Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Austen awaits

Our next book for my book circle is The Jane Austen Book Club. I hope this book lives up to my hopes and expectations. I wanted to read it because A) I love Jane Austen and it gives me an excuse to delve into Austen again B) it is another "book club" book. Having read Reading Lolita in Tehran I thought it would be a good contrast for discussion. C) the premise of a book club centred on Jane Austen where the participants' relationships are dissected by an Austen-like eye is wonderful. But will Karen Fowler pull it off? I hope she can match Austen but perhaps that is too much to expect. I will be happy if she comes close.

Wright's wrongs

Our LitWits met today and we tore into Richard Wright's Adultery. We didn't tear it apart but rather dove into the questions raised by the author.

On the whole I think we agreed it was a good readable book with much in it to think about. Some thought it better than Clara Callan as I did ( but at least one thought the reverse) The title put some of our members off initially. One member had several alternatives she thought might have been better( "the wages of sin" I think was one ?) but we agreed the adultery event was the central issue of the book with Denise's death only exposing the betrayal. We talked quite a bit about adultery itself. It seemed to be accepted by his colleagues, by the police ( except for the female constable) and by Denise's family. Does this partially absolve Daniel? I felt that it meant that the situation Daniel had to face was made easier for him but that it shouldn't in any way absolve him; he had hurt his wife and daughter seriously no matter what society thought of it.

Would Claire have found out about the affair had Denise not been killed? Would the affair have continued? I thought for sure it would have if Denise had anything to do with it as it was clear she had initiated the affair and had a "thing" for Daniel. And Daniel might have been weak enough to continue with it.

I felt Daniel was very detached through the first half or more of the book and was very self centred until he met Denise's family when perhaps finally he was made aware of the full tragedy of the events in which he was a central figure. But did he feel guilty? Did he really feel how much he had hurt Claire? We thought maybe men feel less seriously about betrayals of this sort and intellectualise it while a a woman's point of view might have had more emotion and obvious pain which Daniel did not seem to express. Was this what the author intended? There was a feeling that that the author is more confident in portraying male characters ( cv Clara Callan ) and I agree as the female characters were sketchily drawn, except for Denise who was fleshed out more toward the end.

My quibble remains. I question the logic, credibility, athleticism? of a 50+ year old man waiting in a car park until past dark for English rain to stop (does it ever stop) and having a "quickie" in the (small, standard shift, rental ) car when a comfortable hotel room awaited them. Necessary for the plot maybe but ....

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Books for Life

What stories/myths do I live by? What books have laid down paving stones I have followed in my life, or hope to follow? This was a question asked of herself by my friend "Mamie" in her Meanderings.

I had to think about this quite a bit but it was easier when I thought about the books I like to re-read or that I remember vividly from childhood. They must have meant something for me to be so attached to them. When I reflect on them and think about what they mean to me now this is what I have come up with so far. I'm starting with books from my childhood that I will never forget.

Winnie the Pooh - There are all kinds of folk in the Hundred Acre Wood, they can be quirky but take them as they are, warts and all, and they can be interesting friends.

Mary Poppins - Adults ( parents, guardians, teachers) can seem very stern and expect a lot from you but they have wonderful exciting stuff they can share with you; they love you underneath that crusty exterior. It is important to be disciplined, but there is a place for breaking out and having fun.

The Wind in the Willows: Ah friends. Friends care for and help each other even when they are silly. Nature is nice.

Heidi: Things, places, people that you may not like at first may end up being beloved. Give them a chance. Oh, and warm milk is sweet.

Tom Sawyer: Life is an adventure. Leaving home could be fun. You will survive

The Chronicles of Narnia - Don't be fooled by appearances. Turkish delight is a short lived "sweet" and can't replace the things in life that count. Life is a battle between good and evil and the choices you make are important. Power is tempting but its charm is a mirage. It takes courage to admit your own wrongs and it takes courage of a different sort to forgive others. Family matters.

The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings- Evil must be fought. Life is a hard journey and you often feel as if the side of the angels is losing the battle but one must be brave and go on anyway. We are not alone; many others very different in kind are in the same struggle and we can help them and vice versa.

The Christmas Carol:- It is never too late to remake yourself. Generosity trumps frugality.

The Cosmic Trilogy ( C.S. Lewis again) - Science and God are not incompatible. There would be no science without God.

Well, that's a start. I expect I shall come up with more.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Daniel's adultery

This character Wright has created...what to think of him. Self centered or what. Has he yet really felt sorry? Yes, he has said he is sorry, and he is for what it has done to his comfortable life. Yes, he is sorry in a detached kind of way for Denise's mother. The author seems to be trying to show that Denise was the instigator of the affair. As if that absolved Daniel in any way. It doesn't. I do not yet get a sense of "Oh my GOD. What have I done" kind of sorry. The sorry of real guilt and penitence. Only, the "I'd like to fix this up", "Can't we fix this up?", kind of sorry. One has to ask, is this what the author intended or is it just that he failed to convey this, wasn't skilled enough? I haven't finished the book quite yet, but it will be the question I ask myself when I do.

Friday, March 17, 2006

My Library

I've just added "my library" from Bibliophil.org See the button in the left column. I started with recent books discussed in our LitWits book circle. I intend to add more from that list and then add more of my bookshelf and then a wish list. I often hear about a book and say- I'd like to read that- and then forget about it. This way I won't forget! I guess it's my librarian background that makes this "fun" for me. Others might find it tedious and it does take a bit of time but I think readers of this blog may find it interesting to see what I am reading and compare my reviews with other readers of the same books. Not all books are for all readers and after a while I would think that if you see a reader who has similar tastes you could then see what they are reading and be confident that a certain book would suit you.

I chose the bibliophil program over the other jazzier one mainly because it was less commercial but I have to say the other one looked a bit more user friendly.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Just found out about this site. Neato. Going to look into this. Oh and now this one too
oh oh,now I have to choose.

Murder he wrote

I'm into Adultery. Perhaps I should clarify that... I have finally started Richard Wright's book. I have to admit, it has grabbing opening section. I am just into the part where he has to go home and face his family.

I only have a couple of niggling complaints, so far. Is it really believable that Daniel and Denise would have a quickie in the car by the side of the road rather than go back to their more than comfortable hotel room? If you didn't drive every time it rained in the UK you could be almost perpetually parked by the side of the road. Also, would Claire really use the word c___t to describe Denise. If Claire was of my generation ( ie. close to Daniel's age) not likely. Bitch maybe. But maybe I am a bit repressed. Daniel is narrating all this in a very detached and "dead" manner, but that perhaps is purposeful on the part of the author. I'll have to read the rest to see if it has real meaning.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Bedside reading

I am wading through Lynne Truss's second comic novella in the Lynne Truss Treasury entitled Tennyson's gift. I think I would like it if I was as knowledgeable as LT is about Tennyson and Dodgeson, Ellen Terry and everyone connected with that circle, which obviously the author is. It would be very witty I am sure if I was in the know. I loved her first one in the anthology which required only a more general knowledge.

I learned something very important, as a writer, though from this... if you write about a rather narrow subject which you know very well, you should make sure you give enough little "handrails" along the way for readers who are subject deficient. Those who are in the know can skip through them but they are invaluable props for us limping along behind.

I had better start Adultery. I should get over my reluctance.
Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
And I am Marie of Romania.
Dorothy Parker, Not So Deep as a Well (1937)