What Else Are You Reading - Part VIII
This is a continuation of the topic What Else Are You Reading - Part VII.
This topic was continued by What Else Are You Reading - Part IX.
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The other thread was getting a bit longish. Additionally a New Year has struck so perhaps time for a new thread. I recently finished Edmund Whites Caracole. I loved it, but it is only for readers who enjoy reading decadent fiction. Phyllis Rose, reviewer for The Nation referred to it as "the best French novel written in English."
Currently I am reading Life and Death in a Venetian Convent: The Chronicle and Necrology of Corpus Domini, 1395-1436, a history of the convent of Corpus Domini along with contemporary obituaries of dead nuns.
Oh, Debs at War sounds like a fun afternoon read. Too bad it is not on Kindle.
This afternoon I started Nella Last's War, one housewife's fascinating account of her experiences during WWII.
I'm reading Orange Prize nominees this month, Lullabies for Little Criminals is my current book.
Referring back to the other thread 219 - I wasn't blaming the Turks Elk just explaining the roots of the religious hatred in the Balkans, which goes hand in hand with the hatred of the former Turkish occupier. Justification for the ethnic cleansing of Bosnian and Kosovo Muslims dates back to old alliances between those communities and the Ottoman Empire. I read The Balkan Trilogy at the height of the Bosnian war in 1992. Despite being set in WW2 Rumania it was clear that 50 years later, nothing had changed.
I'm reading First Whisper of 'The Wind in the Willows'. It's mostly letters written from Kenneth Grahame to his young son, which later became the stories about Toad, Mole, et all.
Like Laura and Peggy, I am into the Oranges this month with just the must-reads on the side. So still reading A Crime in the Neighborhood.
~7 We live not far from The Wind in The Willos countryside. In fact The Watermill Theatre has recently staged a production of said book. The theatre is set on the River Lambourne and it was 'just right'. Oh miss_read you simply must come and sojourn with us !
Just listened to the 15th and last episode of Possession by A S Byatt - it was wonderful and so brilliantly adapted. Sometimes when you hear a book, rather like seeing a film of a favourite book it can be such a let down. In this case it was to the contrary and I positively revelled in the production. Feeling slightly bereft I will not be able to listen again! Thank you to Women's Hour for this fabulous production. A five star listen to a five star book!
Should anyone be interested - it is on the BBC iPlayer http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/radio
>10 - I'd love to see it, Julie! However, down here in Cornwall, we lay claim to The Wind in the Willows too, you know! ;)
I am floundering through Hugo's The Toilers of the Sea for my book club. Hugo is not my favorite writer although Toilers does have some funny moments.
I am about halfway through Karen Armstrong's The Spiral Staircase which is so easy to read! Surprising given that it is about the failed religious life, anorexia, epilepsy, loss of faith, over sensitivity, suicide attempts etc etc.
Just finished My Experimental Life which I've not reviewed yet. Good, funny and thought-provoking but a bit slight and felt cobbled-together.
Belva - I reserved Property on PBS. Plenty of people ahead of me but I'll read it eventually.
#17> Oooohhhhh!!!! I like Dan Stevens and, of course, cousin Matthew!
I know you will appreciate Property when you read it Barbara. If I hadn't taken it on loan from the library but had my own copy, I would just send it on to you. A very good and quick read.
But I have finished it now and am into We Need to Talk About Kevin. This one may prove to be a more difficult read. Told from the eyes, mind and heart of the mother thus far, this book is about the hows and whys (just guesses, of course because.............does anyone really know?) of a son growing up to become a killer in his teens. A tough subject at the very least. I don't believe I have ever read a fictionalized story on this subject nor a factual on for that matter. I really don't want to go inside this mother's head.
>21: a very intense book Belva, but I thought it was very good too. You'll want to talk about it when you're done (I assume you're reading for Orange January? There are lots of us over there who can talk about Kevin with you!)
Laura, I AM reading it for Orange January. I am certain that I will find solace after reading it in talking about it with those who have already read it. I am expecting it to be a difficult read. Thank you for the the head's up Laura.
I'm reading (very slowly, due to tiredness and busyness) Mr Ives' Christmas, which is reflective and slowly unfolding.
I've read the Lionel book Belva. It is very good and I believe there is a movie out.
Finished The Toilers of the Sea two minutes before the first person in my book group arrived. The last two books were exciting although I thought Hugo was perverse in ending the novel the way he did. It was not a logical or believable ending. He clearly needed me as his editor. Goats make a 0ne-sentence appearance in the novel, so perhaps I can forgive Hugo's deplorable sense of an appropriate ending for his work. I was planning to start A Great and Glorious Romance a biography of Carl Sandburg and his wife Lilian Steichen Sandurg (sister of Edward Steichen the photographer); however, Beloved grabbed the book first so I must search for something else.
Launched into a re-read of Far From The Madding Crowd using my dear parents hardback copy - most treasured.
#Belva I can recommend Thomas Hardy: the time torn man by Claire Tomalin - it's an excellent biog and very readable. Several of the readers who are doing the Hardy challenge which Juliet has joined - have borrowed my copy to read.
Hardy group still open to new members BTW
It's been a long time Mary, but I think Hugo almost hangs a goat in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
I second the recommendation of Claire Tomalin's Hardy bio. I used to read a lot of Hardy, as my mum's family is from Dorset/Hampshire and I love his description of the landscapes and people.
This past fall I saw the 60s movie version of Madding Crowd (with Alan Bates, Julie Christie and Terence Stamp) and really enjoyed it, partly because it brought back fond memories of seeing it the first time in an art house theatre when I was in high school. If you want to see a movie version after you finish the book, I recommend it.
I am skipping back and forth between Mishima's The Temple of the Golden Pavilion and Friedrich Durrenmatt: Selected Writings, Volume 2, Fictions. Durrenmatt is awesome.
My first book of the year was Robinson by Muriel Spark It was a bit strange compared to some of her other novels but I still enjoyed it immensely.
Oh, Stuck, and I thought it was written in a brilliant fashion. Hmmm, well, at least we aren't all cookie cutters.
I seem to be in a preoccupation with mothers as I just finished Ivy Compton-Burnett's Mother and Son and Dorothy Canfield's Her Son's Wife. Neither book is very kind to mothers even though Canfield Fisher was one herself. Compton-Burnett's mother died when she was a small child I think and she had a step mother of whom she was not very fond.
Kay - I loved Her Son's Wife. I went back and forth as to who I disliked most - mother in law or wife. Wife was truly awful and I really felt for the ghastly mother in law over the issue of the house. Anyone who has ever had a messy, unappreciative houseguest will understand that. But then mother in law makes her move and I really felt for the daughter in law. And so it went, back and forth, right to the end...
I'm wallowing (in the very best way) in an audio version of Byatt's The Children's Book. I plan to finish tomorrow evening as I wing my way across the pond. I can never sleep on transatlantic flights. The other books on my nifty Sandisk MP3 zipclip player are Persuasion, The Little Stranger, 1599, and In the Garden of Beasts by Larson.
Whoo lucky I saw that Elaine - have now replied to your message about meeting up! Oopsie! Enjoy The Children's Book - I read it a while ago and very much enjoyed.
I'm reading Madame de Pompadour by Nancy Mitford - *hugs* Lucy! It's really good so far.
>44 I really enjoy Nancy Mitford's biographies. They're as good as her fiction. I think Madame de Pompadour is her best.
Thanks for the Mitford reminder, Tui and Mary. So far I've read only a biography and the letters of the Mitfords themselves. I keep the industry plugging along.
