Orczy, Baroness. The Scarlet Pimpernel. New York: Signet Classic, 1974.
When I first saw this on my list as a book to read in honor of love and Valentine’s Day I almost thought there was a mistake. The beginning of the book is mayhem. Taking place during the French Revolution and the Year of Terror people are being sent to the “Madame Guillotine” left and right. To make matters worse, the heroine of the story, Lady Marguerite Blakeney is disgusted by her dull, slow-witted and lazy husband. Death and indifference. What kind of love story is that?
My advice? Keep reading. This is a classic love story wrapped up in an adventure mystery full of intrigue. Lady Marguerite harbors a horrible skeleton in her closet. Out of revenge for her brother (because blood is thicker than water) she sent an entire family to the guillotine. The punishment didn’t fit the crime and Marguerite is ashamed of her prior actions. However, this event taints her marriage to Sir Percy Blakeney and as time goes on their relationship grows colder and colder, falling further and further out of love. Complicating matters is a crafty hero calling himself the Scarlet Pimpernel. He and his “League” are going around and rescuing citizens from the guillotine. His arch enemy, Chauvelin, is determined to uncover his real identity and he enlists Marguerite’s help (using her brother as bait). She has already proven that she’ll turn against anyone for the sake of her brother. What Marguerite doesn’t know is that her dull, slow-witted, lazy husband is none other than the Scarlet Pimpernel himself.
I love the opening sentence: “A surging, seething, murmuring crowd of beings that are human only in name, for to the eye and ear they seem naught but savage creatures, animated by vile passions and by the lust of vengeance and hate” (p 1). Powerful stuff. Another favorite line, “Fate is usually swift when she deals a blow (p 95). And one more, “The weariest nights, the longest days, sooner or later must preforce come to an end” (p 165).
Reason read: In honor of love trumping all. Even though Marguerite and Percy’s marriage is initially on the rocks they come to each other’s rescue in the end.
Author fact: When researching Baroness Orczy I discovered that her full name is a mouthful: Baroness Emmuska Magdolna Rozalia Maria Jozefa Borbala Orczy de Orczi. Really? Craziness.
Book trivia: The Scarlet Pimpernel is laced with real-life individuals. Imaginative nonfiction or historical fiction. You be the judge.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Romance Novels: Our Love is Here to Stay” (p 205).
Thackerary, William Makepeace. Vanity Fair: a Novel Without a Hero. New York: The Book League of America, date unknown.
The story opens with two graduating students leaving Miss Pickerton’s academy for young ladies. One graduate, Amelia Sedley, is well loved and receives an enormous send off while her companion, Rebecca Sharp, barely garners a glance. Becky is an orphaned governess, traveling with Amelia as her guest. Once at the Sedley home Rebecca sets out to become betrothed to Amelia’s brother, Joseph. Jos serves as Collector of Boggley Wollah in the East India Company’s Civil Service. Once that attempt fails Rebecca becomes even more amoral and shameless. In today’s terms she would be classified as a psychopath because of her lack of conscience and her inability to feel anything for her fellow man. Amelia is disgustingly sweet and Rebecca is shamelessly indifferent. Neither one makes a satisfying hero in Thackeray’s eyes. I found the story to be plotless and pointless. What made the reading more difficult was Thackeray getting confused and mixing up the characters.
Lines that got me for one reason or another, “Now and then he would make a desperate attempt to get rid of his superabundant fat, but his indolence and love of good living speedily got the better of these endeavors at reform…” (p 13), “Sir Put Crawley was a philosopher with a taste for what is called low life” (p 41), and “…if you are not allowed to touch the heart sometimes in spite of syntax, and are not to be loved until you know the difference between trimeter and tetrameter, may all poetry go to the deuce and every schoolmaster perish miserably!” (p 60).
Reason read: First month, first chapter. Wish I hadn’t.
Author fact: Vanity Fair (published in 1848) was Thackeray’s best known work.
Book trivia: I was astounded to learn (through IMDB) that Vanity Fair was made into a movie for the big screen and television nearly a dozen times. It even had a radio version.
BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the introduction (p x). Pearl says Vanity Fair is one of the books at her bedside.
Holy crap I am late with the list. “I’m late, I’m late” said the White Rabbit! Okay, okay! I just finished The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland so sue me.
January 2013 is another year of hope and of promise. Kisa and I are going to see Trey Anastasio at the Palace in a few weeks. I officially started training for the 5th Just ‘Cause Walk and, and. And! I am training to run a 10k in March. Yay me. But, here are the books…before I get too carried away.
