Tag Archives: well-rounded characters

The Language of Light

The Language of Light: A Novel by Meg Waite Clayton (Ballantine Books; $15.00; 352 pages)

Just do your best and find joy in what you do.

Nelly Grace has accepted a new beginning to her life after moving in to her great-grandfather’s home in Maryland with her two young boys following the death of her husband.   With the support and encouragement of her new friend, Emma Crofton and Emma’s distant, attractive son, Dac, Nelly begins to remember the passion she once had for her photography.   As Nelly struggles to regain her confidence and work towards her dream of being a photojournalist like her father, she also tries to come to terms with their fragile relationship.   But as her photographs begin to develop, so too does a secret past that is as complex as taking the perfect picture.

The prose in this novel is beautiful and refined, including descriptive landscapes and multifaceted, interesting characters whose complex relationships develop as secrets unfold at each turned page.   The plot takes several unexpected turns and the resolution of the story left me wanting more, curious for a “part two” for further closure on the changing relationships and outcome of these unexpected plots.

Clayton also enlightens the reader throughout her story on the creative aspects of photography that brings an entire new perspective to this craft and the skill and dedication it takes to embrace the art of photojournalism.

I appreciated Clayton’s references of several well-known pieces of art to depict particular scenes, feelings and relationships within the story.   In the attached readers guide she notes:

Despite my efforts to learn more about how to use a camera in order to deliver a believable photographer-protagonist…  I remain sadly untalented in the art of film.   But one of the things I love about writing is that it allows me to imagine having talents I lack.

As the reader, I was mesmerized by the details of photography described by her characters and the importance of capturing each moment accurately.   I would have believed that Clayton herself was a member of this profession.   It provided a  new respect and deeper understanding of the gifts delivered by a great photographer.

The combination of interesting characters, an intriguing, ever-changing plot, and the elements of photography so beautifully captured in this novel, allow me to share that this novel is Well Recommended.

Kelly Monson

A review copy was provided by the publisher.   Note:   Four novels have been released that have similar titles – The Language of Trees by Ilie Ruby, The Language of Secrets by Dianne Dixon, The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, and The Language of Light by Meg Waite Clayton (author of The Wednesday Sisters and The Four Ms. Bradwells).

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Baker Street

The Brothers of Baker Street: A Mystery by Michael Robinson (Minotaur Books; $24.95; 274 pages)

“Everyone is entitled to the best defense available.   That doesn’t mean everyone is entitled to me.”

Snappy dialogue and well-described characters make this a charming riff on the legendary Sherlock Holmes detective mysteries.   Of course, the opening of the story is set in a privileged, upper class English home where a servant is tending to the needs and desires of an unidentified central figure.   The reader is not provided with any clues regarding the gender or age of the homeowner, nor the reason for their interest in the Daily News, a tabloid of sorts.

There is a direct tie to the 19th century literary character Sherlock Holmes that the reader discovers when the main character of this mystery novel, Reggie Heath, drives his Jaguar into the neighborhood where he works.   The office is located at 221 B Baker Street, London.   Reggie is a barrister, someone in the legal profession who represents lawyers in court.   This seems convoluted and layered, and it is distinctly British.   The office lease for this historic address comes with special terms and conditions.   Writers of letters to Sherlock Holmes, and there are many, must receive a timely written reply.   Reggie’s brother Nigel, who lives in the United States, is responsible for the replies; however, Nigel must return to London in order to play a part in the action in this story.

In the first book of this series, The Baker Street Letters, a letter for Sherlock Holmes drew Reggie to California.   Moreover, the chaos that ensued depleted his bank account and nearly ruined his reputation.   As is frequently the case with British mysteries, the mundane details are glossed over in favor of creating an illusion of surreptitious and clandestine meetings, great chases and general gallivanting about the countryside.   Happily, there are enough wonderful examples of these features to satisfy the reader’s need for a Holmes-like experience.   As always, a London taxi, actually a legendary Black Cab, features prominently in the action.

Author Robertson sets up duels of wits between Reggie and several other characters.   One of these characters is a modern day version of Holmes’ nemesis Professor Moriarty.   This reviewer refuses to divulge any more about the plot as it is engaging and deserves not to be spoiled.

Well recommended.

This review was written by Ruta Arellano.   A review copy was provided by the publisher.   The Brothers of Baker Street will be released on March 1, 2011.

“An extremely clever evil scheme will delight readers.”   Publishers Weekly

 

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