I've just managed to acquire a copy of Posy Simmonds' wonderful graphic novel Tamara Drewe from Bookmooch and have plunged straight in. Apparently it's loosely based on Far From the Madding Crowd but as I haven't read that I can't comment. I don't read graphic novels a lot, but I do enjoy them from time to time, and this one is unexpectedly emotionally engaging.
It would seem that I'm on a bit of a rural kick at the moment as I'm also reading Corduroy, Adrian Bell's memoir of spending time working on a farm in the 1920's.
Ali - I review BC books on here, I just add to my collection "read but not owned" and then they don't appear in my main collection. It's the way I deal with getting rid of Early Reviewer books I don't love ...
Yes I know I can do that - but decided that LT was going to be just for my permanent collection - books I physically have - although I have added ebooks to that now - there are one or two Early Reviewer books in my library which I have got rid of but apart from that all books here are my owned books.
I am reading Mishima: A Biography. Terribly depressing. Why are certain men so in love with nihilism?
I am reading Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl which has been waiting patiently in my bookcase for a couple of decades. Auschwitz. The ultimate horror. Very moving.
>56: oh wow, I remember reading that in high school (required, for some class, maybe psychology). I'm sure I'd get MUCH more out of it now.
>58 - Two great books! The BBC did a great adaptation of Small Island a couple of years ago - I wonder if you could find it online? I don't normally like screen versions of books that I've loved, but I thought that one was particularly well done.
I'm joining in an Australian Literature Month run by a fellow blogger (Kim of Reading Matters) and thus reading Maestro by Peter Goldsworthy. It's surprisingly good, although my mind doesn't like to wander as modern as the 1980s...
Coincidentally, I just finished reading an Australian book too! It was Miss Peabody's inheritance by Elizabeth Jolley, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's a very quick read, about an older English lady who lives a dull life with her elderly mother, and starts a correspondence with an Australian writer. The writer sends her huge chunks of prose about her characters and their lives, which seem at least as real as that of the protagonist. Recommended.
>47 I loved Tamara Drew! Very nicely drawn and great story. I had no idea that it was based on Far From the Madding Crowd. Now I'll have to read that book. There is a movie, Tamara Drew, not so great. Graphic novels have come a long way.
>50 Agent Zig Zag was another good one, but I can't remember it that well. I read it when it first came out and I couldn't put it down.
>63: I also read and enjoyed The well. Unfortunately I have not been able to get my hands on any of Jolley's other books. I will look out for some if I get to Australia for a visit.
I was able to buy The Sugar Mother at a Border's closeout sale. I got some wonderful bargains at that time including also a hardcover version of Marilynne Robinson's Home but I haven't read either book yet. I'm now reading Margaret Drabble's The Waterfall and enjoying it very much but am apprehensive about how it will end. I've been on a Drabble kick lately.
Prom Night: Youth, Schools and Popular Culture - purportedly a sociological study by a good academic press ... but really just guilty reading pleasure masquerading as something more high-minded ;-) It looks good on the resume.
Sooner or latter, everyone goes on a Drabble kick.
Oh Helen, I hope you like it. I really did. She is one of those authors whose work I always pick up when she puts a new one out.
Tui and I are on the same page with Coventry, Helen. I think you have a treat that you will gobble down quickly.
I feel as I've been living in a cave because I'd never even heard of her! The book was given to me by my SantaThing Santa. Any other Helen Humphreys recommendations?
I am about halfway through Garnethill by Denise Mina and loving it. Who was it recommended Mina to us?
When I was younger I picked up off the paperback "problem novel" rack in the teen section a book called Thank You All Very Much. (The American title of the The Millstone, apparently.) I wasn't much for problem books and there were certain parts I didn't understand (why didn't tell the father of her child that she had had a baby?) but I never forgot it. I was much suprised to find out years later that the book was one of Margaret Drabble's! Of course back then the name meant nothing to me.
Drabble was very good back then wasn't she? I read The Millstone as a teen and it was because of her and others such as Edna O'Brien and Lynne Reid Banks that I began to branch out into quality women's fiction. O'Brien has not held up well (IMO) but the other two are still very good to re-read. I returned to Banks via her children's books when my son was small. She wrote some wonderful kids' books - The Indian in the Cupboard series and a small gem called Angela and Diabola which I still have in my bookcase. Highly recommended for those of you with little ones.
Accordion Crimes by Annie Proulx, for my last Orange January read. Very rich and meaty stuff.
1Q84! I'm determined to finish it this month, and since it's so compelling, the will to read isn't a problem. Finding the time may be.
IQ84. I have heard mixed reviews about this one. Maybe I will have to check it out.
I liked 1Q84 but didn't love it. My favourite of Murakami's novels are A wild sheep chase and Hard-boiled wonderland, and it wasn't nearly as good as either, IMO. But I enjoyed it a lot more than Norwegian Wood or Sputnik sweetheart. That is probably not much help to anyone trying to decide whether or not read it, I'm sorry!
My current "other" read is Sweetness at the bottom of the pie which is alternately adorable and irritating.
#84 I'm not sure anyone can help anyone else decide whether to read Murakami. He's such a special case. And boy, do I agree with you about Sweetness. You sum it up wonderfully.
I think there were several of us saying how much we like Denise Mina's work.
Finished Garnethill last night. My third Mina and the best so far. I bought the sequel and am arguing with myself whether to plunge straight in or have a break from 'tartan noir'.
I'm reading Middlemarch as part of Dovegreyreader's Team Middlemarch read-along. But it's one volume per month so I get lots of Viragos in between!
I'm now reading A S Byatt's The Virgin in the Garden and am getting bogged down with her language at this point. However, I just gathered some biographical material on Byatt to try to help me to understand her better and to get through the book. I hate not finishing any book that I start reading as I usually try to choose so carefully.
91: Always glad to hear of someone else hooked on Denise Mina's work.
>92: booktruffler, I planned to read Middlemarch this year too and only discovered the readalong about 2 weeks ago. I'm going to get a late start but hope to catch up with the group. It seems like a good way to tackle such a long work.
Kay - I passed on that book too. We had a discussion here about whether we are Drabble or Byatt fans and I am definitely a Drabble woman. But there are plenty of Byatt supporters who will urge you to finish it.
>93: It took me several false starts until I got all the way through Virgin in the garden. I did end up enjoying it, although I'm not sure I will ever reread it!
Sweetness at the bottom of the pie was an enjoyable romp, but needs to be taken with a large pinch of salt (no pun intended). Flavia, the 11-y-o narrator is both engaging and annoying, and far too knowledgeable for her age. If I see any of the sequels at the library I may pick them up for some light entertainment.
I didn't have any trouble suspending disbelief about Flavia de Luce, perhaps because I just accepted her genius at face value. My best friend all through high school was a male version of her, you see, (we made gunpowder in his basement and blew up his mother's laundry hanging down there, etc.) so it all seemed vaguely familiar. I have read and thoroughly enjoyed the whole series.
>97: Tui, this post by dovegreyreader pertains to their reading of part 1 (Miss Brooke). At the very end she writes:
If you are reading to the nineteenth century schedule we start Part Two Old and Young on February 1st
I take "next brougham halt" to mean the point when discussion will take place via a similar blog post. If anyone else has more/better information please let me know!
Claire - my best friend in the whole world was a carbon copy of Flavia at 11 so I also was able to suspend disbelief. Having said that, I thought the book only so-so. I would listen to sequels on audio but don't think I would bother reading them. So many books, so little time etc.
I didn't find her knowledge of chemistry unbelievable, it was that she was also knowledgeable about so many other things too. But I envy you both having known someone just like Flavia; she seems as though she would make a good friend if there were anyone other than her sisters to get to know. Life would certainly never be dull with her around.
My next non-Virago read is Carpentaria, which I can already tell will be a very different kettle of fish!
