The summer continues at its normal pace and I must admit that I haven’t been that productive so far (apart from general life responsibilities). I’ve also been reading — I know: shocker — and thought I’d let you know which titles have passed across my pupils. 🙂
I started off with “The Light Years” (1990), the first volume of Elizabeth Jane Howard’s The Cazalet Chronicles. Very lightweight but also very readable, despite the fact that it introduces a million new characters who may (or may not) be related to each other. (I wouldn’t mind a family tree – I bet there’s one online but I haven’t checked this yet.) Anyway, this title introduces all the family just before the start of WWII and although I can’t say that I was completely blown away with it, I did go ahead and buy the next volume on Kindle, ready for if/when I need a fluffy read.
Then, I wanted a good travel/airport read (since I was actually traveling to CA in real life) so continuing with my TBR-read project, I pulled off “Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World” by Rita Golden Gelman (2002). This is a well-written travel narrative that travels the real-life adventures of the author who, after her divorce, decided to travel for a while to regain her mental bearings.
She travelled extremely lightly, with her fingers crossed that others would provide (really) and that didn’t really sit very well with me. Isn’t it a little rude to travel SO lightly that you could only struggle on if you sponge off your future friends? (I might just be being me though.) It all worked out but perhaps she and I have different ideas of the responsibilities of being a host to a privileged white woman traveling “to find herself”.
As mentioned, the writing was good and I enjoyed learning about her travels as she visited countries and tried traditions that I probably be brave enough to visit. Plus – she got to talk with some interesting and generous people that she met during this time (which turned into years).
She also had adult children but she didn’t seem to visit them much (and neither they her, I must admit). I’m not sure that this was entirely due to low finances, as she claimed in the book – she sounds a little self-absorbed to me – but perhaps it was. I don’t know.
After that, I had a hankering for some more good writing, this time from the hands of Stephen King. Yes – that horror writer. Typically, I run screaming in fear from King’s work (in terms of narrative plot) but I’m realizing that I can enjoy his less-scary writing (see review of XXX here) and – he’s such an excellent writer that it helps overcome any reticence on my part. So – I picked “Dolores Claiborne” from the library shelves and thoroughly enjoyed it, twisted though it was. I’m definitely picking up more King in the future — just staying away from his frightening stuff. This was a really good suspense and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Then, finished up a novella from Sam Selven, “The Lonely Londoners” (1956), which was a really good read. Selven was a Trinidadian author who also lived in England for a lot of his life so he knew life as a Caribbean-English immigrant perspective in the city of London which makes this a very authentic read for me. (Not sure if he was part of the Windrush Generation INSERT LINK HERE but he’s got to be close to that…)
This novel, short though it is, packs a punch. It’s written in dialogue (but you easily get the hang of it) and revolves around a new Londoner called Moses, also from the Caribbean area. He has somehow been put into the position of welcoming new arrivals from his home country when they first arrive in England and helps them find digs and a job to start off their new life. This fixer position is not what he likes but he’s too soft-hearted to complain and besides, it gives him a level of importance when England refused to recognize that in its new Black immigrants. (It’s the 1950s UK as well, so cultural diversity was pretty non-existent in terms of being recognized by official and unofficial powers that be.)
I’m definitely going to do a long blog post on this because it’s worth it. I’ll link to it when it’s done so you can peruse it at your leisure. 🙂
Moving on, I’d enjoyed my May read of a biography of Queen Elizabeth II by Robert Lacey and so wanting more royal-related reading, toddled off the library and picked “The Little Princesses: The Story of the Queen’s Childhood by her Nanny, Marion Crawford” (1950).
At the first chapter, I almost put it down because it was written so simply (too simple) and seemed to be rather sycophantic at the same time. But for some reason, I kept going and, in the end, I must have become used to these traits since I finished the read without too much trouble (except a slump in the middle). A longer blog post in the future, for sure, so check back for that.
And now I’m deep into “The Secret of Chimneys” by Agatha Christie (1925), a murder-mystery that is all wrapped up in a warm cup of tea. Not sure who the murderer is right now but thoroughly enjoying this read. Definitely enjoying this. Next — not too sure. Just bought a couple of books online and a couple more at B&N (gift certificate was burning a hole in my pocket). And more to come on that…
We’re having our home’s hardwood floors refinished so we’re hanging out at a kind friend’s house to avoid the noisy sander – first stage of the process. The workers tell us should only be a couple more days and then it should look great. Can’t wait.
Reading plans for the future include a refocus on the old TBR pile and picking up some more writers of color.
And I’ve been cooking up a storm, supper-wise (and still continuing with our marathon project of watching “The Great British Baking Show” except I’m not baking. I’m more of a savory person when I’m the chef in charge…) Recent winning recipes include (a very easy) Crock-Pot beef stroganoff, another pork tenderloin with figs (a replay from earlier in the summer but no link) and a tasty (and very summer-y) vegan strawberry-edamame spinach salad.
We’ve also been sucked into “Schitt’s Creek” which is brilliant fun (currently in crush mode with Alexa and David) and “Minari”, a movie about a Korean immigrant family to the US who wants to own a farm instead of being stuck sexing chicks (their current gig). It’s a fascinating plot all done in subtitles (since the family are such recent arrivals to the US). It probably meets the definition of a bildungsroman in terms of plot — seriously one of the best movies we’ve seen this year.
And then I’ve been pulled into doing loads of word search puzzles. Not the most intellectual of pursuits but they are fun!