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Caroline's Quiet Corner 2019: Chapter 2

This is a continuation of the topic Caroline's Quiet Corner 2019: Chapter 1.

75 Books Challenge for 2019

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1Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Feb 7, 2:07pm Top



Campfire by Thom Thomson

I've never really done camping, though as a kid my parents put a canvas tent up in the back garden for us to play in, and I'd take my book, my sandwiches and a cushion and sit reading with the dog for hours.

This tent looks very enticing...

2Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Yesterday, 11:18am Top



Read in 2019

The Red Notebook (Antoine Laurain) (01/01/19) (France) ****
Rooms of their Own (Nino Stratchey) (06/01/19) ****1/2
My Name is Asher Lev (Chaim Potok) (09/01/19) (AAC) (US)ROOT *****
The Gift of Asher Lev (Chaim Potok) (17/01/19) (AAC) (US) ****1/2
The Plot Against America (Philip Roth) (reread) (25/01/19) (US) ROOT (Book group)***
Thinking Like a Mountain (Robert Bateman) (25/01/19) (US) ****
Mr Darwin's Gardener (Kristina Carlson) (27/01/19) (Finland) *****
The Chosen (Chaim Potok) (01/02/19) (US) ****1/2
Quiet Girl in a Noisy World (Debbie Tung) (02/02/19) ****
Some Tame Gazelle (Barbara Pym) (LL) (03/02/19) ***1/2
The Library Book (Susan Orlean) (06/02/19) (US) ****
Book Love (Debbie Tung) (07/02/19) ****
Across the China Sea (Gaute Heivoll) (11/02/19) (Norway) ****1/2
Ghost Wall (Sarah Moss) (14/02/19) ****
A Beautiful Young Wife (Tommy Wieringa) (Holland) ****
The Picture of Dorian Gray (Oscar Wilde) (21/02/18) (ROOT) (Reread) ****1/2

Total: 16

Fiction:13
Non-Fiction: 3
Poetry:
Female: 7
Male: 9
GN: 2
ROOT: 2
London Library (LL): 1
Other loan: 2

3Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Feb 13, 3:23pm Top



Challenges 2019

AAC (American Author Challenge)

January: Chaim Potok - My Name is Asher Lev/The Gift of Asher Lev/ The Chosen
February: Louisa May Alcott - Little Women Re-read
March: Jon Clinch Finn
April: Jesmyn Ward
May: Jay Parini
June: Pearl Buck
July: Founding Fathers (and Mothers)
August: Ernest J. Gaines
September: Leslie Marmon Silko
October: DRAMA
November: W. E. B. DuBois
December: Marilynne Robinson

Non-Fiction Challenge

January: Prizewinning books, and runners up. - The Seabird's Cry (Adam Nicholson)
February: Science and Technology: Innovations and Innovators. Life 3.0 (Max Tegmark)
March: True Crime, Misdemeanors and Justice, Past and Present Day Eve Was Shamed: How British Justice is Failing Women (Helena Kennedy)
April: Comfort Reads: Whatever topic makes you feel warm & fuzzy inside.
May: History. In this case, my cutoff date is 1950.
June: The Pictures Have It! Any book that relies on pictures to tell the story, from an illustrated graphic text, to a book of photographs, to an art catalog.
July: Biography & First Person Yarns
*August: Raw Materials: Animal, Vegetable, Mineral
So, read a book that starts with animals, vegetables or minerals at its heart.
*September: Books by Journalists. On ANY topic -- just check to be sure that the author is a journalist -- employed by a paper, writing freelance, past or present.
*October: Other Worlds: From Spiritual to Fantastical
November: Creators and Creativity
December: I’ve Always Been Curious About…

* stands for a new topic for this challenge.

Real book group

25 Jan 2019 – The Plot against America by Philip Roth
22 Feb – The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
29 Mar – Morality Play by Barry Unsworth
26 Apr – Hag-seed by Margaret Atwood
31 May – The Rattle Bag by Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney
28 Jun – Walking with the Wind by John Lewis
26 Jul – Memento Mori by Muriel Spark

So I don't lose it :List of biographies of impressive women:

https://www.amightygirl.com/blog?p=19181&fbclid=IwAR0QZdD0VnH7ruYQDC_Mw4kKRN...