I didn't find her knowledge of chemistry unbelievable, it was that she was also knowledgeable about so many other things too. My reaction, exactly.
>103: I guess it's the Hogwarts syndrome: you would love it so much if it were true, so the fact that it isn't or can't be becomes irrelevant. ;)
Yes, Tui---quite right. Somehow I just couldn't get through that solid wall to the magic platform in this case. BUT...I have not given the series the heave-ho, as my mother in law would say. I'm going to try at least one more.
I have to say that I wish children were more like Flavia - passionate about knowledge, and with such loyalty to others. It heartens me that some of you have known such people!
I am reading a book that I won via a competition on twitter. It's Tom-all-Alone's by Lynn Shepherd which has been influenced by Dicken's Bleak House and indeed has at least two of the characters from Bleak House in.
I won a copy by reading Murder at Mansfield Park and Death comes to Pemberley and writing a review comparing them.
Tom-All-Alone's isn't out officially untill Feb 2nd - and I already have my copy which is a beautiful looking book - so feel quite chuffed.
#111 - LizzieD are you in US? It is called The Solitary House in the US.
I finished Operation Heartbreak last night. I liked it very much, partly because I have always been interested in the WW2 operation 'The Man Who Never Was', and partly as a social history of the interwar years. There was certainly nothing to like about the hero - a human cypher if ever there was one - but perhaps that was Duff Cooper's intention... to literally create a man who never was of any importance to anyone or anything.
In the meantime I am about a third of the way through the second in Denise Mina's Garnethill trilogy. Note to future readers, don't read these books out of order because this second book is full of spoilers about the first.
I have read two Zola's Mary - La Terre/Earth which I read as a teen and found very funny. I can still remember one character pretending to fire a gun out of a window and farting to replicate the sound of the shots. (Very amusing when you're 14). Then years later I read the Virago The Getting of Wisdom by H H Richardson about a girls' school in Australia. One of the characters in that book was reading Nana secretly under the covers at night so I got it out the library and read it. Nana is a wonderful book and I didn't find it in anyway depressing, although admittedly it does not end well for some of the characters.
That's the extent of my Zolas but if you can recommend one that's not too depressing I might give him another go.
>112 Many thanks, Ali. I now have wish-listed The Solitary House too. Wonder why that makes me feel as though I've done something positive? (No Zola for me. I may die un-Zola'd.)
I'm reading Death comes to Pemberley and I'm not very impressed so far. There's a lot of explaining between characters. This, for instance, from Elizabeth to Jane, admittedly of a new character:
'Remind me how he became intimate with you. Did not Mr Bingley meet him at your lawyer’s office in London?'
It seems caught between two stools; those familiar with Pride and Prejudice don't need the background and it seems obtrusive and clumsy and those coming to it cold (as it were) will need it but there's probably not quite enough background information.
I received King Peggy as an Early Review copy and didn't expect much. But I am really enjoying it. An American secretary becoming a king in Ghana and taking on the problems and corruption in her little kingdom is both inspiring and a real hoot!
>116: I too really enjoyed Nana. I also liked The masterpiece (super-depressing), The ladies' paradise (not depressing and an interesting look at the rise of the department store) and Therese Raquin. I was not keen on Pot luck or L'assomoir. Goodness, I had no idea I'd read that many books by Zola. I should probably read some more Balzac to catch up.
>116 I read several Zola about 100 years ago - I remember loving Germinal in particular.
#122 The forced explanations between characters really annoyed me too when I read Death Comes to Pemberley. I ended up feeling quite disappointed with it (and wishing we had got another Dalgliesh novel from Baroness James instead).
I'm currently reading two historical novels. The first, March by Geraldine Brooks for my RL bookclub and for some reason I'm really struggling with it. The other, The Secret River by Kate Grenville, I just started today as my commute read and it's already restored my faith in my ability to appreciate historical fiction.
Finished Exile by Denise Mina which, as I have already said, was full of spoilers for the first book in the series. Plus, as Soul says above about a different book, lots of 'forced explanations' to cover events from the previous book. That aside, it was a great read and I can highly recommend it. Only complaint is that every character in these books is a chain smoking alcoholic. You'd think there were no healthy Glaswegians.
The snow child by Eowyn Ivey. It seems appropriate given the weather we've had in the UK this week!
As I have posted on the Persephone group - I am reading a Persephone book Miss Buncle Married by D E Stevenson I am gulping it down I love it! I am prepared to be bereft later today - when I finish it as I have only just over 100 pages left and I'm finding it a pretty quick read. Now trying to distract myself with other things to make it last a little longer.
>136 - Spring Magic includes some of the same characters as well - but I can't remember if Miss B makes an appearance or not. I love all of those books!
What a coincidence. I am reading the snow child as well. We will have to compare notes when we are finished.
#136 - I have managed to reserve a library copy of The two Mrs Abbots the only ones avlailable were large print editions but at least I shall be able to read it - : )
Marley and Me by John Grogan; a nice little read with a lot of laughs and a few tears.
>138: I thought The snow child was excellent, very atmospheric and moving. I liked seeing how Mabel grew in self-respect over the years as she took on more of the physical tasks on the farm, as well as the story of the snow child herself. It would have been easy for this book to be either twee or profoundly depressing; that it avoided both is a credit to the author.
Now I am reading a non-fiction book, The good women of China, which is interesting and disturbing.
@ #s 145 & 144:
But it was an uncontrollable sobbing that I am so happy I did. The exuberance of this Lab was beautiful even in it's destructiveness. But I am so happy that our Abby the Labby shows hers in a different way. Labs simply live for fun and they live in the moment. She has helped me so much in that way. I hope you all loved it as you sobbed your way through it as much as I did.
#147-148 ooh I think I do too. I sense the order of my TBR collapsing ...
Last night finished the last in the Denise Mina Garnethill trilogy. A cracking good read for anyone interested in a feminist perspective of Glasgow's meaner side. I got very involved with Maureen O'Donnell and her friends and was sad to finish the series.
An Irish Courtship, latest in the Irish Country Books series. Very soothing and relaxing, just what I need.
Recently, I read The Joyous Season by Patrick Dennis, of Auntie Mame's fame. It is so funny that I was snorting with repressed laughter and crying on the train; people must have thought I am nuts.
Off work today for the mid-winter break and finished The Gabriel Hounds in bed this morning. Very dated Mary Stewart, written in 1967 and set in Syria and Lebanon, but I have to admit to loving it. Very similar in style to the Ann Bridge Julia novels, borderline racist in parts but such a throwback to the romance thrillers of my teen years I found myself wallowing in nostalgia. Being Mary Stewart she padded the high jinks with some really interesting historical and geographical information about Damascus and Beirut.
I have a Reader's Digest condensed version of The Gabriel Hounds -- one of those 4 in 1 volumes. (My mother in law bought those volumes by the ton, I think because she needed books to fill up the library and she thought Reader's Digest was like the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval on the back of a book.) I found it a little dated, too, though I can't remember much else about it. I think RD may have "condensed" the descriptions and history out of my version!
Am going to a book reading and signing tonight of the biographical work, Clover Adams. She was the wife of Henry Adams whose autobiographical book The Education of Henry Adams is considered a classic but which I didn't really like. He also never mentioned his wife in his work. She ended up committing suicide, sadly.
Did you read The Education of Henry Adams? I did mention to the author of Clover's biography during the Q and A that Henry seemed very cold and cerebral but she said that his biographical work was written rather late in his life but in my opinion, sometimes people are more empathic and open when they're older. It was an enjoyable event and I bought the book and got it signed.
