Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Sigh for a Strange Land

 Just finished Sigh for a Strange Land, by Monica Stirling. I read about it initially on the great blog The Neglected Books Page. I read his reviews up to I find interest in the book, then I stop. I don't want the spoilers. Stirling's book was one such. And luckily, I found it cheaply online for less than $8. 

Sigh was published in 1958 and involves a coup or revolt or something very post-WWII and very Soviet sphere in which the narrator and her aunt and her aunt's lover escape their country and become refugees. The country is never mentioned, but there's plenty of ammo there with which the reader can guess. Hell, the book never says straight up what year these things happen but one can guess from several clues (for one: when Joe mentions seeing a book of photographs from the holocaust 10 years ago). 

Stirling's book is great with imagery, and description, and despite it being in 1st person (not my favorite POV), it is a very engaging book. And short (188 pp). Look at some of Stirling's descriptions:

Back in Paris...the Seine was rising, greenish brown around the Zouave's stone thighs, while in the smoky twilight the clever, irritable crowds pressed around newspaper vendors as if round a street accident. (154-5)

This book, also, like many recently (Dirda's Browsings most recently) have mentioned other books I've read or intend on reading. 

Joe: Yet I'm crazy about war stories like that one about those British officers who captured the German general in Crete... (158)

Well, no crap, I've got that book on the bookshelf. Ill Met by Moonlight by W. Stanley Moss. I bought it in one of Boston's great used book stores some years ago and just haven't read it yet. But damn does it look good.  

As for Stirling, if I ever find another of her books at a used bookstore, I won't hesitate to grab it.  

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