Posted by Mary (mdoris) on her thread.

4Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Feb 12, 2:09pm Top

Currently Reading

All the Lives we Ever Lived (Kathrarine Smyth)



Across the China Sea (Gaute Heivoll)



Imaginary Cities (Darren Anderson)

5Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Feb 7, 2:07pm Top

Welcome to Chapter 2...

6Caroline_McElwee
Feb 7, 2:11pm Top



Vincent Van Gogh's Kingfisher

I've dreamt of kingfishers, but so far have yet to see one.

7BLBera
Feb 7, 2:36pm Top

So many pretty things on your thread, Caroline. Happy new one. I just got a copy of Across the China Sea; it looks like a good one.

I just started Where the Crawdads Sing and am loving the first 50 pages.

8jessibud2
Edited: Feb 8, 7:11am Top

Happy new thread, Caroline. I love your Tom Thomson topper! And I have seen kingfishers here. They are brilliant, though smaller than I had imagined.

9Caroline_McElwee
Feb 7, 3:34pm Top

>7 BLBera: >8 jessibud2: Hi Beth and Shelley, lovely to see you peek round the new door.

>7 BLBera: After Ellen's enthusiasm, Where Crawdads Sing is likely to be in my early March reading, Beth. I'M glad it is hitting the spot for you.

>8 jessibud2: seeing Kingfishers is in my future too Shelley, I'm sure.

10Berly
Feb 7, 4:23pm Top

Happy new one!! I love your topper. I want ot go sit out there and read by flashlight. : ) Good luck seeing a Kingfisher and enjoy your current reads!

11Caroline_McElwee
Feb 7, 5:31pm Top

Book Ownership

I guess I keep 60% of what I've read of my own books (I'm better at letting go of fiction rather than non-fiction), but would only, maybe, buy a copy of one in seven books from the library. I have to own a book I love. But I'm not as good at using the library as I should be, you have to rush to read newer books, so I use it mostly for out of print books. I probably only read 5% of books on Kindle.

(Bringing this over from Shelley's thread so I don't lose it, interested if anyone else wants to declare their behaviour.)

12Caroline_McElwee
Feb 7, 5:32pm Top

>10 Berly: Ha, I imagine like most LTers, I lost count how many pocket torches were confiscated for reading under the blankets after lights out Kim!

13BLBera
Feb 7, 7:09pm Top

I am trying to do better at passing books on after I read them if I know I will never read them again or if I would never use them for a class. In January, I read 14 books, 9 from my shelves and 5 library books. I gave away 3. So the percentage of those I kept is similar to yours, Caroline. But about one third of my reads were from the library. I think I read 2 books on my e-reader. I use it at the gym. I prefer paper books, though.

14mdoris
Edited: Feb 8, 3:03pm Top

That is a wonderful thread topper Caroline. Happy new thread! I have never seen that Tom Thomson painting before. I went to a summer camp on Canoe Lake as a kid where he mysteriously died. His paintings have always been special for me.

15figsfromthistle
Feb 7, 9:03pm Top

Happy new thread. I always try to give away books that I know I won't read again. I always think I am giving away more than I really am. *sigh*

16EBT1002
Feb 7, 9:28pm Top

Happy New Thread, Caroline. Something about Across the China Sea caught my eye -- just the cover -- so I did a bit of looking into it. It looks really interesting. Are you enjoying it?

I've never seen Vincent Van Gogh's "Kingfisher." I love it. They are pretty special birds -- and very recognizable once you see them. They have such a distinctive way of flying above and around water.

17Oberon
Feb 7, 11:15pm Top

>11 Caroline_McElwee: I almost never downsize books. Even books that I do not love are things that I am loathe to give up.

I do get a fair amount of books from the library (both physical and audio books). The library books that I truly love I typically acquire myself - Between the World and Me being a recent example.

