My summer has been more chaotic than I am comfortable with, so in an unconscious response, I read several books about life in the English countryside, which calmed me down, as it always has in the past. I read two of Miss Read's books, Village Diary and Storm in the Village, which transported me to the middle of the last century and a rural village called Fairacre. I chuckled along with Miss Read, teacher in the village school, about the inhabitants' foibles. They are not plot-heavy books, but there is a rhythm to them that you get used to, and a structure that pays off in the end. I enjoyed their subtlety, and I'm sure I'll read more in the series.
I also read Beverley Nichols' Down the Garden Path, another chronicle of English country life, but through the lens of a city dweller who comes to the country to create the garden of his dreams. Nichols' dry wit and sharp eye for the ridiculous made me laugh out loud at times. Nichols' satire is impressively all-encompassing--he skewers his fellow villagers, his city visitors, and himself with equal vigor.
I'm moving away from rural England to Scandinavia now, to begin The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson, to bring a little northern chill into my hot Los Angeles August. Hope it works! I hear so many good things about this book, so I'm really looking forward to starting it.