Confession: While I have lived in Maine much longer than New York, the state of my birth, I have never really acclimated to Maine winters. Or winters of any location. Growing up on Long Island, I walked a mile to high school with a cello and, in the days before backpacks, an armful of books. Not exactly uphill both ways, but close enough, with the snowbanks taller than I was and the sidewalks slippery. It will not surprise you that I dropped out of orchestra after my freshman year and ditched that cello.
As for outdoor activities in crowded suburbia? You needed real money for travel and equipment to learn how to ski back then, and my family certainly didn’t have that. I did own a pair of ice skates, and I religiously turned both ankles at every opportunity at the local rink. Building a snowman gave me only brief bragging rights before my artistic endeavor turned into a puddle and my gloves got soggy. So being a bookish child and wise beyond my years, I mostly stayed indoors and read until the forsythia bloomed.
As a mom of four, I spent forever dressing the kids in snowsuits, boots, and mismatched mittens, only to have them come in after ten minutes begging for hot chocolate with lots of marshmallows. Before we moved recently, we lived down a long, intimidating icy camp road in Belgrade, which gave me good reason to hibernate and not crash my car into the house. Or the lake.
So, it’s fair to say I’m indifferent to winter’s wonders, except for its depiction on Christmas cards and calendars. My website bio even says, “A transplanted New Yorker, she lives in Maine, where the cold winters are ideal for staying inside and writing historical mysteries and romances.” But one must do more than write and occasionally stare out the window at Nature’s chilly beauty to occupy oneself. If you are hermitting until mud season like me, here are some suggestions to pass the time.
I am very late to the Inspector Gamache series, having read the first (of 18!!!), Still Life, last week. I have to say the numerous point of view shifts (even within paragraphs) drove me a little—okay, a LOT—crazy, but Louise Penny has created an intriguing world. I highly recommend watching the 8-part Three Pines on Amazon. Alfred Molina is merveilleux as the Montreal detective hero. Fortunately, my high school French (along with closed captioning) is sufficient, and I’m wildly impressed that the cast slips from French to English so effortlessly. I’m now curious about watching the earlier series, Still Life with Nathaniel Parker as Gamache, even if I know who dunnit now.
The second season of Whitstable Pearl on Acorn finds the two appealing lead characters romantically involved with others, yet they work together as PI and DCI to solve some coastal crimes. Lovely Kentish seaside scenery, and the food in Pearl’s restaurant looks fabulous.
I recently finished the Boston-set The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentil. The book’s structure defies conventional description, so I won’t even try. If you like a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, this will be a satisfying read.
Elly Griffiths’ third book in her Harbinder Kaur series, Bleeding Heart Yard, has the policewoman relocated to London. It can be read without knowledge of the first two books, but it is delightful to see Harbinder grow into her job and independence. Griffiths creates quirky, very real characters (see also her Ruth Galloway and Magic Men/Brighton mysteries) and I’ll buy anything she writes.
All three Skelton’s Guides books by David Stafford are fun and very funny: Skelton’s Guide to Domestic Poisons, Skelton’s Guide to Suitcase Murders, and Skelton’s Guide to Blazing Corpses. Set in the late 1920s in England, awkward Arthur Skelton is a reluctant legal lion, with a slew of very unusual companions and relatives.
So, that might keep you entertained until spring. Or at least until Groundhog Day. You know what I’m hoping for. No shadow! What can you recommend for me?
For more info on Maggie and her books, please visit www.maggierobinson.net