The act of reading ... begins on a flat surface, counter or page, and then gets stirred and chopped and blended until what we make, in the end, is a dish, or story, all our own.
— Adam Gopnik
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September 14, 2014

Sunday, dinner


      'They've come back!' she exclaimed, and at once she felt much more annoyed with them than relieved. Then she wondered, had it happened? She would go down and they would tell her -- but no. They could not tell her anything, with all these people about. So she must go down and begin dinner and wait. ...
      But she stopped. There was a smell of burning. Could they have let the Bouef en Daube overboil? she wondered, pray heaven not! when the great clangour of the gong announced solemnly, authoritatively, that all those scattered about it, in attics, in bedrooms, on little perches of their own, reading, writing, putting the last smooth to their hair, or fastening dresses, must leave all that, and the little odds and ends on their washing-tables and dressing tables, and the novels on the bed-tables, and the diaries which were so private, and assemble in the dining-room for dinner.
from To the Lighthouse, by Virginia Woolf
I remember it now, from my first reading, the dinner party, and the Boeuf en Daube. This meal, this one  long, wonderful scene, goes on for 41 pages in my old college paperback, and that makes sense, because I had also forgotten that the first part of the book takes place in one day. It's a special dinner, because the cook has made her special dish, and William Bankes, the proper, fussy widower who Mrs. Ramsay wants for Lily Briscoe, has consented to stay for dinner, and Paul Rayley has confided in her that he is going to propose to Minta Doyle.

But as I've been saying, I'd forgotten everything that Virginia Woolf did to paint in her setting, and all of her characters, and the things that are in their heads, and how lyrical and beautiful the writing is. When I got to the end of Part I on Friday, I found myself wanting to stop, and breathe, make sure I hadn't missed anything, because I was rushing forward a little to get to the next sentence.

What are you doing today?  So far, I'm cooking and puttering around, but I'm going to curl up with cups of tea and a book later. If it's this one, I'm still not sure if I'm going to begin where I left off, or go back and read through this scene again. How often do I find myself wanting to re-read a book before I've even finished?

I hope your Sunday reading is as promising!

{The painting is by Pierre Bonnard, found on Pinterest.}


Lisa said...

I am supposed to be reading Truman Capote's The Grass Harp for a book club meeting this week, but I decided to start a Mary Stewart book for Anbolyn's reading week instead. It's a cool grey fall-is-coming day, perfect for tea & books.

Frances said...

Just love that extended scene! Thanks for the visit to a favorite book. Today I am starting The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco. One of those I have meant to read for some time.

JoAnn said...

I hope you enjoyed your book and tea... what did you decide to read? We drove to visit Twin A yesterday. Had a lovely brunch and stopped at a farm stand to load up with apples. Got back just in time for The Roosevelts on PBS.

Oh, and I saw honey-brined turkey breasts at out Wegmans last week. Hoping you saw them, too ;-)

Cosy Books said...

I am coming to this post late as it's Tuesday, not Sunday. There is plenty of reading already lined up to take me well into November but I am SO buying a copy of To the Lighthouse the next time I'm in a second-hand bookshop.

Just finished a reading session with My Cousin Rachel but now the fun must end as it's off to work soon.

Thank you for visiting!

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