Snort snort snort ----!!!!! Yes Henry didn't really endear himself to us -- here is a link to a group read that several of us undertood in 2010: HERE It is a book that had been on my bedside shelves for 30 plus years!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Oh wait, I'm back, I came to report that I am reading the antithesis of a Virago book -- Infinite Jest.
So I finished and wrote a review of Mr Churchill's Secretary I gave it two stars for a variety of reasons, mainly it wasn't very good. Then I began getting one-line comments in my livejournal where I also posted it. This surprised me because no one checks my lj from one month to the next. This morning I found a comment about my review on my Librarything profile page. The writer of the comment just joined yesterday.
On the review page, the author has posted glowing reviews of her book. They come right under mine. The author joined Librarything yesterday.
Dare I suggest a connection?
>162: Very suspicious. And strange, as you are clearly not alone in your opinion of the book. I struck this from my "to look out for" list when chatterbox's review was posted. I wonder if she and/or others have had similar comments?
#137. Purely in the interest of research, I re-read Spring Magic, only my second time. Terrible sacrifice :-). No Miss B at all. However, now I'm going to need to do research to find out where the other characters show up.
Just checked Common Knowledge. I need to add more characters and places.
Elaine - I read your review and several of the others. Think I'll skip the book as I usually agree with your assessments. I had to laugh about this American girl arriving in England and almost immediately getting a job at 10 Downing St. I had a similar problem with Incendiary wherein a woman without a HS diploma, let alone the ability to type, gets taken on as a secretary to an anti-terrorist department at Scotland Yard. Like, really?!
I am reading Living, Loving and Lying Awake at Night, a book of short stories by Sindiwe Magona. I think this could be an important little book.
I'm ploughing my way through the Penguin Great Loves box set of twenty little books, all classics or by classic authors, on the theme of love. They're pretty little books, but so far there have been more hits than misses. I'm up to A Mere Interlude by Thomas Hardy at the moment, so I still have the more modern books to go and I hope that they're going to improve a bit.
#168 Ah...I'm reading Dissolution, the first of the Shardlake series!
Shardlake is everywhere! Linda as you know I just read that one and I've come across at least 2 other members also reading it right about now.
>164 - So sorry to have made you suffer through more D.E. Stevenson, MDGentleReader! ;)
I'm still reading The Making of the British Landscape but it's so marvellous that I can only read it when I'm feeling v alert. And then a slightly silly book, Gardens of Delight, SOLELY because it is set on Lake Como, where we had a fab holiday the other year. It had a glaring editing error on the first page, though ...
Private Papers was a very mean book Helen. I was not sure who Forster intended us to side with, if anyone.
Yes, that's what's troubling me. I like to have a clear idea of who the baddie is!
>162: Elaine, Suz aka Chatterbox reviewed "Mr. Churchill's Secretary" and gave it 1/2 a star, I think. She is an excellent reviewer, imho. She got a very personal and somewhat vicious comment on her personal page, saying she should be ashamed of herself, etc. She too noticed the person commenting had only just joined. Hmmm.....
>153: ok, I downloaded The Gabriel Hounds on to my Kindle, Barbara. It was relatively inexpensive and I felt like a bit of nostalgia.
Belva, I sobbed uncontrollably too--I used to have a yellow lab and have never loved any dog more than that one.
So happy to read that there are fellow Shardlakians. Can't wait for the latest book but have no idea when it will be out.
I mentioned that the author of Mr. Churchill's Secretary had posted glowing reviews of her own book on the review page. These have now been taken down. I haven't posted the touchstone for the book because I didn't want the "reader" who was criticizing negative reviews to be led to this board.
For those of you who read The Help, whether you like it or not but especially if you had a problem with any realism of the subject matter, you should read this last book of mine. It is called Living, Loving and Lying Awake at Night and is by Sindiwe Magona. The first half of it is about domestic help in (I believe) South Africa. The second half is a grouping of short stories of domestic help there also. I could not put it down. I began it late night before last and read a third of it before I fell asleep and woke when the book smacked my nose. I finished it when we got home from town last night. I found it to be fascinating and there are a couple of real heart grabbers amongst the shorts. I rated it a 5* read and very highly recommend it.
After much consideration, (The Pursuit of Love & The Sea, The Sea), I believe I am going to read something very light next. The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery has been calling out to me so I am reading it and very relaxedly enjoying it. A no-brainer, strictly for pleasure read.
What a lovely choice, Belva! The Blue Castle is such a sweet and satisfying little book.
Ditto for me. I've been reading the Anne books to my son for years and I do skip a little if there's a lot of description but he really likes them. I think The Blue Castle might be a step too far, however.
Very belated comments to the Henry Adams thread. I'm sorry that I missed the group read as it would have been helpful for me at the time when I was wading my way through The Education of Henry Adams. I did find out when I read through some of the discussion that Sibyx went to H S in Milton, MA and would you believe? I did also. I went to Jeanne d'Arc Academy, where did you go? Small World.
Tui - just remember that I did not say The Gabriel Hounds was a GOOD book, only that it had me wallowing in nostalgia for my teens. Despite the heroine being dark I always think of Hayley Mills when I read Stewart.
Well I just finished it, Barbara, and it was fun. I hadn't read any Mary Stewart for yonks--now Hayley Mills doesn't spring to mind for me ever, so I was fine with Christabel being dark.
The Stewart that I was mad for was Nine Coaches Waiting. I loved that 'spunky' heroine, hiding the fact she spoke French!
Kay - I was up the street from you at Milton Academy from 1969-72. I boarded there, although my senior year I lived 'off-campus' in a big barn of a house with my piano teacher and his family up on Adams St when the school over-booked!
Small world, indeed!
186 - She was in the movie of The Moonspinners which is how I got started on Mary Stewart. I lived with two Aussie girls in London 68-70 and we lay in bed many weekend mornings, drinking tea, smoking (!) and reading Stewart, Heyer and DuMaurier etc. I re-read These Old Shades a year or two ago and it was so silly I couldn't believe it. But happy times.
I'm almost afraid to revisit Mary Stewart, because I remember loving her books so much as a teenager. Many of them are still around here, and I may just have to try a little nostalgia trip. And oh, how I loved The Moonspinners movie. I introduced it to my daughter when she was the right age, and she was hooked on it too. My husband is still in love with Hayley Mills.
I should get that from Netflix -- my dau is a big Hayley fan from "That Darned Cat"!
I too, love the Mary Stewart books.
And I loved The Blue Castle. Was just what I needed.
I am currently reading a fairly dumb book called I Thought You Were Dead by Pete Nelson about a man and his 'communicative' dog. I would have tossed it via 'The Pearl Rule' but it is for my upcoming R/L B/C Monday eve.
Have a great weekend all.............snowing here! Loving it!~!
Friday night finished a spy thriller set in Nazi occupied Paris - Red Gold by Alan Furst who is consistently good and seems to have moved into Eric Ambler's niche. I like books that give me some geography and history and this certainly gave me insight into Vichy France, the role of the Communists in the Resistance etc.
Doing some DIY around the house yesterday listening to an audio of Misery Bay by Steve Hamilton. This guy sets all his books on Michigan's Upper Peninsula, in winter, and his detective does most of his work from a snow plow truck. I have become attached to all his characters and the locale which I now feel I know well.
I loved Nine Coaches Waiting as well. Thornyhold and Rose Cottage are nice too. And of course her Merlin series which I reread from time to time, especially The Hollow Hills.
