Nonfiction

Who the Hell is Pansy O’Hara?: The Fascinating Stories Behind 50 of the World’s Best-Loved Books by Jenny Bond and Chris Sheedy

The title pretty much says it all, I think. This book was recommended on one of the Publisher’s Weekly blogs and since I’m always up for a book about books, I picked it up. And though it wasn’t great, it was certainly interesting enough and a fairly quick read, helped along by it’s very short chapters – easy to pick up and put back down again.

The authors cover some familiar territory – Austen, the Brontes, Mary Shelley, J.K. Rowling,…even Dan Brown (though I’d be extraordinarily reluctant to place him in such company) – and some less familiar (at least to me) Nabokov, Frederick Forsyth, Ian Fleming, Darwin, and the Encyclopedia Britannica. I think my one complaint is that I felt like some of the stories were more about the author than about a particular book – not that it’s not interesting to read about authors, but some of the stories felt like a bit of a stretch connecting the interesting story about the author’s life with the writing of any one book. It would have been fine to just be reading quick, condensed biographies, but that’s not what the books says it’s about and I wish that the focus had been kept on the stories behind the books, rather than a brief overview of an author’s life.

And I actually found myself wishing they’d written longer stories about some of the authors – usually the ones I knew nothing about. The book is quite short as it is and I definitely wouldn’t have begrudged them quite a few more pages if it meant having slightly more in-depth information.

My rating: B-

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