Jill Rummages Among Her Books in 2023 - Part Four

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Jill Rummages Among Her Books in 2023 - Part Four

Set 6, 5:01 pm

Outstanding Titles Read Thus Far (As of Sept 4, Labor Day 2023)

A History of Reading (1996)
Stories of Books and Libraries (2022)
The Mountain in the Sea (2022)
Nettle and Bone (2023)
The Lost Art of Reading: Books and Resistance in a Troubled Time (2018)
The Original Bambi (2022)

As a quick update as to why I’m putting these titles here and not listing the whole of what I have read over the past 8 months, those half-dozen are books that have left some sort of long-lasting mark in my brain, something that the brain somehow keeps returning to. I’ve read other stuff and enjoyed so much of it, but the above titles have continued to rattle around in my brain in some form or another. Think of them as recommendations or as conversation-starters.

Revisiting as of September 6, 2023

Novel Houses by Christina Hardyment (which is leading me to look more seriously at reading works by Vita Sackville-West)
The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction by Alan Jones

(I’ve done a fair amount of re-reading this year. Mostly revisiting stuff from my formative years.)

Currently reading as of September 6, 2023

The Man Born to be King by Dorothy Sayers
The Fine Art of Invisible Detection by Robert Goddard

The other thing that I have in my head has to do with threads or themes – commonalities that emerge from the variety of titles read that were not anticipated in advance. Across the past 8 months these have been:

–Reading as an activity
–Man as Just-One-More-Species in the Ecosystem
–Adapting original source materials into new and various forms

Set 6, 5:29 pm

Happy New Thread!

Set 6, 5:39 pm

Happy New thread!

Set 6, 5:59 pm

Happy new thread from me, also.

Set 6, 7:01 pm

Party in Jill's new thread!

Set 7, 7:58 am

Happy new thread! I need to read Nettle and bone.

Set 7, 10:19 am

Okay, this may or may not be a sign of obsessive behavior, but it is more than possible that there are complete sets of Jane Austen's six novels in every room of my house, excepting the bathroom and kitchen. (There are no books in the bathroom whatsoever and the kitchen only holds cookbooks which look all the worse for the wear and tear of usage.) There are also ebooks of her novels on my Kindle although I may be missing Northanger Abbey in that specific setting. (That's my least favorite Austen novel...)

Is it time for me to write to Dear Abby?

Set 7, 12:31 pm

>1 jillmwo: Oh, I've wanted to read A Man Born to be King for a long time, but when I looked for it the price was out of my range. Maybe I should look again.

>7 jillmwo: Do you have the cookbooks inspired by Jane Austen in your kitchen? It seems there are a lot of them. I hate to think of your kitchen feeling left out.

So funny. Northanger Abbey is my favorite of Austin's, although I haven't read the other books since I was in my twenties and had kneejerk reactions. I recently acquired them again to see if my more "mature" reading self might appreciate them better.

Set 7, 12:42 pm

>8 MrsLee: I read all six Austen's novels when I was in my mid-twenties. I loved two, liked one, and detested three. I've reread the three I enjoy a number of times, but I have a nice set of all six in case I'm tempted to try the Terrible Trio again.

Set 7, 3:37 pm

>8 MrsLee: I know you have a Kindle. May I ask why you don't borrow ebooks from your library? It's a very painless (and might I add free) process. And it's so easy to return things that aren't to your taste without having paid for them.

Set 7, 5:02 pm

>7 jillmwo:
I really enjoyed Northanger Abbey.

In answer to your question: Yes!

…but so what?

Set 7, 5:56 pm

>10 clamairy: Too damn lazy to figure out how. I might do that now that I have to pinch my pennies though. The other reason is that I own 837 books on my Kindle at present, with probably 650 minimum not read. Not to mention all the books in my house which are unread. I'm not really hurting for reading material. :D

On that particular book, I wanted a paper (preferably hardcover) when I was originally pricing it. Now I'm not sure I care what version, but also my desire has slackened.

Editado: Set 7, 6:55 pm

>8 MrsLee: >10 clamairy: and >12 MrsLee: Part of the challenge is that the book itself, The Man Born To Be King has been out of print for a number of years. The version I'm looking at came out in January of this year and because it is a somewhat scholarly annotated edition from an academic press, it is more expensive than a lot of other books. That may be due in part to Sayers' literary estate but I don't know that for sure. (At any rate, they've priced the paperback and the Kindle edition at nearly the same dollar amount.) The selling point appears to be its potential for theater studies as well as literary studies.

I had once had a paperback edition of this years ago but as is so frequently the case, I had passed that copy on. Like you, MrsLee , I was pleased to see it back in print. The woman who edited this did her PhD at the University of St. Andrew in Scotland and her doctoral thesis had to do with these radio plays. In the meantime, I understand that YouTube has video recordings from 1967 if that helps, although I think the editor indicated that those were abridged.

Editado: Set 7, 7:10 pm

Unrelated to above discussion of Sayers, do we know anyone with three million pounds (BPS) to spare? John Le Carre is putting his hide-away home on the market. (https://robbreport.com/shelter/celebrity-homes/john-le-carre-tregiffian-cottage-1234892288/). It's described as a cliffside English cottage - and it apparently comes with a "safe room", an indoor swimming pool, and a library with floor to ceiling bookcases...

Set 7, 7:54 pm

>13 jillmwo: I will look for the work on YouTube, to see if I'm still interested in it. Thanks!

Set 7, 9:49 pm

>14 jillmwo:
Strictly speaking it is his estate that is selling the house. Le Carré (David Cornwell) died on 12 Dec 2020. His sister, Charlotte Cornwell, died on 16 Jan 2021. His wife, Jane Cornwell, died on 27 Feb 2021.
His son, Nick Cornwell (Nick Harkaway), moved into the family home to complete and edit his father’s final manuscript and clear out the house after having lost his father, aunt and mother within just over two months.

As if that wasn’t enough, on May 31 2022, Nick lost his brother, Timothy Cornwell.

Set 8, 12:31 pm

>16 pgmcc: That is very sad. I had not made the connection between Nick Harkaway and Le Carré.

Editado: Set 11, 3:23 pm

A quote or two from David L. Ulin's The Lost Art of Reading: How do things stick to us in a culture where information and ideas flare up so quickly that we have no time to assess one before another takes its place? My paraphrase or take-away would be something about the need to absorb a bit more slowly the value or meaning of a particular work.

Brief follow-up quote: books insist we take the opposite position, that we immerse, slow down

Ulin's essay is concerned with not just the distraction due to the bombardment of social media quick takes, but also with the need to allow truly immersive engagement with a book in order to get the full value of reading. In the 2018 updated edition, he talks about the impact of reading in allowing us to our own sense of what it is we think and believe in. (Key in the political context of that specific administration.)

FWIW, Ulin's writing originally appeared as an essay in the LA Times and he has amplified on his thinking in the updated 2018 edition.

The book's subtitle in 2010 was Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time; in 2018, the book's subtitle was changed to Books and Resistance in a Troubled Time.

From my perspective the difference in meaning of the two subtitles has to do with an initial idea that we need to combat the acceleration of society via such things as social media and other online behavior that may minimize our opportunity to evaluate the world and his subsequent point that we need to recognize that allowing ourselves the space to read deeply allows us to be less frequently swayed by external forces. We have time and need to take the time to connect with what foregoing generations thought while marking for those following after what it is that the current generation saw as being important. (Admittedly, that's a really, really clunky sentence and it may not be clear. But Ulin was very concerned that we were in danger of devaluing the experience of reading a book and all that it had to tell us.

Set 13, 6:03 pm

Question again for those lurking who may do a lot of audio-books. In the case of something like Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell, a book that had lots of foot-of-the-page content in the form of footnotes, how did the various footnotes get handled in the audio book environment? Does anyone have a memory?

Set 13, 6:17 pm

>19 jillmwo: Footnotes... oof! I can't even imagine keeping track during an audio version of House of Leaves!!

Set 16, 7:04 pm

>14 jillmwo: We could all chip in and then hold meetups there . . .

Set 16, 10:00 pm

>19 jillmwo: That's a great question. I've listened to a lot of audio books and none with obvious footnotes. Now I'm curious for the answer too.

Editado: Set 18, 7:39 pm

Another lengthy stream of consciousness post (apologies in advance)...

I don’t know whether to call my current state one of distraction or one of useful thought. I have been trying to frame a brief article on the topic of annotated editions, but I also have (or had) three different books of fiction going and that never turns out well for me. I’m one of those types that should only read two books at a time AT MOST. (Frankly reading one at a time in linear fashion is the best approach.) And I was keeping three different notebooks with disorganized observations. lists,and other reminders scribbled in each.

I have been looking at The Annotated Hunting of the Snark, The Annotated Mrs. Dalloway, and the The Man Born to Be King for the article and every time I go to write down an observation about how annotated editions get handled, I realize again how very labor-intensive it must be to do one of these. The scholar doing the annotations, working out what elements should be explained, the editor helping to prep the manuscript and keep the length of the annotations in check, the production editor whose job it is to do the page layout with the primary text, marginal annotations, illustrations, and footnotes presented in a meaningful way, and the publisher who has to ensure that the thing is still affordable by the consumer.

As an example, in the Mrs Dalloway book, on page 42, there is a sentence about sitting on a bench in Regents Park with a view of dun-colored necks of animals over a fence separating the park from the zoo. The word Zoo is shown with a number #96. The actual annotation is found on the top of page 43, but you only get a bare paragraph of explanation there because a very large image of an elephant in the Regents Park Zoo from the 1920s takes up the bottom of the page. The rest of the annotation is therefore carried over to the top of page 44.

The Zoo is only a bit of visual detail but the scholar-editor creating the annotations wants to share an anecdote having to do with Charles Darwin and in passing notes that Charles Darwin will later be referenced in the novel as having had a relationship with one of Mrs. Dalloway’s relatives. But it is at times like this that one really wonders who is running the ship. The photo on page 43 is of an elephant – not a dun colored animal whose neck you can see stretched over the fence palings. The annotation is chiefly to do with Darwin who himself had ties to the Zoo. Personally, I would suggest to you that no reader should be left with the impression that the Zoo was top of mind for Virginia Woolf as she was writing this relatively short novel. I mean, this strikes me as padding.

But I will put that aside and simply refer you to a delightful YouTube video from a conference where a scholar is talking about Martin Gardner and what he did for the general public with his best selling annotated editions beginning in 1960. (IMHO, worth the viewing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DcjoYvyYkvo&t=2s)

My bigger error in judgment was trying to read three different novels, none of which I was probably in the most receptive mood for. The first was The Fine Art of Invisible Detection by Robert Goddard and I don’t think I was the ideal reader for it. There’s an interesting conspiracy of silence playing a role in the narrative and, even as the bodies mount up, it’s less about solving the crime of murder than it is about “other stuff”. I don’t want to give away much more than that about the plot. If I were to answer the four questions that float around here, I would do so as follows:

1. Would I recommend this book? Yes, it was fun. Not necessarily at the top of my best-of-2023 list, but I can see the book’s appeal.

2. If so, to whom? Primarily to the reader who enjoys a good suspense thriller. Extra points allowed for the off-beat international locale of Iceland that gets included.

3. Would I read another by the same author? Quite possibly. I’m not quite sure of his character development skills.

4. What has it moved me to do? Well, it hasn’t persuaded me to become a professional private eye, but neither have any of Agatha Christie’s novels. So I don't think the problem lies with these authors.

For a different kind of suspense thriller, one can always go back to Mignon Eberhart. From This Dark Stairway features Miss Sarah Keate as night supervisor in a hospital during the 1930s. Eberhart does not move things along anywhere near as rapidly as Goddard does in his book and all of the action takes place inside the hospital. It’s a hot July and there’s no air-conditioning so the patients are as fractious as the staff. The local police on the case are on the dim side, but someone manages to call in a detective who knows Nurse Keate from previous encounters in crime-solving. Eberhart's chapters are long (20-30 pages each), which plays against reading her at bedtime, but she does communicate long sticky nights, with the result that when a bug flies into the poor nurse's hair and she screams, so did I. If I have a beef, it's that the female patients are all spoiled rich brats. As Nurse Keate notes, the problem with being a nurse is that rather than soothing one's patients, one frequently wants to smack them instead! (For the record, the Bison Books imprint of the University of Nebraska Press has brought back five of the Eberhart novels in 2023. So somebody besides me must be reading them.)

Moving on to a more-Jill’s-speed kind of mystery, there is Villainy at Vespers. The murderer has left a dead body in the Church in a way that is most disturbing, both to a misfit vicar and to the overworked local authorities. The Black Arts may or may not be involved, but this is Cornwall just at the end of the Second World War so there are burglars and colorful eccentrics in abundance. Tourists are still a bit thin on the ground; however, a sensible inspector who has come with his family for a bit of a holiday is roped into the investigation through sympathy with his local counterpart. Not nearly as many bodies in this novel as in The Fine Art of Invisible Detection, but there is more attention given over to creating distinctive voices.