I've been reading hither and yon. I have a pile of books on my "currently reading" table, but I can't seem to commit to finishing any of them. Last night, in a fit of Mark Twain nostalgia I read several essays that have been published as separate stand-alone works: "The Literary Offenses of James Fenimore Cooper," which always makes me laugh; 1601 subtitled Conversation at the Social Fireside of the Tudors - a great deal about farting and f ..ing - a bit jejeune I thought; and On Masturbation - a speech that apparently pleased no one and was censored for a while - a few bits about farting there. Sometimes Twain comes across as the perpetual teenage boy ... I suppose; however, I have noticed that grown men well past (and I do mean well past) the age of puberty find fart jokes and farting highly amusing. On one occasion, I was the only woman in the company of my ex-husband and several male family members who spent the evening telling farting jokes and engaging in a farting contest. Needless to say, the air became too humorous and I had to depart.
And whoops, I have finished some other books: The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic was heartbreaking. When Willard State Hospital (New York State) closed in 1995 after 126 years of operation, museum curators moved in to examine its contents. Stashed under the roof of one of the buildings, the authors of this book found a huge room with 427 suitcases containing the belongings of patients who entered and never left Williard. In fact, of the 54,000 patients who entered Willard over its 126 years, 23,776 never left. Patients (often people who were merely suffering from depression) were labelled incurably insane and left to rot for decades there. For this book the authors chose 10 suitcases and traced the history of their owners before and after admission to Willard. I cried. The sheer waste of human life perpetrated on these individuals by psychiatrists was staggering. Take a look at The Willard Suitcase Exhibit Online. Once you enter, click through the opening images and then click on "suitcases" for artifacts of the individual patients. I highly recommend looking through the exhibit.
Other notable books: A Norwegian novella, quite sad, The Faster I walk the Smaller I Am.
Virginia Woolf & the Raverats: A Different Sort of Friendship by William Pryor (Gwen Raverat's grandson). Letters, illustrations, etc. Such a beautiful book!
I'm reading The Heat of the day by Elizabeth Bowen liking it very much but see why some people don't think she is easy.
I have read a number of Bowen's works but The Heat of the Day was the only one that I couldn't finish. It seemed so different from the rest of her work but it's a mystery, spy story and they aren't usually on my favorite's list. I hope that I can go back to it just to feel that I've completed it.
Weirdly the one I have always had the most trouble with is The House in Paris, not sure why. I have to poke through my list to think of which one I liked best.... maybe it was set in a Big House in Ireland.....
Of Bowen, I've only read The Last September, and found it slow but beautiful. At the moment, I'm halfway through Vasily Grossman's Life and Fate, which I am reading at a glacial pace. But it's superb. Slowness isn't necessarily an indication of badness. The book is just too dense and full of life to rush through. I'm also reading Tim Blanning's Pursuit of Glory, which is going faster for me. But I go through phases when I find nonfiction much easier to digest than fiction. I guess I'm in one of those phases now.
I agree that Heat of the Day is Bowen's most difficult work. I have been trying to decide if it is her best work even though I like it the least of her novels. I have read four other novels by Bowen: The Last September, The Hotel, The House in Paris, and Death of the Heart. The last, a coming-of-age story about a long woman, is heartbreaking. Overall, I liked The House in Paris best.
203: Me too. And yet it's not one of her most famous novels is it? How strange! I have the short stories and Eva Trout on the tbr shelf, maybe I will get to one or the other this year.
I read all the Bowens 30 years ago (yikes!) except for To the North that I picked up year before last. It's not one of her best, and I notice that nobody else has mentioned it.
Oh gosh, I have read a Bowen but really don't know which one - aren't they all Big House In Ireland ones, really?
I've apparently read The Death of the Heart, but I can't say I remember it. I also have The Last September, Frost in May and The Heat of the Day along with a biography by Victoria Glendenning as well as Love's Civil War: Elizabeth Bowen and Charles Ritchie: Letters and Diaries 1941-1973 also by Glendenning.
I've only read The Heat of the Day and The Death of the Heart. (I think -- isn't that the book where the entire plot is merely that somebody reads somebody else's diary?) The first time with Heat of the Day I was absolutely gripped and actually became boiling mad at one of the characters, to the point that I began to think up things I would say to her if I were able to insert myself in the book, etc. Upon re-read, however, it didn't have the same effect at all. It's funny how much depends on the kind of mindset you're in when you encounter a book.
A World of Love is the only Elizabeth Bowen I have read and I quite liked it though it was slow going. I will read more by her as I acquire them.
I've read several of Elizabeth Bowen's novels, always in hopes that I will like her this time... Somehow she just never quite clicks for me, and I haven't been able to figure out why.
I was interested to read all the above expierences of reading Bowen. I have now finished - and though it is not an easy book I did enjoy it -thought the writng wonderful as is the characterisation.
Re: Bowen: I started reading The Last September some years ago and didn't finish it. I think I was expecting something quite different and more linear!
Then last summer and with a clearer idea of what to expect, I read Death of The Heart and loved it. Perfectly written and Bowen goes right into the interior lives of her characters. I then went on to read and love The House in Paris. I found this a beautifully written and very moving read but laughed later when I read Richarddeus' review. If he's right, my enjoying the book was something to do with my oestrogen levels ;)
More recently I've enjoyed and would highly recommend, The Greatcoat by Helen Dunmore and Slaves of Solitude by Patrick Hamilton. I have to thank Simon as I hadn't heard of Patrick Hamilton until Simon listed Slaves of Solitude as his favourite book of 2011 on his blog. Like many of Simon's other choices, it was absolutely up my street, so thanks for that Simon (:
A few years ago Hamilton's Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky was dramatised on TV and I read it. Very depressing but good - three linked novels now published as one volume about 3 young people - a barman, the woman he is in love with (who is a prostitute) and the colleague who is in love with him - the first two characters have quite major alcohol problems - I have Hangover Square and Slaves of Solitude and keep looking at where I can fit them in, sometime soon hopefully.
I love Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky but the TV series was SO depressing I couldn't watch it.
I'm STILL!!!! reading The Making of the British Landscape and also Georgette Heyer's Sprig Muslin (the absolute joy of that!).
I've been through a fairly heavy time with my work, but it's all freed up a bit again now so should be reading more soon.
>213 - Dee, so very pleased you thought Slaves of Solitude good! It really is brilliant. I've yet to read his other novels that I immediately bought - pacing myself.
>194 - Urania, you have sparked my attention with two words: 'Norwegian' and 'novella'. Frankly, I'm sold. And The Faster I Walk The Smaller I Am is a brilliant title.
I'm reading Shirley Jackon's Raising Demons and loving it to pieces.
I just finished The Papers of Samuel Marchbanks by Robertson Davies. It got me interested in re-reading Davies' books, although as I recall even the first time around I thought some of his novels were much better than others. I've put in an ILL request for Leaven of Malice as that was always one of my favorites.
I'm reading Middlemarch, and enjoying it although I'm not very far along yet.
>217: My husband and I recently discovered Life Among the Savages and Raising Demons, and could not stop laughing over them. What awesome memoirs. And I have to admit that remembering her misadventures sometimes helps me get through difficult days with my own children. :)
I am currently overwhelmed with an embarrassment of riches in reading material. I've gotten into a bad habit of going straight from an LT thread to the library website, and requesting every book that has been recommended! So I have a huge stack of delicious reads from the library (including a number of Viragos), plus A View of the Harbour, plus two boxfuls from the Science Fiction book club and Mystery Guild book club (I simply could not resist temptation, with new books available from Elizabeth Moon, Robin Hobb, Ruth Rendell, and Elizabeth George!). At the moment I am devouring Sharon Shinn's Twelve Houses series and wondering how I'm ever going to get anything else done besides reading this month!
I too am devouring a series, the Dr. Siri Paiboun, Lao coroner series by Colin Cotterill. laytonwoman3rd is my partner in crime (pun intended) with this and we were both urged on with it by the late, great Charlie Callahan, a wonderful LTer who recently passed away.
