Place as Character

Just hours before my daughter was born (and I still haven’t quite gotten used to saying that), my wife and I went on one last pre-child date, knowing that our time for such things was limited (though we didn’t know just how limited). We had dinner and saw Wes Anderson’s newest film The Grand Budapest Hotel, which like his other films is a feast for the eyes, spread on the table of dark humor. The Grand Budapest Hotel is also a perfect example of the literary trope of place-as-character. (That the place in this case is a glorious old hotel makes the story even more appealing to me.) I find it very satisfying when a storyteller can bring a building or neighborhood or an entire city to life.  Which brings me to Kate Racculia’s recently released second novel – Bellweather Rhapsody. The place-as-character is, again, a hotel – the Bellweather – in upstate New York. The hotel’s glory days are behind her and now the only time the Bellweather is anywhere close to capacity is for the Statewide Music Festival, a gathering of talented high school musicians for a weekend of great music (and all the other things that happen when several hundred teenagers occupy a small space for several days.) Add to the mix a cast of eccentric chaperones and hotel employees, a decade old murder-suicide mystery, and the Bellweather Rhapsody becomes a highly entertaining read.

How does that work?

Just saw this book here at the library – Mrs. Jefferies Pleads the Fifth. Seems innocuous enough, right? Except Mrs Jefferies is a Victorian English housekeeper. Living in Victorian England. So, how does a British citizen investigating crimes in England claim rights against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment?