Thursday, October 11, 2007

Kingdom of Bones

I love dropping Mia off at school in the morning. There's an energy in the air that just isn't found at the middle or high school level. The kids are chatting a mile a minute and towing large backpacks with a variety of cartoon characters. The littlest ones stay close to their mothers, hanging tightly to a hand while looking for a familiar face. The teachers watch faces and smile with acknowledgment. The moms smile at each other with understanding Yes! we got them dressed and they are here and on time! The air is filled with possibility. The subtle snubs and glances are still in the future of middle school. The light seems a little brighter and the laughter louder outside of a school in the morning. The first day I brought Mia to school, I had to walk into class with her and wait for nearly ten minutes before she would allow me to leave. That's gradually shortened, until this week I started leaving her at the door with a kiss good-bye. Yesterday, she forgot the kiss.

The Kingdom of Bones by Stephen Gallagher is the story of former boxer Tom Sayers in Victorian England. Tom works as a manager for a theatrical touring company and is secretly in love with the production's leading lady, Louise, when he is framed for the horrific murder of several young boys, including a page for the company. Tom tries to prove his innocence, but no one is likely to listen to a man who made his living with his fists, so he flees into the countryside. But he can't abandon Louise to the machinations of the monster who committed the murders and is still with the acting troupe. Things spiral even farther out of Tom's control and he finds himself fleeing from Inspector Sebastian Becker. Ultimately the quest for justice will take them to America cost Becker his job and possibly his life, and it will cost Tom far more. I'm a sucker for books about Victorian England, and one that features Bram Stoker as a "fictional" character seemed too good to pass up. The story is intriguing and the detail wonderful, but sometimes it feels a little too truncated. The acting life, history of Stoker, Aleister Crowley, boxing in carnivals; each of these could be a good book in and of themselves, but they suffer a little here for lack of space. The mystery of the murderer isn't much of a mystery (nor is it meant to be), the story is about Tom's quest to rescue from Louise and Sebastian's for the truth. The twisted plot involving Stoker just doesn't have the power that it could have, and because much of the book rests on it, it falters. I enjoyed this read, but couldn't help thinking with another couple hundred pages it could have been as powerful as The Meaning of Night or The Observations.

Today is parent-teacher conference for us. Mia is oblivious to what this means. Molly is blase; Doogie, however, is probably nervous.

I got my hair cut last week; it was time to get a little style back. I love how easy it is to take care of! The picture doesn't show it well, but it was time for an updated pic of me.