Caroline's Quiet Corner 2019: Chapter 4
This is a continuation of the topic Caroline's Quiet Corner 2019: Chapter 3.
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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
Mothlight (Adam Scovell) (23/02/19) ***1/2
A Moveable Feast (Ernest Hemingway) (US) (reread) (01/03/19) ROOT *****
On Balance (Sinéad Morrissey) (Poetry) (Northern Ireland) (02/03/19) ****
Lord of the Butterflies (Andrea Gibson) (03/03/19) (US)(poetry) *****
The River (Jane Clarke) (22/03/19) (poetry) ROOT ***1/2
Little Women (Louisa May Alcott) (AAC) (23/03/19) ROOT ****1/2
Morality Play (Barry Unsworth) (29/03/19) ROOT ***1/2
Memories of the Future (Siri Hustvedt) (11/02/19) ****1/2
The Samurai's Garden (Gail Tsukiyama) (13/04/19) ****1/2
The Glass Woman (Caroline Lea) (19/04/19) ***1/2
The Trauma Cleaner (Sarah Krasnostein) (21/04/19) ****
Hag-Seed (Margaret Atwood) (25/04/19) ***1/2
From a Low and Quiet Sea (Donal Ryan) ****
Transcription (Kate Atkinson) (02/05/19) ****
Elegant Simplicity: The Art of Living Well (Satish Kumar) (07/05/19) ****
Kingfishers Catch Fire (Rumer Godden) (18/05/19) ****
One Matchless Time: A Life of William Faulkner (Jay Parini) (27/05/19) ROOT (AAC) ****1/2
Milton Place (Elizabeth de Waal) (28/05/19) ****
Aristotle's Way (Edith Hall) (02/06/19) ****
Frankissstein (Jeanette Winterson) (05/06/19) ****
Walking With the Wind (John Lewis) (21/06/19) ROOT *****
The House by the Loch (Kirsty Wark) (23/06/19) ****1/2
Travellers (Helon Habila) (27/06/19) ****1/2
The Diary of a Bookseller (Shaun Bythell) (30/06/19) ***1/2
Across That Bridge (John Lewis (01/07/19) ****1/2
Sleepless Nights (Elizabeth Hardwick) (03/07/19) ****1/2
When All is Said (Anne Griffin) (08/07/19) ****
The Power (Naomi Alderman) (17/07/19) ROOT ****
A Lowcountry Heart (Pat Conroy) (20/07/19) ***1/2
Sharp (Michelle Dean) (20/07/19) ****
Momento Mori (Muriel Spark) (22/07/19) ****
The Great Believers (Rebecca Makkai) (27/07/19) *****
The Little Book of David Bowie (David Bowie) (28/07/19) *****
Stop Being Reasonable: Six Stories of How We Really Change Our Minds (Eleanor Gordon-Smith) (28/07/19) ****1/2
The Easternmost House (Juliet Blaxland) (01/08/19) ***1/2
A Crisis of Brilliance (David Boyd Haycock) (08/08/19) ROOT ****1/2
The Train was on Time (Heinrich Böll) (10/08/19) ****
The Odyssey (Homer) trans Emily Wilson (15/08/19) ROOT *****
A Lesson Before Dying (Ernest J Gaines) (16/08/19) ***1/2
Becoming Beauvoir (Kate Kirkpatrick) (22/08/18) *****
The Prince of Tides (Pat Conroy) (08/09/19) ROOT ****1/2
Whose Story is This? (Rebecca Solnit) (17/09/19) ****1/2
Gender Fluid: 1
London Library (LL): 1
Other loan: 2
56. Becoming Beauvoir (Kate Kirkpatrick) (22/08/19) *****
I really enjoyed this new biography of Simone de Beauvoir. A lot of her letters and other papers have now been published (mostly in French of course) since the last biography, and this one is able to unravel some of the perceptions created by aspects of her life she wrote less in the public domain about, and perceptions caused outside France by bad or biased translations of her work. Unfortunately there is not an unmanipulated copy of The Second Sex in English yet. My 1970s copy had great chunks taken out, that affected the overall content, context and meaning. There were other problems with a later translation.
