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
— Adam Gopnik
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July 14, 2019
I'm off to a late start with Paris in July this year, but perhaps I can just pretend that I planned to start on Bastille Day all along. :) And I did spend about 45 minutes in France during my trip to Switzerland (a trip to the Sunday morning market in Divonne, just over the border), so that should also count, n'est-ce pas?
I haven't had a chance to plan my reading, but before I left, I did find my first book at the library, and it was waiting for me when I got home ...
This is the second book in a series about a group of misfit French police officers -- a 'team of oddballs and no-hopers' (one of them insists that he is one of the Three Musketeers) -- who have been assigned to a cold case squad. No one expects them to solve any crimes (though they are very good at it) so Commissaire Anne Capestan is surprised when they are called in to investigate the murder of her ex-father-in-law, a senior police officer.
I had enjoyed the first book in the series (The Awkward Squad) very much, so I was happy to find this one, and it was perfect reading for my still slightly jet-lag-fuddled brain. And one of the murders takes place in L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, a town in Provence that I've visited, so that was fun too.
I have Antoine Laurain's new book, Vintage 1954, to read next ... it may be my year for quirky, amusing books for Paris in July. :)
Stick Together, by Sophie Henaff
Maclehose Press, 2019 (originally published in French in 2017)
Borrowed from the library
June 30, 2019
Guard Your Daughters,
by Diana Tutton
Together and Apart,
by Margaret Kennedy
Love & Friendship, In Which Jane Austen's
Lady Susan is Entirely Vindicated,
Lady Susan is Entirely Vindicated,
by Whit Stillman
by Anthony Trollope
Jeeves and the Wedding Bells,
by Sebastian Faulks
Some Tame Gazelle and Excellent Women,
The Optimist's Daughter,
by Eudora Welty
The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris,
by David McCullough
by Elizabeth Gaskell
The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet,
by Colleen McCullough
by Alice Steinbach
Death Comes for the Fat Man,
by Reginald Hill
Jane Austen: a life,
by David Nokes
Bridget Jones and the edge of reason,
by Helen Fielding
A Chance Meeting: Intertwined lives of American writers and artists,
by Rachel Cohen
Cooking for Mr. Latte,
by Amanda Hesser
A house unlocked,
by Penelope Lively
June 17, 2019
That night after twelve o'clock Mary Garth relieved the watch in Mr. Featherstone's room and sat there almost through the small hours. ... There were intervals in which she could sit perfectly still, enjoying the outer stillness and the subdued light. The red fire with its gently audible movement seemed like a solemn existence calmly independent of the petty passions, the imbecile desires, the straining after worthless uncertainties, which were daily moving her contempt. Mary was fond of her own thoughts and could amuse herself well sitting in twilight with her hands in her lap, for having early had strong reason to believe that things were not likely to be arranged for her peculiar satisfaction, she wasted no time in astonishment and annoyance at that fact. And she had already come to take life very much as a comedy in which she had a proud, nay a generous resolution not to act the mean or the treacherous part. Mary might have become cynical, if she had not had parents whom she honoured and a well of affectionate gratitude within her which was all the fuller because she had learned to make no unreasonable claims.
from Middlemarch, by George Eliot (Book III)
Noted under: George Eliot
June 11, 2019
And then, the minute I finished Because of the Lockwoods (this being a readathon, after all), I did something I don't do nearly enough anymore ... I sank into my favorite chair on Saturday afternoon, with a cup of tea and a book, and read the whole thing, sometimes too quickly, other times too slowly, almost cover to cover in one sitting. :)
I've read Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day before, and seen the movie, and remembered them fondly; I have the Persephone Classics edition on my shelf but borrowed the gray-covered, endpapered version from the college library because I could. But I hadn't remembered that it's not just charming, but very funny, or how much Miss P. lets herself get into the spirit of the situation she finds herself in.
I always like reading the prefaces in the Persephone books, but this one was especially enjoyable, with its story of how this book was discovered. It immediately sent me to all the online library catalogs I could find in search of Winifred Watson's other novels, but sadly, no luck.
Thanks again, Jessie!
