I went to New York this weekend to take Elizabeth to see Mamma Mia! for her birthday. (She's such a good sport.) Looking for something to read on the Limoliner, I went over to the Barnes & Noble in the Prudential Center (I'm dating myself; it's called something like Millennial Square Plaza Exclusive Shops Arcade now) to do some browsing. I serendipitously remembered that I had never read my pal Janet McDonald's first book, Project Girl, and, figuring I could never find it in their spectacularly anti-intuitive system of classification, I asked a salesperson where I might find it. (Yes, reader, I found a salesperson in B&N. I know.) She checked the computer and said they could order it for me but didn't stock it because "it was published in 2000, and we don't usually carry books that old." So if you want to get something at B&N, uh, hurry.
I did find--it's only six months old--and gambled on Sarah Waters's The Night Watch, a novel described on the jacket as being about women in wartime London. While the book did not turn out to be like Maeve Binchy, but with lesbians, I still enjoyed it tremendously. Early on, one of the characters mentions her fondness for going into a movie when it's halfway through, because speculating on peoples' pasts is more interesting than imagining their futures, and likewise the book proceeds backwards, beginning shortly after the war and then going back to two points in the midst of it. The way the time periods and the characters intersect has the effect of a puzzle, almost, but the realism of the relationships and, especially, the evocation of the blackouts of the bomb-battered city keep things from getting too cerebral. I'm thinking I'll try Waters's previous novels now--I hear they're like Leon Garfield, but with lesbians.