- Rabbit Hill (speaking of rabbits) by Robert Lawson in honor of when All Creatures Great & Small first aired. Get it? Creatures = rabbits. This is a kids book so I’m hoping to fly through it.
- The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith in honor of January being Female Mystery month. I’m listening to this on cd. It’s the first one in the series so expect to see Alexander McCall Smith on my book list for the next 4 or 5 months.
- Lives of the Painters, Sculptors Vol 4 by Giorgio Vasari ~ this (finally, finally) ends the series started in October in honor of Art Appreciation month
- Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackery ~ in honor of the first month of the year I’m reading something from the first chapter of More Book Lust.
- Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet by Eleanor Cameron ~ in honor of the a Happy New Year. Another kids book to lighten the mood.
- Ancient Athens on 5 Drachmas a Day by Philip Matyszak ~ Okay, get this – Female Domination Day in Greece happens in January, hence reading something Greek.
- Tatiana by Dorothy M. Jones ~ in honor of Alaska becoming a state in January. Mo one locally has this book in their library so I had to ILL it. It might have to come from Alaska. How fitting.
- Final Solution by Michael Chabon ~ in honor of January being Adopt a Rescued Bird month. This is another book I will listen to in the car or while working out.
For the LibraryThing Early Review program I am just finishing up Gold Coast Madam by Rose Laws. I also received notification of a January Early Review book but as always I won’t mention it by title until it’s in my hot little hands (or in this case, cold little hands since it’s 6 degrees outside).
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft. Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. New York: Barnes and Noble Classics, 2003.
I am glad I had a chance to reread Frankenstein. Such a great book! Victor Frankenstein is a student impatient with a classical education. He becomes fascinated with unorthodox science and the engineering of life from human corpses. Left alone with his “research” Frankenstein creates a man more powerful in strength and size than average, and because his methods are crude, so ugly it is deemed a “monster,” a “daemon” a “fiend.” Upon creation Frankenstein immediately regrets his man-made monster and is relieved when it runs away.
Frankenstein is a cautionary lesson in the dangers of messing with science. It is also a commentary on assumptions and misunderstandings. When Frankenstein’s monster starts killing Victor’s loved ones Frankenstein misunderstands the message and makes assumptions about the violence. From the first tragedy it is unknown if it was an accident or not. It is a tragedy that doesn’t end well for anyone. The story of Frankenstein and his monster is told encapsulated in another story that brings us full circle. You cannot help but feel sorry for the monster. He is abhorred and misunderstood from the very beginning. His struggle to belong becomes a diabolical quest when Frankenstein tries and then refuses to create a companion for him.
Favorite lines, “To examine the causes of life, we must first have recourse to death” (p 46), and “But I, the true murderer, felt the never-dying worm alive in my bosom, which allowed of no hope or consolation” (p 78). Okay, and one more: “During my first experiment, a kind of enthusiastic frenzy had blinded me to the horror of employment; my mind was intently fixed on the consummation of my labour, and my eyes were shut tight to the horror of my proceedings. But now I went to it in cold blood, and my heart often sickened at the work of my hands” (p 146).
Author fact: What an interesting concept – Mary Shelley, married to Percy Bysshe Shelley, writes Frankenstein in response to a challenge, “we will each write a ghost story…” (p 7); a competition of sorts among friends. Mary’s story wins. Ironically enough, it is her first story, written as an 18 year old who claims the story came to her in a dream. Another interesting twist is the preface to the Barnes and Noble copy is written by her husband but in Mary’s voice.
Book trivia: Over time Victor Frankenstein’s monster has become known as Frankenstein. Thanks to movies we all know the green man with screws in his temples and crude stitches running down his neck.
Reason read: Halloween is in October. Need I say more?
BookLust Twist: From Book Lust and More Book Lust. From Book Lust in the chapter called “Mechanical Men, Robots, Automatons, and Deep Blue” (p 150). From More Book Lust in the chapters “Horror for Sissies” (p 119) and “Literary Lives: the Brits” (p 147).
Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. New York: Warner Books, 1982.
This is another one of those times when I have to ask who doesn’t know the story of Scout Finch? I’m sure many, many people refer back to the movie and that classic trial scene, but tell me, who doesn’t know Atticus Finch at least?