For something completely different, try The Starmen by Leigh Brackett. Available for free on Project Gutenberg, this is definitely a fun space opera. The women are strong and beautiful and the men are prone to jealousy and fisticuffs.

Finally, I am expecting a graphic novel of Murder on the Orient Express today. I want to see how the artist/writer migrates the novel’s careful structure in that context. Neither of the two movie adaptations (1974 and 2017) followed that structure very closely and dialogue got changed quite a bit depending on which Hollywood talent was playing a particular character.

Looking ahead, it's a week of writing and deadlines.

Edited to put a sentence into its proper paragraph and context. Can't imagine how I botched up the placement before. Fix wonky touchstone. Original post dated September 17, 11:29 a.m.

Set 17, 8:03 pm

>23 jillmwo:
I liked your post a lot. You must be pleased about the elephant on page 42, even if it did disturb the footnotes.

Editado: Set 18, 7:35 pm

Posting just because I love to say it aloud:

They roused him with muffins—they roused him with ice—
They roused him with mustard and cress—
They roused him with jam and judicious advice—
They set him conundrums to guess.

The Baker's Fit, The Hunting of the Snark

Editado: Set 22, 11:13 am

I cannot vouch for this in any way as I have not read it nor even flipped through any available sample, but for the J.R.R. Tolkien enthusiast or completist, Princeton University Press is currently spotlighting this book entitled The Worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien by John Garth.

From that page:

Garth identifies the locales that served as the basis for Hobbiton, the elven valley of Rivendell, the Glittering Caves of Helm’s Deep, and many other settings in Middle-earth, from mountains and forests to rivers, lakes, and shorelands. He reveals the rich interplay between Tolkien’s personal travels, his wide reading, and his deep scholarship as an Oxford don. Garth draws on his profound knowledge of Tolkien’s life and work to shed light on the extraordinary processes of invention behind Tolkien’s works of fantasy. He also debunks popular misconceptions about the inspirations for Middle-earth and puts forward strong new claims of his own.

The original pub date for that book was back in 2020. So has anyone here in the Pub already talked about this one?

Set 22, 1:48 pm

>26 jillmwo: Was Tolkien well traveled? I thought he was a stay-at-home in England kind of guy, except for the war. I have never read a full biography on him though.

Set 22, 6:30 pm

>27 MrsLee:. Not in the "well-traveled tourist" or "world-famous author" sense. He was in continental Europe as a soldier in World War I, but those were battles rather than "visits". He didn't travel extensively even after he became famous as an author and/or as a recognized Oxford scholar. John Garth (the author) wrote Tolkien and the Great War which touches on some of the places he saw during the War.

Editado: Set 23, 10:38 am

One of the book groups of which I am a part is thinking about doing a graphic novel next. I'm not actively AGAINST it, but it is a very different means of approaching and engaging with content.

I was looking at the Murder on the Orient Express graphic novel this morning and I briefly compared Chapter One in the graphic novel to the same chapter in the printed text. The graphic artist handled it in a very interesting way -- focusing only on the visual "real life" elements of the action in that chapter -- no thought balloons, for example. Either spoken dialogue or none at all. Indeed one of the things that most impressed my husband when he was looking at the same graphic novel was a particularly two to four page spread where there was no dialogue at all. Information reached the reader through what a specific panel showed or the way in which the panels were sequenced. Very interesting to analyze. How did the artist come to the conclusion that this was the best way of doing it? At any rate, I'm surprised at just how well the graphic novel is working. There are changes from the original work, but by-and-large, they don't detract.

Note that the touchstone above goes to the wrong listing of the graphic novel. in part that is because William Morrow is re-using the ISBN from an old mass-market paperback for the graphic novel done by Bob Al-Greene. The author touchstone doesn't work either. (AARRGH!)

Here is the correct work page: https://www.librarything.com/work/2742/249428758

Set 23, 1:58 pm

>29 jillmwo: Very cool. I still need to watch the most recent movie version and re-read the book. What's your thoughts on the upcoming movie?

Set 26, 10:30 am

>26 jillmwo: I have this! I am ashamed to say I haven't read it yet though ...

Editado: Set 26, 12:24 pm

>30 Karlstar: Upcoming? Are they making an animated one? The one with Kenneth Branagh was great.

Set 26, 1:55 pm

>32 clamairy: Sorry, often my messages are lacking some context, or I talk about two things in the same sentence. I was referring to the upcoming 'A Haunting in Venice'.

Editado: Set 26, 4:17 pm

Actually >32 clamairy: and >33 Karlstar:, I've not yet seen the latest (Branagh-directed) Haunting in Venice which has opened in theatres. All the promotional news stories say it is doing well in terms of box office sales. However, the same promotional folks suggested that there were significant 'horror' elements to it. A friend of mine who moonlights as an usher at a movie theater told me that particular strategy might be backfiring because he saw a group of teenage girls leave mid-way through because they'd so clearly expected something much gorier and more horrific. I will wait until I can watch it on one of the streaming services.

As a sidenote, Amazon Prime has been offering me the option of renting Barbie but the price to view it at home is a whoppin' $24 for a 48 hour window. (I think not, gentlemen!)

In terms of reading (and this has been a week of research and writing for freelance), I've been reading The Edwardians because I think it was Sakerfalcon who told me it was good. I also occasionally dip into the whole Knole and the Sackvilles as I read the novel.

As for the graphic novel edition of Murder on the Orient Express, it's been interesting to see what gets changed and what doesn't. More investigation on the graphic novel led me to order George Takei's They Called Us Enemy which is entirely done in black and white which I hadn't known. And once I had read the news story about the teacher getting fired in Texas over the graphic novel version of The Diary of Anne Frank, I ordered that one as well (*). I'm not even a big fan of graphic novels, but I feel as if I need to understand them a bit more. One can't just sniff disdainfully on the assumption that they're unfit reading material.

And >31 Sakerfalcon:, when you get around to reading it, do let us know whether you enjoyed it. It took me a decade before I got around to reading Garth's Tolkien and the Great War but it was certainly a worthwhile and interesting read.

(*) Edited to note that there must be a run on orders for that title because Amazon says it can't get one to me for at least three weeks! I ended up cancelling the order.

Set 26, 6:15 pm

>34 jillmwo:
By coinkidink I bought a copy of Haunting in Venice at Chicago airport on Saturday. It was not a title I was familiar with until my wife said it is also known as Halloween Party. I take the book was on sale as the movie tie-in. I was not aware of the movie before it was mentioned in this thread.

Editado: Set 26, 7:02 pm

>34 jillmwo: Wow, that's a lot of graphic novels! I don't generally buy them, though I have read a few on my tablet. It's not ideal.

>35 pgmcc: I'm very confused. I read Halloween Party a few years ago, and it does not take place in Venice. I haven't read that many Christie books, but this was my least favorite.

Set 26, 7:35 pm

>36 clamairy:
I am going by my wife's say so, but also, Touchstones brought up "Halloween Party" when I entered Haunting in Venice in square brackets.

Kevin Branagh is no great adherer to the book. His Murder on The Orient Express has a snow covered mountain range in the Russian Steppes.

This is the cover of the book I bought. It has the words, "Formerly published as Hallowe'en Party". It also has an image of a skull that may present more evidence to Jill's point of the horror elements of the story being emphasised, or totally made up.

The expression, "There is many a slip between the cup and the lip", comes to mind. I would suggest there is many a slip between the book and the movie.

Set 26, 7:39 pm

>37 pgmcc: Well, hopefully he'll spice it up a bit. I will still wait to stream it. I was very unimpressed with his movie version of Death on the Nile.

Set 26, 8:00 pm

>38 clamairy:
I felt the same.

Set 26, 10:31 pm

>34 jillmwo: >37 pgmcc: It seemed to me that they are playing up the 'horror' aspect of the new movie because it is that time of year. I'll likely wait until it comes out on streaming, we were only semi-interested in going to see it at the movies. I enjoyed Death on the Nile at the movies, not so much for the plot, but the scenery was amazing.

Set 27, 10:20 am

>40 Karlstar:. Agree that it's a marketing ploy. I've not particularly liked any of Branagh's Poirot movies; in my view, they're about on par with those with Peter Ustinov playing Poirot. While the mannerisms may be in place, neither male actor satisfies the correct picture of the little Belgian detective. So like you, I'll wait to see it on streaming. (Actually, what I've liked in Branagh's versions has been some of the camera work involving the use of windows in and out of a physical space. And by contrast some of the sweeping landscape shots.)

One note having to do with graphic novels. I realized yesterday what an impact a movie adaptation can have on one's memory of specific details. Murder on the Orient Express as a graphic novel has the advantage of maximizing the size of certain maps, diagrams, etc. of where people are at any given time in relation to others. One such diagram of the assigned sleeping compartments listed a name that I was sure was wrong. It showed Masterman in the same compartment with Foscarelli, and I thought to myself, why would the graphic novel change the name of the dead man's valet. I was sure that the valet's name was Beddoes. Well, in the 1974 movie version where Sir John Gielgud plays the role, the name of the valet was Beddoes. But in the book (and I've checked a variety of source material), the assigned name was indeed Masterman. So the change was originally made for the movie and all these years, I'd just taken it for granted that the *right* name was Beddoes. For whatever reason and I've re-visited the book multiple times, that particular detail in the authoritative text just completely escaped me.

So movies may have a remarkable impact on our recollection of details. I have to credit the graphic novel with hitting me upside the head with a 2x4 to get me to realize that...

>36 clamairy:. I canceled the order for the Anne Frank graphic novel adaptation. It was going to take weeks and weeks to get here. I may still get it but I tend to be an impatient soul and wasn't in the mood to tie up my thought processes waiting for the print version to arrive. And I agree that renaming Halloween Party to shift Branagh's movie-mystery to Carnival time in Venice was a silly thing to do. Wilkie Collins did have a nice ghost story / mystery with a similar title to Branagh's which I had thought he was actually doing; I was disappointed when I realized it was a remake of Christie's novel and mentally shrugged off following any more of the promotional info. And you're right -- it's not one of her best.

>37 pgmcc:. Your wife is right.

Set 27, 10:48 am

>41 jillmwo:
It is not one of my wife’s favourites, so she is right in more than one sense.

Editado: Set 27, 11:19 am

I watched an older movie of Halloween Party and while not great, I thought the creepiness of the children's party was particularly creepy. I read the book and while not a favorite, I thought it an OK read. Now that's me speaking from memory, I didn't check my review here.

ETA jillmwo there have been some truly fine graphic novels published. I read some of them years ago at the urging of my children, and while I would not prefer to have every book that way, when it is well done it can be effective.

Set 27, 11:25 am

>41 jillmwo:
I prefer the Ustinov movies to Branagh’s. Murder Under the Sun was particularly good, specifically for the interaction between Maggie Smith and Diana Rigg’s characters. They were both brilliant in that film. In fact they are great in all their roles.

Set 27, 11:50 am

I just read this article about A haunting in Venice/Halloween Party and it sounds like the movie is only very very loosely based on the book.
Why Agatha Christie’s mousetraps still beguile us, even if the films aren’t always killer

Editado: Out 9, 7:20 pm

>45 Sakerfalcon: That was a great article from the Los Angeles Times. Enlightening.

>44 pgmcc: I agree that Diana Rigg and Maggie Smith were what made that particular Poirot movie most memorable. Although Roddy McDowall was fun as well.

It's not that I don't enjoy the Branagh movies or the Ustinov movies; they're fine for what they are. Even the Suchet version of Christie's Poirot stories made changes to the original source material.

The thing is (at least for me) that any adaptation makes me go back to the original source material to see more precisely what has changed. I firmly disagree with Branagh's positioning that Death on the Nile was primarily about lust. But sex sells movies and that's his thing. For me, the motivation operating in Death on the Nile (the book) has much more to do with a grasping sense of ownership and possession. I rather liked portions of his Murder on the Orient Express, but not all of the changes he made in it were necessary (except as marketing hooks).

The Ustinov movies were fun but (IMHO) Ustinov as an actor generally tends towards exaggeration. I'm thinking as well of the way he played Nero in Quo Vadis. Poirot as an individual character has his exaggerated foibles, yes, but he shouldn't be seen as totally off the wall (except to the English population who have awkwardly encountered an unfortunate lifeless body).

The other point I wanted to make has to do with Wilkie Collins who had a most enjoyable (short) novel The Haunted Hotel which is set in Venice and which really might have made a much better plot for Branagh to build on. But then he wouldn't have the marketing strength of the Christie / Poirot branding.

