The holiday period provided me with wonderful places to inspire further reading. An inevitable purchase, for instance, was Death in Venice, currently queued up on my Kindle. Holidays also provided me with some time to catch up on podcasts I hadn’t listened to, and which have made me a fan of Mariella Frostrup. I just loved the interview with Sebastian Faulks (Open Book presenter on Radio 4 ) where she grilled him on the absence of heroines (as opposed to heroes) in his TV series on the novel. The discussion starts off in a very polite and reasonable manner, then Faulks slowly gets edgier and tenser. I mean to say, saying Marian Halcombe doesn’t make the grade as a hero. Is it because she’s not pretty, hey, Seb? Yah! sisters unite.
|Rome, July 2011 – Photo: Richard Wilkinson
Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks. I realised after having read this that this was the author of a book I read a few years ago (with book club N°1 – am going to have a name for this one, American book club? We’re not quite all American. Expats book club? Ditto. Jewish book club? Ditto. OK, book club N°1 it is, and the other one is work book club). I’d read March, which was one of those sequels to a famous book written by another author, in this case Little Women. Book club N°1 members re-read Little Women as well as reading March (the only one who read it for the first time was a man). I was apalled to realise what a domineering “mother sees all and mother knows all your secrets, darling” kind of mother Mrs March was.
Anyway, coming back to Geraldine Brooks’s Caleb’s Crossing, I was very luke warm about it. Quite nice but not brilliant. Girl, minister’s daughter in 17th Century America meets Native American, who ends up in Harvard. That’s about it. I saw some reviews saying “Beware! This will challenge your faith”. But I fail to see how, unless you’re more fundamentalist than the most extreme of the Pilgrim Fathers, AND your faith is so lightweight that a little interchange with someone from another culture/religion threatens it …
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, which I had intended to read in 1984, but that year came and went and I read many other books, not that one. I won’t go into the detail of what George Orwell would make of our society today but I was utterly captivated by the Newspeak and Doublethink concept, and the technicalities of it. I would be the one who is helping compile the 11th edition of the Newspeak dictionary but is too clearheaded about it… I haven’t really been able to listen to the news since without laughing hollowly…
A few Agatha Christies, re-reads for most of them: N or M? Good old Tommy and Tuppence and I can give you a huge clue in 5 letters… The Man in the Brown Suit, one of my favourites, unashamed light hearted romance, The Moving Finger, 4.50 from Paddington, A Carribean Mystery, all jolly good stuff.