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Caroline’s ‘Woman Cave’ 2018 (Episode the Second)

This is a continuation of the topic Caroline’s ‘Woman Cave’ 2018 (Episode the First).

75 Books Challenge for 2018

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1Caroline_McElwee
May 23, 2:52pm Top



By Winifred Nicholson

Well it's been a year of change so far this year, losing my dear dad, whom I saw almost every week of my adult life, even when you know he has achieved a fine age, you are still struck with puffs of missing. Today I almost bought a Father's Day card for him, a couple of weeks ago, I saw sticks of rock at the seaside, I'd always bought him some.

Then last week I started a new job, I work in admin, so adjusting to a three hour commute 5 days a week, after a six month break is, as a friend said, like going from 5 miles an hour, to 50 miles an hour, especially as I am not a spring chicken! However, things are going well. I am pacing myself.

****

I love the work of Winifred Nicholson, especially her use of colour, so she will decorate my new thread. The topper is one of her more vibrant works, often I find her work quiet and intimate. I also love still life, and images looking into or out of spaces, through doors and windows.

2Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Sep 20, 4:24pm Top

Reading, and Read in 2018

Currently Reading

The River in the Sky (Clive James) (Poetry)
In My Mind's Eye (Jan Morris) (memoir)

Kintsugi (Tomás Navarro)

*****

Albion (Peter Ackroyd)
Love of Country: A Hebridean Journey (Madeline Bunting

The Odyssey (Homer, trans Emily Wilson, first female translator)



********


(Internet image)

Books Read in 2018

Fiction

The Body in the Library (Agatha Christie) ***1/2
Sing, Unburied, Sing (Jesmyn Ward) ****
Nemisis (Agatha Christie) ***1/2
A Pocket Full of Rye (Agatha Christie) ***
From the Heart (Susan Hill) ****
4.50 From Paddington (Agatha Christie) ***
The Woman in Blue (Elly Griffiths) ***1/2
Demian (Herman Hesse)***
The Beginning of Spring Penelope Fitzgerald ***
Strangers (Anita Brookner) (LL) ***1/2
The Guernsey Literary. And Potato Peel Pie Society (Mary Ann Shaffer) (3rd reread) ****1/2
The Cemetery in Barnes (Gabriel Josipovici) ***1/3
A View of the Harbour (Elizabeth Taylor) (reread) ****1/2
The Newton Letter (John Banville) (reread) ****
White Houses (Amy Bloom) ****1/2
Remarkable Creatures (Tracy Chevalier) (reread) ****
The Waves (Virginia Woolf) (reread) ****1/2
Meet Me At The Museum (Anna Youngson) ****
The Seven Sisters (Margaret Drabble) ****
Warlight (Michael Ondaatje) ****1/2
The Librarian (Salley Vickers) ***
House of Names (Colm Tóibín) (24/06/18) (262/9,936) ****
Tom's Midnight Garden (Philippa Pearce) ***1/2
The Overstory (Richard Powers) *****
Tomorrow Elizabeth Russell Taylor ***1/2
To The Lighthouse (Virginia Woolf) reread *****
The Lost Letters of William Woolf (Helen Cullen) ***1/3
The Corner that Held Them (Silvia Townsend Warner) ***1/2
Take Nothing With You (Patrick Gale) ****
The Lighthousekeeper's Daughters (Jean Pendziwol) ****1/2

Non-Fiction

The Lost Words (Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris) *****
The 4 Pillar Plan (Dr Rangan Chatterjee) *****
In the Darkroom (Susan Faludi) ****
Kenneth Clark: Life, Art, Civilisation (James Stourton) ****1/2
The Power of Now (Eckhart Tolle) ***1/2
The River of Consciousness (Oliver Sacks) ****
Appointment in Arezzo: A Friendship with Muriel Spark (Alan Taylor) (02/03/18) (173/3,754) ****
The Staircase Letters (Arthur Motyer/Elmer Gerwin/Carol Shields) ****
No Time to Spare (Ursula K. Guin) (Essays) ****
Packing My Library (Alberto Manguel) ****
A Room of One's Own (Virginia Woolf) (reread) *****
The Little Book of Feminist Saints (Julia Pierpont) ***1/2
If this is a man (Primo Levy) (reread) *****
The Three Lives of Dylan Thomas (Hilly James) ****
The Salt Path (Raynor Winn) ****
Free Woman: Life, Liberation and Doris Lessing (Lara Feigel) ****1/2
Reading with Patrick (Michelle Kuo) ****
Morning: How to make time a manifesto (Allan Jenkins) ****
Mark Rothko: Toward The Light in the Chapel (Annie Cohen-Solal) ****
The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter (Margareta Magnusson) ***
Nothing to Envy (Barbara Demick) ****
The Unpunished Vice: A Life of Reading (Edmund White) (15/08/18) (223/*) ***1/2
Gloucester Crescent:me, my dad and other grownups (William Miller) ****1/2
The Perfect Summer (Juliet Nicholson) ****1/2
Call Them by Their True Names (Rebecca Solnit) ****1/3
Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race (Reni Eddo-Lodge) *****

Poetry

New Collected Poems: Wendell Berry ****
Anecdotal Evidence (Wendy Cope) ***1/2
Wade in the Water (Tracey K Smith) (Poetry) ****
100 Poems Seamus Heaney ****1/2

Total: 63

Pages: 9,609
tb updated

3Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Jun 21, 9:07am Top

The poem I wrote for my dad.

Later Life

In later life I will remember
you ensconced in your
chair, glasses at a jaunty
angle, book or magazine
in hand. A ready smile
on your face when disturbed.
An eager curiosity for news.
How is everyone? What
have you been doing?
Is it really a week since
you were last here?

The food on the table.
The easy conversation
the, latterly, squealing battery
of your hearing aids. Were they
in the right ears? Not always.
Memories. Memories of earlier
lives. Route marches en famille
in the early Sunday mornings
to catch the bus to the seaside or
ancestral pile – we were grateful
not to have to dust the latter.
Carrying cold sausages (Em and I
weren’t vegetarian then) and
Bovril crisps for breakfast in
our bags. Ryan relishing the
making up of scary stories that
scared himself as much as anyone else
on the journey home.

And recollections that won’t
be forgotten, laughed over and
relived, argued in the detail:
boots bet, rissoles (don’t ask),
the magical mystery tours.
The love and laughter a constant –
always – still – today – tomorrow.
We three you helped bring into the world,
nurtured, fed, clothed, watered.
A full life. A loved wife. A small brood of chicks.
Your contentment.

4drneutron
May 23, 3:34pm Top

Happy new thread!

5charl08
May 23, 4:16pm Top

Lovely poem - a great tribute to your dad.

6jessibud2
May 23, 4:52pm Top

Love that lamp in >2 Caroline_McElwee:. And I also have a soft spot in my heart for art that makes the viewer feel able to walk into a scene or peek out of it.

Lovely tribute to your dad, too, Caroline.

7Caroline_McElwee
May 23, 5:00pm Top

Thanks Jim, Charlotte and Shelley. Good to see you peeking round the door.

8kidzdoc
May 24, 9:04am Top

I love the poetic tribute to your father, Caroline.

9FAMeulstee
May 24, 5:58pm Top

Happy new thread, Caroline, and good luck getting used to your new job.
Lovely painting at the top with the Lilly of the Valley's.

10Caroline_McElwee
May 24, 6:37pm Top

Thanks Darryl and Anita.

11msf59
May 24, 7:28pm Top

Happy New Thread, Caroline! Boo to the 3 hour commute. That sounds brutal.

Love "Later Life". Perfect tribute to your Dad. I miss mine too. It has been nearly 10 years.

12Caroline_McElwee
Edited: May 26, 3:51am Top

Thank you Mark.

I do read for a lot of the commute, and I'm trying to not make it a negative, just part of the day. In spring and summer, I take the bus home, which does make the journey longer, but I enjoy watching the world go by, rather than being a mole in a hole on the tube.

Finally I got to see 'Chicago' live. I've long enjoyed the score. Cuba Gooding Jr was Billy Flynn.

13thornton37814
May 25, 12:53pm Top

Happy new thread!

14Caroline_McElwee
May 25, 4:00pm Top

Thanks Lori.

15lycomayflower
Edited: May 25, 9:13pm Top

>12 Caroline_McElwee: Oooo, Chicago. Nice.

Good luck settling into the new job (and commute!).

16Caroline_McElwee
Edited: May 26, 10:46am Top

33.Remarkable Creatures (Tracey Chevalier) (reread) ****



The fictionalised version of the life of the Fossil Hunter Mary Anning. This time read walking in her footsteps, in Lyme Regis. It held up to a rereading.

