I have started to work my way through the hordes of reading suggestions elicited from you by my comoplaint about the rightward political tilt of the spy novels I had been consuming. I have already remarked on The Sunday Philosophy Club. I have now finished The Beekeeper's Apprentice, a charming "sequel" to the Sherlock Holmes stories featuring a teenage girl who possesses many of the same skills of observation and deduction that Holmes exhibits in the canonical stories. I was utterly charmed by the book [whose plot I shall not reveal, should any of you wish to sample it], and was quite amused to find it referred to online as belonging to the genre of "young adult" fiction. I guess I am in my second childhood.
Now I have launched into Death Comes to Pemberly by the great detective novelist P. D. James. This too is a"sequel," this time to Jane Austen's immortal novel Pride and Prejudice. James is well aware that she is treading on sacred ground, and is appropriately self-deprecatory about the undertaking, prefacing her novel with a lovely quote from the end of Mansfield Park.
I really am very, very grateful to all of you for your suggestions, the first two of which to be sampled have proved spot on. At a time when the egregious Rick Santorum is calling Barack Obama a "snob" for making the anodyne suggestion that all young people should aspire to a college education, I desperately need a protected space into which to retreat from time to time, and a seemingly endless series of delightful fictions may well provide it.