“The Corsican Caper” by Peter Mayle

corsicancaperBillionaire Francis Reboul lived in the biggest private residence in Marseille. Built for Napoleon lll, it had a direct view of the bay.

One day, its owner was enjoying this view, when he spotted a huge, dark blue, 300-foot yacht anchored just offshore and apparently taking photographs of his house. Sure enough, the owner, Oleg Vronsky, had been cruising along the Riviera from Cap Ferrat to Saint-Tropez, looking at properties with a view to buying a house here. He fell instantly in love with this one and decided to buy it, at all costs. This book is the story of Vronsky’s decision and Reboul’s desperate attempts to stop him.

Peter Mayle has written thirteen books to date, seven of them novels. Many are set in Provence where he has lived for the past twenty years. He knows and loves every aspect of this beautiful corner, especially its cooking!! The book is full of tantalizing menus and recipes. The result is that The Corsican Caper is all about the Riviera jet set and provides a delightful escape book, in spite of the deadly serious plot at the centre of the story.

Review by Anne McDougall

“By Its Cover” by Donna Leon

byitscoverIt’s the first time the widely-read detective writer, Donna Leon, has entered the tranquil world of rare books. By Its Cover turns out to be a surprisingly brutal account of what happened around these books.

Like all Leon’s books, this story takes place in Venice. Leon is an American who has lived in Venice for the past 30 years. The result is an intimate picture of this beautiful city, with its winding canals and nooks and crannies at every corner. The detective in all these books is Guido Brunetti, who lives with his wife and two children and loves the city as much as Leon does.

In this book he is called one morning by the woman director of the distinguished Merula Library. A professor from overseas who had been using the rare book room, disappeared at the precise moment it was discovered a considerable number of these books had had certain pages torn out, while a number had been stolen outright. The professor could not be traced to the country he claimed to live in. Brunetti begins his hunt. The book has a surprise ending, needless to say. Meanwhile, the reader has had a happy time sharing delicious meals and funny family situations with this popular detective – “the sophisticated but still moral Brunetti” – as the Wall Street Journal calls him.

Reviewed by Anne McDougall

Patricia Pearson Signing “Opening Heaven’s Door”

openingheavensdoorLocal author Patricia Pearson will be here on Sunday, May 25 from noon to 2:00pm signing copies of her new book Opening Heaven’s Door.

From the jacket:

“Sparked by extraordinary experiences that occurred when her father and her sister both died in the same year, Patricia Pearson set off to explore a realm experienced by more of us than feel comfortable admitting: that hinterland between dying and death, that shocked zone we encounter in crisis, where events happen that don’t lend themselves to rational explanation but hint at a world beyond the quantifiable. She discovered what she calls ‘a curious sort of modern underground – a world beneath the secular world, inhabited by ordinary human beings having extraordinary experiences that they aren’t, on the whole, willing to disclose.’

Pearson, a gifted and empathetic writer, brings us effortlessly into her quest for answers. Those near death, palliative care staff, scientists and theologians who have approached the boundary between life and death all share their wisdom here.”

We look forward to seeing all on Sunday!

“Shakespeare’s Tremor and Orwell’s Cough” by John J. Ross, M.D.

shakespearestremorThis is a provocative little book by a Boston doctor who examines the illnesses and deaths of ten famous English writers.

John J. Ross is a physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. He has a deep love for the literary output of these writers, and concern for what they suffered at a time before vaccinations, sterilized scalpels, or real drug regimens. He begins with Shakespeare who died in l6l6 at the age of 52. Since writing Hamlet (l600) he had struggled with heavy body shaking that finally made it impossible for him to write. Was this essential tremor, or mercury poisoning? He had lived in London away from his wife, in Stratford, and never got over the death of his only son.

The Bronte sisters led dreary, lonely lives in a remote town in Yorkshire, attending a repressive school, the Clergy Daughters’ School in l825, before getting tuberculosis.

John Milton lost his eyesight but maintained a deep religious faith and wrote in Sonnet XXll:

Yet I argue not
Against heaven’s hand or will, nor bate a jot
Of heart or hope;  but still bear up and steer
Right onward.

It is an altogether sensitive and thoughtful book.