34. Wade in the Water (Tracy K Smith) ****



This is the second volume of Smith's poems I've read, and I liked it the best of the two.

I loved the imagery in 'The Angels', and the voices in the series of slave letters took me to a reality so far from my own, without it being overblown. Can you call such experiences 'domestic'? 'True' as in straight, aligned. They have an honesty.

35. The Waves (Virginia Woolf) (reread) ****1/2



Undoubtedly this novel is a masterpiece, but all the same, IMO, it doesn't let you love it. Despite taking you into the inner thinking of its characters, it holds you at a distance. There is a coldness. I think this is created by the fact that the characters are never actually in conversation with each other. They are in conversation each with themselves. They describe each other, they talk of their feelings, but the loss of direct interaction deprives you of warmth. How to do the extraordinary thing Woolf has done, whilst still attaining a feeling of fellowship, I'm not sure what word I really want here, is an interesting thought, and perhaps has occupied many writers over the years.

36. Meet me at the Museum (Anne Youngson) ****



I love volumes of letters, real and fictional. This is a fine example of the epistolary novel. I read most of it in two sittings. I really warmed to both, very different, correspondents. Tina, a farmers wife, and Anders, an academic in a Danish Museum. The correspondence starts between strangers, and evolves into a deep friendship, as each tells stories of their lives past and present, and offers opinions and alternative perspectives on the knots and pinches that life delivers. All this interwoven by the story, as far as it is known, of the Tollund Man. The ancient man discovered in the Danish bog.

17Caroline_McElwee
May 26, 5:05am Top

>15 lycomayflower: thanks Laura.

18jessibud2
May 26, 6:50am Top

Oh, I had not hear of the Youngson book. I also love epistolary books so this is a BB for sure!

19Caroline_McElwee
Edited: May 26, 8:17am Top

Ooo, I do like to hit a bullseye Shelley. I don't think you will be disappointed.

It's a debut novel, by a writer in her 70s.

20Caroline_McElwee
May 26, 11:12am Top

Time for some flowers...

21lycomayflower
May 26, 11:35am Top

Lovely!

22charl08
May 26, 12:01pm Top

Gorgeous flower: add me to the list signing on for Meet Me at the Museum.

23japaul22
May 26, 12:40pm Top

I loved The Waves. It really appealed to me in its language and themes. You're right, though, that it does keep you at arm's length and I hadn't thought about the lack of direct interaction. I will reread this at some point and think about that more.

24jnwelch
May 26, 10:14pm Top

Happy New Thread, Caroline. Lovely poem about your father.

I like that soft image up top. I'm glad that Remarkable Creatures held up to a re-reading; such a good book. And hooray for Wade in the Water. She's the real deal, isn't she.

Congratulations on the new job. That's one heck of a commute.

25VivienneR
May 26, 11:42pm Top

What a lovely image to use at the head of your thread. And followed by a wonderful poem to your Dad. Beautiful.

26EBT1002
May 27, 1:59am Top

Hi Caroline. I have not been aware of the work of Winifred Nicholson but I love that image at the top of your thread so I will be looking for more by her.

I am adding The Time of Our Singing to my wish list as both you and Peggy have recommended it.

Meet Me at the Museum also looks appealing.

27Caroline_McElwee
May 27, 6:01am Top

>23 japaul22: I look forward to hearing your thoughts japaul (sorry, I don't know your name).

>24 jnwelch: yes, the commute can be a bit brutal, three bits of Transport in each direction, it is the waiting times that elongate the day Joe. I'm trying not to allow it to become an issue this time round, as I can't change it beyond my state of mind. I leave a bit earlier to have a nice brekkie near the office, and read before work. Then stay overground at night and watch the world go by. Enjoying the dappled sunlight through the trees etc.

>25 VivienneR: Thank you Vivienne.

>26 EBT1002: Ellen, I discovered her about five years ago at an exhibition at the Dulwich Picture gallery. I love the exhibitions they have there, as well as the wonderful collection of Dutch paintings they own.

28charl08
May 27, 7:20am Top

Oh Dulwich has recently been put on my radar- I think linked to the Vote 100 events. Hopefully I'll get there at some point soon.

29msf59
May 27, 7:35am Top

Happy Sunday, Caroline. Hope you are enjoying the weekend. Very, very warm here in the Midwest but not complaining yet.

Glad you enjoyed Wade in the Water. I also recently finished it. She is a strong poet.

30NanaCC
May 27, 9:34am Top

That is a lovely tribute to your father, Caroline.

31Caroline_McElwee
May 27, 10:30am Top

>28 charl08: I've been going there most of my life Charlotte. You will also be walking in the footsteps of Vincent Van Gogh, who visited it twice as a young man. No doubt many other great artists since too.

>29 msf59: I agree Mark, she's a fine poet, I'll be looking forward to future collections.

>30 NanaCC: Thanks Colleen.

32PaulCranswick
May 27, 9:10pm Top

Happy new one, Caroline. Sorry to be so tardy getting here but things are a little on top of me at the moment.

>3 Caroline_McElwee: Made me smile and tear up. Good poems can do that. xx

33Caroline_McElwee
May 28, 5:53am Top

It's lovely to see you, whenever you have time to drop by Paul.

Thanks re the poem.

34Caroline_McElwee
Edited: May 28, 4:17pm Top

37. Free Woman: Life, Liberation and Doris Lessing (Lara Feigel) ****1/2



Part memoir, part biography, part literary criticism, Feigel goes in search of the concept of freedom, primarily in the lives of women, using Lessing's life and her novel The Golden Notebook as a starting point.



Sexual freedom, political freedom, social and personal freedom. Following Lessing through relationships, place and writing she turns the stones in her hands and interrogates them. Ultimately there is no one answer, and most answers will be personal, but the suggestion that freedom might most powerfully be found in living with the constraints you can tolerate, will speak to many, not only women. And if we can learn to achieve this, that fragile concept of happiness may find more purchase. This gels with my stoical beliefs, change what is within your power to change, but accept what is not. And know not everything is in your power.

I've dropped Feigel's other books into my basket, very different subjects, focusing on WWII.

ETA: The Golden Notebook is in my potential reading pile for June.

35figsfromthistle
Jun 1, 9:40am Top

Just dropping by to wish you a happy Friday! Also, Happy (newish) thread!

36Caroline_McElwee
Jun 1, 1:51pm Top

Happy weekend to you too Figs.

37charl08
Jun 1, 2:25pm Top

>34 Caroline_McElwee: Sounds good - I wondered about it, I've seen a few of her articles online, but think I'll look out for this now. Lessing had such a varied life.

38EBT1002
Jun 2, 8:12pm Top

I have had a copy of The Golden Notebook on my shelves for a while but have not yet read it.

39Caroline_McElwee
Jun 3, 4:00pm Top

I've had it for years Ellen. That happens occasionally.

40Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Jun 3, 4:35pm Top

Hmmm, was trying something that didn't work. Back anon.

41charl08
Jun 3, 4:44pm Top

42Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Jun 3, 5:43pm Top

Oh I was only trying to get star ratings Charlotte. Vivienne has told me how now, so may use them down the line!

43charl08
Jun 6, 3:12am Top

Fair enough. I will come back and ask you for tips!

44laytonwoman3rd
Jun 15, 3:47pm Top

That's a lovely poetic tribute to your father, Caroline.

45Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Jun 17, 7:37am Top

38. The Seven Sisters (Margaret Drabble) ****



It's a while since I read Drabble, and this one was nudged in my direction by my sister, and despite a rather unpleasant narrator, I rather enjoyed it.

39. Warlight (Michael Ondaatje) ****1/2



Ondaatje continues with his war era themes in this fine short novel. Brother and sister Nathaniel and Rachel are left by their parents in the care of an eccentric friend known as 'The Moth'. The story is told through Nathaniel's eyes at different ages, as he records his life, and the secret background to his story, which he unravels over time.

Ondaatje focuses on the war via peripheral vision, how it impacts on those who are either hidden, or affected by the acts of those who are not necessarily centre stage, but with important roles to play.

He is also so good at drawing authentically eccentric characters. This novel has several of them.

I was surprised to find references to little known parts of South London, where I myself grew up, I discovered Ondaatje went to college in the 60s, nearby.

40. The Librarian (Salley Vickers) ***



This felt like a YA book, which I don't generally read. It's one of Vickers' fair to middling novels. I thought she got the era right, and some of the children, but other characters didn't have as much depth. I think her intention was to bring the importance of libraries back into the spotlight, however it seems the only people in any doubt of that importance are Councils, as opposed to readers, and I doubt they will be reading the novel.