I am continuing with The Edwardians. I am continuing with Mammoths at the Gate. I am slowly working through a series of Ellery Queen short stories as well. Much depends on what else I've had to do that day. I have determined that my brain struggles with graphic novels. Interesting to talk over with the spouse, but my eyes migrate immediately to words in text blocks. I don't see the panels on the page the way my husband does.

Edited solely to fix a wonky touchstone.

Set 28, 8:04 pm

As a quick follow up, I don't think graphic novels are necessarily efficient as a means of story telling.

Set 28, 8:21 pm

>46 jillmwo:
I never got into graphic novels (GNs) but I know people who prefer them to regular text based novels.

At Phoenix Convention IX, one of the guests of honour was Bryan Talbot. He is a big name in GNs and lectures on the subject in an English university. I caught part of a two hour presentation he gave on graphic novel creation. It was a masterclass and I felt awed with his descriptions and demonstrations of different technics in developing a GN. I still do not feel inclined to read GNs but I respect the skill some people have in their production.

Set 28, 8:59 pm

>48 pgmcc: That's where I am with it as well. It requires a great deal of skill to put the artwork together in a meaningful way w/in specific production constraints and like you, I admire that. My brain just isn't wired to receive the message delivered in such a format...

All that said, I do want to better understand what others find engaging about graphic novels.

Set 28, 10:31 pm

>47 jillmwo: I agree with your opinion on graphic novels. The one I read most recently, The Mystery Knight, did a credible job portraying the novella of the same name, but just could not get across all the nuances of the plot nor was it really very good at helping to keep track of the characters. I liked it, but I liked the original much more.

Set 29, 12:16 am

>47 jillmwo: I can't imagine The Sandman, Maus, Persepolis or Watchmen in any other format than a graphic novel. The visuals are integral to the story. However, I don't think I would care for a story converted to a graphic novel from a traditional novel format. Like a condensed version, it wouldn't have the full tale as the author imagined.

Editado: Set 29, 11:12 am

>51 MrsLee: I do have a lovely graphic novel version of The Hobbit illustrated by David Wenzel that was a perfect introduction to Middle Earth for my son when he was young.

Set 29, 6:17 pm

I went back to check and I read The Empress of Salt and Fortune in January of last year. I posted about it here in the pub. (See https://www.librarything.com/topic/338187#7726046). It was an excellent read – an unexpected treatment of a cold form of revenge and ensuring the accurate remembrance of events.

Well, this past week I read Mammoths at the Gate by the same author and it happened to be the right book at the right time. Just as with Empress of Salt and Fortune, this has a theme throughout about the critical importance of accurate recollection if one is to understand fully. Cleric Chih returns home to the Singing Hills monastery, a homecoming that both saddens even as there is the comfort of familiarity. Chih feels disoriented, not having considered that there might naturally be shifts during an extended absence. Their closest childhood friend is there but that individual too is different. The neixin in their aviary are agitated. And there are angry mammoths at the gate. How does one cope? One must listen respectfully to the tales that are shared.

This segment of Nghi Vo’s series of novellas carefully touches a sensitive nerve.

Editado: Set 29, 6:25 pm

>53 jillmwo:
The Past is a foreign country and we do not live there anymore.

I have witnessed this phenomenon myself when returning to the haunts of my youth.

Set 29, 7:19 pm

>54 pgmcc: Exactly. It's true in so many ways. We'd been talking on this thread yesterday about Death on the Nile. The ending of the Ustinov movie version has Poirot with the last line of the film quoting Moliere. "The great ambition of women is to inspire love."

That didn't sound quite right to me so I pulled my copy off the shelf last night to see what the real closing sentiment of DOTN was. The final point from Poirot (and my notes indicate that the same phrase recurs three times in the text of the book) is "The past is of no importance. It's the future that matters." DOTN is about the illusion of possession. People and things pass through our hands/lives (fairly or unfairly) so the only thing to do is to look ahead. There's a flavor of that in Mammoths at the Gate.

Editado: Set 29, 7:26 pm

As to graphic novels, >48 pgmcc:, >50 Karlstar:, >51 MrsLee:, and >52 clamairy: I think I am enjoying the GN of Orient Express primarily because it's interesting to compare it with the original full text and consider how transforming it into a visual medium requires specific choices. I am not at all sure that I will be able to properly appreciate George Takei's They Call Us Enemy because the GN is the original framework for his message. I don't know if I'll "get it" and yet it's an original form of memoir with a story that deserves to be heard and received. (Again, shades of Mammoths at the Gate.)

Set 30, 11:04 am

>53 jillmwo: I seem to have missed out on Into the Riverlands somehow. So I must read that first.

Set 30, 8:01 pm

>57 clamairy: Actually, you can read Mammoths at the Gate as a stand-alone. Doesn't depend on having read any of the previous novellas. (Although it might help a tad if you are familiar with Empress of Salt and Fortune because of what it teaches you about the Singing Hills and the neixin. ) This fourth segment is stronger than the second and third stories (libraryperilous had said this as well.)

Set 30, 10:31 pm

>58 jillmwo: Yes, I read her thread. I also found the second book a bit of a disappointment. (Which is probably why I was not in a rush to read the third.) I might skip it then.

Editado: Out 1, 11:48 am

>59 clamairy: *thumbs up*

I have just finished reading The Edwardians -- quite the tale of social commentary. Still processing it, but on one level, certainly, my reaction was WOW. The scene of Sebastian and Anquetil chasing one another over rooftops until they perch on a peak of a roof and have an ultimately serious conversation...(quite memorable).

Maybe I need to stop reading literature from this period of history. It's breath-taking but also not helpful. (And I can't quite spell out what I mean by that just yet. As I said, it takes time to process.)

Also watched this video on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_Z5v6PmFFo) which is about Knole. (In the book, Sebastian's estate of Chevron is actually based on Knole.) At any rate, even without the sound on for the commentary, the visuals were stunning.

Out 4, 11:16 am

*sigh* I suppose that the good news is I made all of the different deadlines. I still feel somewhat dim about what's going on out there in the real world. (Why would anyone invite me to write about X topic? I'm not a freakin' expert! If I write something about that topic, that means I have to go out and do research and stuff.) OTOH, I suppose I should feel grateful that they remember my name sufficiently to think to reach out (and on some level, I honestly am grateful). It's really such a two-edged sword.

I'll likely write up the Edwardian book in the next day or two. I now have four books on my shelf having to do with Knole and that family. The others are books hfglen recommended Inheritance: The Story of Knole and the Sackvilles and The Disinherited: A Story of Family, Love, and Betrayal. (And all because Tolkien saddled the unpopular Lobelia with that particular surname...)

Meanwhile I suspect I may be in for another spell of desultory reading.

Out 4, 1:54 pm

I realize this may be skirting good practice because it's political in nature and I likely ought not to even direct you to the URL. On the other hand, there's an Elephant. There's always an elephant.


Editado: Out 4, 7:32 pm

>62 jillmwo: Bwahahaha.... Thank you for that.

Out 5, 3:08 pm

The Edwardians

There are really only a handful of characters in this novel – Lucy, the Edwardian hostess who is also mother to Sebastian and Viola; Sebastian, the heir to an Earldom when he comes of age and whose views dominate the world he controles; Leonard Anquetil, the non-aristocratic celebrity, the realist and hardened Arctic explorer who has been invited to Lucy’s weekend house party at Chevron; Lady Roehampton – the society woman who makes the mistake of falling in love with the 19-year old Sebastian; Theresa Spedding, a doctor’s wife who longs to break through the invisible class wall and thereby join the rarified life of Chevron. Other female characters we see to a lesser extent are Viola, Sebastian’s sister and Phillida, for a time Sebastian’s girlfriend, and Margaret, the daughter of Lady Roehampton.

The thing of it is that The Edwardians is a wonderful read with thematic meaning on any number of levels. One can read it as a novel about women in the Edwardian Age and their lack of autonomy. (Alternatively, one can see it as an explanation of how aristocratic gentlemen come to see themselves as the center of the universe.) One can read it as a story of imprisonment – the harmful and invisible isolation felt when insulated from real life on the basis of social convention and elitist wealth. One can read it as a coming-of-age story. But over and over, as I read, I was wondering why the book had been allowed to fall out of print.

The Paris Review in a 2023 write-up characterized it as being a masterpiece that nobody ever reads. Even the introduction to the Virago edition I purchased second hand had something of a disdainful note to it when referring to the book’s literary standing. The Edwardians was a best-seller when it was initially published in 1930. The author herself apparently felt embarrassed by it later in life. She preferred to be known for her work in the arena of gardens at Knole or at Sissinghurst. And yet, the written prose is wonderful.

Given what I’ve read over the past year, my thinking was that one could read it as a precursor to The Dispossessed; the two books essentially are asking the same question – given the history of elite populations generally controlling the social order, what is the feasibility of building an equitable human society? Again, my question is why the book has fallen out of print. There’s no ebook available via Amazon (or any other provider). And yet, for me at least, I think this one must join the list of best books read thus far this year. Beautifully crafted, memorable characters, plenty of thematic meat to chew on… (Damn, it's another book I can't let go from the shelves...)

And while it appears here as something of a postscript, I can see from reading both The Annotated Mrs. Dalloway and The Edwardians why Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West found each other to be congenial companions. Absolutely in sync.

Out 5, 4:08 pm

>64 jillmwo: You made me look...there's an ebook of The Edwardians on Barnes and Noble. I just downloaded it.

Editado: Out 5, 5:14 pm

>65 Marissa_Doyle: That is a very curious thing. Because when I went looking for a copy of The Edwardians on Amazon a few weeks back, there was no listing. However, when I grabbed the ISBN from the B&N site just now (seeing your post) and plugged it into the Amazon site, suddenly, there was both a print as well as an ebook available.

It's not impossible that I did something stupid in my initial search, but it seems odd. (I went over to ABE Books to unearth a second-hand copy.)

Whatever. I was wrong. The book does remain in print. Thank you, Marissa!

Out 5, 5:36 pm

>66 jillmwo: You're welcome...and thank you for the BB. :)

Out 6, 9:47 am

>64 jillmwo: I'm glad you got so much out of The Edwardians! I enjoyed it a lot when I read it but your review makes me feel I should go back and reread it.

Editado: Out 6, 4:06 pm

What am I Going To Read Next? Pulling Possibilities Off the Shelf

The artwork lured me into buying this Folio edition at some point in the past year: https://www.librarything.com/topic/338505 (Look at that page and you'll see that the photos of the artwork are really gorgeous.) I'm really kind of tempted to begin reading it.

I also have a copy of Uncle Silas and October is the ideal month of the year to read Victorian Gothic.

Which would be more Gothic? Vikings or ghastly relatives?

Also up for the possible next read is this one Under the Cover which talks about the creation, production and marketing of a particular novel. It makes clear what a collaborative effort book publishing is. Seems fairly readable; not the dense prose that I usually fear when I see as part of the marketing description the phrase "ethnographic study". This guy (an academic at Univ of Toronto) writes like a normal human being. (I also have the novel that it discusses -- Jarrettsville -- which is historical fiction.) A nice little reading project.

But Jane Austen's Wardrobe should be arriving later today. And Mansfield Park has been much on my mind of late. (For that matter, so has Louisa May Alcott. More on that later.)

(In the interests of full transparency, I admit that I'm totally lollygagging here thinking about TBR piles, leisure reading, and boxed deliveries, while the spouse is out in the kitchen throwing dinner into the crockpot.) I'm also thinking about "Best Of" selections since that time of year is within view. Thus far, I've had a comfortingly good year of books.

Updated to add that Three Twins at the Crater School has won the immediate afternoon reading slot. At least, in the first chapter, it's rather soothing.

Out 7, 12:06 pm

>69 jillmwo: That Laxdaela Saga looks very interesting!

Out 8, 1:14 pm

>69 jillmwo: Ooh! Is that a new book by Hilary Davidson?

Also, I sometimes feel like those of us who love Mansfield Park are in a very small minority...

Editado: Out 8, 2:09 pm

>71 Marissa_Doyle: Yes, it arrived here yesterday still in its lovely shrink-wrap (unopened). I'm trying to do the marshmallow trick. I can open it now for immediate gratification or hand it to my spouse with the shrink-wrap untouched and tell him he's giving it to me for Christmas. The problem is there's something else I was going to tell him was to be a Christmas gift. I am torn...

And as to MP, we are indeed in a sad minority. There's so much one can do with it, and yet people get hung up on how problematic they find Fanny to be.

Also, I think you were one of the early people here in the Pub to talk about Three Twins at the Crater School. I'm 150 pages or so in and really liking it. (So thank you!)

Out 8, 2:29 pm

>72 jillmwo:
Surely your husband would like to get you two presents for Christmas.