The only books that leave are lent to friends and even then I track who it was lent to.

I do not use an e-reader which seperate smells from the other readers in the family.

18CDVicarage
Edited: Feb 8, 3:38am Top

Once I got an ereader I was hooked and now do most of my reading on it. I love the convenience of it - never be without a selection of books again! - and nowadays I find my hands and wrists ache very quickly when I'm using a paper book. I have given away many of my paper books once I get an ebook copy but there are definitely certain paper books that I will never get rid of, even if I don't actually need them. We shall be moving into a smaller house when my husband retires in a few years time, and I already have a mental list of paper books that I will be able to let go if necessary. I use the library for audiobooks and ebooks but get my own copy for books that I will re-read.

I've seen a kingfisher once, over thirty years ago, but never forgotten.

19FAMeulstee
Feb 8, 5:42am Top

Happy new thread, Caroline!

>2 Caroline_McElwee: Lovely vase on the left.
>3 Caroline_McElwee: It is fun to try and read the titles of the books on the shelves :-)
>4 Caroline_McElwee: I have been lucky, both here in Lelystad as in Rotterdam (in The Park) I have spotted a kingfisher once in a while. They always brighten my day when I see one.

20alcottacre
Feb 8, 7:55am Top

Checking in on the new thread, Caroline!

21Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Feb 8, 8:27am Top

>13 BLBera: Generally I know by half way through a book whether I will want to reread it Beth. Although I was enthusiastic about the idea of a library in your pocket, ultimately I love paper books far too much. Maybe if I were young now, it would mostly be e-books, with a very few special editions, but I think it is hard to switch.

>14 mdoris: I only came to his work last year, and am loving exploring it, along with that of the Group of Seven Mary.

Coming upon unknown work by favourite artists is always a treat.

>15 figsfromthistle: me too Anita. Some I pass to my sister, who then passes to friends, some go to charity shops, some to a local free library, the trouble is there are always some coming in at the same time..

>16 EBT1002: I'm enjoying Across the China Sea so far Ellen.

The VVG Kingfisher is in his wonderful museum in Amsterdam.

>17 Oberon: I'd love to never have to part with a book Erik. I do let those that don't come up to expectations go, but 2/3rd of my library are books I've yet to read, something I know would be stressful for some folk.

>18 CDVicarage: I expected to use my e-reader more than I do Kerry. And when I do pick it up and use it, I don't have too much of a problem, but there are things that are lacking for me. In a paper book you often can remember where something you read and want to quickly check back on is (left or right page/what part of the page etc) which you can't do on the e-reader. I forget titles and author names, as you are not seeing the cover every time you pick it up. On the tube you can't see what other people are reading aggrr.. to name but a few things.

>19 FAMeulstee: Thanks Anita. Yes, I enjoy shelfies too.

How lovely to see Kingfishers from time to time. It's cormorants and herons I associate with Holland.

22Sakerfalcon
Feb 8, 8:56am Top

>21 Caroline_McElwee: In a paper book you often can remember where something you read and want to quickly check back on is (left or right page/what part of the page etc) which you can't do on the e-reader. I forget titles and author names, as you are not seeing the cover every time you pick it up.

These things bother me too. I had never realised how much I flip back and forth in a book while reading until I got a kindle and couldn't do so any more! I do like being pleasantly surprised when I see that a book I've wanted is available on a kindle deal and being able to download it at once though - not that I read it straight away, of course!

23jessibud2
Feb 8, 9:50am Top

>21 Caroline_McElwee:, >22 Sakerfalcon: - I am the same way. I doubt I will ever convert to an e-reader. I have also kept track of authors and titles in small notebooks, just authors and titles, no reviews. I love those blank books of handmade papers and have always collected them. I use those for this purpose and have done so since 1992. The older I get, the more handy they are when I am in conversation and need to look back to remember a title or author that I KNOW but can't remember! :-)

Also, if I own the book, I always mark passages that speak to me. I would never do so in a library or borrowed book, which may be one (of many) reasons I prefer to own books!

