31 May, 2012

The Bog People by P.V. Glob (1969)

Across northern Europe, ancient bodies have turned up perfectly preserved in peat bogs for centuries. The Bog People is a fascinating investigation into who these iron age people were and why they were interred in the ritualistic way they were. Glob, a Danish archaeologist, found some of the best preserved examples of bog people in the 1950s and 60s, and his anecdotes on the discovery and uncovering of these bodies are a highlight. So are the amazing photographs of the exhumed bodies and the items found with them. The Bog People labours a bit toward the end but that's only a minor quibble.

09 May, 2012

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (1962)

There is a lurking, unspoken malevolence in this book that I just love. There is a simplicity of language that lifts Mary Katherine Blackwood above most other fictional characters I have encountered. There is a mystery that isn't really a mystery at all. There are themes of small-town ostracism, violence and atonement. And there is an ending that should be sad and disturbing but isn't. But most of all there is a wish to read more of Jackson's work – a desire I rarely have with any author.