I started the first of the Crater School books but got interrupted. I must get back to it soon.

Editado: Out 9, 7:06 pm

Finished Three Twins at the Crater School today and thoroughly enjoyed it. As others have said on the various threads, the action centers around a group of new arrivals at British girls' boarding school set on a funky kind of steampunk period in Mars history. There are aliens and nefarious entities of various sorts and nationalities, but even when I thought I had guessed where the action was headed, the author surprised me time and again. Lots of fun, lots of competent females (at a variety of ages). And wait 'til you get to the part with the airship! I also agree with Sakerfalcon when she said it was all about friendship. It really is. I am glad to hear a second installment is available.

So yes, pgmcc, it's worth re-visiting. If this is one that the rest of you have got sitting on a Kindle in a TBR queue or if you've included it on a wishlist, push it up to the top. I found it immensely cheering and rather encouraging as well.

Out 9, 7:55 pm

>74 jillmwo: I really need to bump this one up my TBR!

Out 10, 8:35 am

>74 jillmwo: >75 libraryperilous: It is such a great read!

Editado: Out 10, 9:37 am

>76 Sakerfalcon: The question I have for you is whether he really captured for you (someone really familiar with the Chalet-school stories) the feel of those other books.

>75 libraryperilous: I think you'd probably enjoy it.

Out 10, 2:15 pm

>73 pgmcc:, >74 jillmwo: You may be amused to hear that Chaz's contribution to the forthcoming Book View Cafe cookbook was written in the form of recipes by Mrs. Bailey, the cook at the Crater School.

Out 10, 4:52 pm

>78 Marissa_Doyle:
Chaz is quite the gourmet.

Out 10, 5:12 pm

>78 Marissa_Doyle: and >79 pgmcc: But is it a recipe for the honey cakes or for the cocoa? Come to think of it, is there any chance that it's a recipe for the mother's oatmeal with all the goodies in it? ( I know you aren't a big fan of raisins in one's morning porridge, Marissa, but perhaps one of the other added items was appealing.)

Out 10, 5:22 pm

>80 jillmwo:
I had breakfast with Chaz one morning. At the time I did not know he was such a foodie, so I did not take any notice of what he was eating. He was very pleasant company that morning.

Out 10, 5:38 pm

No recipes for honey cakes or cocoa, but one for Christmas Pudding and several others with Martian connections. Evidently persimmons and mushrooms do well on Mars.

Editado: Out 10, 5:43 pm

>81 pgmcc: Okay, this is why we need to revisit the concerns over how modern behaviors are forgetting the needs of posterity. If you were a Victorian, you might well sit down every evening and write down a detailed account of what you did, who you breakfasted with, what you ate, what the other person ate, etc. Doing so, the Victorians bequeathed us an incredibly wealthy set of details about how life was lived both by the famous and the ordinary...I think all of us here in the Pub need to begin setting down such details when you dine with the rich and famous so that future generations will know these things. This Christmas, ask for a nice big leather notebook and some lovely sort of fountain pen so that you can help to bridge such an existing gap in corporate memory.

In the interests of transparency, I must confess I've been thinking to myself that I should be doing the same thing but have gotten no further it appears than have you. I have all of the necessary accoutrements for the activity but have found my life too dreadfully dull to want to set down details. But I'm trying to work my way out of the blue funk.

>82 Marissa_Doyle: Yum. A nice Christmas pudding would go well.

Out 10, 9:20 pm

>83 jillmwo:
Mea culpa. Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa.

Out 10, 10:03 pm

>83 jillmwo: But us peons never dine with the rich and famous!

Out 11, 8:25 am

>77 jillmwo: The question I have for you is whether he really captured for you (someone really familiar with the Chalet-school stories) the feel of those other books.

He definitely captured the ethos of the classic school story, in the importance of friendship, loyalty to the school, the mischievous nature of Middles, and the awe of Prefects (far more intimidating than Staff!). He took the familiar tropes and used them in original ways, especially by combining them with those of Burroughs' Mars. There were a few Easter eggs that I spotted, both for CS readers and SF fans, but his hommage was more to the whole genre than to a specific series of school stories (although he explicitly cites Brent-Dyer and the Chalet School as the reason for his love of the genre).

Editado: Out 11, 4:41 pm

>84 pgmcc: If you're going to have breakfast with famous people, enquiring minds want to know.

>85 Karlstar: Some of the most useful diaries of history have been written by the so-called peons. If you're having breakfast with ordinary folks, enquiring minds want to know that as well.

>86 Sakerfalcon: I did read the acknowledgements page at the end of Three Twins at the Crater School which did indicate that he had more than a passing familiarity with the series. I love your summation of "the importance of friendship, loyalty to the school, the mischievous nature of Middles, and the awe of Prefects" and I'm actually quite sorry that my all too American childhood kept me from encountering this kind of book at an appropriate age.

Out 12, 2:03 pm

The holiday catalog from the Folio Society arrived in the day's mail so I spent some portion of the lunch hour, inhaling the smell of ink on good glossy paper. (No money has changed hands as yet.)

However, I have bounced back and forth in my reading between Mansfield Park and Jarrettsville. The latter is literary fiction having to do with the American Civil War and where the first chapter shows a woman shooting a man at close range. There have also been a few specific details included about the hygiene and medical care of the period that show solid research but which make the story a bit too vivid. Not soothing.

Reading Mansfield Park where there is no longer suspense over the course of events in the novel has led to somewhat less distressing meditations about mental images held in memory (tv adaptations, illustrations used in volumes, etc.). My imagination draws from the 1983 BBC adaptation and the more recent 1999 film made by Patricia Rozema and frankly my brain frequently muddles the two together.

In terms of insights gained from even a rapid re-read, I'm a bit slow on the uptake perhaps (and maybe I've thought this in passing before), but it strikes me that Edmund is the character whose choices and growth should have made him Austen's protagonist rather than Fanny. At the same time, Austen never wrote extensively from within the psyche of a male character. Fanny's is the point of view that Austen instead adopted in telling her story in MP and making her point.

But Edmund's life is being settled throughout the novel -- he disappears for a time from the action because he is going through the formal ordination and at the same time, he is also thinking of marriage. Both circumstances will determine his future. Mary Crawford with her 20,000 might well have solidified Edmund's future financial security in a desirable fashion -- much more so than the money earned from the two livings his father might have in his gift (one of which he has to wait to assume). At the same time, Edmund wasn't prepared (or particularly well-suited) to being a "pulpit personality" in the sort of London environment where Mary would have chosen to see him in terms of professional preferment.

Out 12, 2:47 pm

>88 jillmwo: I've always viewed Fanny as the rock against which the various characters in the story are dashed in the stormy ocean of their lives (if you'll forgive the overwrought imagery.) Do they destroy themselves, or learn how to better manage their craft? Edmund eventually figures it out; Henry and others, including Mrs. Norris, founder.

Out 12, 4:10 pm

>89 Marissa_Doyle:. I'm enjoying your overwrought imagery. While I was thinking of it more as Fanny being an allegorical stand-in for the authentic goodness of the C of E in the social order and Mary being the allegorical stand-in for more "flexible" attitudes of High Society -- those who seek greater latitude in the established social order even as they flout moral practices. So two marble statues, as it were, with Edmund required to choose between the two.

I absolutely accept your idea of Fanny as the rock.

Out 12, 4:33 pm

>87 jillmwo:
In relation to your wanting to know about breakfast with ordinary people, I had breakfast with my wife this morning. Well, actually, she is quite extraordinary. Anyway, we had ham sandwiches in our ferry cabin and protein bars, all washed down with a cup of tea for me and coffee for my wife.
I anticipate having breakfast with her tomorrow morning in our holiday accommodation.

Editado: Out 14, 2:39 pm

>91 pgmcc: It is good that you recognize the wonderful qualities of your spouse. (Jill waves at Catriona!) But I feel confident that you've had more than a single breakfast on the ferry since Thursday...

Editado: Out 14, 2:37 pm

I have mentioned more than once here on LT how enjoyable I have found Novel Houses: Twenty Famous Fictional Dwellings to be. The author uses that organizational structure to amplify interest in works by du Maurier, Peake, Austen, Tolkien, Woolf and others. Each chapter is an essay focusing on a domestic structure appearing in a specific well-known novel. On one level, it’s a form of literary criticism mixed with salesmanship for the original works. The author, Christina Hardyment, had to do a significant amount of research to pull it off (although she did have the opportunity to draw from the unique holdings of the Bodleian collection). Working with the staff of the Bodelian undoubtedly meant she had a certain amount of leverage in gaining rights and permissions to reproduce artwork or photos held in collections.

A tad less high-brow but one requiring an equal amount of research is a book entitled Agatha Christie, She Watched. This too is a bit of a mix – the author has viewed and written up television and film adaptations of Christie’s novels, made across a period of roughly 80 years.

Her organization of the various film and television productions falls into the following sections:
1. Marple
2. Poirot
3. Tommy and Tuppence
4. And Then There Were None
5. The Rest of the Christies
6. Agatha, the Star

Each of the 204 entries gets a write-up of several pages. Those entries consist of the following:

Title (Year of Production)
Single sentence summarizing the story
Photo indicative of the production

Fidelity to Text (1-5, five being the highest)
Quality of the production (1-5, five being the highest)
Note:That these are indicated by a symbol indicative of the murder method (that is, 4-½ poisoned cocktails, etc.)

A two- or three-page review follows, summarizing (without spoilers) the general set up of the plot and how the adaptation differs from the original work. The author does a basic analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of each production written in a very light tone.

Following that segment, there is a listing of more general Information one might want to know:
--Based on (the title of Christie’s original work)
--Run Time
--Available with Subtitles Y/N (she covers films made in English, French, Italian and Japanese)
--Full Cast List
--Film Locations

The thing about both books is that it takes a tremendous commitment to give over your waking hours to a project of this type.(I’m somewhat intimidated.)

First of all you have to consider the material available to you in your own working library as well as what may be available through your local library. Tracking down and viewing every single one. Re-reading each novel to see where changes were made by a scriptwriter and determining whether such changes improved or detracted from Christie’s original work. Writing each one up on a deadline. Just to watch that range of adaptations of Christie represents a significant investment of time (Non-stop, viewed back-to-back-back, it would be roughly about two weeks, but who can do this kind of project in non-stop viewing mode?). How do you take on a project like that without ultimately thinking to yourself that by the time it is over you’ll never want to look at another piece of mystery fiction or program again? Not only does it require a certain passion for the topic, but it also means that you have to consider what information is required to make the work useful to readers. In this case, the compiler had to identify available material, consider the necessary details that would need to be compiled on cast members and shooting locations.

The Agatha Christie, She Watched is from a small independent press, founded by a married couple. One has to give it a thumbs up on that basis alone, but Novel Houses emerged from the Bodleian which has far more resources at its disposal. The production values of the physical copies reflect that difference. (It’s noteworthy that there’s no ebook or paperback version of the Novel Houses, but there is both an ebook and a paperback of the Christie title. That too says something about the anticipated audience make-up in the US and UK markets.)

Both are worthwhile publications and it's hard to gauge which will have the longer shelf life. Based on my own usage patterns, I will keep the physical Bodleian production on my shelf, but I feel as if I can live with the Christie title in just the Kindle format.

Editado: Out 14, 4:15 pm

And as a bit of a non-sequitur, I just was looking at older threads here in the Pub. It would appear that 10 years ago, I treated you all to an extended discussion of Mansfield Park and other Austen titles until pgmcc and MrsLee dragged me into reading Wyrd Sisters. For the record, I did enjoy the Pratchett. However, it does appear that I circle back round to Austen with some regularity.

The proof is here (https://www.librarything.com/topic/157706). Thank you all for being around for so many years!

Out 15, 8:54 am

>94 jillmwo: Well, Wyrd Sisters is my favorite Pratchett, so they did not lead you astray. Funny, I listened to it exactly 10 years ago as well. I checked my thread, and I was egged on not just by the two culprits you mentioned, but by several others as well. :o) In fact they talked me into not trying to do the Discworld books in order but to skip ahead and do all of the Witches books instead. Excellent advice.

Out 15, 12:11 pm

>95 clamairy: & >94 jillmwo:
Wyrd Sisters was my first Pratchett. I was following advice to read it first and then tge other witches books. I really enjoyed Wyrd Sisters and have yet read the other witches books.

Out 15, 12:38 pm

>94 jillmwo: I for one, am always happy to lead people astray.

>96 pgmcc: October is a great month to try Carpe Jugulum (vampires and witches)or Maskerade (Phantom of the Opera). I'm just saying.

Editado: Out 15, 12:45 pm

Agreed. Maskerade is the only other witches book I gave 5 stars to, besides Wyrd Sisters.

