I have been neglecting the blog for the past few days because I was visiting my grandparents in Connecticut – no WiFi. I was off the grid, so to speak. My grandfather has been in the hospital with a fractured hip and complications from his cancer. He looks so different now, with clouded, unfocused eyes and incoherent whispering. He thought I was my eight year old cousin.
As a young man, he was a dashing Naval officer, and charmed my grandmother with ease. She was a popular young woman in town – she went to the prom all four years of high school, with a different date each year. She saw his picture in the newspaper and was captivated. His blue eyes were always sparking with mischief and flirtation and his smile was infectious. He was a shameless flirt, and still is – the other day a young nurse was feeding him and he placed his hand on her thigh. I laughed – that’s grandpa. He is a joker, always telling me he can’t wait for my wedding to Prince Harry and teasing my grandmother about various trifles. He used to give whisker kisses – rubbing his stubbly cheek against mine and leaving it rosy. He is a great man, a veteran, and full of life. I hope he gets that back soon.
Anyways, while spending most of my time at a hospital, I decided that I would take a break from my serious literary reading (Swamplandia By Karen Russell) and read something more deliciously frivolous. I started The Tutor by Peter Abrahams. I was pleasantly surprised – the novel was an example of really excellent suspense genre fiction.
The plot was truly gripping. I guessed what was going on very early in the book (perhaps because I watch and read so much suspense that I am familiar with the conventions of the genre) but I still found it difficult to put down. More remarkable than that, however, was the specificity and uniqueness of some of the characters Abrahams created. The little girl, Ruby, is not simply a throw-away, conventional child. She has many unusual quirks, like her experimentation with hairstyles and her love of the somewhat obscure sport of archery. She is clever and inquisitive for a girl of her age and lives her life by the principles and ideas of Sherlock Holmes, turning all of the strange goings-on in her family into a “case”. My favorite character, however, was Julian, the nefarious tutor. He was written in a way that always left me feeling uncomfortable. His voice was well-established, from his patterns of thinking to his insistence on proper English. When answering questions in the affirmative, he never uses the colloquial “yeah” or even “yes”, but always says “correct”. His pretentiousness, alarming perceptiveness, and intellect created a cool, chilling villain. I would recommend the book to anyone looking for some gripping summer reading!