This biography is fascinating, and brings de Beauvoir to life more fully, warts and all. It also shows how her life was so overshadowed by her engagement with Sartre. In his obituaries, she is barely mentioned, in hers, he is mentioned almost to her exclusion, her death in some, almost an afterthought.
She has resonated with me since I was an older teenager and through my 20s, and I want to reread her again now.
A Stroll along the Seine...
Sigh, it's been a few years since I was last in Paris, maybe next year...
Happy new thread! I love the painting in no. 7. It's mysterious but there's something comforting about it too.
>12 drneutron: thanks Jim, always good to see you peak around the door.
>13 jnwelch: That has a multitudinous answer Joe. I was always interested in philosophy and psychology, and of course Beauvoir was a rare female philosopher (I still have read little Arendt or Weil). She was still alive in my twenties. She lived in my favourite city of the time. In fact her penultimate apartment, I learned in this biography, was in a street I know well, near Norte Dame and Shakespeare and Co. But first and foremost, she spoke to me as an emerging (becoming) woman, about the kind of freedom I wanted, and on many levels have now, that at the time, there was no guarantee would be available. Though of course, her class made her version more bohemian maybe. But she never stopped asking questions about the place of women, the impacts of expectations on women, the capacities of women, how they lived and might live, through all the seasons of life. I nod a lot when I read her.
She was also very kind, especially, but not exclusively, to many women in her life, whilst acknowledging that some of her life choices had hurt people she knew and loved. She lived, but never believed she was perfect, or that perfection was necessary or possible.
The Mandarins will probably be my holiday reread next month. And I really hope a good translation of The Second Sex will happen in my life time, despite that even she believed she didn't get it all right, she would have changed some things. Then, who gets everything right?
Ha, you wish you'd never asked.
>14 BLBera: Glad you are enjoying >7 Caroline_McElwee: Beth.
>15 jessibud2: I love photos of writers in their homes/studys. I have a couple of volumes of such photos.
I only discovered Ablitt myself today Shelley, in a magazine that landed on the mat.
Happy Friday, Caroline. Happy New Thread. I know nothing about Simone de Beauvoir, so your review, sparked some interest. I have added it to the list.
>7 Caroline_McElwee: I LOVE this!!
>16 Caroline_McElwee: Ha! Very glad I asked. That makes a lot of sense. My philosophical bent has always been Eastern for some reason; even in college I was interested in Buddhism and Taoism and so on. You do remind me of the (usually) easier path for males; that situation is a bit better now, seems like.
>18 FAMeulstee: I look forward to discussing it after Anita.
Glad everyone is loving >7 Caroline_McElwee:. Snag away >21 msf59: Mark.
>20 PaulCranswick: Good to see you drop by Paul. I'll be interested to hear what you think when you and >19 msf59: Mark get to Beauvoir.
>22 jnwelch: I too became interested in Buddhism early Joe. When I was 14 my RE teacher invited a Buddhist monk to do a meditation session in class. I've dipped in and out ever since. I'm a big appreciator of the Dalai Lama, despite a couple of resent gaffs about women. None of us are perfect.
Hi Caroline. Becoming Beauvoir sounds very interesting. I don't know a lot about her so this sounds like a good, deeper exploration of her life. Adding it to my wish list.
>16 Caroline_McElwee: I love that description of how/why Beauvoir captured your attention at a relatively young age.
And I want to return to Paris. :-)
I'm also interested in Becoming Beauvoir. I know about her of course but I've never read her writing or anything specifically about her.
>23 Caroline_McElwee: Right, I heard about at least one Dalai Lama gaff about women - if the next one is female, she needs to be pretty, so people will listen? Something like that? You're right. even he isn't perfect. Reportedly, Buddha himself had to figure out that women could be Buddhas, too.
Happy new thread Caroline. Loved looking through all your readings and ratings.
>32 Caroline_McElwee: Well that's a hard one Maryanne. I would rather there was no animal testing, and I'm not actually sure it provides valid results in relation to humans, but as someone who needs medications, almost all of which will have required trials on animals, I don't feel I can be hypocritical. All I hope is that any testing and all care are humane.
Maybe with the advancement of AI, animal testing can be eventually obliterated, as technology could become more efficient in replicating human biological circumstances. I'm not a scientist, but there are massive advances possible with AI, as long as we put suitable protections in place.
Happy new thread, Caroline!