The story is told from the viewpoint of six year old Scout Finch, a tomboy living in Alabama during the Great Depression. She is looking back on her coming of age, remembering the year when all innocence was lost. Scout and her brother, Jem, are typical children growing up in the segregated deep south. Their widowed father, Atticus, is a county lawyer appointed to defend a black man accused of attacking and raping a white teenager. This is on the periphery of Scout’s life. She is more concerned with the monster who lives nearby. In the neighborhood lives a recluse of a man few have seldom seen. He is the subject of gossip and rumors and legends because his existence is such a mystery. Naturally, the neighborhood children grow up being afraid of him. Scout doesn’t understand this is a prejudice equal to the racial prejudice displayed in her town against her father for defending a “nigger.” As the trial draws near the community begins a slow boil until it erupts in violence. While the ending is predictable the entire story is so well written it should not be missed or forgotten. Read it again and again.
Favorite lines: “Matches were dangerous, but cards were fatal” (p 55) and something Atticus says at the end of the book, “Before Jem looks at anyone else he looks at me, and I’ve tried to live so I can look squarely back at him” (p 273).
Postscript ~ There is a scene when Scout and Jem are taking to their black housekeeper’s church. The congregation sings “When They Ring The Golden Bells” by Dion De Marbell. All I could hear in my mind was Natalie Merchant singing the same song off Ophelia, last track.
Reason Read: September is Southern Month, whatever that means.
Author fact: Harper Lee has never wanted the attention To Kill a Mockingbird has afforded her. She shuns the limelight and has never written anything since.
Book trivia: To Kill a Mockingbird was made into an Oscar winning movie in 1962.
BookLust Twist: I can always tell when Nancy Pearl really loves a book. She’ll mention it even in a chapter it doesn’t belong in. In Book Lust it is in four different chapters, “Girls Growing Up” (p 101), “100 Good Reads, Decade by Decade: 1960s” (p 178), “Southern Fiction” (p 222), and “What a Trial That Was!” (p 244). To Kill a Mockingbird is also mentioned in More Book Lust in the chapter called “You Can’t Judge a Book By Its Cover” (p 238). Pearl is comparing Donna Tartt’s character, Harriet Dufresne (in The Little Friend) with Scout Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird.
Cooper, James Fenimore. The Deerslayer: or The First War-Path. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1925.
Despite it’s raggedy appearance I am glad my library has kept this edition of The Deerslayer. It’s the 1925 edition illustrated by none other than the great N.C. Wyeth. It’s an edition my father could have held in his hands as a boy. It reeks of history and classic boyhood imaginings.
I will be one hundred and ten percent honest. I found this to be a tedious read. Maybe it’s because of the subject matter. I am not a fifteen year old boy enthralled with Davey Crockett, Huckleberry Finn and the Lone Ranger. Adventure stories about scalping and woodsmen mayhem doesn’t readily appeal to me. Aside from the beautiful illustrations The Deerslayer didn’t hold my attention. The plot was pretty simple: Natty is a woodman who proves to be a respected an ally to the Mingo tribe. When that tribe is attacked by Natty’s companions the tables are turned and the companions are taken hostage. There is a great deal made of how to get the companions back and a few people are accidentally murdered. Because Natty treats these killings with respect the Mingo tribe give him a nickname and build a tenuous relationship despite his choice of companions who insist on trying to scalp them.
Note: According to The Deerslayer’s preface it is part of the Leather-Stocking Tales and is meant to be read as part of a series. In chronological order The Deerslayer would be read first but it’s actually the last book of the series.
In the Deerslayer we meet frontiersman Natty Bumppo just coming into manhood. I’m hoping I will have more luck with reading Last of the Mohicans.
Line that snagged me: The very first one. “On the human imagination events produce the effects of time” (p 1).
Reason tried to read: Cooper was born in the month of September.
Author Fact: James Fenimore Cooper was expelled from Yale for being a prankster. He also died one day shy of his 62nd birthday.
Book Trivia: The Deerslayer was made into a movie six times, starting in 1957 and is considered controversial because it was heavily criticized by Mark Twain.
BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the chapter called “Digging up the Past Through Fiction” (p 79).
Remarque, Erich Maria. All Quiet on the Western Front. Translated by A.W. Wheen. New York: Ballantine Books, 1982.
Do people consider this a classic? I think I have been aware of this book for the past 35 years but have never read it before now. If someone said “all quiet” I would finish with “on the western front.”
