Sunday Reading

It’™s wild wet and windy outside, so I’™ve decided today is a day for reading, not gardening. I’™ve started to read Victor Hugo’™s Les Miserables and so far it’™s looking good, although I’™ve not got very far into it. I really like Monseigneur Bienvenue and this quote seems apt after my gardening post yesterday:

‘œ ‘¦ he dug his garden or read or wrote, and for him both kinds of work bore the same name; both he called gardening. ‘The spirit is a garden,’™ he said.’

Danielle at A Work in Progress is reading this too, aiming to finish it in about two months. This means reading about 200 pages a week. I’™ll have to see if I can manage that.

I think I’™m going to give up on reading Edith Wharton’™s The House of Mirth, even though I’™ve read nearly half the book. It’™s wordy and I’™m getting bored with Lily Bart and her liking for luxury and her mixed up life, trying to find a husband who can afford to keep her in the custom she longs for. It’™s not often I abandon a book and I may give it another go, but not today. I’™m not in the mood for it; I think that’™s my problem with it rather than the writing.

I’™ve got some good books to look forward to; at least I hope they are. I had a trip to the library on Friday and picked up The Shipping News, by Annie Proulx (a Pulitzer Prize winner), Consequences by Penelope Lively (I’™ve yet to read a book by her that I haven’™t liked) and Giving Up the Ghost: A Memoir by Hilary Mantel, which I read about on Table Talk’™s blog. I’™ve dipped into this and it looks intriguing. I like the openness and candour in her writing:

‘œSo now I come to write a memoir I argue with myself over every word. Is my writing clear: or is it deceptively clear? I tell myself, just say how you came to sell a house with a ghost in it. But this story can only be told once and I need to get it right. Why does the act of writing generate so much anxiety? Margaret Atwood says, ‘œThe written word is so much like evidence ‘“ like something that can be used against you.’ I used to think that autobiography was a form of weakness, and perhaps I still do. But I also think that, if you’™re weak, it’™s childish to pretend to be strong.’

I’™ll be settling down this afternoon to a session with Les Miserables.


  1. I read one book by Hilary Mantel a long time ago – something about Ghazzah Street – the main character was a wife with her husband in an Arab country and facing the restrictions on women. I remember liking it but never continued with that author. Sounds like you have a wonderful afternoon planned.Love the new header on your blog. Beautiful!


  2. I started and gave up on The Shipping News. I do this often when I see a movie first and expect the book to be something it isn’t. I am not saying it is a bad book I am just saying I couldn’t get over my preconceived notions of it. I can’t wait to hear what you think about it.I am surprised that you gave up House of Mirth. Let me tell you I loved the movie and have always wanted to read it. But there are a lot of books I want to read and intend to read and never get around to.I am glad you are enjoying Les Miserables. I saw it at a thrift store the other day and since I have see it on a couple of people’s blogs and now wondering where I saw it and if I can find it again. There is something about knowing that can share the experience that really makes me want to read a book.


  3. Thanks, Kay. Beyond Black is the only book I’ve read by Hilary Mantel and it sounds from the little I’ve read of Giving Up the Ghost that Beyond Black is based in some parts on her own experiences. Megan, I haven’t seen the movie of The Shipping News. I find that if I read the book first and then see the movie, the movie doesn’t meet my expectations, so it’s interesting that the book didn’t match your preconceieved notions of it from watching the movie. Whichever way round seems difficult. The only exception I can think of was The Hours by Michael Cunningham. I read the book first and then later saw the movie. I enjoyed both, and although the film was different in parts I still enjoyed it.


  4. Please don’t see the film of ‘The Shipping News’. The book is wonderful but the film worse than is usually the case, mostly because of very poor casting. I loved ‘Consequences’ as well and I hope you go on enjoying the Mantel. Isn’t it lovely coming home with an armful of must read library books?


  5. Table Talk, I’m not tempted to see the film – I saw a trailer once at the cinema and wasn’t attracted then and your comment bears that out. In any case I find I usually prefer a book to a film of it most of the time.It is lovely finding books to read – I only wish I could read them all at once. I have to look at each one as soon as I can, which often leaves me completely undecided which one to read next – so frustrating.


  6. I really did like The Shipping News, and the movie, as well. And I’m not a Wharton fan, at all. What beautiful primroses (??) Are they yours?


  7. Nan, reading is such a subjective thing isn’t it? And the way a film interprets a book can spoil a book for me, so I’m wary now of watching a film when I’ve enjoyed a book. But it doesn’t always follow.The House of Mirth is the only book by Wharton that I’ve tried, but it didn’t grab me.Yes the primroses are growing in our garden. They self-seed every year and this year they have been so beautiful.


  8. I think I’m going to need to step up my reading considerably if I am going to finish Les Miserables in two months! 🙂 I’m glad you like what you’ve read so far. The Bishop is a nice fellow, isn’t he? I’m moving along in it slowly but steadily. I’d like to read that Penelope Lively book, too. I think I’ll try and wait for the paperback, though. I have Moon Tiger on my TBR pile, which I’ll try to get to first.


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