"The Enchantress of Florence" (Random House, 368 pages, $26) is a "Harry Potter"-ish restoration project of great intelligence and remarkable egoism, both of which are characteristic of its author. Although he sets his novel in the Florence of the Medicis and Machiavelli, in the Mughal court of Akbar the Great, and at the height of the Ottoman Empire, Salman Rushdie hasn't written just any pedantic, research-obsessed "historical novel." Instead of trying to give us the past as it really was, he's tried to produce the very kind of "historical romance" that might have been passed among French, Italian, English, and Mughal courtiers of the late 16th and early 17th centuries, a book to give them hours of "much languid play ... in the curtained afternoons." There are pirates, shipwrecks, hidden princesses, lost heirs, and magic mirrors.I had some good light reading last week, by the way: the latest installment in Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series, The Harlequin (these books are my guilty pleasure, the first ones were great and the middle ones devolved into vampire-werewolf-type erotica of a very stream-of-consciousness kind, not so interesting to read, but I think they are better again, I am definitely getting the next one sooner rather than later); Ekaterina Sedia's The Secret History of Moscow; and Joe Hill's really excellent Heart-Shaped Box. (On which note I feel the need to add that buying one of these cannot possibly be a good idea.)
In other news, monkeys control a robotic arm with their thoughts and the Mars Lander follows suit.