I finished reading The Body at the Tower a few days ago, and thought it was even more of a rollicking good read than the first book in the trilogy, A Spy in the House. Like the first, Lee's second installment in this series features a mystery to be solved, novice spy Mary Quinn skulking about trying to solve it and generally being a bit awkward, and Mary also being alternately distracted and assisted by the dangerously attractive James Easton (attractive
Lee is a Victorianist and this book is uber-Victorian in its creation of atmosphere; the story, however, is positively Shakespearean in its playful approach to girls dressing up as boys - the very best kind of sexiness and hi jinx ensue. I'm really looking forward to the third installment in the series!
FYI: I know Ying, from the grad school, but neither she nor her publisher gifted me this book for review. I bought it and read it just because I felt like it.
Five Women Who Loved Love, this is a collection of short stories connected by a common theme - in this case, how awesome manly man on man love is. The stories were okay, but ultimately indistinguishable. Part of the problem is that Saikaku was perhaps a little overly repetitive, but I think the translator, E. Powys Mathers, was a bit of a disaster too.
Comrade Loves of the Samurai is just so damned clunky; the Songs of the Geisha Mathers appended is even worse. Translating poetry is always risky, and I have to say that in this case, I don't think Mathers was up to the job. I read all of the songs in this section, but I remember none except those that made me cringe; I won't quote them here.
Ihara Saikaku will not be having a reading tonight at Type Books because he died in 1693. He also didn't send me a review copy of his book, for the same reason.