I am reading American Jezebel by Eve LaPlante. I am greatly enjoying the subject matter, (the 1500s, 1600's & the Puritans), but Anne Hutchinson to be precise. However it is weary going. I do have two weeks to read it (for my hometown book club that I just found), so I am reading 30 pages a day and interspersing with other reading just to lighten it up. Right now I am reading Miss Hargreaves by Frank Baker and absolutely loving each and every paragraph.
>223: Miss Hargreaves is so much fun! I'm glad you're enjoying it, Belva.
Hurrah, hurrah Belva! I do so adore Miss Hargreaves with every fibre of my being - read it seven times now, I think.
Last night I finished a Persephone called Hetty Dorval. I LOVED this book, enough to write a very rare review on the book's site. Highly recommended and, at 130 pages, a very quick read.
Fab reviews, Alex and Barbara. I think Hetty Dorval will be my next Persephone....
Edited because I managed to spell Dorval wrong.
I am now reading two non-VMC's. One is A S Byatt's Still Life and the other is a biography of the poet Anne Sexton. I went to a book reading the other night by Anne's daughter Linda Gray Sexton who has written a memoir of her battle with depression. Anne committed suicide when Linda was in college and Linda has survived two suicide attempts of her own. Fascinatingly tragic family.
I read Linda Gray Sexton's memoir and it was pretty good...a little uneven, but that's a pitfall of memoirs. The parts that deal with her relationship with her mother are the best. It would be interesting to compare them to what Sexton's biographer says.
Loved The Lacuna when I read it last year for Orange January or July and A Spell of Winter is my favorite Orange of all the Orange listed books I have ever read. Good picks!
I am currently reading Young Man With a Horn by Dorothy Baker and loving the way it is written, the storyline; just everything about this book. I am about half way through and it is marvelous. But I think one would have to like music and understand obsessions with music to perhaps not be bored. Reading it is rather like listening to Miles Davis, Gorden Dexter, Chet Baker & others of their caliber. Loving it!
>232 - Lcanon - If you want to see an exquisite example of a rood screen, check out St Giles Church at Cheadle designed by the great Augustus Pugin. You can also check out puginfoundation.org. Pugin was the leading neogothic architect of the 19th century and it is the bi-centenary of his birth this year. There are many celebrations in the UK, Ireland and Australia to mark the event. Tasmania is very fortunate to have several churches designed by Pugin.
This site will lead you to a story on Pugin’s work in Tasmania: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-03-02/tasmanian-treasures/3866072
I've just finished Helen Dunmore's With Your Crooked Heart which, although I raced through it, I found pretty unsettling. The characters were ... 'not likeable' would be an understatement. At the end of it all, I was even hoping for the cliché prettily-tied up happy ending, just to leave a better taste in my mouth. Alas, it was not to be. I'm looking forward to reading something nicer now. It's a shame because I've always really liked Dunmore.
Next up is A Study in Scarlet because I've never read any Sherlock Holmes and I feel I ought to. And also Hetty Dorval by Ethel Wilson because I need something that doesn't weigh 20lbs so I can take it to the hairdresser with me this week.
The Kitchen Madonna by Rumer Godden is a lovely story about a couple with a little boy and girl and a Ukranian housekeeper. The children realize one day that the housekeeper, Marta, is unhappy when in the kitchen and they ask her about it. She shares with them in her broken translation that there is no happy place in their kitchen; no Holy place. That where she comes from they have a special place in the kitchens, a shelf or such, where upon there is placed a picture of Madonna and Child, decorated with lovely fabrics and beautiful jewels and special candlelight to show the picture. This makes a 'happy kitchen'.
The little boy is quite troubled by this; that Marta is unhappy, missing a 'Kitchen Madonna'. He decides that he will make her one and this is the story of how one little boy with the help of his sister goes about doing something wonderful and beautiful for someone he cares about.
The story is beautifully drawn out, the characters are open to you.
Rumer Godden is something really special. A 5 star read and highly recommended.
Up next, off the Orange Prize long list of nominations:
Gillespie and I by Jane Harris, known for authoring The Observations. It looks to be very good.
>238: My primary school library had a copy of The kitchen madonna along with almost all of Godden's other books for younger readers. How I wish I still had access to copies and could reread them! Her books are truly delightful (except Pippa Passes . . . bleugh!).
I've just started Swimming by Nicola Keegan. It's had mixed reviews, but I have to say I almost stayed on the train for an extra stop this morning because I didn't want to stop reading.
Just finished Joan Aiken's The Youngest Miss Ward, which was much the best Jane Austen spin-off I've come across. I couldn't get into her Emma Watson, but this one worked better for me--partly, I think, because it wasn't very Jane Austen-like at all. :) It was about the (non-existent Austen character) youngest aunt of Fanny Price, and I liked her because she had many of Fanny's good qualities without the tears and swooning.
I read Swimming by Nicola Keegan, which seems to have had mixed reviews on here. I enjoyed it though. The prose is almost but not quite stream of consciousness in places, and sometimes the literary tricks didn't quite work for me, but overall I enjoyed the narrative voice and the portrait of a troubled young woman who strives for excellent in the pool to escape from family troubles. Although she achieves glory, this is almost glossed over as the real story is of Pip's inner journey, and the novel charts her fall in as much detail as her rise. I think several reviewers wanted the book to end on a high note, but I felt it needed to continue as it did and tell the whole story.
I've just started Wise Children by Angela Carter. I MUST have read it before, but I don't remember it. So far it reminds me of Iris Murdoch and Paul Magrs (Paul studied her and it's fascinating how some of her sentence structures have slipped into his work) and I'm loving it.
I'm reading A Late Beginner by Priscilla Napier - recently re-published by slightly foxed - although the print run is apparently now sold out. It was one of Debo (The Duchess of) Devonshire's choices on the first series of My Life in Books - and it seemed hard to get hold of with second hand copies on abebooks going for around £30 when I last looked. The slightly foxed edition is a nicely produced little hardback - very traditional looking, nice quality paper and a little ribbon attached to keep your place.
Love Wuthering Heights. It's so tragic & full of drama. Glad you are loving it as well.
I haven't chimed in in awhile. Never mind what it says on my profile. Right now I'm actively reading We Need to Talk about Kevin (hard to put down!), Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy (good content but really whacky writing), and The Magicians (lots of fun!). In a day or so I'll pick up Dombey and Son again. That's it for me!
I'm all over the map at the moment. Half way through a Persephone, 2 chapters into a British murder mystery by Sophie Hannah, listening to a Swedish mystery on audio by Henning Mankel and just finished a British chick lit called The Ugly Sister. I'm with you Belva; not in the mood for heavy or depressing.
I did a semester on Bonhoeffer, Peg. My favorite quote of his is 'To convert through fear is the ultimate unChristian act', or something like that. I have never been able to find it again, and may have mis-remembered it, but I think it was something he wrote during his last months in prison.
I don't remember that particular quote, Barbara, but it does sound like DB. I'll keep an eye out!
I'm reading and listening to popcorn....the Maisie Dobbs mysteries. Too much on my mind right now to concentrate on anything challenging. And these mysteries are good fun
>257 - that's been on my read-soon shelf for ages. How is it, so far?
I like it a lot. It could easily be a bit of a misery-fest a la Angela's Ashes, but the way that Frame writes makes it very different. It's a series of impressions of events as seen by a child, rather than dwelling on poverty or illness. So her finding a quiet place by the river, being held up as a liar at school, and making herself sick on chloroform lollies seem as important as her brother's epilepsy or the deaths of family members.
>257 That is such a good book. I read it right after I watched the Jane Campion movie An Angel at My Table. The movie and the books are very moving.
