Hello to Sunday – I was able to play hooky from the front yard a few days this week. I went to see Hope Springs with a friend on Friday and was a little disappointed as it was so painful to watch so much angst in a marriage. It was a difficult movie and the humor really has a cutting edge to it. it is definitely not a comedy. Today I read Vengeance by Benjamin Black (a.k.a. John Banville) and it was a good read for a Sunday. I have also started to reread (for the unknowth time) Stranger in a Strange Land. It is one of my favorite science fiction books and I am looking forward to the escape. Our project is proceeding with Himself and youngest working on the fussy cuts. Eldest helped me around the house and is now off playing Dungeons and Dragons – yes the game is still alive and well although Eldest seems to confine his playing to his friend’s houses rather than sneaking through sewers.
Here is what caught my attention this week:
For some reason this week I have had Paris on my mind and it shows in some of the books I have selected.
First is a the fourth novel by Delphine de Vigan and the first to be translated into English reviewed by litlove from Tales from the Reading Room. Underground Time is set in one day, May 20th and follows two different characters. Mathilde is a 40 year old widow with three sons and a bully for a boss who is set to totally destabilize any equilibrium she may have. And Thibault is a paramedic who has come to the realization that is lover doesn’t want a deeper connection. As the day goes on, the two wonder the streets of Paris and the author lets us in on their thoughts on what is a difficult day for each.
The second book is also from Litlove and is the memoir by travel journalist Gully Wells, The House in France. The memoir covers her relationship with her dysfunctional mother, and the circles the family traveled in including 1960′s intellectual and literary London and the social scene in New York City. Centered in this whirlwind is the house in France where the family spent their summers in a house,according to the publisher’s blurb, “…where evenings were spent cooking bouillabaisse with fish bought that morning in the market in Bandol, and afternoons included visits to M. F. K. Fisher’s favorite café on the Cours Mirabeau in Aix, with a late-night stop at the bullfighters’ bar in Arles. The house perched on a hill between Toulon and Marseille…’
The third book is also reviewed by Litlove who spent the week focused on French Literature. I have occasionally highlighted two books reviewed by a single blogger but I think this is the first time I have found three books that caught my interest reviewed in one week by a single blogger. If you haven’t checked out Litlove’s blog you should do so. Not only is she a varied reader, she is also an excellent reviewer.
The third book is a very long read – 612 pages and is by one of France’s most famous female intellectuals – Simone de Beauvoir author, philosopher, and political commentator. The Mandarins is set in post-war Paris and while de Beauvoir definitely uses her own life as a springboard, she does so to explore what is happening philosophically, culturally, and politically at a time of great change and ferment. De Beauvoir was very interested in the place women hold in society as well as the struggle between individual wants and desires and the need for collective action. Perhaps my mom has this book on her shelf – I shall have to look for it.
And for those of you not particularly interested in France, Danielle from A Work in Progress gives us a short novella by Greek author Menis Koumandareas. Koula is as short (88 pages) as The Mandarins is long. Rather than a long exploration of an entire cultural era, Koula is a “snapshot in time” highlighting “the interior lives of the characters”, Koula is a middle aged office worker with a dull, fairly predictable life including her daily commute to work via the subway. Dmitri is a young man with a thing for older women who has, occasionally, accepted money from those women. The two find themselves on the same train night after night and form a connection which leads to an affair. Menis Koumandareas. is a highly regarded Greek author and translator. Since I love interior novels, this on is going on the list.
Happy Reading. Himself and I are off to Oregon on Tuesday to do some beach camping and visit my mom. I have some reviews, etc. scheduled to post and hope to have time to do a Sunday Caught My Interest from Salem.