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I found Alan Bennett's "The Uncommon Reader: A Novella" a quick, but satisfying read over the break. The "uncommon reader" is Queen Elizabeth II. This humorous and thoughtful book about the power of reading and the hositility of some folks toward reading helped break the monotony of grading papers.

Switch. Sandra Brown 2000

The book was about an identical twin that is on a search to find her twin’s killer. The twins Melina and Gillian switched places and posed as one another when the murder happened. One sister feels guilty because she feels it should have been her instead of her sister who was brutally killed. There is a bizarre twist on the road to the killer. It all starts at a medical clinic where Gillian, seeking to conceive, goes to be artificially inseminated. Dale Gordon, the medical technician who performed the work we learn is a lonely sexually repressed sociopath that has been brainwashed to become a follower of "Brother Gabriel," a self proclaimed Evangelist. Brother Gabriel is more than an evangelist though he is a cult leader with plans to take over the world …… From there the story takes you to a preacher who has plenty to do with the death of Melina’s sister and also to Jem the murdered sister’s lover who has connections with both Brother Gabriel and Gordon. It also takes you through a whirlwind romance that you think isn't possible or shouldn’t happen.

Over break I read, but would not particularly recommend, "Mary Anne" by Daphne du Maurier. I first read Daphne du Maurier’s well-known classic, "Rebecca," a few summers ago. (I was actually led to Daphne du Maurier after reading "Trilby" by George du Maurier.) I was hooked by her haunting, descriptive style and have since read a number of her other books, which I've mostly enjoyed, although at times they are a bit hokey. "Frenchman's Creek" comes to mind. (I think Ms. du Maurier is a gifted writer especially for her ability to evoke certain elusive qualities of a time or place, especially Cornwall, England.)

In "Mary Anne," the main character—based on Daphne du Maurier’s great great grandmother—is in some ways a liberated woman of her time, but her liberation is discouraging and, in reality, no liberation. While the book evokes the fears, spirit, and limited options of a smart cockney woman in the 1700s, the book is plodding and ultimately lacks depth. I have now started du Maurier’s "Jamaica Inn," which seems to hold more promise.

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