24Sakerfalcon
Feb 8, 11:09am Top

>23 jessibud2: I keep a notebook for authors and titles of books I've read about that intrigue me. I get great satisfaction when I read or acquire one and can cross it off the list! Doing it on a computer would not be the same.

25jnwelch
Feb 8, 2:09pm Top

Happy New Thread, Caroline!

I'm another one who loved Where the Crawdads Sing.

For a quiet corner, your thread sure gets a lot of posts!

26SandDune
Feb 8, 3:57pm Top

>2 Caroline_McElwee: Happy New Thread, Caroline! Love the vase in your thread topper.

27Caroline_McElwee
Feb 8, 5:06pm Top

>23 jessibud2: >24 Sakerfalcon: I too used to keep little notebooks with a list of books read, Shelley and Claire. I've been lazy recently as I keep the list up top. I need to pull all the lists into one place though, as I lose track of them.

>24 Sakerfalcon: I do, like you, make a note of interesting prospects. It's funny how many I find I have acquired when I look back at it Claire.

>25 jnwelch: it has its moments Joe :-)

>19 FAMeulstee: >26 SandDune: The vase is Poole pottery, Anita and Rhian. A treat to myself a few years back. I'm a bit of a pottery/ceramics fan.

28Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Feb 8, 5:11pm Top

James Baldwin's novels always have love, pain, rawness and tenderness in them, and the film of his novel If Beale Street Could Talk captures all those things.

.

Fine performances too.

I must have read this when I was a teenager, it will get a reread soon, I'm slowly rereading all his work.

29Berly
Edited: Feb 10, 3:04pm Top

>21 Caroline_McElwee: "And when I do pick (an E-reader) up and use it, I don't have too much of a problem, but there are things that are lacking for me. In a paper book you often can remember where something you read and want to quickly check back on is (left or right page/what part of the page etc) which you can't do on the e-reader. I forget titles and author names, as you are not seeing the cover every time you pick it up. On the tube you can't see what other people are reading aggrr.. to name but a few things."

Exactly my problems with e-reading!! But since I can read it on my phone and I always have that, I do wind up reading books this way. I find that if I click out to my main library of downloads each time I finish reading, at least I get to see the cover each time I come back. Small win. : )

>28 Caroline_McElwee: I will have to look for that!

30msf59
Feb 10, 3:37pm Top

Happy Sunday, Caroline! Happy New Thread! Love the Thomson topper & the Van Gogh "Kingfisher". I have a copy of the film If Beale Street Could Talk and hope to see it soon. It sounds terrific.

31Caroline_McElwee
Feb 10, 8:51pm Top

>29 Berly: >30 msf59: it's a fine film Kim and Mark. I think they tweaked the end, but otherwise kept to the book.

>30 msf59: Glad you enjoyed the art Mark.

32PaulCranswick
Feb 10, 9:14pm Top

>29 Berly: I just bought the book, Caroline, because it was on offer (20% discount) due to it's film release.
Have read Another Country and Go Tell it on the Mountain and was deeply impressed by both.

Great to see you so active this year with your thread zipping along so splendidly.

33Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Feb 11, 4:43pm Top

>32 PaulCranswick: yes, it's lovely to have more visitors peaking round the door Paul.

I'm trying to think which of Baldwin's novels I haven't read. I think it was one of the late ones, probably Just Above My Head. So nice to have one new-to-me Baldwin still to read, even if it might be a weaker one (because it is rarely mentioned). I haven't read all the short stories, but I have read all the essays (except the volume published a couple of years ago of previously uncollected essays), be it a long time ago. Last year I bought what is probably the near complete Baldwin in the three Library of America volumes, though I don't think they have his poetry in, he only published one volume. Of course I won't part with the editions I originally read.

34Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Feb 12, 2:42pm Top

13. Across the China Sea (Gaute Heivoll) (11/02/19) (Norway) ****1/2



A fascinating story set in 1940s Norway, narrated by the son of a family who take on the responsibility for five 'mentally disabled' children, as well as three adult men, acting in what was called the'Christlike Spirit of Love'. The unnamed narrator reflects back over the life of his family as he empties the house on his mother's death.