Throughout All Quiet on the Western Front there is the theme of a lost innocence. Soldiers as young as 18 or 19 reflect on a childhood lost. The main character of Paul Baumer is constantly thinking about how, if he were to survive the war, he could never relate to the peacetime world around him. He scoffs at the word “peace.” I saw All Quiet as a commentary on survival in its purest form. Doing anything and everything you can to live another day. When one soldier is obviously on death’s door another wants his boots and starts planning a strategy to get them…even before the dying man has drawn his last breath. This is not callousness personified. This is survival. He knows the boots are of no use to the dying soldier. They would be to him, if only he could get them before someone else does. Ironically, the boots are later passed along to Paul eventually.
Another aspect of Remarque’s work that bears mentioning is the detail he pays to describing death. While the images are unforgiving, violent and grotesque, it is war in its truest state and at its worst. Some of the images that stuck with me: a butterfly flitting around a field of dead men and finally settling to rest on the teeth of a corpse; a screaming horse that can’t be put out of his misery because he will reveal the hiding place of the soldiers.
Lines that moved me one way or another, “The army is based on that; one man must always have power over the other. The mischief is merely that each one has too much power” (p 44) and “At the same time he ventilated his backside” (p 83).
Book Trivia: This was made into a movie twice – once in 1930 and again almost 50 years later in 1979. It won an Academy Award in 1930.
Author Fact: Remarque served as a soldier on the western front in World War I. I can’t help but think All Quiet on the Western Front is almost autobiographical.
BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in two chapters “100 Good Reads, Decade by Decade: 1920s” (p 176) and “World War I Fiction” (p 250).
I had high hopes for June. Unreasonably so, I think. I don’t know what I was thinking when I decided the difference of a day would make everything better. What’s May 31 into June 1st other than Thursday into Friday? One day into the next? Silly me. June was a few things – a return to the run, a funeral heard around the world, a trip to an exotic island…
Here is the book list:
- A River Runs Though It and Other Stories by Norman MacLean ~ in honor of river cleanup month. I can see why they made the first short story into a movie, but why not the other two? They were equally as good as the first. I read this in five days.
- Death of Ivan Ilich by Leo Tolstoy ~ in honor of June being the best month to travel to Russia…that is, if you even want to travel to Russia. I guess you would need the desire before you decided the best time to go…I read this over three lunch breaks.
- Kristin Lavransdatter: the Bridal Wreath by Sigrid Undset ~ again, chosen for the best time to travel somewhere. In this case, Norway. Note: this is only part one of a three part story. I will be reading the rest in July and August.
- The Stranger by Albert Camus ~ in honor of I honestly don’t remember what. Something celebrating Algeria, I’m sure. This was deceptively simple to read. Read over five lunch breaks.
- The Duke of Deception by Geoffrey Wolff ~ read in honor of June being family month. Some family!
- Damage by Josephine Hart ~ in honor of Father’s Day…well, sort of.
Two Early Review books came in, courtesy of LibraryThing:
- Waterlogged: The Serious Problem of Overhydration in Endurance Sports by Tim Noakes, MD. I didn’t finish this in time to consider it an official June read, but at least I started it in June.
- Who Should I Be? a Novel From Life by Sheila Heti ~ this was slightly delusional but I loved it.
One audio book on cassette while I worked out:
- D-Day by Stephen Ambrose ~ in honor of well, D-Day – June 6th 1944. Duh.
I should also note that I had an audio book for the flight to HI. I listened to July’s selection for the entire trip to and from the islands.
Tolstoy, Count Lev N. Dramatic Works: the Death of Ivan Ilich.Translated by Leo Wiener. New York: AMS Press, 1968.
Death of Ivan Ilich opens with Ilich’s death already a reality in the year of 1882.
As a person struggling with the death of a loved one there were certain parts of Death of Ivan Ilich that struck a nerve with me. Early in the story Ilich’s colleagues are standing around discussing his death, having just learned of it. One man exclaimed, “And here I have not called on him since the holidays. I was meaning to all the time” (p 4). That bears repeating. I was meaning to all the time. Exactly.
I found Death of Ivan Ilich to be extremely psychological and painful. Here is a relatively young man of 45 who dies from an unexplained illness after falling off a chair. He bruises his side and mysteriously falls ill a short time later. Even more troublesome – he never recovers from this fall. Was it cancer? Many scholars seem to think so. What I found particularly disturbing is the lack of care and sympathy his family feels for him. His wife and daughter all but cast him aside once they realize he is dying. Only his long-faithful butler remains true to him.
The actual death of Ivan goes largely unexamined. Instead we crawl into Ivan’s mind as the dying process takes its toll. In the beginning he is indignant, believing as a good man who has led a moral life he does not deserve such a fate. He questions his life’s purpose and begins to compare it to that of his butler. While he never accepts his death at the end he seems to understand it.
BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called “Russian Heavies” (p 210).
Alcott, Louisa May. Little Women. New York: Scholastic, 1987.
I think it goes without saying that Little Women is a classic. Who doesn’t know the story of Meg, Jo, Amy and Beth? Okay, so female readers of all ages probably know it better than men but either way there is no denying it’s a classic! Plus, they made a movie out of it!
So. To repeat the obvious: This is the story of the March women – Mrs. March and her four daughters. Too old to be drafted into service, Mr. March enlists to be a chaplain in the civil war. While he is away Mrs. March and her girls keep a modest house house in Concord, Massachusetts. The story centers around the four daughters and their four very different personalities. Alcott was ahead of her time when she created the character of Josephine (“Jo”). Jo is an ambitious tomboy who cuts her hair and wants to be a unmarried writer. She is referred to as male by herself (saying she is the man of the house while Father is away) and by her father (who calls her “son”). It’s an interesting dynamic to the plot. The rest of the March women are as Victorian as can be. I try to refrain from seeing them as prissy. They are all very pretty and wishy-washy and have talent. As a aside, the storytelling reminded me of Anne of Green Gables.
Disclaimer: Alcott intended Little Women to the first of a two volume set (with Good Wives being the second). Because Good Wives is not on my reading list I didn’t read it with Little Women.
Author Fact: Louisa May Alcott is buried in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, MA. I wonder if I’ll have time to look her up while I am there in another week?
BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called “Three-Hanky Reads” (p 236). Of course Pearl is referring to the part when Beth dies.
Wilder, Laura Ingalls. These Happy Golden Years. New York: HarperTrophy, 1971.
When we meet up with Laura again she is fifteen years old and off to teach school at the Brewster settlement, twelve miles away. This is a period of great confusion for her. On the one hand, she is still a child, wanting to go to school to learn and to be with friends. On the other hand, she is a young adult, wanting to teach school to earn money for her family. Mary is away at a school for the blind and needs help with tuition. As she says, “only yesterday she was a schoolgirl; now she was a schoolteacher” (p 1). During this time Laura’s fashion sense is becoming more adult with floor-length dresses and fancy hats. She takes up sewing on Saturdays to earn money for new clothes. She is starting the receive the attention of Almanzo Wilder as well. While this attention is, at first, unsettling to Laura she begins to look forward to his cutter (winter) and buggy (summer) rides. Soon they are courting under the guise of taming wild horses, but I don’t think I will be spoiling anything to admit their inevitable engagement seemed sudden and uneventful to me.
Probably the most interesting part of the story was when Laura was negotiating her wedding vows with Almanzo. She doesn’t want the ceremony to include the word “obey” in it. Almanzo is fine with that but when Laura learns the reverend also feels strongly about not including the vow of “obey” she is shocked. Yet she is not a feminist. She doesn’t want the privileged of voting. Interesting.
This is the last book in the “Little House” series for my challenge. It has been a pleasure to reread these classics and I thank Nancy Pearl for bringing them back to me.
BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “The Great Plains: the Dakotas” (p 107).
Cather, Willa. My Antonia.New York: Everyman’s Library, 1996.
Rereading My Antonia was like spotting a familiar face in a crowd somewhere in a country I have never been to before. It was like coming home after forty years away and remembering houses and neighbors. An old familiarity that was somehow comforting and true. I thoroughly enjoyed rereading this classic. Structurally, My Antonia is separated into five different books: The Shimerdas (introducing Antonia and her Bohemian family), The Hired Girls (delving into Antonia’s life in town), Lena Lingrad (Antonia’s good friend), The Pioneer Woman’s Story (Antonia’s friend, Tiny’s return to the farmland) and Cuzak’s Boys (Jim visiting Antonia after a twenty year absence and meeting her large family).
The premise of the story is in the introduction. Two friends are traveling by train and reminiscing about Antonia, a girl they both knew growing up. They agree to write their thoughts of her but James Quayle Burden is the only one to do so. He tells the story of growing up on the Nebraska plains with Antonia as his lifelong friend.
Best lines: “Perhaps we feel like that when we die and become a part of something entire, whether it is sun and air, or goodness and knowledge. At any rate, that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great” (p 20), “Those two could quarrel all morning about whether he ought to put on his heavy or his light underwear, and all evening about whether he had taken cold or not” (p 159), and “Clearly, she was the impulse, and he the corrective” (p 262).
