Bitchin' Blog Posts
by SB Sarah | by SB Sarah | April 02, 2008 | Wednesday at 2:18 pm | 23 Comments A Bitchery reader forwarded me this query for what may be the best (I hope) April Fool's book search inquiry ever from the RRA listserv. Enjoy - and try not to feel the limitless bottom of despair when you are 2/3 of the way through reading it and realize, it could be a real romance you read one time....
A patron has requested help in identifying a book that she read "during the springtime in Europe on the banks of a famous river." She can't remember which river, but says it comes up frequently in crossword puzzles. (I don't suspect this part matters much anyway.)
The book is the story of a young woman named something like Kate or Katherine or Karen whose normal life in the Midwest (or possibly West, but definitely not the eastern seaboard) is changed forever when her father goes missing overseas (the mother disappeared in K's childhood, although the patron cannot remember if this was because of death, or an affair, or something else). Following the lead in a mysterious note, K goes in search of her father, accompanied by her chaperone (who is a little person) and her cat. One of these companions talks, the other is mute. (The patron thinks it was the cat that talks but that would be odd wouldn't it?).
Many adventures ensue. There is a stint in a traveling circus, a ride on a zeppelin, a meeting with three mysterious sisters, and an encounter with a famous artist (abstract or surrealist, definitely not representational). All of this is background for the main story, which involves a mystery solved by K and a famous female literary figure (a Bronte? Virginia Woolf? V.C. Andrews?) who is inspired by the events to write what will become her first novel.
Early in the book, there is a love triangle in which K becomes involved with a lighthouse keeper, a pirate, and a vampire (love square? love rhombus?) Apparently none of these affairs comes to fruition, as K ends up married and wearing a burquah in Iran (Afghanistan?) where she learns in a heartfelt, tender way the firsthand misery of life behind the veil. (Personally, I think it's likely that the patron is mixing the plot of two or more books. She's a regular and there is some medical history involved although she is one of our most devoted readers. So if part of this doesn't fit, please pass along your suggestions anyway.)
The patron describes the tone of the book as a "vivid, fast-paced historical romp with lyrical, nuanced prose." She says the writing is compelling and evocative, much like the works of Thackeray, Proust, or Robert Heinlein (!?), but with a youthful, angsty quality. (I added "with overtones of green apple, a soupcon of vanilla, playful hints of elderberry, and an earthy finish" as a little joke, but she just said "no, it was more spicy than fruity.")
She remembers the cover as sepia or gray in color, with red lettering. There was a picture of a woman (presumably K) but not a complete picture. It may, in fact, have been a picture of only her feet. One of the words in the title may have been a day of the week, or a month, or a season and at the time she read it, she remembers thinking that the title as a whole reminded her of a band name or a popular song title.
If all that weren't complicated enough, the patron thinks the book might be based on a true story or contained elements of memoir (get in line on that one, huh?) The patron swore that the book was co- written by James Patterson. I told her this last bit was unlikely, and that regardless, this information would not help us limit the search.
After several searches, I'm unable to locate the book. (Or books?) The patron would also like to read books like this one, but I must confess, I'm stumped about where to start there as well. Any ideas?