The book itself is a beautiful production, but not a keeper for me.

46Caroline_McElwee
Jun 17, 7:38am Top

>44 laytonwoman3rd: Thanks Linda. Feeling his loss more acutely today, being Father's Day here.

47msf59
Jun 17, 7:43am Top

Happy Sunday, Caroline. I hope you are having a fine weekend. Good review of Warlight. I have that one on my list.

48laytonwoman3rd
Jun 17, 11:08am Top

>46 Caroline_McElwee: Father's Day here, too, Caroline. My loss has had time to settle (14 years next month), but it's still a tough day. Someone on the TV this morning said "You never get over it, but you do get through it."

49Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Jun 17, 11:25am Top

I agree Linda. You get used to it over time. I nearly bought a Father's day card on three occasions. When you lose someone who has been meaningful in your life, I don't think you want to get over it, you just want to carry it more lightly as time goes on.

50lauralkeet
Jun 17, 12:54pm Top

>49 Caroline_McElwee: you just want to carry it more lightly as time goes on
I like that very much. Thinking of you today, Caro.

51Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Jul 6, 4:32am Top

41. Reading with Patrick (Michelle Kuo) ****

A friendship that is shared by learning and reading, Michelle Kuo joins a two-year programme to teach in a school for those who have been excluded from the main-stream. Most of these students are from migrant and African-American families, most will ultimately end up in the prison community, as does Patrick, the young teenager that Kuo most connects with, and whose life she reengages with several years after leaving the programme. The desire to experience growth through culture and in this case the word, is warming. The failure of the system that excludes that possibility for the majority at the poorer end of the spectrum is heartbreaking.

42. House of Names (Colm Tóibín) ****

Tóibín revisits Greek tragedy via the story of the death of Iphegenia, and the events that are triggered by her murder. There is definitely a fascination with revisiting the ancients at the moment. The writing, especially in the opening chapter, of Clytemnestra’s voice, is wonderful.

43. Morning: How to make time a manifesto (Allan Jenkins) ****

Not quite Plot 29 perhaps, in this meditation Jenkins explores the pleasure and benefits of being an early riser. Beautifully observed, but what I felt strongly was that this was certainly a luxury of the creatives, and middle classes. If the ‘workers’ were seeing the early hours it was in order to start work early, or commute to work, rather than to carve out some quiet time to themselves. Most of those interviewed for ‘My Morning’ which punctuates Jenkins’s own journaling were writers, actors, artists with more control over their time, and the time to take naps later in the day, to make up for rising at 4.30am! The only others included were a fisherman and one or two others whose work was in nature.

44. My Name is Lucy Barton (Elizabeth Strout) ****

I always have some conflict with Strout’s work. There is always something that seems to jar that I can’t always quite identify. I felt the same with this book, but perhaps slightly less than I have before, or maybe in a different way, explored below. I felt she caught the complexity of a difficult relationship between a mother and daughter acutely. That desire for something better, the fragility of understanding, and yet the acceptance on some level of imperfection, was well drawn

The two other strands that were loosely woven through this story related to the Jews at the hands of the Nazi’s and the onset of the AIDS epidemic. In a sense these subjects framed the era of the novel’s arc. I think my dissatisfaction rests with these, as events here are talked about rather than experienced fully. They felt like two painful events, that deserved to be more than colour to some of the characters. Something the father of the narrator does colours his behaviour, but you don’t get deeply into his psyche, the event is experienced as received behaviour by Lucy, because of the event. Exploring that could have made a novel in itself. In fact that is it, both these areas felt like satellite novels that haven’t yet been developed.

52jnwelch
Jun 27, 12:13pm Top

Hi, Caroline.

I read Reading with Patrick as an ER book, and like you, found it well done and moving.

53Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Jun 27, 6:17pm Top

>52 jnwelch: yet somehow I wanted something more from it Joe.

54jnwelch
Edited: Jun 28, 2:08pm Top

>53 Caroline_McElwee: Agreed. I'm not sure what . . . Maybe more of a high level viewpoint, how she views it as fitting into our educational system and literacy issues.

55Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Jul 1, 2:13pm Top

Wind in the Willows land, Cookham.



Mole and Ratty we're away, but Mrs duck was around. We saw a heron and a Kite, though they were camera shy.


56drneutron
Jul 1, 5:26pm Top

Nice!

57laytonwoman3rd
Jul 1, 5:27pm Top

>55 Caroline_McElwee: I see two ducks!

58charl08
Jul 2, 2:35am Top

59Caroline_McElwee
Jul 2, 4:49am Top

Nice to see you all peak round the door. Yes, there is a second duck sitting behind Linda. There were six waddling around us. I had not seen ducks jumping before. They jumped to snatch at the tips of the long grass which was funny.

60PaulCranswick
Jul 2, 5:36am Top

>55 Caroline_McElwee: That makes me yearn for the green and pleasant land of home, Caroline.

Putting a tentative toe back in the LT waters after a couple of weeks treading breathlessly those same waters.

The Drabble and Ondaatje books have caught my eye in the stores here recently and it is good to see both authors appear to be on form.

61Caroline_McElwee
Jul 2, 7:03am Top

Hi Paul, good to see you paddling about.

It has to be said, after two peaceful rural days, it was an assault on the senses arriving back at Paddington Station last night.

62Caroline_McElwee
Jul 2, 12:43pm Top

Gave up on Olivia Laing's debut novel Crudo, half way. I was so looking forward to it. I suspect that people will say they like it, because they will feel it uncool to say they don't. I'm OK with uncool. It is a book with plenty of life's unpleasantnesses in, but to the halfway point, it didn't have the edginess of her non-fiction books which I really like.

63Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Jul 6, 4:22am Top

45. Tom's Midnight Garden (Philippa Pearce) ***1/2

I read this because I had twice read mention of it recently, but as someone who no longer finds children's or YA books satisfying, I didn't love it in the way others do. Though I'm sure if I'd read it as a child I would have loved it. I'm just a scratchy old crone now.

64Caroline_McElwee
Jul 6, 4:21am Top



This month's beautiful Wolf Kahn painting on my calendar, 'The Blue Window'.

65VivienneR
Jul 6, 12:36pm Top

>55 Caroline_McElwee: What an idyllic spot!

66msf59
Jul 7, 9:35am Top

>64 Caroline_McElwee: Love this!

Happy Saturday, Caroline. I am glad you enjoyed Lucy Barton. Strout's follow-up Anything is Possible is even better and Lucy plays a role in that one too.

Hope you are having a great weekend.

67FAMeulstee
Jul 7, 3:02pm Top

>55 Caroline_McElwee: Yes, that looks like how I imagined Wind in the Willows land, Caroline. Also imagined they could be camera shy ;-)

>64 Caroline_McElwee: Love that painting on your calender.

68NanaCC
Jul 7, 5:27pm Top

My Name is Lucy Barton is on my wishlist, Caroline. I’m glad to see you enjoyed it.

69EBT1002
Jul 7, 11:53pm Top

Margaret Drabble. I haven't thought of her in eons.

Love your duck. I wish I could have gotten a good photo of the great horned owl we had on our back fence last evening but the light and the distance (about 30 yards) were prohibitive.

I'm reading Richard Powers' The Overstory at present. So far it's excellent!

70Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Jul 8, 6:10am Top

>65 VivienneR: >67 FAMeulstee: I'm so lucky I get there most years now Vivienne and Anita. My brother-in-law has access to the estate (retired employee), so I go one weekend a year.

>66 msf59: >68 NanaCC: I had to give it 4*s as I felt a lot of it well written, but it wasn't a keeper for me Mark, Colleen. I had too many questions. It certainly split my RL book group.

>69 EBT1002: my sister read the Drabble and passed it on Ellen. Before that it had been a while since I read her. I'm more a fan of her sister, AS Byatt.

Glad you are enjoying The Overstory, that is near the top of the mountain.

71Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Jul 8, 12:43pm Top

46. Mark Rothko: Toward The Light in the Chapel (Annie Cohen-Solal) ****

A fine introduction to the life and work of Mark Rothko, contextualised within his era and the culture he came from. I hadn't realised he committed suicide. I now need to go to the Tate Gallery and sit in front of some of his work.

I was led to reading this after seeing the play 'Red' about the painting of the Seagram murals.