Apologies to those outside the UK, but I found the Dodie Smith books available from the Book People for £4.99. I also have a new matching set of Josephine Tey books - I did already have all or nearly all of them but I have a weakness for sets.
>262: Oooh, I will have to check TBP. I haven't seen the Dodie Smiths in any of the recent catalogues, but then I try not to look too closely!
Edited to add: A set is on their way to me . . . Willpower is not my strong point where books are concerned :-/
> 259. Also very good by Frame is Owls Do Cry which is a fictionalization of some of the same material.
263: I don't remember seeing them in the catalogue, which I do scrutinise - I'd seen the books mentioned here and looked them up on Amazon, then someone on the Read it it confessional thread mentioned her Book People purchases....
>264: That and Faces in the water are the two novels by Frame that I've read. Her life definitely seems to have informed her fiction, at least in those two books.
267: Clearly you are better able to resist book-related temptation than I am! Giving up chocolate would have been so much easier!
The library doesn't have the first in the series of Maisie Dobbs so I will have to try to find that one. They sound light and fun.
In the meantime I will attempt to complete an Orange I am half way through but was having a tough time with: The Submission.
I'm reading a lovely YA novel, Artichoke Hearts by Sita Brahmaechari - 12 year old Mira's beloved grandmother, Nana Josie, is dealing with her imminent death from cancer by decorating her own coffin, and the family are trying desperately to be brave. I heard of this last year from someone else online and wishlisted it then a few weeks ago the Kindle price here dropped to £1.42.
Finally finished House-Bound - the Persephone I have been reading for several weeks. Despite not getting it read very quickly it was an excellent book.
I'm about a third of the way into The pillow book of Sei Shonagon. I'm very interested in Japanese culture and society, both ancient and modern, so this is proving to be a great read so far.
I'm reading a Persephone, Dorothy Whipple's Someone at a Distance. Enjoying it so far.
I just finished my Early Review March winner Sacrilege by S. J. Parris. A good historical mystery set in Canterbury during that part of Elizabeth I's reign when the catholics are conspiring to put Mary Queen of Scots on the English throne. Another writer who knows how to handle a period without making it sound like reams of paper printed off Wikipedia. I'll write my review over the weekend.
Speaking of medieval, I posted 35 of my better (and, unfortunately, heavier) medieval studies books on PBS yesterday and 29 are already gone! Took nine to the post office to mail and the postage was over $25. Will mail the rest Monday I still would rather distribute these books to real readers rather than g et pennies on the dollar at Powell's. I still have a few really great studies of medieval women posted. Aren't you all dying to learn about municiple wet nurses in Florence or ale-wives in Winchester???
>265 It's always worth having a look at The Book People's website because they often have more than is in the catalogues. If you are at all interested in Gladys Mitchell they recently had a set of 8 of her books for £8.99 which is well worth it.
282: Although sadly, you do have to be in the UK, and even then, anyone off the mainland has to pay extra for delivery.
>284 - That's true - usually I get together with a bunch of ladies at work and we put in a joint order to get free postage but I appreciate it's not so easy outside of the UK.
Still decorating the master bedroom. Hours and hours on the back deck using the miter saw to cut trim and baseboards exactly right. Growling and anxious and shouting at the cats to get away from the wet paint etc. Listening to Anna Quindlen's Every Last One on audio while I worked. Huge mistake! Brilliant book, beautifully written but the subject matter SO painful I am not sure why I finished it. Total bummer. Ruined my day.
Barbara, that is one of hers I haven't read. I generally like Quindlen.
I am getting into the first Maisie Dobbs and really liking it. Thanks E.
Me too Belva. Have read or listened to most of Quindlens but this one... not for the overly sensitive.
I got the first Maisie Dobbs out of the library on audio. Might try that next as I spackle the cracks above the bedroom window.
Ah, I see you have been listening to Elaine as well Barbara. I am really enjoying it and finding Maisie a very comfortable read. I hope you do too.
hugs n bugs,
I loved Maisie Dobbs and definitely plan to read more by Jacqueline Winspear. Thank you so much for the rec.
I am now off and running with Quartet in Autumn and quite enjoying it. Love Barbara Pym. And by the time I finish, I am sure that I am going to be thinking, hmmmmmmmmm, shoulda, woulda, coulda been a Virago except for __________.
I hope all of you are enjoying your reads.
I am also loving the Maisie Dobbs. It's utter nonsense but I look forward to getting back to it. I am still doing DIY and pulling out stove and fridge etc to clean behind them as part of my duty cleans for spring and it is EXACTLY what I need to listen to as I work. For those of you who hate housework as much as I do, please consider audio to accompany you while you work. It's a wonderful way to get to all those guilty reads (the chick lit, Dragon Tattoo stuff) and some days it's the only reason I cook dinner or clean the bathrooms.
I'm listening to Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Since I also got the hard copy out of the library I can look at the photos as they are mentioned. This is one weird book.
Out on the deck ironing in the sunshine and working on my tan with Maisie Dobbs playing. The period detail is impressive. The fact that the horse's name is Persephone makes me wonder if the author reads them. I'm sure she's read Vera Brittain and her ilk.
Of the Maisies I've read so far, I think the first is the weakest in plot only because she has to give so much backstory to flesh out her characters. The second book has much more plot. What impresses me is her basic premise of how the war impacted people. Sayers touches on this with Wimsey's backflashes to the trenches.
Kaggsy, did you know that Jane Harris lists Catherine Carswell in her bibliography for Gillespie and I? I guess that she read her for her take on Glasgow. I just finished *G&I* and am currently trying to finish Hide Me Among the Graves (very un-Viragoish) for ER and dipping into other things from Ann Bridge's first Julia book to the second book of Robert Caro's LBJ.
I've been indulging (although few would use the word) in some Ivy Compton-Burnett - More Women Than Men - it might just be my favourite so far, although it is possibly the first I've read that wasn't set in a sprawling family. It is set instead in a girls' school, but we never meet any of the pupils. All Dame Ivy's books are largely the same, and this was dependably wonderful.
Once again, Simon, I wish you could educate me on what I'm missing with Ms. I C-B. I've read only one, and I loathed and despised it, but E. Taylor thought she was wonderful. Oh dear, oh dear.
>302/303 I have only read 1 ICB which was Pastors and Masters - which I liked - but didn't love and it certainly didn't make me want to rush out and read more.
Next Monday is World Book Night - I will be giving away 25 copies of I Capture the castle so I am now re-reading my pretty copy of it so I can enthuse about it, while having a more recent memory of the story.
>301: No, I didn't know that! Fascinating! Carswell certainly seems to be more attracted to the seamier (and more interesting!) side of Glasgow from what she says so far.
>302/303/304 - I'm intrigued by your love of ICB Simon (if I may call you Simon) and have not yet read any of her work - what would you recommend as a good starting point? The reviews I've read seem to imply she's heavily dialogue ridden and you either love or hate.
>305 - Time to break out my copy of I Capture the Castle and re-read also!
303/4/7 - Yes, ICB is love or loathe, and since all the books are the same (except Pastors and Masters, which is Ivy-lite, really - a taste of what would come) then once bitten ought to be twice shy. Karen (you may call me Simon, if I may call you Karen!) I would say start anywhere at all, although for the purposes of this group you could pick one of the VMCs - Mother and Son, Two Worlds and Their Ways... I think there might be another. Mother and Son has the most wonderful cat in it!