Nice review of Becoming Beauvoir; I'll be on the lookout for it. I absolutely loved her travel book America Day By Day, which I last read well before I joined LT. I have a copy of The Mandarins and would love to read it ASAP, but I doubt that I'll have time to do so this year.
Hi, Caroline. We're coming your way next week; I hope there's a chance to get together!
>36 kidzdoc: There is that restaurant behind the National theatre, ? Greens, I'll check.
>35 Caroline_McElwee: Perfect. I wish there was more, but it'll be great to see you and catch up.
Caroline, thank you for educating me about Simone de Beauvoir. My library only has one book by her, A Very Easy Death, which I reserved. It will be a timely read for me. I was fascinated by the picture of her in her Paris apartment. So much detail. I especially loved the collage of photographs on the wall.
Speaking of detail, I love how you have created such a cozy atmosphere on your thread. A feast for the tummy and the eyes along with your list of excellent reading for the year. Nice job.
I look forward to hearing firsthand about tomorrow night's meetup. Lucky you!
>40 Donna828: Hi Donna, it is a great picture. I've not yet read A Very Easy Death but I'm putting it, and her book about the US, on the list.
Sadly I've had to duck out of this evening's gathering, as I'm suffering a bout of sciatica. Very disappointed not to be there. I'm only hoping I'll be well enough to travel to Prague on Monday.
Sorry to hear about the sciatica, Caroline. Hope you've a speedy recovery for your trip.
Caroline fingers crossed for a speedy recovery and wishing you a wonderful trip to Prague.
>42 charl08: >43 Sakerfalcon: >44 jessibud2: >45 mdoris: >46 EBT1002: Thanks Charlotte, Claire, Shelley, Mary and Ellen. I'm a lot better than I was, but with sciatica, it can come back suddenly. Based on how I feel today I should be able to travel on Monday. I hate airports though, with all the slogging around. Once I'm on the plane I'm happy.
I hope the sciatica keeps away, Caroline.
Prague is a beautiful city, we went there for a short vacation in 1988. Seems like eons ago, as it was just a year before the fall of the Iron Curtain.
Hope this weekend will see you fully recovered, Caroline.
How are you doing with The Prince of Tides?
57. The Prince of Tides (Pat Conroy) (08/09/19) ****1/2
A wowzer of a novel, not least because so much of it is autobiographical. What a family the Wingo's are! Tom Wingo, teacher and sports coach, tells the story of his family to the psychologist who is treating his sister Savannah, in New York.
There are exceedingly violent episodes, but the novel is a page turner, often with beautiful phrasing, and Conroy writes beautifully about the natural world. You can smell and taste it.
I'm going to have to track down the film, but there is no way it can have captured the breadth of the book, but I'll be happy if it catches a little of its soul.
Good for you for reading the Dalai Lama book every 5 years, Caroline. I'll have to take a look at that one.
What a shame that darn sciatica grabbed hold of you. You would've liked The Secret River. I hope you can do your trip to Prague!
>56 jnwelch: I'm all packed and ready to go Joe. Sciatica is grumbling a bit, but after a good nights rest I should be OK. It doesn't bother me in bed thank heavens.
I've just booked to see the Man Booker shortlist read their work in October. What a line-up.
I'll be reporting from Prague. I'm staying at Frank Gehry's The Dancing House.
Playwright and President Václav Havel's birth place, and the place he lived most of his life, is the slim building next to The Dancing House.
Hi, Caroline. I hope you are having a wonderful time in Prague. Looks like a very interesting city. Enjoy! And hooray for The Prince of Tides. I am a fan of the book and the movie.
So glad that you are feeling well enough to travel. Have a wonderful time!
I loved the riveting The Prince of Tides when I read it years ago.
Love the pictures, Caroline. What a beautiful city. I've not been for years, I'm sure it has changed a lot.
Wow, what an amazing hotel! And the food looks great too. Hope you have a wonderful time.
I have never been to Prague, myself, but from those I know who have, I have heard it's one of the most beautiful cities. Enjoy!
>60 msf59: >61 mdoris: Hi Mark and Mary. I very quickly got into The Prince of Tides, and read it in big bites.
>62 charl08: I am sure you would recognise most of it Charlotte. I love the decoration on many of the buildings.