Sorry, Jill. I think you wanted to talk about Mansfield Park. I believe this is the only Austen that I have watch as a movie or miniseries. Do you have a suitable suggestion?

Out 15, 1:52 pm

>97 MrsLee:
I believe that may be in the house. The issue is that I will be in France until early November. I am sure it will still be fun in November.

Editado: Out 15, 3:01 pm

>97 MrsLee: and >98 clamairy: I am apparently open to being led astray and /or led down good paths by the two of you as now a copy of Maskerade is en route. clamairy giving it five stars felt like a bit of a shove at my back as did the fact that the marketing materials indicated the presence of Granny Weatherwax as a prominent presence in the story.

I'm not entirely wedded to Mansfield Park at the moment. However, clam, let me say this -- if you are only interested in an adaptation (as opposed to reading the book), avoid at all costs the 2007 adaptation with Billie Piper. It barely had a nodding acquaintance with anything Jane Austen wrote and Piper wasn't at all the correct physical .

Personally, I just watched the 1983 version which is very, very faithful to the book and which has a number of excellent actors in the cast (Anna Massey for one). However, being a TV mini-series, it does move at a very sedate pace across the eight episodes. The 1999 version of Mansfield Park was not Jane Austen either; but it was an interesting approach with Frances O'Connor in the lead role, and it was far shorter in length.

In terms of the book about the Agatha Christie adaptations, I noted it primarily because I realized how much hard work it would have demanded of the author. I could write a book at some point, but the question would seem to be whether I have the necessary depth of commitment. (I'm back to the idea of composing a book of introductions to a variety of classics. Without the support of the Bodleian Library at my back.)

>99 pgmcc: Having a library on two continents might well be an inconvenience. It would also seem to indicate a highly profitable, a highly successful background as an international operative. Personally, I can only manage one library on a single continent.

Editado: Out 15, 3:45 pm

>100 jillmwo: I have already read it, and somewhat recently. (I believe it was in 2018.) I didn't love it, and I keep wondering if I was missing something. I will see which adaptations are available to stream, and avoid the terrible one you mentioned.

Out 15, 3:56 pm

>100 jillmwo:
I do not discuss client business.

Out 15, 5:47 pm

>100 jillmwo: I'm back to the idea of composing a book of introductions to a variety of classics: I would read that.

I can confirm that having a library on two continents is an inconvenience.

Out 16, 6:05 am

>93 jillmwo: I need to move Novel houses up the TBR pile!

I got a friend hooked on Terry Pratchett by giving her Wyrd Sisters. She loves Shakespeare and this hit the spot for her.

Out 16, 5:15 pm

A follow up to >98 clamairy:. I think Austen’s point was that there was a social gain or benefit – something – to be gained by putting an emphasis on authenticity in human relations and Fanny is the only one of the family at Mansfield who is capable of being authentic. From the historical perspective of Austen's time, that emphasis on building honest, truthful relations was one that would most commonly be inculcated by the clergy. That assumes that the clergy themselves are behaving authentically. A second son who enters the Church solely because it’s easier than joining the Navy wouldn’t really be any good in imparting that lesson to his parishioners. One can make a claim that Edmund should be the protagonist in MP rather than Fanny, because it is Edmund who needs to learn that lesson. Fanny knows who she is and what it is she wants and she won't be lured into an inauthentic marriage w/ Henry Crawford (who doesn't seem to have that same inner sense of holding out for what is right for HIM as an individual.)

Note that Edmund has already indicated that he chose the Church. He wasn’t being forced into it as a second choice. Edmund is attracted to Mary but she’ll want to go to London and have him be a more public figure in the Church so as not to lose her social position. A second practical value of marriage to Mary would be that she actually has money (well beyond what Edmund will have from the smaller living at Thornton Lacey). The fear is that Edmund would be distracted from what he believes is best in terms of his own skills and contribution to the Church. If he were to adopt a more worldly view of what would be advisable as a choice, he would be violating his own internal beliefs. Remember as well that Mary tells Fanny at one point that if Tom were to die, that would be just as well because that would mean that Edmund would inherit the title. (She'd like that as being in keeping with her own preferred social status, but Edmund might not. This is the point that the 1999 Patricia Rozema adaption gets absolutely right in delivering to the viewer.)

Fanny is insecure, overly-anxious, inclined to shrink into herself. But she's a dependent on the family at MP, just as Aunt Norris is. But being a dependent doesn't mean she has to stop behaving according to those specific principles that she sees as being appropriate. She remains authentic to those principles. Aunt Norris fails in authenticity because she pretends to be managing everything that goes on around her when nobody really seeks her interference or views. And she always wants other people to do the work. Fanny all too frequently ends up doing it instead.

See what happens, clamairy, when you poke me about Austen? I really do see MP as being one of her best. People think it's about the romantic conflict over Edmund. Will Fanny get him or not? That's not Austen's point; Austen thought it was more important that those who entered the Church as a profession be authentic in their belief because that was the real need in that particular role.

Out 16, 5:56 pm

>89 Marissa_Doyle: Er, Mrs. Norris? (Whispering) Forgive me, I hardly dare say this in present company, but I haven't read much Jane Austen, and it's been decades since I read any. Are we looking at the namesake of Filch's cat?

Out 16, 7:58 pm

>105 jillmwo: How many times have you read it? LOL Even if I had had your detailed breakdown ahead of time I doubt I would have formed any emotional attachment for any of the characters in the book. Fanny had no chutzpah. I realize she was in a somewhat of a precarious situation at MP but I couldn't warm up to her much. Don't hate me.

Editado: Out 16, 8:22 pm

>107 clamairy: What is it that the lead character says in Clueless? As if!!! Of course, I'm not going to hate you. I am fully cognizant of the idea that I might be a tad obsessive over Austen. And quite honestly, I am glad I didn't try MP until I was in my '40's or thereabouts. I am quite sure it took me 3 tries or so before I really got into the swim of it.

>106 Meredy: Mrs. Norris (or Aunt Norris) is a selfish and insensitive woman who deprives Fanny of every comfort and consideration while imposing any troublesome task or errand on her. (Yes, she's the namesake of Filch's cat. And just as unpleasant as the cat.) That said, in any film adaptations, she'd be the most fun to play.

Out 16, 8:49 pm

>108 jillmwo: Thanks! All or nearly all of Rowling's character names appear to carry some sort of significance, and "Mrs. Norris" seemed very specific, but I had no clue to the source.

Does the Austen character get her comeuppance in the end?

Out 16, 10:29 pm

>109 Meredy: More or less. She ends up going into a sort of exile, living with the daughter who has run away from her husband with Henry Crawford and completely disgraced herself.

I was once not very fond of Mansfield Park, but reading Paula Byrne's discussion of it in The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things gave me a different perspective on it, and it now occupies the space beside Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice in my heart.

Out 17, 7:45 am

>105 jillmwo: This is a great analysis. MP is one of my favourite Austens. I love the theatrical scenes and what they show us about the characters. Because Fanny effaces herself so much she is the perfect observer of the shenanigans around her.

Out 17, 9:06 am

>110 Marissa_Doyle: I have that biography on my Kindle. Is it as good as Claire Tomalin's book? I cried like a baby when I finished that one.

Out 17, 10:01 am

>112 clamairy: It's less a biography of Jane than it is a biography of her time and place and the contexts of the books. I found it absorbing.

Out 17, 4:17 pm

Three out of twelve jack-o-lanterns thus far in the hunt. (Although my excuse is that I haven't been working on it for very long...)

Out 17, 4:18 pm

>114 jillmwo: Thanks for the head's up, I had not seen any notification for the hunt yet.

Out 17, 5:18 pm

>114 jillmwo: I didn't see the announcement either, thank you!

Out 18, 4:43 pm

I've been reading Maskerade and my general mood has lightened considerably as a result. Meanwhile, I've achieved eight out of twelve jack-o-lanterns. The ones left at this point are the really hard ones.

Out 18, 6:59 pm

>117 jillmwo: There were a couple of clues I thought I knew the answer to, but couldn't navigate to the right place in the site. I'm fine the 7 I found on the first try. I even found one of Tim's!

Editado: Out 18, 7:35 pm

>118 MrsLee: Well, you're doing better than I, given that I haven't gotten any of Tim's clues as yet. Still working on 6, 7, 9 and 12.

Out 18, 8:05 pm

I found all twelve, but I did Google keywords for the ones I didn't know, including 7 and 12.

>119 jillmwo: Spoilering in case people don't want clues!

For 6, the answer isn't usually associated with Halloween, and Tim's rhyme plays off a well-known verse by the answer.

For 9, consider this year's badge

Out 18, 11:58 pm

>118 MrsLee: Try refreshing the page. For a couple of the clues, I was sure I was on the right page but wasn't getting the jack-o-lantern until I pressed F5 and - voila! Punkin' achieved!

Out 19, 1:12 am

>121 ScoLgo: I was hunting on my phone. I don't know how to refresh a page on my phone? I don't really care, I answered them to my own satisfaction. :D Since I get a badge I'm happy.

Out 19, 1:16 am

>122 MrsLee: On my LG/android phone, swiping down refreshes the view. Not sure if it's the same on other brands/platforms, (iPhone, etc).

But yeah, overall the Halloween Hunt is probably not all that important... ;)

Editado: Out 19, 9:24 am

Drunken sot, seated at the end of the bar in the Pub, mutters into the final remnants of a pint: Y'know, The Small House at Allington is really just Austen's Sense and Sensibility written from the male perspective.

Out 19, 7:51 pm

Okay. I just got all of my jack-o-lanterns for this year's Halloween Hunt. And while I'm grateful for all of your generosity in offering helpful hints >120 libraryperilous: I managed to get them all without having to click on your well-placed spoiler tags.

This being the Green Dragon Pub, will I get a ghostly elephant as the participation badge? I'm assured there should always be an pachyderm.

And for a variety of reasons this week, I have been sending grateful vibes to both clamairy and MrsLee for reminding me of the availability of Maskerade as well as The Ghost and Mrs Muir. Pleasant, light reads!

Out 19, 8:14 pm

Yay, and you're welcome.
I'm about ½ way through the audiobook already. A very pleasant tale.

Editado: Out 20, 10:59 am

Out 20, 11:28 am

>127 MrsLee:
I love it. MrsLee, you continue to demonstrate awe-inspiring Elephant Awareness.

Out 20, 1:29 pm

>127 MrsLee: I too love it and you are wonderful! On so many levels! Thank you.

Out 20, 1:32 pm

>128 pgmcc: & >129 jillmwo: It was the least I could Boo!

Out 20, 2:13 pm

>130 MrsLee:
Ooh! You gave me a fright.

Out 21, 10:03 am

Two recommended ghost stories -- The Phantom Rickshaw by Rudyard Kipling (found in Rudyard Kipling's Tales of Horror and Fantasy) and the other The Looking Glass by Edith Wharton (found either in Ghosts or in The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton).

After reading those, immerse yourself in the overall calm of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.

Editado: Out 21, 10:25 am

>132 jillmwo: I don't remember that particular tale, but I gave that Wharton collection 4½ stars. I will see if I can find that Kipling tale.

ETA: The Phantom Rickshaw and Other Ghost Stories for Kindle is free on Amazon.

Out 21, 4:42 pm

That's was fun. Thank you!

Out 22, 10:49 am

Nettle and Bone won Best Novel, folks! See https://locusmag.com/2023/10/2023/ for other winners at this year's Worldcon.

Out 22, 11:01 am

>135 jillmwo: Awesome. Seanan McGuire won for Best Novela, and Travis Baldree for Best New Writer!

Editado: Out 24, 6:07 am

>135 jillmwo: That's a worthy winner. It's not epic but it delves deeply into character, and good and evil.

Out 23, 10:05 am

For the record, Murder at Mansfield Park by Lynn Shepherd holds up well to being re-read. One of the few Austen variants that I've held on to over the years. Recommended for any Jane-ites within ear-shot.

Out 25, 4:19 pm

In one of those moments of procrastination today, I opened up my Kindle and the book covers displayed in my library seemed to organize themselves into something of an outline for a Gothic tale suitable for sharing at Halloween.

-- Dracula - bringing to mind the scene early on in the book when Jonathan Harker sees the Count ascending up the wall of the castle in Transylvania
-- Mansfield Park brought to mind the article I’d read earlier in the week about how Jane Austen might have based Sotherton Court on Knole. My mental connection was that this was just like Jonathan Harker in the castle in Transylvania. Stuck in a very large house with more bedrooms than live bodies in it.
-- Breaking Bread with the Dead - Sitting down to dine w/ a dead person, a ghost, whatever
-- Murder at Mansfield Park - so the dead person had been murdered
-- Death in Holy Orders - and the individual who sat down with the ghost of the murdered individual was a member of the clergy
-- You Are What You Read, {Lost in Thought and The Lost Art of Reading - so there’s a library full of books somewhere in this story.
-- Finally the artwork on two book covers - one is of Kim} and shows an urchin boy peeking over a wall and the other is a sketch of Rudyard Kipling – a grown man – looking off in the distance while standing in thought.

