I've been kind of slacking lately on posting my book reviews, so I have a little bit of catch up to do. I just finished Freddy and Fredericka by Mark Helprin. Freddy is the Prince of Wales and heir to the English throne, and Fredericka is his wife. When the story begins, Freddy is not near ready to be king. His ridiculous antics make him fodder for the tabloids, and no one respects him. Fredericka is beloved by the press, but she is beautiful and simple minded. When Freddy and Fredericka's respectability reaches a crisis point, the Queen calls in a mysterious advisor named Mr. Neil. Mr. Neil (whose name is an anagram for Merlin) gives Freddy and Fredericka a quest: They must conquer the United States.
The premise of the book is great, and parts of it are absolutely hysterical. There are also soaring descriptions of the United States, of the changes that the prince and princess undergo, and of their love story. Unfortunately, at over 500 pages, the book could have used some editing. Towards the end, I was rolling my eyes at yet another comic misunderstanding. Still, overall, this was good fun.
Although I love writer Nick Hornby, I was reluctant to pick up his book A Long Way Down. Four people meet at the top of a tall building on New Year's Eve, all with the intent to commit suicide. Didn't sound appealing to me. But I read it, and damned if he didn't make it funny and engaging. I read this a few months ago at the beach, and it was the perfect vacation read. The characters were interesting, the action moved quickly, and the story absolutely made me laugh. I'll pick this one up again.