the pleasure of talking about books

Some long time ago I mentioned here that I was pining for a few smart people who would be wlling to discuss Dunnett’s Niccolo Rising series with me, because I’ve re-read them so many times and still they churn away in my head. Finally I appealed to two local friends, both very busy, very smart women who were in a bookgroup I once belonged to. Neither of them were familiar with Dunnet, but I made a pitch and they, good people both of them, agreed to give it a try.

Two nights ago we had our first Niccolo discussion over dinner, which I cooked for them out of gratitude, and with real delight.

First, I was worried that they would not like Niccolo. My tastes are eclectic, my appetite for history boundless, and I couldn’t be sure they wouldn’t just run in the opposite direction because as I’ve said before, these novels are not for the faint of heart. The story is consuming, the characters tremendously complicated and intriguing, but Dunnett does not coddle her readers, and you’ve got to be up for a challenge. Then Audrey came in and said, I’m in love with these books, I can’t put them down and Cheryl came in and said, I think Niccolo Rising may be the best book I’ve ever read (this from a woman who has read everything, and knows The Name of the Rose amost by heart), and I felt like I had found long lost sisters.

So we ate well and luxuriated after dinner with truffles and strawberries and talked and talked and talked about Niccolo, his motivations, his intelligence, the world he lives in, the people he loves and the people he doesn’t love. When they left I felt like a seventeen year old girl after her first real, successful date.

Next week we meet to discuss book two, Spring of the Ram. When we are all done, we are thinking, a trip to Bruges would be in order.