Alessandro Baricco’s Silk is a haiku dressed as a
novel. A Frenchman, Herve Joncour, travels to Japan in 1861 and returns with
silkworm eggs and the memory of a woman with wide, non-Oriental eyes and the
face of a young girl. It is short, and leaves a tingling in the mouth, like the
gentle bite of green tea.

I really
needed to read something else after escaping into Paula Volsky’s The Grand
Ellipse. Jules Verne, meet Georgette Heyer. There’s adventure, romance, magic,
tongue-twisting place names, cute guys, spies, war, and the kind of heroine
usually described as “plucky.” Luzelle Devaire already has a place in my
favorite fictional gal list. There’s also Y.T., the thrasher messenger from Neal
Stephenson’s Snow Crash; Felice Landry, the manic-depressive lesbian telekinetic
from Julian May’s Saga of Pliocene Exile; Marjorie Westriding Yrarier from Sheri
Tepper’s Grass; and Menolly from Anne McCaffrey’s Harper Hall Trilogy, a
sentimental favorite from

is the cover of the edition I have – a reprint from 1979.