Each of the cared for have distinct personalities, and embed themselves into the house in the wood.

A quiet novel with some volatile moments.

35FAMeulstee
Feb 12, 5:07pm Top

>34 Caroline_McElwee: Sounds like a book I would like, Caroline, added to my library wishlist.

36BLBera
Edited: Feb 12, 7:32pm Top

>34 Caroline_McElwee: This sounds excellent, Caroline.

I have If Beale Street Could Talk on my Feb. pile. We'll see.

How's the cough? I have a pretty spectacular one right now. I'm hoping it goes away soon.

37Caroline_McElwee
Feb 13, 2:32am Top

>35 FAMeulstee: it was a good novel Anita. I shall probably hunt down the other one that is in English.

>36 BLBera: Sorry to hear about the cough Beth. Mine is much better, if not totally gone *sigh*.

38Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Feb 14, 3:28pm Top

14. Ghost Wall (Sarah Moss) (14/02/19) ****

The themes of this short novel are woven, like the ghost wall, and Silvie's crown of bog myrtle woven for her friend Molly. In many respects it is quite an unpalatable read. An Iron Age experiential enactment led by a professor for a few of his students, with the addition of a family who's patriarch is a self-educated historian, obsessed with the ancient and wild.

As the teenagers are introduced to the living conditions of the Iron Age it becomes apparent that for the most part it is an exploit enjoyed by the men. The students go off piste whenever they can, where as Sylvie is at the mercy of her father Bill's dominance, as is her mother. Fear dictating what she feels she can do.

Is Bill's passion for the Iron Age because it is a time he associates with the masculine patriarchy that would support the treatment he imposes on the women in his family? Or is that treatment the presentation of the frustration that he is not the man, or professor, of his dreams, permitted to become that fantasy specialist, only during the holidays?

The dark undercurrent is present throughout, balanced, but also enhanced, by the observation of the woodland environment, beauty, and death, and change.

The obsession and single mindedness of Bill's intention leads to an extreme finale. If there was one area that didn't totally convince me, it was that the Professor lets it happen, he seemed more rational and responsible.

39lauralkeet
Feb 14, 7:50pm Top

Excellent review, Caro. I like the way you captured the issues with masculinity in the novel, especially what might have been going on in Bill's head.

40Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Feb 15, 2:28am Top

>39 lauralkeet: Thanks Laura.

41Caroline_McElwee
Feb 16, 6:55pm Top

15. A Beautiful Young Wife (Tommy Wieringa) (Holland) ****

Edward, in his 40s meets and settles with Ruth, 14 years his junior. Life seems sweet. After six years together they marry and conceive a child, but somehow he knows there can never be a happy ending.

The last third of the novel is like a runaway train in slow motion, you know what is going to happen, but you can't put the breaks on.

42Caroline_McElwee
Feb 16, 7:05pm Top

Up next

A Picture of Dorian Gray (Oscar Wilde) reread for my RL bookgroup

Girl With Dove (Sally Bayley) memoir



43PaulCranswick
Feb 16, 7:27pm Top

Lovely reading as always, Caroline. I hope you enjoy the re-read of Dorian Gray made me guffaw a-plenty years ago.

Have a splendid weekend.

44FAMeulstee
Feb 17, 7:06am Top

>41 Caroline_McElwee: I have it unread at the shelves, you make it sound like an interesting read.

45charl08
Edited: Feb 17, 7:28am Top

>38 Caroline_McElwee: I've never got anywhere with this author, keep hoping that I will pick one up and it will finally click with me, as she has so many fans of taste here. Your review makes this one sound fascinating.

46Caroline_McElwee
Feb 17, 9:13am Top

>44 FAMeulstee: A friend leant it to me a while ago Anita, and I'm seeing him Wednesday, so read it in a day.

>45 charl08: it wasn't quite what I was expecting Charlotte, but it is powerful.

47BLBera
Feb 17, 11:30am Top

I am just starting, Ghost Wall, Caroline, so I'll come back and review your comments later.