>63 Sakerfalcon: As a Frank Gehry fan Claire, staying in one of his buildings is a dream.
>64 jessibud2: it's quite a compact city Shelley, but it will take more than one visit to do it justice.
More photos later.
Yay for Prague! We're so glad you got to go, Caroline. Debbi asked that I send you her best.
That Frank Gehry design is wild! How is it inside? Do you have to wear unusually-shaped clothing and dance with the furniture?
You can come to Chicago and see the bandshell he designed there - how's that sound?
Did you ever get to his Guggenheim Bilbao Museum? I'm pretty sure Darryl did, the scoundrel. I'd like to see it, although the collection inside never gets talked about.
That food looks delish, too.
>66 jnwelch: I'm standing up for the collection in Bilbao, everyone told me it was disappointing, but there were three Van Goghs I'd never seen in the canvas, and would have happily had any on my wall. Anselm Keifers. And I was lucky that the Giacometti exhibition I missed in London, was there when I was last December. I think the Guggenheim's rotate parts of the collection. And the building.... so brilliant. One of my all time favourites. Make a trip next time you are based in London Joe. Hello back to Debbi.
Have you seen if there is anything you fancy on here during your stay, it's where I saw Andrea Gibson, great venue.
Hooray! I'm very glad that you felt well enough to go to Prague, Caroline. Have a great time there!
>58 Caroline_McElwee: Wow, what a trippy building! I first thought that my eyes were playing tricks on me.
>66 jnwelch: I did go to Bilbao, but strangely enough I didn't visit the Museo Guggenheim when I was there, due to bad weather (the city had strong thunderstorms on the day I planned to go). I did make it to the Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao (the Fine Arts Museum of Bilbao), which was very good, with a café that served outstanding pintxos!
(Speaking of pintxos I found a pintxos bar in Soho yesterday between Greek Street, where I had dinner, and Dean Street, where the Soho Theatre is; I'll have to go there at least once before I leave next week.)
Yesterday I walked by the river to the Decorative Arts Museum, and saw two exhibitions: The Pleiad Glass https://en.upm.cz/pleiad-of-glass-1946-2019/
And The Mad Silkman, who worked with both Mattise and Picasso among others https://en.upm.cz/the-mad-silkman-zika-lida-ascher-textiles-and-fashion/ .
One of the Museum staircases.
Then lunch sitting outside their cafe, a lovely delicate Asian curry.
Then I visited the Jewish Museum and Old Cemetery, the latter a refuge for headstones over the past 500 years.
Even as recently as the 1980s headstones were broken up and made into cobbles that are now in Wenceslas Square.
In the museum itself are carved the names of all the Czechs, and others that lived here, who lost their lives in the Holocaust. Very moving. I spent my childhood watching the many documentaries with Pod, as people tried to understand what they had been through, starting with the series 'World at War'.
Back to the hotel for a rest, then out to hear a concert in the church by The Charles Bridge. Pacabel, Bach, Mozart, Vivaldi and others. Pews are not the most comfortable seats, I'd borrowed a pillow from the hotel which helped my back at least. Could have done without the aged British woman sitting behind me loudly humming along, I had to shush her in the end!
The sciatica is playing up a bit today, so I'm having a late start, I have my room with a view, and book, though I hope to go out shortly.
>69 Caroline_McElwee: Hope the late start does the trick. Love the photos. The textile exhibition looks very tempting - I would like to wear that purple coat (if I was feeling brave) - and their fabric patterns are beautiful. The photos of the designers are so glam, too. Was there much of a bookshop at either gallery?
>70 charl08: I was disappointed Charlotte, no exhibition catalogues harrumph.
Yes, the late start helped. I'll write a little bit on my day later. I have a table in the hotel's Fred and Ginger restaurant for early supper at 6pm. So glad to be staying in the building tonight.
>71 Oberon: Thanks Erik. I'm barely scraping the surface this trip, but know I will revisit.
I managed to get out this afternoon and headed across the Charles Bridge to The Franz Kafka Museum, which I enjoyed, especially the footage of the area of Prague he lived in from the early 20th Century, much still recognisable now.
This as one of two peeing men fountains outside the museum:
I loved all the little streets in the area.
The narrowest street in Prague.
