The Outsider

Written in the first person Monsieur Meursault a Parisian living in Algiers lets us into his very ordinary life. He lives in an apartment where his neighbours include Raymond who brutally assaults his mistress and Salamano a widower who lives with his dog. His girlfriend Marie stays over sometimes. He goes to work, drinks wine, smokes a lot, swims and endures the heat.

‘My mother died today. Or maybe yesterday, I don’t know.’ This first line captures Meursault’s state of anomie brilliantly, however ordinary his life this is no ordinary character and I was hooked immediately by his simple straightforward prose.

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Classics Club Spin #25

Time for another spin and a great way to start the new year! On Sunday the 22nd of November the numbers will be spun and the corresponding title must be read by the 30th January 2021 – that’s nine whole weeks, it must be possible!

This is my list:

  1. Old Goriot by Honore de Balzac
  2. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  3. Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin
  4. The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
  5. The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  6. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
  7. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
  8. Swann’s Way by Marcel proust
  9. Seize the Day by Saul Bellow
  10. A Passage to India by E.M.Forster
  11. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  12. The Book of the City of Ladies by Christine de Pizan
  13. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne
  14. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
  15. Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin
  16. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
  17. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  18. A Passage to India by E.M.Forster
  19. Seize the Day by Saul Bellow
  20. The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne

I’d quite like a chunkster for the dark evenings, The House of the Seven Gables or Les Miserables maybe but I’ll have to wait and see. . .

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

‘You must go back with me to the autumn of 1827’ writes Gilbert Markham to his friend Jack Halford in 1847, ‘I know you like a long story, and are as great a stickler for particularities and circumstantial details as my grandmother, so I will not spare you’ and so he begins to recount the story of his meeting with Helen Graham. Gloomy Wildfell Hall has been shut for years, but word comes to the neighbourhood that a mysterious single lady has been seen occupying a few of the rooms with a young child. The chatter begins amongst the local families as they speculate and vie for information and invitations.

We know that she’s an artist, that she is alone with her son Arthur and one trustworthy servant and we know that there’s a secret and that she’s afraid – but what has happened? Helen takes Gilbert into her confidence and dramatically thrusts her diary into his hands.

‘Bring it back when you have read it; and don’t breathe a word of what it tells you to any living being – I trust to your honour.’

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Random Tuesday

I understand that this year we’re having a mast autumn in the south of England. Something that happens every 5 to 10 years when all the trees synchronise to produce a vast quantity of fruit- far too much for the predators to eat so saplings can grow and flourish. And it’s true, the hedgerows are dripping with berries and the quantity of conkers and acorns, crab apples and beech masts make walking a dangerous business, any small gust of wind and the thud of conquers hitting the ground makes Dylan the dog and I stop in our tracks!

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