>41 Caroline_McElwee: This sounds good, as does the Bayley memoir. I like the cover.

48BLBera
Feb 18, 10:35am Top

>38 Caroline_McElwee: I just finished Ghost Wall and returned to look at your comments, Caroline. I think you got it right with Bill's motivations - also there's that underlying thread of racism. He talks about purity and real Britain. I thought the ending was more believable than you did, especially since the night before they'd all gotten into the chanting and drumming. What a creepy little book!

Have you read others by Moss? I will definitely look at her other books.

49Caroline_McElwee
Feb 19, 11:05am Top

>47 BLBera: The Bayley memoir is unusual Beth, I'm enjoying it. Yes, the cover is nice, not, of course, that we judge books by said.... :-) Sometimes I do, it has to be said.

>48 BLBera: I have a couple of her other books, but as yet unread.

50Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Feb 19, 11:15am Top

I went to see the Burne-Jones exhibition at the Tate last Friday, which I enjoyed. I'm very familiar with his work, I've loved the Pre-Raphaelite colours since I was a teenager.

I particularly liked studying some of the drawings this time, he was a fine draftsman.

https://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-britain/exhibition/edward-burne-jones

The little trailer in the above link brings some of the paintings to life.

51BLBera
Feb 19, 6:42pm Top

I love Burnets-Jones' painting, but have never really looked at his drawings. What a great exhibit.

52Caroline_McElwee
Feb 20, 5:31pm Top

>51 BLBera: There are quite a few of his drawings online Beth, though I can't find the earliest.

53BLBera
Feb 20, 5:43pm Top

I looked at the little trailer and they did have some drawings. They were lovely.

54FAMeulstee
Feb 20, 6:04pm Top

>50 Caroline_McElwee: Thank for sharing the link, some beautiful paintings.

55Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Yesterday, 11:30am Top

16. The Picture of Dorian Gray (Oscar Wilde) (21/02/18) (ROOT) (Reread) ****1/2

What an extraordinary gothic morality tale. Dorian Gray, encouraged in his vanity by Lord Henry Wooton, 10 years his senior, makes a wish, standing in front of a portrait proclaiming his beauty, that he himself will remain young, whilst the aging process will sunder only the portrait.

After breaking the heart of a young show girl, he returns home to find that the portrait has somehow acquired a cruel mouth. He thinks he is seeing things, but when he returns to it in the morning, the change is confirmed. He realises that somehow, his wish has been granted.

Does Dorian become the man he becomes because he wants to see how far he can go, and how the evil presents itself on the painting, or would he have been the same man, without the granted wish? Gray is incapable of stepping away, he is unable to walk away from self-destruction.

I have always found this novel very prescient. It was published the year before Wilde met Lord Alfred Douglas, the man who had much to do with his own downfall, being himself unable to walk away from self-destruction, on several occasions when he might have done so: three trials, 2 years of prison with hard labour, and exile, dying 10 years after the book’s publication, at less than 50 years of age.

Rereading this Gothic novel for the fourth time for my reading group I am a little more critical this time round, the first third has SO MUCH wit in it that it’s hard to absorb it all. Much goes unappreciated I think. And too thirds through the novel there is a chunk of showing off, much of which IS beautifully written, but could have been edited – what is it they say about killing your darlings?

56jessibud2
Yesterday, 11:42am Top

>55 Caroline_McElwee: - I read this one eons ago, probably when I was a teenager. I should probably revisit it now as I think I would understand it on a totally different level.

57Caroline_McElwee
Yesterday, 3:39pm Top

>56 jessibud2: I always encourage rereading Shelley.

58Caroline_McElwee
Edited: Yesterday, 3:53pm Top



I really enjoyed 'Green Book'. I didn't know of the existence of the green book, a listing of motels, hotels and restaurants permitting black custom. Learn something new every day.

Just downloaded some Don Shirley.

59VivienneR
Yesterday, 6:48pm Top

>58 Caroline_McElwee: I saw that in the cinema last week. Really enjoyed it.

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