Okay, there are the ingredients of a story for anyone clever enough to write it and as I said, it’s undoubtedly a Gothic tale.

Out 30, 3:22 pm

There is a tweet - a bit of flash fiction – that goes around this time of year: https://twitter.com/MicroFlashFic/status/1022573616809041923. It has to do with conversations about Dracula and hurtful stereotypes.

With that as the set-up, let me knock at your door and ask if you have a minute to talk about Dracula? Some while back, I referenced a book I had read entitled My Victorian Novel that included a chapter about Dracula; the academic who provided that particular chapter had adopted the approach with her students that the novel was about new technologies and the social impact of those technologies. (She indicates that her students loved that highly relevant slant on the book.) At the time, I was caught by the idea and re-visited the novel briefly to see if I picked up on it, but as so frequently happens with me and Bram Stoker, the experience gave me the willies. So I bailed. But here’s where I went with it this past weekend.

Lynn Shepherd (the author of Murder at Mansfield Park) wrote four novels that were “re-makes” in some way of the classic novels Mansfield Park, Bleak House, Frankenstein and Dracula. Her version of Dracula is entitled The Pierced Heart. I wanted to see if the story of Stoker’s vampire was a bit more acceptable if read in the context of a detective story. The answer is both yes and no. Shepherd does maintain the narrative framework of events in Stoker’s narrative to some extent, but isn’t nearly as heavy-handed with regard to Victorian attitudes towards the undead. It’s a pleasantly horrifying vampire tale but Shepherd’s book doesn’t freak me out. (This is a good thing.)

However, I also went into the Kindle edition of Dracula that I own. (See this touchstone: https://www.librarything.com/work/883/88554123) One of the things that became clear to me is how much the illustrations that are part of that edition improve the reading experience. (E-readers can be awfully grey.) But also this time around I did see what that academic meant about the new technologies that pervade the story – lots of traffic between far flung places via train and ship, but also common-place use of the telegraph, typing machines, and even an early version of the dictaphone used by one of the doctors in his work.

Not perhaps a keeper, but certainly Shepherd offers an engaging seasonal read in The Pierced Heart. See if you can borrow it to read as we come up on the weekend of timeshifting and the diminishing of daylight. (My dreams after four chapters last night had only to do with large convention centers, their food courts as librarians converged on-site, and the photos of morning coffee and reading material posted by a work buddy in the UK.)

Out 30, 3:31 pm

(My dreams after four chapters last night had only to do with large convention centers, their food courts as librarians converged on-site, and the photos of morning coffee and reading material posted by a work buddy in the UK.)

That sounds a lot more terrifying than any Bram Stoker works I have read.

Out 30, 7:52 pm

>140 jillmwo: I am not happy about the impending time-shift. I'm already getting up a lot early than I want to so I get "all" of the daylight there is to be had. And I've already gotten my Happy Light out! I will read some of the LT reviews of the Shepherd book and see if it's something I might like.

Out 30, 8:04 pm

>142 clamairy: It gets light out way earlier for you there in the east than it does here. I had to spend way too much time this morning working in complete darkness while in a webex meeting. Sunrise here isn't until 7:48 tomorrow.

Editado: Out 30, 8:13 pm

>143 Karlstar: So you are probably happy about the time change then, and I don't blame you one bit. I do not like getting up in the dark at all. Sunrise is 7:20, but because I am on a narrow spit of land surrounded by water it starts to get light well before 7:00 and that is what wakes me. (And I have light blocking curtains.)

Out 30, 8:34 pm

Sun not rising until after 7:30am right now, and getting later every day.... thanks, I hate it.

Out 30, 10:30 pm

>144 clamairy: >145 reconditereader: I just see the practicality of it, I prefer it to be light in the morning, rather than after dinner when I'm not going to notice it at this time of year anyway.

Out 30, 11:47 pm

I mean, I *also* hate when it gets dark at 4pm because it makes me go to sleep but there's still over an hour of work left!

Out 30, 11:48 pm

I never liked going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark. Being a practical person I decided to do something about it; I stopped going to work. Problem solved.

Out 30, 11:51 pm

>148 pgmcc: Only 25 years til retirement.... only 25 years til retirement...

Out 31, 12:02 am

>149 reconditereader:
When I got to about one year to retirement my brother-in-law set up a countdown for me. It gave the months, weeks, days, hours, minutes and seconds to my retirement. I used it to great effect* during meetings, usually in the AOB part of the meeting.

*By “to great effect” I mean I maximised the annoyance of my colleagues attending the meetings. :-)
On a serious note, it did serve the practical purpose of getting my colleagues motivated to work with me on the handover of duties. Without my constantly raising my imminent departure they would not have been spurred into spending time with me to learn the job and plan for a replacement.

Out 31, 9:18 am

You-all make me so pleased that I live in the sub-tropical southern hemisphere! Here at a sliver under 30° South sunrise is almost at its earliest (5:05 am), though sunset is at its latest only in January (just after 7 pm then, 6:18 pm today).

Out 31, 10:47 am

>146 Karlstar: THIS!!! Especially as I live in a city, dark evenings are not a huge issue for me. Whereas I really struggle to get up when it's dark out in the mornings. But I'm in a minority of my friends and colleagues on this one.

Out 31, 11:03 am

>152 Sakerfalcon:
Are you pestered by a bunch of colleagues who are real morning people?

Out 31, 11:36 am

>147 reconditereader: I don't like working in the dark in the evenings, but I guess I'm used to that progression - it being dark when I'm done working, there's just more of it in December.

>152 Sakerfalcon: Same here, if it is dark in the morning, I think I should still be sleeping - or at least giving it a try, which is most days anyway.

Editado: Out 31, 3:22 pm

>141 pgmcc: Not sure if you find the idea of the convention center food court or the gathering of hundreds of librarians more frightening. Clarification desirable.

>142 clamairy: and >143 Karlstar: I'd simply prefer that we not ask our poor bodies to adjust so frequently. It takes time to teach bodies that we don't need to get out of bed as early as we used to do. My husband and I have happily been sleeping each morning until 7am or even 7:30am, but the time shift will shunt us back to the 6am routine. As with >145 reconditereader: and >152 Sakerfalcon:, I don't like getting up in the dark.

As a sidenote, I always hated having to commute in the dark coming home, when the temperature would be dropping and the wind would come whipping down along the street corner. (I worked from home for nearly a decade and I never missed having to deal with the daily commute.)

The single plus is the sense of comfortably settling in for the night.

Most importantly, I'd really rather not have to make the adjustment over and over again.

>150 pgmcc: And here I thought you were doing all that counting on your own! To be horrifyingly honest, I was assuming that half the time, you were making up the numbers...

Nov 1, 10:50 am

Okay, so just how elitist of a group might we represent here on LT? Look at some stats about American ownership of books...


I may also post this over on the thread about deacquisitioning titles from our personal holdings...

Nov 1, 10:57 am

>156 jillmwo: Interesting. I would say we're elite though, not elitist!

Nov 1, 11:20 am

>157 Karlstar: I stand corrected. You're quite right.

Nov 1, 11:52 am

>157 Karlstar:
Hear! Hear!

Nov 1, 1:59 pm

>156 jillmwo: Interesting! What pinged in my head was that older people were likely to have more books than younger, due to time to accumulate them. I thought back to photos of our early marriage, when the one bookshelf we had had empty spaces on it. Then we acquired another, inherited some books, discovered yard sale books, Friends of the Library sales and used book stores. Forty years later we have ten plus book shelves, almost all full.

Nov 1, 3:20 pm

Older people also are more likely to own houses. Young people have tiny rented apartments.

Must be nice not having to move all your stuff when the rent goes up.

Nov 2, 8:50 am

>153 pgmcc: My colleagues are not especially morning people, but given the choice they would take dark mornings over dark evenings. I am the opposite.

Nov 2, 10:34 am

>161 reconditereader: I do remember the issue associated with moving great quantities of books when we lived in New York City. (And my collection of books was far smaller then.) There were three flights of stairs involved and we couldn't afford professional movers. You certainly have my sympathies.

There are many reason why ebooks will be viewed as a viable solution for a while.

Editado: Nov 2, 1:25 pm

From Cornell University: Digitizing Books Can Spur Demand for Physical Copies

Reimers, an associate professor in the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, in the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, and Abhishek Nagaraj, assistant professor at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, exploited a natural experiment condition to examine the impact of Google’s massive book-digitization project on physical sales.

Their paper, “Digitization and the Market for Physical Works: Evidence from the Google Books Project,” published Oct. 31 in American Economic Journal: Economic Policy.

Their main findings: Digitization can boost sales of physical books by up to 8% by stimulating demand through online discovery. The increase in sales was found to be stronger for less popular books and even spilled over to a digitized author’s nondigitized works.

Editado: Nov 3, 4:34 pm

Mensagem removida pelo autor.

Editado: Nov 13, 9:37 am

Just a few brief notes in case I didn’t adequately cover these before

Maskerade by Terry Pratchett really is a fabulous send up of The Phantom of the Opera. The witches are key to the humor, but really it’s just as much that we’re talking about the absurdity of opera. Pratchett is building off of both Andrew Lloyd Weber and Bugs Bunny in “What’s Opera, Doc”. I am about to move on to a different title in the witches’ story arc, Witches Abroad.

The Tale of the Tailor and the Three Dead Kings is really not much more than a short story, but the background provided on M.R. James' involvement with the discovery of the original tale makes it worthwhile. That and the horse.

I continue with Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson, but I’m finding the style of storytelling rather choppy. Almost as if this was written to satisfy readers with very short attention spans. (Atkinson is usually better than that so I’m not sure if the problem is with the book or with me.)

Oh, as noted above in #140, I did re-read Dracula in full. I don’t regret it because as previously noted. I was able to register the whole point about new technologies for the Victorians driving much of the novel’s action and impact. There’s also a fascination with both mesmerism and somnambulism that crops up as a form of medical care and concern. Related to that, The Pierced Heart uses Lucy as its chief female character (rather than Mina) but the novelty with that is that Lucy and her father earn their daily living by acting as a set of medicine show pseudo-spiritualists. In this too, there are references to somnambulism, electro-magnetism and mesmerism. All the various progressive technologies that surface at the Great Exhibition of 1851 at the behest of Prince Albert. I don’t think this works quite as well as some of the others, but I’m sorry to see it pushed to the wayside (there’s no ebook version available). While there are certainly parts of the book that might justify trigger warnings, there is a very real balance to the way in which the author handles the supernatural with the Victorian interest in science and what might best be called pseudo-science.

Ongoing Stuff:

In something of a distracted fashion, I have continued with Jarrettsville which is clearly building up to be a tragic tale. The author’s prose is wonderfully terse and evocative while her use of the various shifting perspectives of several different narrators reveal the problematic assumptions of power and control. I’m reading this so that I can move on to Under The Cover.

Oh, and one of the book groups has determined that rather than doing a graphic novel, we’re going to do Prairie Fires, a bio of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Another of the book groups will be doing the John Scalzi novel, The Kaiju Preservation Society

Original post timestamped: Nov 5, 4:52 pm; subsequently edited to correct one or two sentences.

Nov 5, 11:55 pm

>140 jillmwo: Thanks for your interesting thoughts on Dracula, I hadn't thought about the technology aspects.

Nov 6, 4:28 pm

>166 jillmwo: Just finished The Kaiju Preservation Society - very entertaining read.

Nov 7, 1:15 pm

The things you learn on the Internet. Apparently Iceland has very specific rules on naming one's horse. See https://bsky.app/profile/hildur.bsky.social/post/3kdk2v2byl52t

Also announced today, the Wall Street Journal is dropping its "bestselling books" list for reasons that remain unclear: https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/publishing-and-market...

(Oh, reach out to me in a DM if someone here in the Pub wants an invitational code to join Blue Sky, a more pleasant microblogging environment than Twitter.)

Nov 7, 3:52 pm

>169 jillmwo:
I understand that naming your children is also regulated in Iceland. Only names on the registered list of names can be used.

Nov 7, 8:12 pm

>170 pgmcc: Isn't that also the case in Japan?

Nov 7, 11:05 pm

Nov 8, 10:56 am

>170 pgmcc: >171 Meredy: >172 Karlstar: Anarres as well, I seem to recall...? ;-)

Nov 8, 5:54 pm

>170 pgmcc: >171 Meredy: >172 Karlstar: None of this is surprising as the regulation pertains to children. I was a bit surprised about worry over the horses. But >173 ScoLgo: is right in her recollection. Of course, I misread her message initially and thought perhaps there were issues over naming the bug-eyed monsters on the planet Antares IV or something.

