her task: Colonel de Luce, in desperate need of funds, has rented the family's crumbling manor house to a film company for the holidays. When its crew arrives from London to shoot a movie starring the reclusive and renowned actress, Phyllis Wyvern, there's no end to the disruptions - and dramas - demanding Flavia's attention. (From:http://www.randomhouse.ca/books/196414/i-am-half-sick-of-shadows-by-alan-bradley)


I don't know if I ever would have picked up this book if it hadn't been that my new book club was reading it. I am reading Christmas books in December (have a stack given to me from Christmas past that I have never read!). So, I thought this counted, but it really isn't a "Christmas Book" other than the time setting, but it is delightful. It isn't anything deep or meaningful, but the writing is brilliant and beautiful, and the precocious main character, Flavia, is a kick. I found myself chuckling through many parts as I listened to the flawless narration by Jane Entwistle (who narrates the other three novels as well). I have listened to many audiobooks over the years, and I think that Jane ranks as one of the best narrators.

This is the fourth installment of the Buckshaw Chronicles. I love novels set in the English manor houses. The sister reading Bleak House cracked me up. I could totally see this being a BBC mini-series and delighting the whole family (even though it is a murder mystery series). 

The only thing that was unusual is that the murder occurred so late in the book! I had to go back and check whether it was really a murder mystery, but, no matter, it was still delightful!

By the way, The title of this book comes from the famous "Lady of Shalott" poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson (Remember Anne Shirley in a sinking boat?):

PART II

  There she weaves by night and day
  A magic web with colours gay.
  She has heard a whisper say,
  A curse is on her if she stay [5]
  To look down to Camelot.
  She knows not what the 'curse' may be,
  And so [6] she weaveth steadily,
  And little other care hath she,
  The Lady of Shalott.

  And moving thro' a mirror clear
  That hangs before her all the year,
  Shadows of the world appear.
  There she sees the highway near
  Winding down to Camelot:
  There the river eddy whirls,
  And there the surly village-churls, [7]
  And the red cloaks of market girls,
  Pass onward from Shalott.

  Sometimes a troop of damsels glad,
  An abbot on an ambling pad,
  Sometimes a curly shepherd-lad,
  Or long-hair'd page in crimson clad,
  Goes by to tower'd Camelot;

  And sometimes thro' the mirror blue
  The knights come riding two and two:
  She hath no loyal knight and true,
  The Lady of Shalott.

  But in her web she still delights
  To weave the mirror's magic sights,
  For often thro' the silent nights
  A funeral, with plumes and lights,
  And music, went to Camelot: [8]
  Or when the moon was overhead,
  Came two young lovers lately wed;
  "I am half-sick of shadows," said
  The Lady of Shalott. [9]






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