72FAMeulstee
Jul 9, 7:28am Top

>71 Caroline_McElwee: My husband is an admirer of Rothko's work, I like some of his works, but find most of them more or less depressing. My library has a copy of the Dutch translation of Mark Rothko: Toward the Light in the Chapel, maybe it will help me appreciate more of his works.

73jnwelch
Jul 9, 4:17pm Top

>63 Caroline_McElwee: Ha! I'm just a scratchy old geezer now, but I do have fond memories of reading Tom's Midnight Garden to our kids. Seeing it through their eyes undoubtedly helped create the enchantment.

Rothko is one of the few abstract painters whose paintings I really enjoy. We went to his chapel in Houston; it wasn't at all what I expected, but it was fascinating. Very stark, and contemplative.

74jessibud2
Jul 9, 5:00pm Top

>71 Caroline_McElwee: - Caroline, have you read The Muralist by B.A. Shapiro? It's fiction but historical fiction and Rothko is one of the central characters, or at least, central to the central character (who is fictional). I read it earlier this year but never put it on my list of books so I have no review of it. But I enjoyed it and learned a fair bit about abstract art that I knew nothing about.

75Caroline_McElwee
Jul 10, 10:28am Top

Thanks for the recommendation Shelley, I'll take a look at that.

76jessibud2
Jul 10, 4:31pm Top

>75 Caroline_McElwee: - I found my review of it, Caroline, if you want to bother reading it. It's on my thread #2, post #208.

77Caroline_McElwee
Jul 11, 8:06am Top

Thanks again Shelley. I realise I have The Art Forger somewhere in the book mountain. But The Muralist does sound like something that would make a good read after the Rothko biography.

78EBT1002
Jul 11, 11:59pm Top

I had forgotten that Drabble and Byatt are sisters. I haven't read AS Byatt yet but she is definitely on the TBR shelves. I have Possession and The Children's Book.

79Caroline_McElwee
Jul 12, 2:07am Top

Both of those are excellent Ellen. It must be time for a new one soon.

80Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Jul 12, 9:28am Top

47. 100 Poems (Seamus Heaney) ****1/2

This delightful small volume of 100 poems which were chosen by the Heaney family including my favourite poem 'Digging', which was one of the last poems I read to my own dad a few weeks before he died.

You can hear Heaney reading it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNRkPU1LSUg

48. The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter (Margareta Magnusson) ***

I was a little disappointed in this volume, as in reality it is just the standard 'decluttering' repackaged as a project to do as a gift for your beneficiaries before your death, hence not leaving them so much of the work to do. There wasn't really any new nugget of advice. However, I did enjoy some of her little biographical stories, as a lady 'between eighty and a hundred' she had a few of those.

81charl08
Jul 13, 2:50am Top

'between 80 and 100' seems to cover a lot of possibilities! I think I will look out for the Heaney, he's a poet I would like to try.

Thank you for the offer re Ex Libris - very kind, but please don't worry - I enjoy looking in second hand shops.

82EBT1002
Jul 22, 8:58pm Top

>80 Caroline_McElwee: That is a wonderful reading! Thank you for sharing the link.
My father was a (not very good) poet and I have fond memories of attending some of his readings. He was a better reader than poet.

83laytonwoman3rd
Jul 23, 11:59am Top

>82 EBT1002: Good reading probably improved his poetry! I've heard some poets make a wretched mess of their own stuff trying to read it. That always seems so strange to me.

84Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Aug 9, 8:52pm Top

I'm not pacing enough in my cave, me thinks.

49. Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea (Barbara Demick) ****

I read this book for my book group, we aim to read one non-fiction a year (although I read 50% non-fiction myself).

It was quite an eye-opener. It totally bewilders me how North Koreans survive the abuse of their leaders. The journalist was only able to piece together the lives of North Koreans who had managed to escape and were now living in South Korea, or China. It interested me how deeply embedded even in many of these people, the brainwashing has been, as despite knowing that they had been fed lies all their lives, they find it hard to acknowledge it is so. This book was written ten years ago, and I wonder whether anything has changed under the current leader. I think there is marginally more food, but I suspect that much is still the same.

50. Conversations on Writing (Ursula K Le Guin) ****1/2

I'm a sucker for books on creativity, especially writing. I really enjoyed these three conversations on non-fiction, poetry and fiction. They led me to order the two other non-fiction books she wrote that were missing from my shelves, and I'm currently reading and doing the exercises in Steering the Craft.

When creatives talk about their craft it tends to have a feeling of great intimacy with it. I feel a deep knowing of who they are as people. I felt this with Le Guin too.

51. Overstory (Richard Powers) *****



A complex interweaving of family stories that at some time had deep connections to trees. In the first part of the book Powers tells a series of potted generational saga's in 20 pages each, so that the now living member of the family has a very three dimensional back story. You do have to stay on your toes to keep up with who is who sometimes, and not all of the characters ultimately come together, but each has a deep connection to trees and the damage that we are inflicting on them and the planet.

I'd read and seen documentaries on the recent science of the communal life, and communication between trees, and have been fascinated and not surprised to learn it. If you have an empathy with trees, you will easily know how alive they are.

If I have a complaint, it is that the two books Powers writes into the novel are fictions, and I wanted them both, damn him.

I'll be sending this novel to do the rounds.

85Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Aug 8, 2:13pm Top

>81 charl08: >82 EBT1002: >83 laytonwoman3rd:

I agree, some poets are not good at reading their own work, one who comes to mind is Tess Gallagher, who's work I enjoy, but her reading jarred for me.

>81 charl08: no problem Charlotte.

>82 EBT1002: How nice to have even a not very good poet in the family Ellen.

>83 laytonwoman3rd: I agree Linda, it doesn't seem right. I assume the voice they hear in their head sounds different. Or to their own ear, the voice that comes out of their mouth does.

86kidzdoc
Aug 8, 7:02pm Top

>84 Caroline_McElwee: I'll probably read The Overstory later this month, as I have it on my Kindle. Nice review, Caroline.

87Caroline_McElwee
Aug 9, 12:58pm Top

>86 kidzdoc: I hope you will like it Darryl.

88Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Aug 9, 1:02pm Top

52. Tomorrow (Elizabeth Russell Taylor) ***1/2

A novel about a haunting, as in haunted by ones earlier life. It lost half a star as I felt the ending was rushed, when the pace of the rest of the novel was slow and observant.

89Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Aug 9, 8:53pm Top

90jnwelch
Aug 9, 8:29pm Top

Good review of The Overstory. I haven't read Richard Powers since The Goldbug Variations, but I'll put this one on the WL.

91NanaCC
Aug 11, 9:03am Top

Nice review of Overstory, Caroline. I’ll have to put it on my list. I recently read a non-fiction book about the communication of trees, and found it fascinating. The hidden life of trees : what they feel, how they communicate reinforces what we know about climate change, and the harm the naysayers continue to cause.

92charl08
Aug 11, 5:41pm Top

I'm in the middle of The Unpunished Vice. I like his writing, but it's murder for the wishlist - so many books I've never even heard of!

93Caroline_McElwee
Aug 11, 6:38pm Top

>90 jnwelch: I'm sure The Overstory will be a hit with you Joe.

>91 NanaCC: there's quite a surge in books about trees at the moment Colleen. I have several in the pile.

>93 Caroline_McElwee: ditto Charlotte. I do love reading about people's passion for reading.

94charl08
Aug 12, 4:58am Top

Just reading the chapter about Japanese fiction - I don't think I'd heard of any of them except for The Pillow Book, and that's only because of the R4 series.

95Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Aug 12, 7:21am Top

I enjoyed that chapter Charlotte, I'd heard of and have Genjii, and the Pillow book, and one of the other writers, but there were some new to me.

I've found some of the middle chapters more tiresome as they focus on his sex life more, something I notice happens a lot with some older gay guys writing, I guess they couldn't be as open when younger and now they can. Hopefully he'll get back to his reading soon.

96EBT1002
Aug 12, 3:32pm Top

The small discussion between you and Charlotte about The Unpunished Vice are piquing my interest. But I will wait for your final comments since it sounds like you will have some reservations.

Conversations on Writing also sounds good. I'm adding that one to the wish list.

You know I also loved The Overstory. I'm glad I will have company in warbling about its virtues!

97Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Aug 13, 9:34am Top

There were two chapters that were a bit of a bump for me Ellen, yawn, but now he is back to books and famous friends, or friends of friends. White can be quite generous to other writers, famous and otherwise, and draws them well. I don't think my comment about not writing about sex earlier really applies to White when I think about it - it is some time since I read his novels, but I think he was a breaker of molds quite early. I'm just not particularly interested in reading about sex nowadays on the whole (I have Fifty Sheds of Grey rather than the other one - and no shed by the way, as I have no garden!!).

98Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Aug 16, 5:21am Top

53. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (Gail Honeyman) ****1/2

An intriguing, moving, unusual novel about someone whose life has been scarred, and how she finds her way. I found it a page-turner.

54. The Unpunished Vice: A Life of Reading (Edmund White) ***1/2

I really loved a third, I liked a second third, but could have done without the remaining third. I accept White considers reading an erotic passtime, but I was less interested in that aspect of his life.

Always disappointing when you really expect to love a book, and it doesn't come up to snuff.

99charl08
Aug 16, 6:40am Top

>98 Caroline_McElwee: I think you are a lot kinder to him than I am. I found his comments about other writers a bit too personal instead of being about the books, even when they were positive, which was unfair of me given that he was talking about how they write, but still... I did finish it thinking I should probably get on and read Anna Karenina though...

100Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Aug 21, 2:59pm Top

55. To The Lighthouse (Virginia Woolf) ***** 6th reread.

What I love about this novel is not so much the story, or even the voices, but the sensations transmitted. The feeling and tone. The space around the characters as well as in them. That for me is one of Woolf's greatest strengths.

And then there is her amazing dexterity as she shifts from point of view, to POV. Few can do it so well.

It's not a novel everyone likes. There is also maybe something turgid about it, and certainly it is relentless. Will I reread it again? Probably.

101Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Aug 21, 2:16pm Top

>99 charl08: It made me think I need to pick up AK too Charlotte. As well as Genjji. Both tomes, so maybe Winter reading.

Disappointingly the volume is not a keeper, but I'll note a few books onto my wish list.

102jessibud2
Aug 21, 4:22pm Top

>100 Caroline_McElwee: - Well, that's an endorsement! 6th reread! I just picked this one up at a charity shop the other day. Have read others by her but not this one (yet)

103Caroline_McElwee
Aug 21, 5:14pm Top

>102 jessibud2: I hope it doesn't disappoint Shelley. It's a slow read.

104lauralkeet
Aug 22, 7:06am Top

>100 Caroline_McElwee: you know I'm not much of a re-reader, Caro, but that's definitely a book that can be re-read and savored. I really should do that one of these days.

105jnwelch
Aug 22, 9:36am Top

Hi, Caroline. I loved Mrs. Dalloway and A Room of One's Own, but To the Lighthouse frustrated me. Not enough happening. I couldn't believe that the reader never even gets to the Lighthouse! It may have been too subtle for my palate.

106Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Aug 22, 11:07am Top

The novel is very much based on Virginia's parents, Julia and Lesley, Joe. The Ramsay's of course. I guess the lighthouse was in reality more a metaphor. Young James is looking to the light, but he is being obstructed by his father. I think it is about the power in that marriage. Mrs Ramsay is loved and appeases her husband. She loves him, but sees his power as a manipulation. Resents how he deprives James (and others) of hope. But she loves him. It is about a particular type of man, at a particular time perhaps. Intelligent, stolid, expectant of reverence and respect. I think that was probably very much how Virginia and Vanessa experienced their father. And they loved him.

But as I said above, what keeps me reading and returning are all the bits in between, the spaces. How it feels to be Mrs Ramsay in a room, alone with her thoughts, listening to what is going on elsewhere, for example.

107Caroline_McElwee
Aug 22, 11:09am Top

>104 lauralkeet: I'm not sure why I have read it as often, but it does draw me back Laura. I have a collection, which is maybe 50 books, that I have read 'thrice or more'.

108Caroline_McElwee
Aug 22, 2:32pm Top

>105 jnwelch: btw Joe, I never loved a VW book first reading. Liked, interested. But they are like mesmer's, they draw me back.

109jnwelch
Aug 22, 4:36pm Top

>106 Caroline_McElwee:, >108 Caroline_McElwee:. Great comments, Caroline, thanks. I don’t imagine I’ll ever warm up to TTL, but I like very much the way you make it sound. And I had no idea it was based on her parents. I would’ve had a hard time putting up with a father like that.

110msf59
Aug 22, 9:10pm Top

Hi, Caroline. I hope everything is going well for you. Hooray for Eleanor Oliphant. That one was a nice surprise for me.

111Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Aug 26, 12:22pm Top

I saw BlacKkKlansman today. Lee has the balance of seriousness and humour, the performances were fine. The comparison between black and white power movements was potent and well done. Still people use the existence of The Black Panthers, for example, to justify extreme white right wing groups, Lee shows the nonsense of this argument almost subtly. And the parallels with our time - shown in Charlottesville - are all too evident.

I also liked The Children Act but I felt there were things missing from it. However, certainly it was thought provoking, and Emma Thompson was very good, as was Stanley Tucci

112EBT1002
Aug 26, 5:38pm Top

>100 Caroline_McElwee: I should probably give To the Lighthouse another try. I abandoned it pretty quickly the one time I started reading it.

>111 Caroline_McElwee: I'm not sure BlacKkKlansman will make it to my little town but if it does I will go see it. I am a huge fan of Emma Thomson so I'll try to see The Children Act.

I have been skeptical about Eleanor Oliphant but it keeps getting good reviews from discerning readers!

113Caroline_McElwee
Aug 27, 11:22am Top

>109 jnwelch: sometimes that happens with a book Joe. I just can't get on with Jasper Fforde, when I expected to like him. Probably because I don't generally read comedic books. There are other books I've thrown aside too.

>110 msf59: it's an unusual book Mark, and I'm reading it and not sure I'm enjoying it, but I'm turning pages, turning pages. Ultimately I felt it a good read, but not one I'd reread, so m passing it on.

>112 EBT1002: TLH isn't an easy read Ellen.

They seem to have made a film of it in 1983, I don't remember seeing it, but as a Kenneth Branagh, and Woolf fan, I must have. You can see it here:

https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2m80c9

114Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Aug 27, 11:33am Top



On track with my book exits. 108 books out in 9 weeks. (9x10+18). I bought 18 new books over the two months, considerably less than previous consumption, so 18 additional books to mirror the acquisition went out. And I've already got next week's batch ready to go.

It will of course get harder, but it has also allowed me to find books I've long forgotten I had.

I'm also finding I have to justify a purchase more, because something has to go in it's place. I try to buy only those I will probably want to reread, or at least gift to someone else. I have a small pile growing that will go to my sister Em and other friends, of my Folio and other hardbacks.

I must take them out of my LT library at some stage, a few I have. I've taken photos so I know what went.

Mostly I've donated them to the Little Free Library nearby, must take a photo next time, as it is the easiest place to get them to for a non-driver. I try not to adopt any from it myself (to answer a question you asked on your thread Ellen), though one came home with me a couple of weeks ago. Those that will sell go to a charity when I get organised.

I've given myself five years to reduce my library by half. Even what will remain will be more than I can read in the remainder of my lifetime, so it will have to be reduced again after retirement.

115charl08
Aug 27, 12:14pm Top

>111 Caroline_McElwee: I really want to see this, hope I'll catch it here before it disappears.

>114 Caroline_McElwee: I'm still thinking about getting extra bookshelves, not getting rid. Perhaps one day...

116jnwelch
Aug 27, 12:23pm Top

>113 Caroline_McElwee: You have company, Caroline. I can't get on with Jasper Fforde either. I read the first one, and it was diverting, but I wasn't drawn to read more. I do love the character name Thursday Next.

We have a lot of bookshelves, but we're regularly culling ours, too. We've put lots in the Little Free Libraries by us, and donated to a cool bookstore called Open Books, that supports literacy programs with the money it makes selling them.

I can't imagine reducing our library by half! What a challenge.

117Caroline_McElwee
Aug 27, 12:55pm Top

>115 charl08: I hope you get to the movie Charlotte, it is worth your time.

>116 jnwelch: my library needs to be more the size of your library Joe. At the moment I live in a book warehouse. I guess also after shutting down my dad's home (with my sibs), and his was minimalist compared to mine, I decided I don't want to leave the scale of mine to someone else to do. And as I don't have children who may be interested in the books... my pragmatic brain.

In five years at 10 books a week I will have released 2,600, so I'll have to up the number per week as the years progress, and with a mirror out of any in, no growth. Not easy as I never buy a book I don't want to read. Even if some have to wait 32 years to be read (one did this year).

118FAMeulstee
Aug 27, 6:36pm Top

>117 Caroline_McElwee: Understand your pragmatic brain, Caroline.
I try to cull more than we buy, but then our library is not that large anymore.