How should we name a bug-eyed monster? ;>)

Nov 8, 6:00 pm

>174 jillmwo:
It probably depends on the colour of their bug-eyes.

Nov 8, 6:23 pm

>174 jillmwo: *whispers* pretty sure ScoLgo is a man*

Nov 8, 6:59 pm

>176 MrsLee: Uh oh, I've been outed! Thank you for not shouting it loudly tho... ;)

Editado: Nov 8, 8:53 pm

>177 ScoLgo: oh, golly. There's no graceful way out of this, is there? (Seriously, I've tried to compose at least three different apologies and each sounds more idiotic than the last.)

Can someone quietly use spoiler tags and explain the appropriate steps to take in order to work my way back into polite society?

*meanwhile, I'm over here groveling* Would it help if I told you quite honestly that I share your love of Great Danes? (Now that I've gone and looked at your profile...)

Nov 9, 12:42 am

>178 jillmwo: Eh, no worries. I consider it an honor to have been temporarily inducted into the sisterhood - only to have it suddenly torn away. Oh, the humanity! ;)

Great Danes are such excellent dogs. They unfortunately have short life spans and both of the boys in my gallery are gone now. We miss them terribly but such is the deal when you sign on with the big galoots.

Nov 9, 3:39 pm

>174 jillmwo: So, how about them bug-eyed monsters? Whatever you do, don't ask the internet to name them.

Nov 9, 3:51 pm

>180 Karlstar: Because they'll end up with something like Boaty McBoatface? I don't know where that kind particular style of naming came from but I have a sense that corporate agencies have to be careful in running naming campaigns these days!

Nov 9, 9:49 pm

>181 jillmwo: Exactly!

Nov 10, 8:49 am

No one's obligated to visit, but I did get my longer-than-usual blog post on the topic of annotated editions up on the Scholarly Kitchen. I am hoping that a follow-up having to do with book reviews will go up next week. https://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2023/11/10/the-serious-reader-scholarship-an...

Nov 10, 9:05 am

>183 jillmwo:
Well done. I look forward to reading that, and your book reviews.

Nov 10, 3:06 pm

>183 jillmwo: Very nice! Very good points about reading annotated editions on a Kindle, one big advantage for an e-reader.

Nov 10, 6:02 pm

>183 jillmwo: Nice! I have one comment though, on the sentence 'Depending upon the publisher’s resources, inclusion of the information might be viewed either as value-add or as “padding”.' There is a third possibility, at least in this case. The Annotated Alice was published by Penguin IIRC (I used to have a copy, but don't know what became of it), so resources wouldn't have been a problem. But the book was by the late, much missed Martin Gardner. The annotation was neither value-add nor padding but just Martin Gardner being Martin Gardner.

Nov 10, 9:22 pm

>186 haydninvienna: That's entirely possible. (I take it you may have met him? The YouTube recording about his work that got included in the post suggested that he was quite the character.)

In my view, padding is less of an issue when the annotated edition is intended for a consumer market. In the instance of the Father Brown book, the full explanation of the Sunny Jim item might certainly be both entertaining and engaging but it was still a bit off-the-wall. Maybe "padding" is too harsh, as I think about it. But if the manuscript was seen to be running long, I'd imagine an editor would have had to look a bit askance at that particular annotation.

>185 Karlstar: I went back and forth on it. On a Kindle Scribe, the software handled it decently. The smaller the screen however the more problematic I think it became. And as I noted, when queried, the academic instructor absolutely preferred the printed page layout.

Nov 10, 11:57 pm

>187 jillmwo: Unfortunately no, I never met him. I have or have had quite a few of his books though. And it was in his column "Mathematical Games" in Scientific American that I first encountered the art of Maurits C Escher.

Nov 11, 8:55 am

>183 jillmwo: & >185 Karlstar: Ahh, the footnotes on a Kindle issue... I have mine set up so I have to click on the footnote to see it, and sometimes late in the evening I miss them entirely. (Admittedly, I don't read a lot of annotated editions of classics. My footnotes are primarily in nonfiction.)

Nov 13, 10:22 am

It's probably because I need to get an upgrade on one of the medications or it may be due to inadequate levels of caffeine, but I spent hours this weekend sitting on the couch and thinking -- some of which was productive. Other parts of which were really HARD -- like fishing tiny bits of eggshell out of a bowl of batter. How does one determine when one is really thinking and when one is just procrastinating and being a sloth? If you're scribbling down notes by hand of some portion of those thoughts, is that a reliable indicator?

Honestly, Saturday night (from 9pm to about 10:30, when Patrick arrived back home from the theater), I actually spent 90 minutes tinkering with a single and still-imperfect paragraph. Patrick noted that this meant I wouldn't be able to fall asleep until midnight and that rarely worked out well for me.

I also looked around my various book piles and wondered about a particular sub-genre of (relatively recent) books having to do with reading and how we feel about reading. Are folks obsessing unreasonably over poor reading choices or is this a last gasp of anxiety over the decline of the humanities as an academic pursuit? (Kind of like when theological seminaries were closing in great numbers while places like Johns Hopkins were being established as the next BIG thing.) Most of these books were in fact BY academics and had been written over the past decade or so.

I also spent time being a couch potato, watching bits and pieces of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Phantom of the Opera and The Moonstone. OTOH, I also watched a really well-done PBS American Masters documentary on Edgar Allan Poe. The associated blurb claimed it was primarily about the Tell-Tale Heart but really it was about his whole writing career. Sympathetic to his challenges but acknowledging that the man could have benefited from time spent with a good therapist.

Nov 13, 12:59 pm

>190 jillmwo: Socrates would say that you were pursuing virtue by only thinking and not writing. The virtue of words and their power held in your mind.

Editado: Nov 15, 9:34 am

>191 MrsLee:. Do you know that you are one of the (very) few women of my acquaintance who can casually reference Socrates in the course of a normal conversation? In all seriousness! You're amazing and I'm just a little bit cowed.

Meanwhile, I'm building up to a serious screed against the idea of print-on-demand books. It's not that I don't grasp their practical value in the course of ordinary life. It is that I see them as a blight on the landscape of paperback books, an offense against all decent-minded people. A BLIGHT. I want to grab whichever VP at Amazon has agreed to support them as a revenue stream -- grab him by the ear and drag him in front of the end product, point at the automated output, and yell, "DID YOU DO THAT? DO YOU SEE WHAT IT IS? I AM SO ASHAMED OF YOU!! Because I tell you as Heaven is my witness that Gutenberg is rolling in his grave."

Nov 15, 11:25 am

>192 jillmwo: It helps that I'm reading a book. ;)

I'm not sure I've ever seen a print on demand book? Although I have received some very ugly paperbacks, poorly conceived, so maybe I have.

Nov 15, 2:29 pm

>193 MrsLee:. One way that a print-on-demand book can be identified is to check the very last page bound into the spine. AMZ print-on-demand titles indicate (a) that the copy was printed in the U.S. (2) the actual geographic location of the facility where the item was generated and (3) the date the copy was generated (or perhaps the date the item was entered into the queue to be generated).

I don't know if this is a universal practice. It would make sense that it is something that the software developers felt necessary to build into the machines that spit out POD titles, because those may be in a library, a bookstore or in an AMZ warehouse. And somebody wants to track that activity. (There's also usually a barcode of some sort on that last page, but it's not usually the same barcode as you would find on the back cover of the book. Again, someone has to be tracking such activity, whether for purposes of contractual compliance or financial reporting, etc.)

Nov 15, 3:08 pm

>192 jillmwo: First paragraph: indeed yes. I completely agree.

Second sentence: oh dear yes. There are probably POD editions with beautiful design and typography, using accurate and carefully edited texts, and then there’s this: https://www.goodshowsir.co.uk/?p=15112. I assume most POD books use the Project Gutenberg text or another free e-text. The PG texts are what they are—mostly good enough but not perfect. So there’s that too.

Nov 15, 3:50 pm

>195 haydninvienna:. Looking at the goodshowsir site. Holy moly. That is an abomination.

And yes, some Project Gutenberg files are better to work from than others. One of my book groups is reading So Big by Edna Ferber and when I went to see what the file was like on PG, my first reaction was "Oh. Dear." It's not awful, but the cramped line spacing hinders readability of the HTML version. OTOH, the POD version I got from AMZ is none too great. There is a title page and on the reverse of the title page begins chapter one. (There is no copyright page. No indication even of who is responsible and getting the money from the customer who has paid for the generated print. Nope. None.) My buddy in the group bought a different POD version and her copy cut off after chapter 15, thereby losing the final six chapters of the text. Buyer, beware indeed.

But your example of the cover on Thuvia of Mars would seem to be most particularly awful.

Nov 15, 6:13 pm

Ah. So your dislike of POD is not the technology itself, but the fact that anyone who wants to can put up a horribly formatted book--yes?

Editado: Nov 15, 8:31 pm

>197 Marissa_Doyle: Pretty much. POD isn't all that different as a format from what we saw in mass-market paperbacks, but at least let's make a stab at trying to deliver something that meets the general level of expectation. Decent covers make a difference in marketing; so does adherence to a basic set of conventions and best practices. (Copyright page, table of contents, page numbers, etc.) In this instance, So Big was in public domain so whomever it was who prepped the file for POD may not have thought a copyright page page was a necessity.

I realize that sometimes people don't want to follow page templates because they seem time-consuming to work with. Maybe it's just laziness. But lousy production values bug the heck out of me and some of what one encounters is just slipshod.

Nov 15, 10:55 pm

I believe you may be conflating POD with "people trying to sell a public-domain text for profit". They are not the same thing, though they sometimes overlap.

Also, so what if somebody does want to sell a bad copy of some ancient book and make a buck? Why does it hurt you if their endeavor flops?

Nov 16, 6:13 am

A former colleague of mine, when asked by a lecturer to get public domain books for reading lists, had a habit of purchasing the cheapest option available, which would usually be a POD version. In many of them the pages had annotations and underlining from the original copy that was scanned as the basis of the text. And of course there was no critical apparatus. Nine times out of ten he had to reorder and buy a "proper" version of the text. It annoyed me no end.

Some academic publishers (Routledge springs to mind) keep their older titles as POD. I am fine with that; the price is the same as for in-print titles and the book is produced to the same quality. Far preferable to the book being completely unavailable. This is a completely different scenario to the above.

Editado: Nov 16, 4:37 pm

There are a couple of layers here.

There are standard expectations of how readers navigate a text. The table of contents is one such element. Page numbers are another. Removing such elements (for whatever reason) can be a disservice to the buyer. The lack of a TOC or an index in the context of a non-fiction text means that a reader won't be able to pick out the section of the book he or she needs most immediately. The lack of page numbering means that the reader can't again easily refind the place where they left off (assuming the lack of a book mark of some ilk). These value-add elements, most of which we take for granted, have been the work of publishers in bringing the work to market, just like the book's layout, cover design, etc..

Standard POD is what publishers revert to when they can't justify the cost of warehousing print copies of a text that just doesn't earn back that investment. Something that was published 30 years ago may have some degree of value but you don't want to go back to press for a print run of what may be fewer than 150 copies. It's not cost-effective. Allowing the use of POD retains all those value-add elements the publisher put in and allows the buyer the physical copy that they might feel necessary. The buyer gets a decent reading experience and the publisher still gets compensated for their work. The end product is basically utilitarian. I had to get a copy of a public domain work entitled The Columbian Orator earlier this year that had a particular definitive introduction by a particular professor of history. The only way to get it was POD from New York University Press. The trim size is about 6 x 9; the paper stock is decent, but not acid-free. There is a color cover, TOC, page numbers, etc. For a relatively low price of $23, I was able to read the introduction which was key and explore the type of content that Frederick Douglass used to educate himself in the ways of rhetoric. Not anything like a polished effort but this kind of thing fulfills a basic requirement in relatively little time. I'd rather have a nice hardcover maybe but this gets the job done.

There is also that segment of the world, as reconditereader notes, who just want to make a buck. They download (sometimes pirate) a copy of some old book, upload it into the Amazon publishing system, adding little or no value. As an example, I'm pretty sure that AMZ requires that you number your pages; it's not an optional thing. By contrast, AMZ may not require the inclusion of a Table of Contents in books prepared for sale on their platform. For reasons I'm not entirely clear on, vendors of automated content management systems charge extra for that as a module. (As bizarre as that sounds, I swear it's true. I was flabbergasted when a consultant told me the price.)

Now I bought a POD copy of So Big for under 10 bucks and got a bare bones version as described. It wasn't annoying enough for me to return the book in outrage over the lack of a copyright page, etc. However, my book group buddy who paid for a version that didn't include the last six chapters of the book? I certainly believe she should be able to return the item she paid for because if nothing else it was a fraudulent sale. No quality assurance done and no alert that she was dealing with a fly-by-night POD producer.