Author Fact: Willa Cather was born Wilella Cather and lived in New York for most of her life.
Book Trivia: My Antonia was made into a movie in 1995.
BookLust Twist: My Antonia is indexed in all three Lust books: in Book Lust in the chapter called “100 Good Reads, Decade by Decade: 1910s” (p 175), in More Book Lust in the chapters called “The Great Plains: Nebraska” (p 107) and “The Immigrant Experience” (p 123), and in Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Nebraska: The Big Empty” (p 148). If Pearl had written a chapter called “Women Channeling Men” she could have included My Antonia there as well.
Austen, Jane, Emily Bronte and George Eliot. Three Nineteenth Century Novels: Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights, Silas Marner. New York: New American Library, 1979.
Reviewing Wuthering Heights Heights only.
Wuthering Heights is the quintessential story of doomed romance, family strife and all-consuming revenge. Who doesn’t know the tragic story of Catherine and Heathcliff? Ellen (Nelly) Dean is the perfect narrator for Wuthering Heights. Only her memory bridges the gap between the two generations. She served both generations of the Earnshaw and Linton families. As she explains to renter Mr. Lockwood, she was a child servant in the Earnshaw household when Mr. Earnshaw brought home gypsy orphan, Heathcliff. Earnshaw’s children are slow to accept Heathcliff into the family and while Catherine softens and learns to love him, brother Hareton never does. It is a classic case of feelings magnifying over time. Catherine falls in love with Heathcliff while Hareton becomes consumed by hatred. Revenge becomes another theme in Wuthering Heights as Catherine’s love for Heathcliff is overshadowed by a wealthier, more gentlemanly suitor. Soon she is sacrificing her true passion for societal standing and marries well-to-do Edgar Linton instead.
Author fact: Emily Bronte was only 30 years old when she died of tuberculosis. Wuthering Heights was her only novel although she wrote tons of poetry…Can you imagine what she could have done if she had lived for another 30 years?
Book Trivia: Wuthering Heights has been made into movies, a television show, a musical, a play, and even an opera. Kate Bush wrote a song about Wuthering Heights that became a hit.
BookLust Twist: from More Book lust and Book Lust To Go. From More Book Lust in the chapter called “Brontes Forever” (p 35). From Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “An Anglophile’s Literary Pilgrimage” (p 20).
Chaucer, Geoffrey. Canterbury Tales. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992.
The premise behind Chaucer’s tale is really quite simple: out of a group of pilgrims traveling to Canterbury Cathedral, who can tell the best tale? Whoever wins gets a free meal back at the Tabard Inn at the end of the journey. Most of the stories center around three themes, religion, fidelity and social class. The entire story is an example of framing a story within a story, or in the case of Canterbury Tales stories within one story.
This quote had me scratching my head, “The precise, unerring delicately emphatic characterization for which the Canterbury Tales is so famous are no more extraordinary than Chaucer’s utter mastery of English rhythms and his effortless versification” (back cover). Whatever. This doesn’t tell me anything, anything at all, about the plot between the pages.
Best quote is right from the beginning, “He may nat wepe, althogh hym soor smerte” (p 7). Awesome.
Book Trivia: there are some scholars out there who think Chaucer wasn’t finished with The Canterbury Tales and that some of the tales are incomplete.
BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the chapter called “Digging up the Past Through Fiction” (p 79). Interestingly enough, this didn’t need to be on the list. Pearl was mentioning it as the inspiration for another book. I am starting to call these mentions “off topic” or “not the point.”
What is March 2012 all about? Hard to say . Or as they say on Monhegan, hard tellin’ not knowin’. Fitting I suppose for a reading project still in limbo. I’m still reading books off my own shelves and borrowing books from my own library. To those not in the know that sounds strange, but there you have it.
Here are the books I *think* I’ll be reading in March:
- A Grain of Wheat by Ngugi Wa Thiong’o (baptized James Ngugi) ~ in honor of March being African Writers Month
- Little Town in the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder ~ in honor of the Dakotas (series was started in January)
- Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101 Airborne from Normandy to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest by Stephen Ambrose ~ in honor of March 4th being “Hug a GI Day.” Since I don’t have a GI to hug, I’ll hug a book about World War II.
- Lord of the Rings: Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien ~ in honor of New Years (series was started in January)
- Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte ~ in honor of March being National Literature month.
For the Early Review program for LibraryThing – I never got the February book so we’ll see if it comes in March…Incidentally, I just checked the LibraryThing website and I was awarded a March book as well. Now the race is on to see which book makes it here first.