This morning I read a few pages of Elizabeth Gilbert’™s Eat, Pray, Love. I’™m not terrible impressed with it so far and I don’™t think I’™ll finish it as it’™s a library book and someone else has reserved it and I have to return it next by Wednesday. I’™m still in the ‘œeating’ part, which is in Italy. The first few chapters explain the background to Elizabeth Gilbert’™s reasons for travelling and it is her depression and despair that I found hard going. Now she is in Italy it’™s beginning to grab my attention and this morning I read her account of going to watch a football match between Lazio and Roma. Apparently Italian men go to a bakery after their team has lost a match and cheer themselves up by standing about leaning on their motorcycles, ‘œtalking about the game, looking macho as anything, and eating cream puffs.’ I must remember to suggest this to my husband and son the next time their team, Manchester United, loses. Fortunately that’™s not today because they beat Aston Villa 4 ‘“0 yesterday. I hope the Italians will be eating cream puffs (and there will be no violence) on Tuesday when Manchester United are playing Roma in Rome.
What else am I reading? Yesterday I started to read Penelope Lively’™s Consequences. I’™ve yet to read one of her books and be disappointed and so far this is living up to my expectations. It starts in 1935 when two young people, Lorna and Matt meet quite by chance in St James’™s Park in London. They come from very different backgrounds but are instantly attracted to each other and despite opposition from Lorna’™s parents they get married. As the title indicates the predominant theme of this book is how events follow on from chance meetings and how our lives are changed because of the decisions we make. For some time now I’™ve been interested in the Second World War period and from my reading of this book so far it sets the scene and captures the atmosphere of the pre-war and early war years. There is a nostalgic feel to the settings, looking back to how things were and how the war inevitably changed people’™s lives and expectations.
This morning I’™ve read some more. Lorna and Matt have had a daughter, Molly, the war began and Matt was called up. I won’™t say too much as I don’™t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’™t read it. This book is just so good, I can’™t praise it enough. It’™s full of such quotable extracts, such as this in defining happiness Lorna realises that it is ‘œanother condition, of a different quality, a state of being that lifts you above ordinary existence, that pervades every moment, that confers immunity.’
Later in my reading this morning I came to the section when Molly having gone through university, takes a job as a librarian ‘œbecause someone had left a copy of the Evening Standard in the tube’ advertising the job and she thought why not? Thus setting in motion another train of events. But the bits that I particularly like in this section are the descriptions of the library and of books (I used to be a librarian). Here are just a few examples:
‘œFiction is one strident lie ‘“ or rather, many competing lies; history is a long narrative of argument and reassessment; travel shouts of self-promotion; biography is just pushing a product. As for autobiography ‘¦’
‘œThat is the function of books: they offer a point of view, they offer many conflicting points of view, they provoke thought, they provoke irritation and admiration and speculation. They take you out of yourself and put you down somewhere else from whence you never entirely return.’
‘œThe surface repose of a library is a cynical deception.’
That’™s all for now. More thoughts later on today.