This week we have had snow, freezing rain, ice, hoar frost, pouring rain, and more snow all of which makes life interesting in the Hinterland. I started the week watching the Inauguration. Our high school band marched in the parade so I went to a sports bar with a group of parents to watch on the big screen. It was very exciting to see them for their minute of fame on C-Span. Eldest, who was my band kid, was very jealous that the band got such an awesome opportunity. On Friday I braved the theater to go see Zero Dark Thirty (closing my eyes at times) and it is one intense movie. I thought both the Director and Jessica Chastain did an excellent job.
I spent a lot of time this week recreating my what I read list for the past 14 months which meant going through my Kindle, my blog, my book group lists, and my reading notes. I think I still have missed a few. So far for 2013 I have been better at keeping track and I hope to keep it up because recreating is not easy. For reading I read The Beauty of Humanity Movement by Camilla Gibb which was delightful. I started Diving Belles: And Other Stories by Lucy Wood. I have wanted to read this book since it first came out in England and finally picked it up at the library and I must say I am disappointed. Not in the writing, which is very good, but there is something about these stories that is not for me. I don’t think it is the combination of the magical and the real (I generally don’t have a problem with that) and the only other thing I can think of is the melancholy that seems to permeate the stories. I am halfway through and have to decide it I will continue on.
Here is what caught my interest this week:
I grew up in a Nancy Mitford house and even now, my mother’s morning book group has been devouring all the non-fiction my mother has concerning the Mitford Family. So I was surprised to read Book Snob’s review of Marghanita Laski’s first novel Love on the Supertax, written in 1944 and predating Love in a Cold Climate by five years. Surprised because I have read Laski’s Little Boy Lost and I would not have compared her writing to Mitford. But Booksnob does point out that each of Laski’s books is different. Love on the Supertax “is a light and frothy comedy of barely 120 pages that explores the class divide on the impoverished Home Front.” Clarissa, the daughter of an impoverished Duke falls in love with a young communist. The world she thought she would have is completely different from the reality of the home front but will the world offered by her young man suit her any better? You won’t find this one on Amazon but it does sound worth watching for.
I love to eat salads and Diane from Bibliophile by the Sea reviews two new cookbooks - Salad for Dinner: Simple Recipes for Salads that Make a Meal by Tasha DeSerio and Salad for Dinner: Complete Meals for All Seasons by Jeanne Kelley. Like Diana, I prefer cookbooks with lots of photos so the latter book looks more interesting – and I am more intrigued by the titles of the salads Diane puts in her review but the black olive vinaigrette in the first book also looks interesting. I hope my library gets these in soon.
I am a Watergate baby – I would come home from high school and watch the hearings and read everything I could about the scandal. I am also a big fan of Muriel Spark particularly enjoying Loitering with Intent and Momento Mori. I have not heard of her book, The Abbess of Crewe until reading Savidge Read’s review but now it is definitely on the list. Written in 1974, the novel is about an election at an Abbey with microphones and tapes and delicious scandal. It sounds like it is Spark’s take on Watergate. Watergate with Spark’s wicked sense of humor – what a combination!
Pultizer Prize winning journalist Alice Steinbach took a sabbatical from her newspaper in order to travel, look for spontaneity, and get to know herself as herself and not in relation to something or someone else. JoAnn from Lakeside Musing reviews the book that results from that journey – Without Reservation: The Travels of an Independent Woman. I love the quote JoAnn includes at the beginning of her review:
Although I do not believe in love at first sight – not with a man, anyway – I do believe it’s possible to fall instantly in love with a place. As soon as Marta and I emerged from a narrow lane and entered Ravello’s pristine town square, I felt the ZING of Cupid’s arrow hitting my heart. I was smitten instantly. But why Ravello? I wondered. Why hadn’t I fallen for sparkling Amalfi or dazzling Positano? For some reason I found myself comparing the three towns to men. If Amalfi were a man, I thought,he’d be dressed by Calvin Klein and reading Tom Clancy. Positano would wear Armani and carry a book by John Le Carre. But if Ravello were a man – ah, Ravello!- he would be in chinos and a fresh white Oxford shirt with no tie, buried in a book by Graham Greene. Page 229
Even with my difficulties with Diving Belles I find myself drawn to A Floating Life by Tad Crawford, reviewed by Dolce Bellezza. The unnamed narrator wakes up one morning in his middle age with a serious case of uncertainty about who he is. His life seems upside down (or inside out) and in complete disarray. He meets a model shipbuilder named Pecheur and from there things get a little bizarre with talking bears and oddly shaped apartments. The review speaks of how layered it is and other reviews mention how imaginative it is – a potent combination.
Finally three links:
If you are a Downton Abbey fan, Reading the Past – a blog by Sarah Johnson that focuses on historical fiction, has a post of Downton Abbey read-a-likes. Even if you are not a Abbey fan but you like historical fiction in general, her blog is well worth checking out.
Alyce of At Home With Books has a wonderful list of time travel books (along with a giveaway that ends January 29th.
On a more serious note, Winston’s Dad reminds us that today is Holocaust Memorial Day in the United Kingdom. He has a powerful list of suggested reading.