When I say I don't like POD, it's because the format is not always reflective of the value that a proper publishing workflow adds. It's a crap shoot and the purveyors don't always tell you in advance that what you're getting is in fact a POD. If I'm paying $35.00 for a print copy of The Rains Came, a book published back in 1937 and therefore still under copyright, I don't want to learn upon receipt that the bulk of that price is not going to the author's estate and the publisher as holder of rights, but rather to some schlub who grabbed a digital copy off Internet Archive and subsequently uploaded it to AMZ's platform. (That experience I did find disturbing. I now check the details on Amazon to see if I can be sure that there's a legitimate rights holder involved in the transaction.)

I don't have all the details as to how POD works in the current environment. I do know that it's a convenient way to satisfy the needs of the reader in an age when print runs are shorter and shorter. Inter-library loan isn't always an efficient route for getting something in the shortest possible time-frame although it is generally a low-cost (free) option. There's a good rationale for POD. I just don't want to subsidize those who don't want to turn out a decent product.

Is that way more information than anyone wanted or needed?

Nov 16, 10:56 am

>201 jillmwo: I for one, am finding this whole discussion very interesting.

Nov 16, 11:47 am

>202 MrsLee: Me too!

Nov 16, 4:24 pm

I'll have to put on my professional hat for a moment...

I wish there were a better term for the books you dislike--the shoddily scanned, poorly designed and formatted OOP books that get thrown up on Amazon and elsewhere, often at stupidly exorbitant prices--because the technology itself has been a godsend for small publishers like the one I am part of. We could not afford print runs of our books, nor warehousing costs nor postage nor any of that, but we CAN offer our books via print-on-demand both through Amazon and Barnes and Noble and through distributors like Ingram. That's a Good Thing both for us and for our readers.

Nov 16, 4:35 pm

>204 Marissa_Doyle: Marissa, I absolutely agree with you. I suspect a different kind of terminology would be indeed be useful. POD is absolutely a good thing for those small and independent publishing entities. For all the reasons you mention (I'd not mentioned at all the postage/shipping aspect and that too is a really important part of the equation.) I do support POD under such circumstances. I just wish there was someway to properly differentiate between responsible providers like you and those who are not operating in good faith.

Nov 16, 4:55 pm

>201 jillmwo: Definitely not too much information! Put me in the crowd that prefers a TOC and page numbers, either in print books or when using an e-reader. I'd really love the TOC to be hypertext links on an e-reader, but I know that's asking for a lot.

Nov 16, 10:27 pm

Differentiating between responsible printers and slipshod pirates has been an issue for as long as books have ever been published. The internet makes POD easy, but the problem is as old as publishing itself.

Editado: Nov 17, 3:28 am

>192 jillmwo:
Having read up to post >207 reconditereader: in this thread I suggest you are not offended by the "idea of print-on-demand books" as such, but rather with the bad habits and shoddy use of the technology that it has led to. I would further suggest that similar bad habits are exposed in some early e-book publications, but that's not important right now.

I think this discussion is entwined with the phenomenon of self publishing as well as the issue of the scoundrel trying to "make a quick buck", a phrase used in today's Guardian crossword, by publishing a book using Gutenberg or some other source of free, or stolen, text.

My preference is to acquire books from established publishers who have put their books through editorial, production and quality control processes; who have the requisite staff to carry out the necessary tasks; and who basically know what they are doing. My experience of self-published books, particularly in fiction*, is that it is difficult to know if such a book is going to be any good, either as a story or as a finished product. My frequency of being disappointed by a self-published book is much higher than the frequency of my being disappointed by a book from an established publishing house. I hasten to add, however, that even the established publishing houses are showing the extent of their cost cutting endeavours in their proofreading departments.

Before I am pummelled by the self-publishing lobby with examples of brilliant writers who used that channel to get into the market, let me say, yes, there are such examples, but there is so much dross in the tsunami of self-published books that I am not going to waste anymore of my precious time on Earth trying to find the good ones. If some self-published books receive good ratings, recommendations and comments in LT, then I might be swayed to read a new author. I have found excellent authors who have started by self publishing their books and I continue to read their work. A case in point is Caimh McDonnell/C. K. McDonnell. It was a fellow GD member who first mentioned his work to me and I now pre-order every book he has published. I simply have no desire to wade through the dross myself.

jillmwo, let me know if I have misread or misinterpreted your views on POD books.

*I have had better experience with the content of non-fiction self-published books, although the non-fiction books often still suffer from the physical production problems you have outlined.

Nov 17, 9:39 am

>207 reconditereader: and >208 pgmcc:. I'll circle back around with any lengthier response, but for now, I am distracted by the news that A.S. Byatt has passed. She wrote Possession, Ragnarok, and other novels of note. I still have her book The Children's Book upstairs on a shelf waiting for me.


Editado: Nov 20, 10:41 am

Two book reviews from reading over the past week to ten days.

Jarrettsville is historical fiction. Very well-done historical fiction. As noted previously in #88, this novel takes place in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War. The first chapter opens with a town’s celebration of the fifth year anniversary of the surrender at Appomattox. Jarrettsville is a town in Maryland – right on the line between Union and Confederate territories. Tensions are still evident. We see a woman shoot a man in cold blood and then collapse screaming on his body. The initial account of the shooting is provided by the local physician on the scene.

For her novel, Cornelia Nixon uses the narrative technique of multiple narrators explaining events throughout the course of the preceding five year period and through the relatively speedy trial of Martha Cairns for her actions. The novel is based on an incident from Nixon’s own family history. We hear from both Martha and Nicolas (the man she loves) and then from a variety of witnesses during the trial.

The question of course is how does a tale of Romeo-and-Juliet love survive hatreds lingering long past the war itself? Please note that this is not one of your general historical romance novels. People are still trying to adapt to conditions without the necessary resources. They’re trying to work battle-scarred farms and foster livestock. They’re trying to care for their family members, those freed (but injured) prisoners of war who return from the likes of Andersonville and Elmyra with dangerous illnesses alongside other incapacitating losses. The author doesn’t wallow in gory descriptive passages, but you get a sufficient sense of rather bleak circumstances. Human beings can turn ugly when caught up in those circumstances – either in community or when forced into isolation.

I might never have chosen to read Jarrettsville if it had just been sitting on a shelf at a bookstore. It might require a particular frame of mind before one can become properly immersed but I am not sorry to have read it. I can assure you that it is a good read, worth your time, and beyond that, I will not reveal more. Jarrettsville wasn’t a run-away best-seller in its year, but I think it says something that the book is still in print some 15 years later.

As the follow-up, I am now mid-way through Under the Cover which is about the process as it unfolded in bringing this particular novel to market. Being non-fiction, it is a bit slower reading than the novel (being somewhat academic in tone) but it’s quite interesting to see how the collaborative activity of trade publishing has been restructured, some of the decision-making that goes into the publishing workflow and the risk-assessment before something hits your local bookseller. It is even more interesting to read how the novel ultimately is received by ordinary readers. Because Jarrettsville is a real town in Maryland and real people still live there.

Shifting gear to yesterday's book group discussion of So Big by Edna Ferber. I suspect that nowadays, despite being a Pulitzer-Prize winner, Ferber is considered to be only a minor American novelist. She was a popular writer and, during her lifetime, there were multiple movies made from her books. So Big was published in 1924. That it won a Pulitzer in 1925 was a matter of controversy for that year’s panel of judges, although honestly, when I looked to see what it was up against, none of the other titles seemed to have survived the past 80 years. No household brand names in the list.

So Big is about competent women living in the American midwest at the turn of the 20th century and having to adapt as they raise their children. It emphasizes hard work, but also the important capacity to see beauty in the daily environment. (Because that’s what will sustain you in getting up every morning and facing whatever needs doing.) Follow your own internal compass in building up the world through your own contribution; worry less about how society sees you.

Selina, a relatively young widow, puts in the hard work to raise her son, Dirk, to enable him to pursue the work for which he may have a talent. Unfortunately, we can’t run the lives of our children once they’re past a certain age and in the novel’s ambiguous ending, readers are led to suspect that Dirk will never fully realize how much he misses out on in life by refusing to meet his own challenges, choosing instead to be moved along more by the influences of modern society. It’s the women in So Big that have the resilience and robust motivation to get things done. The novel is a character study, lauding those with the willingness to accept hardship as part of the game and the practical sense required to pull themselves up by the boot-straps.

Oddly enough, it was only by trying to describe the message of this book that I was able to properly process it and say “Oh, that’s why it’s still with us in 2023”. It’s that whole American mindset that insists it is only laziness holding people back. (Of course, it is never quite that simple!)

Dagnabbit, now my temptation is to just go back to bed and pull the covers up over my head. Because otherwise, I have to stop procrastinating and kick myself into high gear. At least I've produced something like 800-900 words. Sadly, the house "needs attention".

Nov 20, 2:29 pm

>210 jillmwo: Thanks for your impressions of those books, you made them all sound interesting.

Nov 20, 3:55 pm

>210 jillmwo: It is my theory that like water and mass, there is a constant of energy in this world. We can't gain it or lose it; so when you have that strong desire to procrastinate and go back to bed, it is because someone else is using the energy at the moment. If you get up and make yourself do something, you may be taking the energy from someone who needs it at the moment to get something important done, like saving lives. Using it to do housework would be selfish. It's my theory and I'm sticking with it.

Nov 20, 4:44 pm

>212 MrsLee: Fantastic theory and I may well join you in adopting it!

Nov 20, 4:52 pm

>211 Karlstar: They were interesting! I ought to have made it clear that the writing in both instances -- that is, Jarrettsville and So Big -- was clean, the prose stripped down to what was needful, and still evocative. Each had interesting themes, discussions of authenticity, misreading of others behavior or motivation, etc.

Nov 20, 5:09 pm

>207 reconditereader: You're quite right that traditional publishing has had its share of poorly designed and printed volumes. They were easy to avoid back when I was in physical bookstores and flipping through the actual volume in my hand. It's a bit harder to avoid the fly-by-night entities when ordering online.

>208 pgmcc: Yes, like you, I am offended primarily by the bad habits and shoddy use of the technology. But so much comes down to the reason behind my purchase. Do I need a print copy because it's for research, as in my NYU Press example of The Columbian Orator? OR can I wait 7 days for a used copy of So Big to arrive by regular post from the other side of the country? (That requires a bit more consideration. I was running behind this month, didn't check the particulars, and just hit the "buy" button. Moral being something on the order of "Marry in Haste, Repent at Leisure.)

Nov 20, 7:19 pm

>212 MrsLee: I'm adopting that theory as well!

Nov 21, 12:51 am

>216 haydninvienna: Spread the word!

Nov 21, 9:07 am

>212 MrsLee: This is brilliant.

Nov 21, 9:34 am

>212 MrsLee:
I think if you stood for office on this policy you would have many, many followers. The only problem is that by following your policy they may end up staying in bed rather than going to vote for you. :-(

Nov 23, 9:37 am

Happy Thanksgiving, jillmwo.

Nov 25, 4:25 pm

Well, it was a quiet Thanksgiving as the offspring were each jetting off in their own directions this year. That said, in this house, there was turkey, cranberry sauce, green beans, and a generous slice of pie. There were bits of a parade and bits of the dog show. (I believe one of the spaniels finally won.)

Meanwhile, I finally watched the Brannagh movie A Haunting in Venice which was fine insofar as it went. Quite atmospheric but still somewhat remote from my idea of Agatha Christie. It was not so very scary that I couldn't fall asleep at the end of it. (There was a Black Friday price on it that met with my persnickety price requirements.)

This weekend, I've been working to finish The Small House at Allington which really IS Trollope's response to Austen's Sense and Sensibility. Other than that, I've dipped into poetry periodically. I am about to begin a new thread. Just because this one is at the breaking point which will necessitate much piffling come New Year's Eve. (I tend to have that problem but fortunately, ye denizens of ye Pub always come to the rescue. Clamairy is always good with regard to presentations of fabulous cheese platters and there is generally some degree of silliness posted by good buddies living in other exotic parts of the world.)

Meanwhile, there is discussion about "Best Books" all over the place. NYPL included The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi which was one of my picks this year as well (as you will see, when Scholarly Kitchen gets their Chefs' listing up). I haven't yet read All the Beauty in The World from the NYPL list but it looks SO very intriguing. (There's a lot on their list that I'd not been aware of, but the non-fiction academic book group will be looking for good stuff and this work-place memoir appears to qualify.) The NYPL list is here: https://www.nypl.org/books-more/recommendations/best-books/adults

Now to start up the next thread -->