They even have their own Shakespeare and Co. came out empty handed!
Afternoon refreshments at a Villa café in the park, the dessert was a stiff pistachio mousse.
The other gallery I planned to go to was having a refit, and it was quite a walk back to my hotel, so I sat by the river for a while, before heading back to my nest.
I had a reservation for supper in the Ginger and Fred restaurant at Dancing House. Lovely.
Pooped and chilling in my room now.
>68 kidzdoc: Sorry, I forgot to wave back Darryl. Yes, I'm very pleased I got here in the end. Not done anywhere near as much as I'm used to, but still got enough of a flavour to know I'll come back.
Beautiful photos, Caroline! This is one city I would LOVE to visit. So good that you are able to enjoy these gorgeous scenes and places and thanks for sharing them with us. Through one of my other interests, postcrossing (international postcard exchange), I know someone who lives in Prague and we have exchanged emails, letters and gifts over the last few years. Such a pretty city. I hope you are not overdoing it, in terms of your sciatica, and are able to fully enjoy everything. How long will you be there?
>76 jessibud2: I'm not doing as much as I would Shelley, although even before I had to be careful as I have pins and plates in my right ankle and leg (very old injury). Sciatica wants me to move, ankle wants me not to move too much, let's make it a hat trick, torn ligaments in left arm hates handrails on the left agrrr ha. As one of my Canadian friends says 'we do, we go'.
Resting up this morning was a good choice, though I'm hoping for a good nights sleep tonight, and to not need to start too late tomorrow. It's my last full day here. I return home on Friday afternoon.
Lovely you have a friend here Shelley, I'm sure you will visit one day. It is such an aesthetically pleasing city.
Love the photos, Caroline. I like the looks of that Ginger and Fred restaurant.
Lovely pictures of your trip, Caroline. That mousse looks quite yummy, and the restaurant looks exquisite.
Started the day with a wander around the Jewish Quarter, then on to the Convent of St Agnes. Very restful.
I snatched a quiet half an hour in the courtyard.
Then a lovely bowl of red lentil soup for lunch before heading to the most touristy place in the city, old town square and the famous clock.
I didn't stay long, I should add.
It seems I can't go anywhere without bumping into Vincent:
An advert for absinthe.
A quiet evening in now. I head to the airport about midday tomorrow.
Fantastic photos of a beautiful city, Caroline. Nice to be taking the trip with you.
I love your Prague photos, Caroline. They bring back good memories. I must say, your food looks much better than what I ate while I was there!
I've read some Pears books that I liked, but haven't read Stone's Fall. I watch for your comments.
Lovely pictures of Prague, Caroline. I've never been. Lucky Mr SandDune managed to get sent on a course there earlier in the year.
>87 FAMeulstee: I cannot say how I managed to come out empty handed Anita, except that I am overwhelmed with the books I have at the moment, and am trying hard not to add to many to them. This year I think I have bought less than a third of the books bought last year, and that is still too many!
>88 BLBera: the food was delicious Beth, but I didn't actually eat in the 'traditional' heavy on meat eateries, as a pescatarian, which probably made a difference. There is plenty of variety though.
>89 jnwelch: I am sure you would enjoy it Joe. I definitely plan a revisit.
>90 SandDune: Good to see you about Rhian. I enjoyed Prague very much. Did Mr Sandune get to see much of it, or was he tied to his lectures too much?
58. Whose Story is This? (Rebecca Solnit) (17/09/19) ****1/2
As ever, Rebecca Solnit's essays are insightful and thought provoking. And I love her voice. Her acknowledgement of and generosity towards those who she has learned from or who have shared their stories with her. Her vast knowledge acrued over a lifetime of work, woven and interwoven into all her pieces. I always know I will return to her volumes.
Arrived at Broadstairs yesterday, a typical English seaside town. I stayed here once as a kid. This looks exactly as I remember, it opened in 1932:
I had rum and raisin with pistachio.
Ooh, sounds good. There is a lovely one in the Wirral which always has a queue outside every time I've been. (It is conveniently located at the end of a walk!)
>91 Caroline_McElwee: He did get a little time to sightsee in the evening. I am currently at a conference in Nottingham, which is not so exciting!
Home now, after a restful few days by the sea. Time, as ever, went far too quickly.
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