Reviewed by Anne McDougall

“John Buchan” by J. William Gailbraith

johnbuchanThis is a far-reaching biography of one of Canada’s most distinguished Governor Generals, John Buchan/Lord Tweedsmuir.

Buchan was Governor General from l935-40, years of special significance for Canada. The Statute of Westminster, l93l, had given Canada constitutional equality with Britain which meant special sensitivity in political interfering. Also, tension was building from Nazism and Fascism toward the Second World War and it put Canada in a unique position between Britain and the United States.

Buchan was in his sixties when he became Governor General. Born in Scotland, he had gone to Oxford, later represented a Scots constituency in the British Parliament, served in the Intelligence Corps in France in World War l and also in South Africa for the British Government. All this time he had been writing articles, novels, history, thrillers and was well-known for books like “The Thirty Nine Steps” and “Greenmantle”. In Canada he put cultural life at the top of his priorities and in l937 founded the Governor General’s Awards, still our top prize for literary  achievement.

The book tells also of his extensive travels across Canada, as well as the U.S. He believed Canada should keep its diverse, multicultural society while at the same time embracing national unity. He met many First Nations people, travelled to the Far North, liked to climb mountains and go fishing whenever he could! He met often with President Roosevelt but was particularly sensitive to his own position and refrained from any political interfering.

Many people praise Buchan in this book, including our current Governor General,  the Right Honourable David Johnston. It is a touching and impressive story of a great man. The author, J. William Galbraith, has worked for a number of Canadian federal departments and lives in Ottawa with his wife and three children.

Reviewed by Anne McDougall


Business at the store has picked up as the weather has improved- April’s weather was not conducive to casual bookstore visits and browsing.  We announced our plans for Titles @Table 40 a couple of weeks ago and the event is already sold out. It involves a family style dinner provided by the Fraser Café , followed by readings and discussions by authors; in this case by Sandra Gulland on her book “The Shadow Queen” and Anne Fortier on “The Lost Sisterhood”. We have another dinner lined up for June which will be announced shortly. Given the popularity of the first event, we are already planning for a fall season.

Another new item on our calendar is the return of Story Time for Children in the store on Saturday mornings once a month.  The first is on May 10 at 10.00 a.m. featuring Tammie Winsor author of “Jack and the Fairy Dogmother”.  The next will be on June 14th. This is a great opportunity for parents to do a bit of book browsing in relative peace!

We have an intern from the Carleton University Sprott School of Business who is going to work this summer on customer and marketing aspects of the Bookstore. Yinning Lu is an MBA student from China who is anxious to get some practical experience. She will be carrying out an on-line customer survey (to our mailing list) to find out about our customers and their interests and how their experience in the store could be improved.  I hope that you will help her if she approaches you. Yinning will also be carrying out some in store interviews as part of the project. We look forward to seeing her results and adjusting our marketing efforts to better serve you.

Our April Bestsellers

1.       Forbidden Love in the…                  Qais Ghanem                     Fiction

2.       Church Rebel with a cause           Harry Mackay                    Spiritual

3.       Citizens of London                           Lynne Olsen                       History

4.       Stella Bain                                           Anita Shreve                      Fiction

5.       Flash Boys                                           Michael Lewis                    Economy

6.       Howard’s End is on                          Susan Hill                             Biography           

7.       The Orenda                                        Joseph Boyden                 Fiction

8.       Opening Heaven’s Door                   Patricia Pearson                Psychology

9.       Take this Bread:                                 Sara Miles                           Biography

10.   Paris:The Novel                                   Edward Rutherford         Fiction

11.   The Burgess Boys                             Elizabeth Strout                    Fiction

12.   Empress of the night                         Eva Stachniak                     Fiction

13.   The Rosie Project                                Graeme Simsion               Fiction

14.   The Longer I’m Prime Minister        Paul Wells                           Politics

15.   The Devil in the White City               Erik Larson                          History

16.   The Hungry Ghosts                            Shyam Selvadurai            Fiction

17.   The Testament of Mary                     Colm Toibin                    Fiction

18.   Movie Stars                                        Watt/Arrowsmith                Kids

19.   Requiem                                              Lauren Oliver                     Fiction

20.   The Girl who saved….                      Jonas Jonasson                        Fiction