Mercifully, I finished Gone to Earth
and sent it back to the library where it will gather dust until another poor soul is seduced into reading it. I'm overstating, of course, and I am glad I read it so that now I can reread Precious Bane
and see whether it really is as good as I remember it being now that I have another Mary Webb book under my belt to compare it to.
I'm off to the races again with Brian Fagan's marvelous book, The Little Ice Age: How Climate Made History, 1300-1850. One of the memes that's going around asks what book you proselytize for. Getting people to read this book is my mother's mission in life. Seriously. She takes global warming very seriously, and so she has me buy her 2-3 copies of this book from Amazon every couple of months so that she can give them to unsuspecting people who touch her life. So far, her mechanic has received a copy, as had her hairdresser, her favorite Safeway checker, the owner of the coffeeshop she frequents, and all my siblings and most of my nieces and nephews. I'm just now getting around to reading it, and it is wonderful.
It's well-written, interesting, and about my favorite time period in history...1300-1850.
Here's how the first chapter, "The Medieval Warm Period," ends:
Like the Norse conquests, cathedrals too are a consequence of a global climatic phenomenon, an enduring legacy of the Medieval Warm Period.
For five centuries, Europe basked in warm, settled weather, with only the occasional bitter winters, cool summers and memorable storms...Summer after summer passed with long, dreamy days, golden sunlight,and bountiful harvests...crop failures were sufficiently rare that peasant and lord alike might piously believe that God was smiling upon them.
I learned about the ocean currents and receding northern ice fields that enabled the Vikings to dominate Britain and reach North America. I learned that Britain was warm enough to enable a wine industry to flourish and threaten that of France. I learned about Notre Dame de Chartres cathedral, and how the architect's "vocabulary of color, form, geometry and symbol..." "...created transcendental effects that could heal and revivify the worshipers crowded in the soaring nave."
I read and learned and am happy. Next chapter..."The Great Famine."