I like when the book I just read has taught me something I need to know in the book I am reading now.
I just recently finished my second Kate O'Brien novel and she is quickly becoming one of my favorites. I read Mary Lavalle, which is set in 1922 in a combination of Ireland (through memories mostly) and Spain. It was originally banned in Ireland and they did make a movie out of it that they called Talk of Angels (which, based on the photo on the cover of the book i bought with the movie actors on it - i don't want to see. The woman on the cover is clearly not blonde and not 21. The hair color i can deal with, but the age is what makes Mary what she is).
Mary is a 'Miss' to three Spanish girls in their early teens. She was to speak english to them and be their chaperone wherever they went. One of the words used to describe the job was duenna.
So when Alan in Needful Things used the word when he was talking about Nettie entering the shop on her own, I knew exactly what he was saying. I had even seen life from the point of view of a young duenna. I started reading Needful Things once before and I would have then passed by the word thinking 'hmm... i wonder what that means..." but forget about it as an insignificant part of the story...
and speaking of insignificant bits of story, stephen king i believe is the master of making the insignificant mean something. i posted this on a fellow king lover's FB wall yesterday and i'm copying and pasting cuz it's exactly what i mean to say:
i started reading needful things today and i realized that stephen king is a maniac. I mean, i already knew that, but its not cuz he writes girls who make it rain rocks and haunted cars and insane monos, but for the little insignificant stuff. like this little bit:
"norris didnt cry but he was apt to puke on them, the ...way he had puked on homer gramache that time when he had found homer sprawled in a ditch out by homeland cemetary beaten to death with his own artificial arm."
homer was a poor soul who was created for this story only to die so a point could be proven to the reader. But King not only gave this poor soul such a bad history as to require him to have obtained an artificial arm at some point in his sad life, but he also had him BEATEN TO DEATH with it!
its twisted, but its also very real...