Monday, May 31, 2010
Samantha's bible for dealing with menopause is Suzanne Somers' Breakthrough.
Miranda's guide to the customs of the Middle East is Kuperard's UAE - Culture Smart!
When Carrie can't get to sleep, she's reading Nancy Mitford's The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate.
And Charlotte? Well, I didn't quite catch any glimpse of the book on the kitchen counter, but I'll bet the recipe for those cupcakes she was making came from this.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Throughout the trials and tribulations, Eliza keeps her wits, her eye for detail, and her plucky spirit. She reminds me a bit of Katherine Hepburn playing Rosie in The African Queen. Some of her predicaments are quite funny. Fearing capture and confiscation of their goods, she and her husband hide their papers and valuables among their clothes. Three watches are hidden in Eliza's hair with pins stuck in them to stop them from ticking but, "one of the pins however came out, at the very time I was set on shore. Never shall I forget what a terrible sensation the ticking of the watch caused! I think had it continued long, I must completely have lost my senses."
Unfortunately her husband was no Charlie Allnut or Bogey. Eliza quickly finds him cowardly, foolish, vain and his stupidity often adds to her distress. His nonchalance in being punctual for one of their boat connections forces them to take undue risks through choppy waters. His wife notes wryly that this is, " a common practice with most people who have brought themselves into difficulties by their imprudence and who seek to regain by obstinacy, what they have lost through folly. Pity such cannot always suffer alone." The marriage did not last and she separated from him a few years after their arrival in Calcutta - accelerated no doubt when he fathered an illegitimate child.
Undaunted as a single woman forced to be financially independent, Eliza makes several other voyages between England and India, trying to start a millinery business. These are longer sea voyages around the Cape of Good Hope and the number of shipwrecks and other nautical disasters she recounts give a vivid portrait of how difficult and brave it was to travel during this period when various European wars would sometimes intrude on their safety along with the life-threatening climate and its attendant diseases. It didn't help that she also encountered captains who believed it was bad luck to have women on board. Yet despite her occasional cattiness (or perhaps because of it), you can't help cheering Eliza on. She had a lot of spunk and courage. This is an entertaining and eye-opening slice of social history dotted with perceptive portraits of the people she encounters. The engraving above is from the frontispiece of the original 1817 edition, showing Eliza wearing Egyptian clothes. Unfortunately she died the year before publication, penniless in Calcutta at the age of sixty.
The annotations are by E.M. Forster who also contributes an introduction; he convinced Virginia and Leonard Woolf's Hogarth Press to publish an edition in 1925. While he admires Eliza and acknowledges that her account of events is fairly accurate, he also has no qualms about pointing out her character faults and poking some fun at them. His footnotes are sometimes as entertaining as Fay's letters. Despite her constant complaints of ill health, Forster notes that:
From various passages it is clear that our heroine was of the hungry type. People who write long letters often are. . . She ate and ate till the end - asparagus, pork, tunny, turtle, preserved peaches, ghi.As Simon Winchester writes of the letters in his introduction: "Shelley would have been proud. And Jane Austen, just shocked, shocked."
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Friday, May 21, 2010
Reading this book had me daydreaming about a future trip to England which only intensified when I got back from Calgary to find a copy of Great British Walks: 100 Unique Walks Through Our Most Stunning Countryside by Cavan Scott on my desk. I really like the format of this guide. Each walk gets a double-page spread. On the left is a written description of the walk, helpfully pointing out sites of interest at various stages. On the right is a blow-up of the ordinance map for the area with the route clearly marked out. Length both in distance and time is indicated along with the level of walking difficulty. The walk on Chesil Beach has just been added to my bucket list.
Have a great long holiday weekend. Get out on the bike. Take a long walk. Spend some time with friends and family and sink into a comfy chair and finish those one or two or three books you're currently in the middle of. Those at least are my plans.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
There are over 5,000 listings in the A-Z reference section and short definitions are given for terms such as blad, conger, rectos and breviary. Well known printers, publishers, authors, illustrators and librarians are also listed. In addition there are 50 essays on topics as diverse as “The European Medieval Book” “Paper”, “Children’s Books”, “The History of the Book in Germany” and “The History of Illustration and its Technologies”. The scope of these essays is truly international and they are accompanied by almost 200 b&w illustrations.
It’s easy to lose yourself in these books for many hours at a time and you’ll learn lots of fascinating facts about books and the publishing industry. Any bibli0phile would love this set. At one Dewey Diva event someone suggested that this would make a fantastic gift for a retiring librarian.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
- May 25 – Chapters Burlington, 7:00 pm
- May 26 – Chapters Oshawa 7:00 pm
- May 27 – Indigo Yorkdale, 7:00 pm
And now for the contest part of this post!
If you live in the GTA and are available on Tuesday May 25th for lunch, I'm hosting a draw- appropriately called:
WIN LUNCH WITH OUR SUPERNATURAL TOUR AUTHORS!
Prize #1- Lunch with Lesley Livingston, Kim Harrison and Aprilynne Pike Tuesday May 25th at 12:00 pm, plus a set of all six books for you to have signed.
Prize #2- A set of all six books, signed by the authors
- You must be a teacher or librarian, located in Canada, to enter this contest
- You must live in or near Toronto to be eligible to win Prize #1. The lunch will be held in Toronto and transportation to and from the lunch is the winners responsibility.
- Prize #2 is open to any teacher or librarian across Canada. Books will be shipped to the winner, who will be selected randomly from all entries.
- To enter, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with 'Supernatural Tour Contest' in the subject line. You must include your school or library mailing address, plus a phone number where you can be reached.
- Contest ends FRIDAY MAY 21st, 2010 at 9:00 a.m. The winners of both prizes will be notified that day.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
The parents have led simple, rather restrained lives of boring routine. They rarely go out except to church and this week without their daughter initially seems long and empty until they go to a local restaurant for lunch and suddenly get absorbed into the social life of their town and its inhabitants. Their entire world starts to open up and this is accompanied by a corresponding change in the descriptive language of the novel that exuberantly celebrates the senses. Sunshine makes everything glitter; gypsy bands are suddenly heard in the distance and most of all, the smell and taste of food is incredibly enticing (reading this novel has definitely prompted a recipe search for Hungarian vanilla noodles). The Vajkays go to the theatre, the father reunites with his old friends, gets drunk, gambles, stumbles home early in the morning and comes to some rather disturbing but very honest truths about his feelings toward his daughter. And then Skylark comes home; for her the week has also resulted in some harsh revelations about herself.
The joy of this book is definitely in the writing, which delicately balances the comic, the sentimental, the stifling and the despair. It asks tough questions about kin and kindness, self and self-deception. A good companion read would be Stefan Zweig's The Post-Office Girl for a similar story of being trapped in an unhappy and frustrating life. I was also strongly reminded of Leo McCarey's very moving film Make Way For Tomorrow. It's a completely different story about grown children finding their elderly parents a burden, but the emotions are similar, as are the themes of obligation and communication (or lack thereof) between the generations.