119laytonwoman3rd
Aug 27, 6:50pm Top

I didn't warm up to Jasper Fforde either, but my daughter and son-in-law named their dog after Thursday Next.

120lauralkeet
Aug 28, 6:59am Top

I'm with you and others here on Jasper Fforde, Caro. His books get a lot of love on LT, which is a good sign, but I tried the first one and just couldn't get through it. Fortunately I have no shortage of reading material.

121charl08
Sep 1, 2:18am Top

>117 Caroline_McElwee: I love that you know you bought a book 32 years ago! Some are so familiar I've lost track of when they came into my possession.

122Caroline_McElwee
Sep 1, 3:52am Top

>118 FAMeulstee: I find it really hard Anita, but it will have to be done, be it all slowly right now.

>119 laytonwoman3rd: >120 lauralkeet: I think maybe there is just not quite enough stuffing in his books for some of us Linda and Laura.

>121 charl08: well that is easy Charlotte, I put the date it arrives in the house, in the book. I now have a little Ex Libris label, and I write the date under that.

If I don't read a book the year it sails through the door, the average wait for it to be read is 12 years. But I will still want to read it, hence the difficulty letting things go.

123EllaTim
Sep 1, 7:26am Top

>111 Caroline_McElwee: We went to see that one yesterday evening, but it was all sold out. So we saw Den Skyldigen (The Guilty) instead. It's a Danish movie, and it turned out to be very good. Blackkklansman stays on the wish list, we'll try again later.

So hard to cull books! There are always so many reasons not to let a particular book go. The easy ones are only the ones I accidentally have two of;-)

124PaulCranswick
Sep 2, 3:57pm Top

>117 Caroline_McElwee: I know exactly the feeling of living in a book warehouse and, most times, I wouldn't change it!

I do need to cull though too from time to time, Caroline.

Wishing you a simply splendid Sunday. x

125Caroline_McElwee
Sep 3, 2:01pm Top

Lovely to see you about Paul.

In my dreams, I have a home big enough to accommodate my library and possessions in the manner to which they deserve, but the reality is that is not likely to happen, so over time I will need to edit what I have. I've started in a small way. At least each week the library box is empty, waiting for new additions. I've always been a sharer, so that is how I'm looking at it.

126Caroline_McElwee
Sep 3, 2:40pm Top

56. The Lost Letters of William Woolf (Helen Cullen) ***1/2



I enjoyed this quirky novel shaped by the postal Dead Letter Office.

57. The Corner that held Them (Sylvia Thownsend Warner) ***1/2

I possibly didn't enjoy this as much as some do, generally for the reasons they like it (relatively plotless, too many characters, few three-dimensional - however it was thought to be ahead of its time for these reasons) but all the same I found this journey into medieval conventary quite a page turner.

58. Take Nothing With You (Patrick Gale) (01/09/1828) ****

Another fine novel by Patrick Gale. A coming of age story (I usually avoid them) about a young man and his passion for the cello, finding his way through adolescence and sexual awareness.

59. Gloucester Crescent: Me, My Dad and Other Grown-ups (William Miller) 1/2 ****1/2



And another coming of age story, a memoir about life as the son of a famous father (polymath Jonathan Miller) growing up in a Crescent surrounded by famous and creative people. Possibly being of the same generation as the author, and getting all the references made this such a pleasure.

127Whisper1
Sep 3, 4:37pm Top

Meet Me At The Museum is now on the TBR list. I always find joy when I visit here. Thanks for your many recommendations, and excellent reviews.

128Caroline_McElwee
Sep 3, 5:21pm Top

Hi Linda, I hope you will enjoy it. Always nice to get a wave from you.

129Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Sep 6, 11:43am Top

Belfast's Titanic Museum:



I love this building though hard to get it all in a photo. The height of the building is the height of the Titanic.

130jessibud2
Sep 6, 11:38am Top

>129 Caroline_McElwee: -Wow, this looks amazing!

131charl08
Sep 6, 2:48pm Top

Impressive - I'd seen pictures but not as dramatic as these!

132msf59
Sep 6, 4:48pm Top

Sweet Thursday, Caroline. With a couple of American hotshot LTers arriving in your fair city, I am sure there will be a Meet Up happening. Right?

Have you been reading any good poetry? I have been on a nice poetry roll and I have to start sharing a couple stand-out poems.

133Caroline_McElwee
Sep 6, 6:57pm Top

>130 jessibud2: >131 charl08: it is a Wow Shelley and Charlotte. I want to find out about the architect, I'll report when I do.

Yes Mark, a meet-up is planned for dinner on the 19th on London.

I've just bought the new Ada Limón collection, The Carrying after reading the poems Joe posted. I hope to settle down and read some of it in the next few days, I bought it away with me.

134FAMeulstee
Sep 8, 1:49am Top

>129 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks for sharing the pictures of the beautiful and impressing Titanic museum, Caroline.
Now I want to visit Belfast someday!
According to Wikipedia the architect Eric Kuhne designed, besides some buildings, many parks all over the world.

Thanks to your recommendation I am reading now the Mark Rothko biography. And have read Mrs Dalloway this week.

135Caroline_McElwee
Sep 8, 12:27pm Top

>134 FAMeulstee: Despite it's history I'm finding Belfast a very enjoyable experience, and everyone very friendly. Yesterday a cousin drove us outside the city, and you won't be surprised how beautiful it is Anita.

I hope the books come up to expectation.


On Giant territory.


The Giants Causeway


The Organ... well Giants have to entertain themselves..


The Coast Road, near Bilone.

136NanaCC
Sep 8, 2:25pm Top

Great pictures, Caroline!

137EBT1002
Sep 8, 11:33pm Top

>113 Caroline_McElwee: and >116 jnwelch: I feel validated and less alone. I can't seem to get on with Jasper Fforde either! Truth be told, though, I've hardly given him a fair chance: I tried The Eyre Affair, bailed out fairly early, and haven't revisited since.

>135 Caroline_McElwee: Beautiful.

138charl08
Sep 9, 4:21am Top

Fantastic pictures, Caroline. I went a couple of times for work, got the briefest of brief glimpses of how pretty it was, and have always meant to go back.

139Caroline_McElwee
Sep 9, 11:21am Top



As well as the political murals, there is plenty of original street art.



140Caroline_McElwee
Sep 9, 11:24am Top

>137 EBT1002: yes, that was the novel I gave up on too Ellen. I'm not minded to try another, as my sense is they are of the same ilk.

>138 charl08: we will definitely be coming back Charlotte, probably the year after next for a week, and my sister will rent a car. This time we were lucky a cousin, who now lives in London, was home to take us out of the city for a day.

141FAMeulstee
Sep 10, 7:04am Top

>135 Caroline_McElwee: Thank you, Caroline, the Mark Rothko biography did live up to expectation. I just finished it (review will follow on my thread in a few days) and learned a lot. I might look for the biography of Sartre she wrote, another person I would like to know more about.

142kidzdoc
Sep 10, 7:12am Top

Great photos, Caroline!

143Caroline_McElwee
Sep 13, 11:56am Top

60. The Perfect Summer: Dancing into Shadow in 1911 (Juliet Nicholson) ****1/2

A fascinating social history of Britain over a year - 1911. A year whose temperatures rose even higher than those in Britain this year. A cusp year. Literary nascency (Virginia Stephen, soon to be Woolf, Rupert Brooke); social change in the beginnings of class and gender discent. High days and holidays, and the shadow of pending war.

Nicholson has a fine eye, and writes fluidly. You are soon wrapped up in events, many of which would change the world.

144msf59
Edited: Sep 13, 1:08pm Top

Sweet Thursday, Caroline. Love the Ireland photos. I hope to get back there one of these days. The Perfect Summer: Dancing into Shadow in 1911 sounds really interesting.

145charl08
Sep 15, 2:13pm Top

Sounds good Caroline. My Aunt has just retired to NI, so hoping to visit soon.

146Caroline_McElwee
Sep 15, 3:31pm Top

>144 msf59: >145 charl08: hi Mark and Charlotte, I can definitely recommend a visit. I will be going back.

147Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Sep 16, 9:31am Top

61. Call Them by Their True Names (Rebecca Solnit) ****1/2

Another incisive volume of essays by Rebecca Solnit. She always shows me a perspective I've missed, or articulates something with more precision than I could achieve. And her writing is fine. There isn't one of her books I won't return to.

62. Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race (Reni Eddo-Lodge) *****

I've probably read more about race issues relating to America, so this volume by a British writer is timely, and should be read by anyone interested in equality, freedom and diversity. As a white reader she lets you into her experience in a way (despite always having black and brown friends, and discussing race with them), I haven't understood before. Not least in regards to white privilege, which we don't even realise we benefit from.

