I've been stressing much more than necessary in deciding what books, and how many books, to take on my trip. Normally, three weeks = four or five books, but there'll be one long daylight plane ride and some down time. (And then my funny friend Marie just had to mention that she would need backups, in case something didn't work out...) It has also felt very odd not to have a book in progress...but I didn't want to start something I would have to wait three weeks to finish, or lug a half-finished book on the plane (with one exception). At least one of the books should be light and cheerful, so I could read without reading, if you know what I mean. And then there's bulk, and weight, and schlepping them around.
So, in the end, after a lot of waffling, here's what I've packed:
A season of splendor : the court of Mrs. Astor in gilded age New York, by Greg King. Big and book hunger-filling, and something I got on library reserve earlier this summer and didn't have time to read.
Edith Wharton: A Biography, by R.W.B. Lewis. I read the first hundred-or-so pages in August, up to the time when she buys The Mount, because I was hoping to go to the Mount, but didn't. I'm going the minute I get home (it will be beautiful in the Berkshires then); there's also more about Lenox as a Gilded Age resort in the Greg King book. I never knew (or maybe I did, but I forgot) that Edith and Mrs. Astor were first cousins.
Emma, by Jane Austen. I planned to read this in August too, but set it aside to finish some other books when my travel plans came into being. Re-reading Emma, and then reading Persuasion for the first time, will finish my Jane Austen reading project. (I just found a beautiful new annotated edition of Pride and Prejudice, though, so may not quite finish.) I'm saving Persuasion for when I come home, though, because it deserves autumn afternoons, and tea, and attention.
Madame de Staël : the first modern woman, by Francine du Plessix Gray, because I am going chez elle, and possibly even chez elle, and I don't know anything about her, except that she has been described as the anti-Austen. (Delicious.)
Pomfret Towers, by Angela Thirkell. The first book in the series, and a small, slim, light, extremely cheering book. For the plane ride home.
I didn't plan the nice connections among these books, but I like them. I should probably leave one of these home (and maybe I will), because I'll surely have less time for reading than I think I'll have, and I'm staying in a house with books, and I have 37 (seems like it, anyway) audiobooks on my Ipod. But I don't want to think about it anymore. I'm comforted, and I'm off!
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