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, by Winifred Watson
Persephone Books, 2000 (originally published in 1938)
Borrowed from the college library
June 10, 2019
I had heard so much about Dorothy Whipple from blogging friends -- and then enjoyed Greengates so much -- that I have been slowly seeking out her other novels; Because of the Lockwoods, which I just read for Jessie's Persephone Readathon, is only my second, but it won't be my last.
At one time, the Lockwoods and the Hunters were neighbors in Aldworth, a town in northern England, and Mrs. Lockwood and Mrs. Hunter, mothers with young children, one married to a lawyer, the other to an architect, visit each other on almost equal terms. But when Mr. Hunter dies suddenly, leaving his family in precarious financial straits, everything changes.
The Hunter children had rather an old-fashioned air. The girls' dresses were made by their mother -- not a skillful needlewoman -- and Martin's supposedly short trousers were usually too long. Their appearance moved the Lockwood twins to scorn and giggles and Mrs. Lockwood to exasperation. Mrs. Hunter, she often said, had really no idea. She felt she herself, in Mrs. Hunter's place, would have managed so much better. In fact, Mrs. Lockwood talked as if having to manage on very little money was a most inspiring situation and one in which she almost wished herself, to that she could show what she could do.The Hunters move to a smaller, meaner house; Mrs. Lockwood condescends to the Hunters, giving Mrs. Hunter her cast-off clothing and inviting the children to come see the presents she was bought for other people; and the Lockwood twins, Bea and Muriel, taunt the Hunter children. But it's Mr. Lockwood who does the most damage: pushed into managing Mrs. Hunter's financial affairs by his wife, he insists that Molly and Martin Lockwood leave school and go to work in jobs they are unsuited for, helps himself to what's left of Mr. Hunter's good cigars, and swindles Mrs. Hunter out of a piece of property that he had wanted to purchase himself. All of the Hunters seem to have given up, except Thea, the youngest child, who finds a way to joining the Lockwood girls and a their wealthy friend Angela Harvey for a year at a finishing school in a provincial French town.
All the same, there was something about the Hunters, in spite of their clothes, that Mrs. Lockwood defined reluctantly to herself as 'distinction.' Why they should have it, where it came from and how it persisted in their circumstances, she couldn't think. Obscurely, it annoyed her. It made her wish, somehow, to keep them out of the way. She didn't quite want them to be noticed; especially not by their friends, Sir Robert and Lady Harvey.
Thea is, for a while, the only one of the Hunters who is determined to rise above the social and financial constraints placed on her, but when she falls in love with a young Frenchman she is tutoring, she is sent home in disgrace. She is willing to stare down the Lockwoods, who disown and humiliate her family, but she can't ignore Oliver Reade, the somewhat shady young man next door who finds ways to help the Hunters in order to push himself into Thea's life.
It's not even an especially uplifting story (though it has its moments) or one with very sympathetic characters (in the end, it's Molly, Thea's older sister, who seems to have found her way, though maybe I just liked her best because she bakes :). The events in the plot seem almost inevitable, but the people are so wonderfully drawn that I found myself wanting to keep reading and watch things unfold.
Thank you, Jessie, for organizing these readathons. I'm already looking forward to the next one!
Because of the Lockwoods, by Dorothy Whipple
Persephone Books, 2017 (originally published in 1949)
From my bookshelves (Kindle edition)
May 31, 2019
May 30, 2019
The pedant in the kitchen,
by Julian Barnes
Imagined London: a tour of the world's greatest fictional city,
by Anna Quindlen
Mrs. Appleyard's year,
by Louise Andrews Kent
Between you and me: confessions of a comma queen,
by Mary Norris
By its cover,
by Donna Leon
The view from Penthouse B,
by Elinor Lipman
by Matthew Pearl
North and South and 'Mr. Harrison's confessions,'
by Elizabeth Gaskell
Lunch in Paris: a love story with recipes,
by Elizabeth Bard
The Gardner heist,
by Ulrich Boser
Love walked in,
by Marisa de los Santos
by Calvin Trillin
My latest grievance,
by Elinor Lipman
Everything she thought she wanted,
by Elizabeth Buchan
Jane Austen: a life,
by Claire Tomalin
A presumption of death,
Jill Paton Walsh and Dorothy L. Sayers
Instances of the number 3,
by Salley Vickers
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