Highly recommended.

148Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Sep 20, 4:28pm Top

63. The Lightkeeper's Daughters (Jean Pendziwol) ****1/2

A riveting complicated weaving of a novel that kept me turning the pages to discover secrets that kept coming right to the end. Evocative, rich in characters. The stories of loyalties, love and friendship.

149EBT1002
Sep 22, 1:05am Top

>147 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks for the notes about Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race. I'll be looking for that one.

150EBT1002
Sep 22, 1:05am Top

And I need to read something by Rebecca Solnit!

151charl08
Sep 25, 1:50pm Top

>148 Caroline_McElwee: Sounds good to me! I've ordered a copy from the library.

Did you get to see the Fawcett statue? What did you think?

152Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Sep 25, 3:35pm Top

>151 charl08: I've only passed it on the bus Charlotte. I really must take a better look.

I was at the London Library last night, and brought home your recommendation, I'll get to that next week. Thanks.

>150 EBT1002: Everyone needs to read some Rebecca Solnit Ellen. I've given her as presents to a few people this year.

153jnwelch
Sep 30, 3:41pm Top

Hi, Caroline. Looks like a great trip to Belfast. Love the photos - what dramatic landscapes! And interesting street art, too. I'm glad it was a successful trip.

154Caroline_McElwee
Oct 4, 11:26am Top

Thanks Joe, I certainly hope to make a revisit in a couple of year's time.

155Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Oct 25, 11:53am Top

64. Love is Blind (William Boyd) ****
A really enjoyable read. Set in the late 18th/early 19th centuries. Nice tone and interesting characters.

65. The Dark Flood Rises (Margaret Drabble) ****
Drabbles look at ageing via a number of inter-linked middle-class characters. If there is a flaw, it is that she doesn’t offer up any serious attempt to understand ageing for working class characters, and has tended to avoid them throughout her oeuvre.

66. An Untouched House (W F Hermans) ***1/2
A short but intense novella only recently translated into English. I found the first half evocative, and the second in many respects darker and quite surreal. The thing I learned, that I’d either forgotten, or didn’t know was how soldiers may find themselves in situations with fellow soldiers from different nations, sometimes having no shared language for long periods of time. How that must increase their isolation.

67. In My Mind’s Eye: A Thought Diary (Jan Morris) ***

Interesting if a little disappointing, this volume of vignettes from Morris. I especially liked learning about an artist or two I had not heard of, and one or two of her little foibles, however I was quite dumbfounded and saddened by her admission on Day 40 (and none of the critics I’ve read mention it, because they are also guilty?), that she says she holds no prejudices (not race, culture, colour, religion, addiction: alcohol, cigarettes, drugs), but she is prejudiced against the obese. As someone who falls into that category, to know that despite admiring Morris’s work for years, she would have no time for me because I was over weight is somewhat painful. Of course, like many people with prejudices, if they have friends who might fall within the prejudice they will perceive them as being ‘different’, but all the same. Will it change how I perceive Morris’s work? Well it is unlikely something I could forget, but I hope not.

156lauralkeet
Oct 4, 1:47pm Top

>155 Caroline_McElwee: oh my, that prejudice is indeed painful. And ridiculous. I mean, maybe admitting it is the first step to doing something about it, but it doesn't sound like that's the intent. I'm sorry you had to encounter that in reading about someone you admire.

157Caroline_McElwee
Oct 5, 7:44am Top

>156 lauralkeet: Thanks Laura. I don’t want to get too into this here, but obesity seems to be the one ‘acceptable’ prejudice in the UK. I probably get verbal abuse a couple of times a year, generally from men, but occasionally from women. Morris has long identified as female, but maybe it is one of the hangovers from her masculine years. I think that the prejudice tends to be against large women, rather than large men. A friend who was with me has a large husband, but was shocked when we were out together and someone was verbally abusive about my size as they passed me, so her other half doesn’t have the problem. There are far worse things to suffer from in this world, hence generally not talking about it, I was just taken aback a bit at JM.

158laytonwoman3rd
Oct 5, 10:24am Top

>157 Caroline_McElwee: My daughter talks about this a lot, Caroline. She refers to it as "fat-shaming". She struggles with her weight, and I don't know that she has experienced it personally, but she is VERY attuned to it in the media, etc. Fat jokes seem to be OK, for instance. As you point out, it's one prejudice that doesn't get talked much about or treated as seriously as others. My mother drives me crazy with this, and my mother-in-law is almost as bad.

159Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Oct 10, 8:34am Top

>158 laytonwoman3rd: We live in an unforgiving world sometimes Linda. The fact that those who do the shaming and or engaging in the prejudice are probably as flawed or more flawed than the rest of us, but their judgmentalism doesn't always include themselves. Or maybe it does, but their behaviour distracts them from their own flaws!

160Caroline_McElwee
Oct 10, 8:41am Top

There are just sooooo many books I want to read at the moment. A regular disease I suffer from, as I'm sure do all of you. Currently reading the new novel by Sarah Perry, Melmoth which I am really enjoying. I have about 4 other books I am nibbling at as well, so hopefully at the weekend I will finish those and be grazing the next prospects.

I am being relatively good at not buying too many books (as I already have a life-time's supply), and of letting some go. Both activities are hard! I need a magic wand that will increase the size of my flat without affecting my neighbours, and have my ideas on interior design - shelves, shelves and more shelves, translate from my imaginings by morning.

161laytonwoman3rd
Oct 10, 10:20am Top

That book thing....I came home from a library book sale last weekend with about 20 new ones. I vowed not to do that again, but the choices were just so good (I got there very early). I have done fairly well this year with culling, though.

162VivienneR
Oct 10, 1:33pm Top

I love your photos from Northern Ireland! I was born not far from the Titanic Museum but it's been so long since I've been to N.I. that I haven't yet seen the museum. Beautiful.

163Caroline_McElwee
Oct 10, 2:46pm Top

>161 laytonwoman3rd: isn't it a treat to have a glut like that once in a while though Linda? Better than diamonds in my book.

>162 VivienneR: Glad you enjoyed them Vivienne. My dad was raised in Limavady, so it was a pilgrimage in his youthful footsteps (he died aged 90 in April), and my first visit. It won't be my last. North and South have so much to offer.

164Caroline_McElwee
Oct 23, 7:50am Top

It would have been my dad's 91 birthday today. First one without him, as he died in April.



Happy Birthday dearest Pod, I hope the cake is good where you are.

165FAMeulstee
Oct 23, 3:47pm Top

>164 Caroline_McElwee: I hope your day was filled with happy memories (((hugs)))

166Caroline_McElwee
Oct 23, 6:18pm Top

Thanks Anita, it was. Certainly we are not short of those.

167Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Oct 25, 12:15pm Top

68. Melmoth Sarah Perry ****

A fascinating, dark novel that will certainly require a reread down the line to pick up all the metaphors.

69. The Carrying Ada Limón *****

I do find it hard to create reviews for poetry, it is such a subjective form in regards to what you will like. Surfice to say that it is rare to find a volume that you like every poem in one way or another (Mark Doty’s work comes to mind for me), I loved this volume, and will be rereading it again soon. I say re-reading, but I read every poem 3 times anyway, which is my common practice with poetry.

70. A Keeper (Graham Norton) ****

Graham Norton’s second novel was an intriguing Irish story. I had to put his tv persona aside before I could get into it, but I thought it was a well crafted novel, and will hunt out his first novel which is lurking on my Kindle, in time.

71. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley) ****

In my opinion this is one of novels that suffers from having inspired many other works of fiction, leaving it hard to appreciate its originality as it was appreciated when it was first published. I also found it a novel whose quality I could see, whilst not particularly enjoying it. Full of metaphor, and still relevant today. That said I would still say it’s attitude to women leaves a lot to be desired. It is, after all, a male fantasy, even if a political one. I wouldn’t want the women’s life either in ‘the brave new world’ or in the ‘savage’ one.

168SandDune
Oct 25, 4:12pm Top

>68 NanaCC: We’re going to hear Sarah Perry and Sarah Moss speak at the Cambridge Literary Festival. I may pick up a signed copy of Melmoth then

169Caroline_McElwee
Oct 26, 9:17am Top

Enjoy. I do like a good literary event Rhian. I note I forgot to mention a couple I went to last weekend. I'll get to that soon.

