The first part of my reading year has been spent in the throws of romance, Emilie and Valencourt in Udolpho, Catherine and Henry in Northanger Abbey, Lucie and Charles in A Tale of Two Cities. So to pick up this brash and brittle story of infidelity and divorce was a bit of a culture shock!
‘I always thought during the pain of the marriage that one day it would make a funny book.’ A life lesson that Norah Ephron learnt from her mother was that everything is potential copy. Heartburn is a savagely comic roman-à-clef about the breakdown of a marriage. With recipes. Continue reading “Heartburn” →
There’s another spin! Here’s my list of 20 titles from my original Classics Challenge list. On Monday 22nd April the spin will tell me which number I must read by 31st May.
- The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
- The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse
- The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
- Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee
- The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
- Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
- The Outsiders by Albert Camus
- The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte
- Old Goriot by Honore de Balzac
- The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
- Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
- Maude by Christina Rosetti
- This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
- The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
- A Passage to India by E.M.Forster
- The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne
- Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
- If This is a Man by Primo Levy
- Seize the Day by Saul Bellow
My fingers are crossed for The Code of the Woosters!
I had forgotten how satisfying it is to read a Dickens’ novel, I don’t know why I hadn’t read this one before but from the very beginning it was like putting on my favourite cosy jumper. It feels safe being in such good hands and despite being half the length of his other novels, this was a masterclass in story telling. Written in 1859, the action is set between 1775 and 1793, between London and Paris and the French Revolution. Slowly building up the tension from the loving family life of Lucie and her father Dr. Manette in London to Madame and Monsieur Defarge, the blood stained streets of revolution in Paris, and the whirling of La Guillotine. Continue reading “A Tale Of Two Cities” →
Written and published in 1883, The Story of an African Farm is set in South Africa in 1860. It’s a classic of feminist fiction but Olive Schreiner also discusses gender roles and loneliness,science and religion and the constraints imposed by a repressive colonial society.
‘The full African moon poured down its light from the blue sky into the wide, lonely plain’.
The only break in the ‘solemn monotony of the plain’ is the farm where two cousins Emily and Lyndall live with the widowed Tante’ Sannie, the German overseer Otto and his son Waldo. This is Olive Schreiner’s own landscape, where she lived a lonely and isolated childhood with her Calvinist missionary parents. It’s a fictionalized autobiography that’s essentially a coming of age story told through a series of vignettes. Dream sequences, allegorical tales and extended metaphors often interrupt the realistic plot in a way that foreshadows modernist fiction, and makes for some quite odd reading at times. Continue reading “The Story Of An African Farm” →