As for trying to explain why I love her... too hard. The wit, the wordplay, the endless spiralling around - building and building her linguistic battles. This is what Pamela Hansford Johnson wrote in her pamphlet on ICB:
"The peculiar charm of Miss Compton-Burnett's novels, the charm that has won her not merely admirers but addicts, lies in her speaking of home-truths. She achieves this by a certain fixed method. One character propounds some ordinary, homely hypocrisy, the kind of phrase from which mankind for centuries has had his comfort and his peave of mind. Immediately another character shows it up for the fraud it is, and does it in so plain and so frightful a fashion that one feels the sky is far more likely to fall upon the truth-teller than the hypocrite. In these books there is always someone to lie and someone to tell the truth; the power of light and the power of darkness speaking antiphonally, with a dispassionate mutual understanding."
308 - of course you may call me Karen! :) (and so can anyone else in the group who might want to!)
Thanks for the advice and I think I will start with Mother and Son as even if I don't like it, it will look nice on my shelf with my other Greenies.
(Having said that, I notice that Awesome Books have an edition of Pastors and Masters from Hesperus Press, another of my favourite publishers - tempting!)
I finished The pillow book of Sei Shonagon which was excellent, really interesting and amusing too. It transports the reader to a very different world, but where human nature is still largely the same as in our own. I loved it.
Now I've started It ends with revelations by Dodie Smith, one of the three I got from The Book People. I like the characters very much, and am eager to find out what happens to them.
I've yet to try any IC-B, but suspect that one that is set in a girls' school might be the most likely to appeal to me, even if we don't meet any of the pupils. When my tbr pile gets a bit smaller I shall investigate . . .
311 - hurrah!
312 - worth a shot! Not one of the easiest ICBs to track down, though.
>313: It ends with revelations contains a page-long discussion of ICB - see the "Fictional Virago Readers" thread for a quote!
Finished Maisie Dobbs last night and am just heading out to get another from the library audio collection. Very heart warming and certainly I couldn't wait to get back to it. And yet very silly and unrealistic and you could see all the books the author had consulted as part of her research. (A bunch of books we WW1 enthusiasts have all read.) The mystery in this book was almost unnecessary. The book was good historical fiction without it. But all in all a delightful spring break read that distracted me from the Elizabeth Taylor which I am not enjoying. Thanks Elaine!
I had to thank her too Barbara. I was enchanted by the 'center' story and can't wait to get the second book. I think Elaine has a lot of us hooked on Maisie Dobbs.
Oh, but back to 'what else I am reading'...............I am getting ready to begin Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James. His book of short stories that I read were wonderful. I am hoping that this one is as good.
Well, off to the grandson's BB game.
HA! I assumed that E L James was a man but he is a she. Silly girl.
>317: Isn't E. L. James a woman? Or am I getting confused with someone else? Fifty shades of grey seems to be everywhere at the moment in the UK.
I thought it was written by a woman too ... but now I'm second-guessing myself. I haven't read the book, so perhaps I'm wrong!
E. L James is definitely a woman. And I wasn't aware she had ever written anything before.
And I am sure you all have read that FSOG started out as "Twilight" fanfiction. I wonder if I should dig out my Spuffy fanfiction and change a few names....
No Way!~! Well, I have laughed my arse off 3 or 4 times just in the first few pages. I hope you are wrong Elaine (though you never are), as just the thought of Twilight makes me wish to vomit.
Just for you, Belva dear.
"Vintage Books has included a disclaimer in its edition of Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James, acknowledging the book’s origins as Twilight fan fiction. Above, we’ve embedded a screenshot of the publisher’s note.
The copyright page includes this note: “The author published an earlier serialized version of this story online with different characters as ‘Master of the Universe’ under the pseudonym Snowqueen Icedragon.”
James removed the original fan fiction from her personal website, but we traveled backward in Internet time to archive the book’s lost history as Master of the Universe–it began as an X-rated version of the Twilight story. (Via Andrew Shaffer)"
And my naive response Elaine, dahlink;
I was suckered in!
re: Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James
I enjoyed the 'VERY' first pages of this book. And while I do not think
of myself as prudish, the book was just over the top for me. I only made it a little more than half way through before I felt like I was going to vomit. I did find the characters fairly well drawn out but the story just gagged me. I will not be finishing it nor can I even give it a one star rating nor will I be reading either of the sequels to this volume, (which I believe are only in e-book form at this time). I do NOT recommend this book. It is going in the garbage. Dominatrix is just not my style.
There is one line in the book that I did love however: "To be honest, I prefer my own company, reading a classic British novel, curled up in a chair in the campus library." Isn't that a great line?
Excuse me while I grab my barf bag.
Thanks for the time and effort you spent on this research. I wish I had waited one more day to read the book at which time I would not have. :-(
Belva, that's exactly what I assumed my own reaction to the book would be, and it's why I've made a point of avoiding it. But it's still good to have confirmation.
Belva, now I will make you laugh....
My cousin was in the middle of reading this book and asked me what my opinion of it was. I raved about it and said the story was heart-breaking and educational. I had no idea that people had gone through that much suffering and I was going to give the book to her 14 year old granddaughter the next time I saw her. My cousin got really upset and I couldn't understand way UNTIL I realized that I was talking about another book. Last year I had read and really enjoyed BETWEEN Shades of Grey, the story of a Lithuanian family exiled to Siberia by Stalin during WWII. She was talking about an entirely different story!
Seeing FSOG at the top of the NY Times bestseller list week after week is making me vomit. I can't bear the thought of reading it. I'm such a book snob.
>327: that's HILARIOUS.
327 - that is brilliant!! Oh, your cousin must have been horrified...
>327: "Educational" - yes, it certainly would be I suppose!
I too have no desire to read this, but some of the negative reviews on amazon are entertaining.
One of MY cousins just told me today she tore through all three of the "Grey" books and couldn't stop reading---or laughing. I guess it's all in how you look at things, but I'm not persuaded to pick them up. If you change your mind, Belva, it does look like the paperback editions of 2 and 3 are available from Amazon! Now BETWEEN Shades of Gray, on the other hand, sounds like something I ought to look for.
I'm confused. It's Twilight with dominatrix? I also have no interest in reading it but in my local thrift store I recently found a dominatrix book and skimmed it at the shelves. It didn't disgust me (after all I am a child of the sexual revolution) but it also didn't interest me. Too damned old I guess.
Great story Elaine!
That is too funny Elaine! Glad it was all straightened out.
And yes Laura, the thought of this book on any best seller list gags me.
Gee thanks Linda. I am rushing off to Amazon.com even as we speak. lol!~! I also will be looking for Between Shades of Gray.
Barbara, I too, am a child of the sexual revolution and I don't mind reading books of that era at all. But I don't find anything 'sexual' about dominatrix. It's about total obedience to someone's pleasures and total power over someone else's freedom to choose. Abhorrent!
I did find some laugh out loud moments in the first part of the book. Well, I guess this is how we find out what our tastes in lit are. lol!~!
That's it Belva! It's not 'free love' is it? As I said, I am a child of the 60s with all the attendant liberal politics and yet even as a much younger woman I was never into anything that was coerced, forced or painful.
As I skimmed the above mentioned S&M book in my local (Christian!!!) thrift store I was approached by a nice looking older man who was obviously one of those readers who like to see what books other shoppers are looking at. And there I was with the dominatrix book which I had to slink away and reshelve amongst the cooking books. Busted!
But life is too short to bother with Fifty Shades of Grey unless it really is something that makes me laugh. I would willingly read it if it was funny.
If *50SofG* is half as funny as Barbara and Elaine, I'd read it.
Meanwhile, I'll simply report that I'm reading Foreign Bodies. It could easily be a VMC.
I'm cheating for Muriel Spark Reading Week and got started on Territorial Rights this morning. Fabulous; don't know why it's not better-known.
This topic was continued by What Else Are You Reading - Part IX.
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