170EBT1002
Oct 27, 8:32pm Top

Hi Caroline. I'm doing a bit better at not buying books these days too. I think much of it is due to the lack of a really outstanding bookshop just down the street from my workplace. In Seattle I had a great new and a great used bookshop that close! But also my new job is more consuming than my prior one was so I have less time to spend on LT which means fewer blue book bullets....

That said, I am intrigued by your comments about Sarah Perry's book. I did recently purchase The Essex Serpent as I remember Beth praising it. I'm also glad you enjoyed The Carrying: Poems. I also recently completed it and gave it five stars. I even wrote a poem inspired by my experience reading it. :-)

>168 SandDune: Cool. I discovered Sarah Moss last year. I've only read one of hers but I own a couple more and I am anxious to read them.

171jnwelch
Oct 30, 3:41pm Top

Hiya, Caroline.

I commiserate with you regarding the loss of your father. That's a wonderful photo of him.

I'm so glad you enjoyed The Carrying that much. Me, too! She's so good.

Yeah, the male fantasy aspect of Brave New World also made me uncomfortable when I looked at the book again recently. I remember thinking highly of it when a lad, but now, that part's off-putting. Much has changed that needed to change.

172Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Nov 1, 7:02pm Top

72. A Year of Reading Proust (Phyllis Rose) ***1/2

I liked this memoir slightly more this time around, than before. It is more memoir about her own year of life than I expected when I first read it, and I still feel that although I'm interested in much of what she chooses to share, I might not actually like her in person.

I am wavering on making an attempt at reading Rememberance of Time Past. I read half of the first volume in Paris a few years ago, but didn't carry on with it when I got home.

73. Brief Answers To The Big Questions (Simon Hawking) *****

I don't pretend to have understood more than the tiniest bit of this book, but I've enjoyed the tussle, and it will continue to stretch me until I've understood the tiniest bit more in the years ahead. I do understand 'singularities' now though. Fascinating. I think if I had my life to do again, I'd look to study science.

173Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Nov 1, 6:53pm Top

>170 EBT1002: The Carrying is certainly my poetry book of the year so far Ellen.

>171 jnwelch: I guess that some books weather less well Joe. Huxley's imagination for women just didn't leave his trousers unfortunately. There were no Alpha females in his brave new world. Fortunately, there are a few now, and I hope many more in the real future.

Yeh, I love that photo of my dad.

174japaul22
Nov 1, 7:58pm Top

>172 Caroline_McElwee: I read In Remembrance of Time Past over the course of 13 months last year and I really loved it. It was a fantastic reading experience. I won't pretend that I didn't zone out through some of it, but I'm so glad I did it. I used A Reader's Guide to Proust by Patrick Alexander that was really helpful if I lost the "plot" line.

Anyway, it's a big commitment but I really loved it. I even sort of want to read it all again some day.

175VivienneR
Nov 2, 1:31am Top

The comments about Huxley intrigues me. It's been decades since I read it, now I must go and have another look.

176Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Nov 3, 8:01am Top

>174 japaul22: Thanks for the recommendation. I also have the volume Paintings In Proust by Eric Karpeles, which was recommended by another LTer. ETA this one >177

I'm probably going to read the Patrick O'Brian Master and Commander Series first, but maybe next year the Proust will be begun.

>175 VivienneR: I'll be interested in what you think Vivienne.

177lauralkeet
Nov 3, 7:43am Top

>174 japaul22: I'm impressed, Jennifer. I've read 4 volumes but the last one was more than 18mos ago. I need to get back to Proust one of these days, perhaps with the aid of the reading guide you mentioned.

178japaul22
Nov 3, 9:41am Top

>176 Caroline_McElwee: I used Paintings in Proust as well, which is a beautiful book. I was diligent about following along in it and matching up all the references through the first 2 volumes and then I lost interest in it and didn't use it for the subsequent volumes.

>177 lauralkeet: There were definitely times I had to just keep plugging along through the 7 volumes, even through the moments I wasn't very interested, but overall I really, really loved it.

179FAMeulstee
Nov 3, 12:08pm Top

>176 Caroline_McElwee: I liked the Master and Commander series, Caroline, I saw the picture of your beautiful set at Erik's thread.
I have read them back in 2011. Sadly the Dutch publisher dismissed the series after book 10 :-(

180NanaCC
Nov 3, 3:09pm Top

>176 Caroline_McElwee: I read the first book in the Master and Commander series, Caroline. I think I got distracted by some shiny new books, and forgot to go back to the series. You’ve just put them back on my radar.

181Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Nov 3, 7:06pm Top

>179 FAMeulstee: How frustrating they only took them half way Anita. Fortunately, your English is good enough to read the rest if you want.

>180 NanaCC: Yay Coleen.

I have to own I've not really read many series, so looking to do two in the next, say, 18 months, will be interesting. And two VERY different ones.

182NanaCC
Nov 3, 6:24pm Top

>181 Caroline_McElwee: We won’t talk about all of the series I read, Caroline. :-). Thank heavens for FictFact.

183FAMeulstee
Nov 3, 6:54pm Top

>181 Caroline_McElwee: I might return to the series next year, after I have met my present goal of reading all my own childrens/YA books. Reading in English is doable, but also a bit frustrating as it takes 2 to 3 times longer as it takes in Dutch...

184Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Nov 7, 7:09pm Top

74. To Kill The President (Sam Bourne aka Jonathan Freedland, political commentator on The Guardian) ****

A clever thriller, with plenty of unpredictability and complexity.

185Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Nov 7, 7:09pm Top



(18 of the series, the other two elsewhere when the picture taken.)

Just starting the Master and Commander series, will record progress here. Aiming at 1-2 volumes a month. I've not been a series reader to date, interested to see how I go.

Read

1.

186jnwelch
Edited: Nov 9, 1:02pm Top

Hi, Caroline.

My Dad LOVED those Patrick O’Brian Aubrey and Maturin books. I read the first couple and liked them, but didn’t get further. I’ll look forward to hearing what you think.

I was a pushover for the more old-fashioned (I guess) Horatio Hornblower books. I read all of those.

187laytonwoman3rd
Nov 9, 9:45pm Top

My father-in-law was a big fan of Patrick O'Brian as well. I read just one, many years ago. That is a beautiful set.

188Caroline_McElwee
Nov 10, 6:28am Top

>186 jnwelch: >187 laytonwoman3rd: I only ever heard good things about the series Joe and Linda. Most folk seem to say there are a couple of weaker volumes, but you can't sustain a standard for such a series I think. I bought my set with money left to me by my uncle, who was a merchant seaman, an appropriate memento.

I've also always loved boats and ships. As a child reading in bed, I was at sea on a boat.

189Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Nov 10, 6:31am Top

Here's my bookmark for the Aubrey/Maturin books:


By Salvador Dali

190laytonwoman3rd
Nov 10, 9:46am Top

>188 Caroline_McElwee: A very appropriate gift to yourself to remember your uncle by, Caroline. I expect you will enjoy the sea stories (and there is more to them than that, of course). As I recall the writing is quite good.

191FAMeulstee
Edited: Nov 10, 10:35am Top

>189 Caroline_McElwee: That is a beautiful bookmark, Caroline, very fitting for these books.

192Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Yesterday, 8:04pm Top

75. Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know: The Fathers of Wilde, Yeats and Joyce (Colm Tóibín) ****

The three eccentric men, who fathered three very talented and eccentric sons.

My favourite part was the wonderful introduction following in Tóibín's footsteps around Dublin. I knew most of the rest from reading biographies of the son's. But a good summary for readers who know nothing about the subjects.

I did find the Joyce essay interesting in where it showed how this father leaked into his characters, especially one of his main characters in Ulysses. I really must read that novel.

193Caroline_McElwee
Yesterday, 7:01pm Top

>190 laytonwoman3rd: well I am certainly as mind-boggled as Stephen Maturin at all the description of the rigging, which actually gives you a feeling of how the character felt inside his head Linda. I think that what really captures people is the friendship between the two main characters. When I'm eavesdropping on them it is wonderful. They are not perfect, they stumble, but already I want to be in their company.

I suspect a combination of them both might be the ideal idea of a man for many a woman (or man, for that matter). In the introduction to my edition, historian Max Hadtings, who knew O'Brian suggests Maturin shares a lot of the characteristics of the author. Although the author it turns out, was less trustworthy than his character me thinks.

>191 FAMeulstee: I do like to try and find an appropriate bookmark when I can Anita. I often used postcards, received or bought, as well.

194drneutron
Today, 8:43am Top

Congrats on hitting the goal!

195figsfromthistle
Today, 9:28am Top

Congrats on getting to 75 books :)

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2018

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