Saturday, November 28, 2009
Posted by JaneGS
How did a week go by without a post? Oh, yeah, it was Thanksgiving week here in the U.S.
What have I been doing? Well, for starters, we invited my parents up for the holiday. They live about 100 miles south of us--just 1.5 hours or so if the traffic is light. They are 86 and 88 and since our house is full of stairs, we all decided that a Courtyard Marriott would be sleeping quarters for them. Between picking them up Wednesday, cooking a wonderful dinner Wednesday night, shuttling them back and forth between our house and the Marriott for much needed naps while they were visiting, cooking a fabulous Thanksgiving feast on Thursday, teaching my mom how to make coffee in the hotel room, teaching my mom how to deal with those new-fangled plastic key cards, watching several episodes of Animal Planet, catching up on all the family doings, taking them back home on Friday, I'm just glad we have leftovers to last for awhile!
On the reading front, I have started and given up on Bronteby Glyn Hughes. It was better than The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte, but on the whole rather flat really little more than dramatizing well-worn tales from Bronte lore. I'm not quite sure what I expected but I found myself growing impatient and rolling my eyes, so I figured this book wasn't a good way to spend my precious reading time.
I've also been plowing my way through the Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne mystery series by Julia Spencer-Fleming. I reached book five, All Mortal Flesh yesterday and was shocked to find that the series had jumped the shark! ****SPOILERS**** skip to the next paragraph if you don't want to learn that Spencer-Fleming did a cardinal no-no in my opinion. She killed off Russ's wife, Linda. Maybe some day I will read the novel and find out why, but I was so ticked off that Spencer-Fleming betrayed my trust as a reader that I returned the book to the library and will Clare and Russ a rest for awhile. Maybe I was irked because book four, To Darkness and to Death, was so terrific--the whole novel took place in one day and it was really well-written and interesting in that the mystery wasn't figuring out which dastardly arch villain was orchestrating the mayhem but instead was a study in how ordinary people can find themselves going down very dark psychological alleys when pushed hard enough. I was thinking how marvelous Spencer-Fleming was developing as an author, and then she pulled that cheap trick in book five.
So, I started Paul Collins's The Book of William: How Shakespeare's First Folio Conquered the World. So far so good. Collins is an excellent writer--I've learned three new words and I've only read the first 50 pages--and the subject matter is compelling. Learning tons about the publishing industry in the early 1600s in London right now, and anticipating learning even more about Shakespeare, his colleagues, life in London, and how the First Folio conquered the world. BTW, I did finish A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare and need to find time to do my last blog on it...Hamlet. This was definitely my favorite book of 2009.
I also just started Jenny Uglow's bio of George Eliot. I enjoyed her bio of Gaskell so much that I have decided to read about Eliot while reading her works.
I did read another Henry James story--The Romance of Certain Old Clothes--and was again disappointed in James and the story. Nothing particularly wonderful in the way it was written, and the subject matter has been done to death. Sisters who are jealous rivals, and one haunts the other. Grim, misogynistic, uninspired. I am going to have to read Daisy Miller so I can give James his due.
Finally, I did read the first installment of The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. I am on the email list for the installments, following the same publication schedule as the serialization of the novel 150 years ago. This is a reread for me, but I read the original so fast for plot years ago that I don't remember a lot of it.
On the adaptation front, I am on episode 11 of the first season of The House of Elliot. Evie and Bea are friends again, Jack is courting Bea, and Lydia is desperate to get back into London society. So much has happened in the first 10 episodes that it almost seems like several seasons worth of plot. I wonder whether this season was actually cancelled or if the producers simply ran out of steam after running so hard so fast. I'm still loving it, thinking about bobbing my hair, and dressing exclusively in 1920's fashions, including the hats! V. chic.