This week I’ve finished reading two crime fiction books:
- Payment Deferred by Joyce Holms
- Wycliffe and the Last Rites by W J Burley
and posts on these books will be on my blog this coming week.
I’m still reading Eden’s Outcast: the story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father by John Matteson. So far I’ve been reading about Bronson Alcott and his unorthdox ideas about educating and bringing up children. It was quite a coincidence I thought, when I was reading the Daily Express in the coffee shop recently and came across a review of Fruitlands: The Alcott Family and their Search for Utopia by Richard Francis. The reviewer describes this book as a
… richly textured history of the life and times of a back’‘to’‘nature community in 19th-century America. It was called Fruitlands, though Fruitcakes would have been more apt.
(Read more from this review.)
I haven’t got up to this venture so far in Eden’s Outcasts. There are many entries in the index under ‘Fruitlands’ so I expect to find out much more about it. His career as a teacher was not a success and it seems that his venture into communal farming wasn’t either.
I spent other reading time this week downloading more books onto my Kindle and have read the opening paragraphs of most of them. It really is so easy to get carried away and add more books to my to-be-read lists! But I only bought one book this week, so that’s not too bad.
It’s Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose and it’s been on my wish list for a long time. I read fairly quickly and know that I often read too quickly to take in all the detail. Prose writes that reading quickly can be ‘a hindrance‘ and that it is ‘essential to slow down and read every word‘. She also contradicts the advice to novice writers ‘to show, not tell‘, when ‘the responsibility of showing should be assumed by the energetic and specific use of language‘. Using Alice Munro’s short story Dulse as an example, she says:
There are many occasions in literature in which telling is far more effective than showing. A lot of time would have been wasted had Alice Munro believed that she could not begin her story until she had shown us Lydia working as an editor, writing poetry, breaking up with her lover, dealing with her children, getting divorced, growing older, and taking all the steps that led up to the moment at which the story rightly begins.
Most interesting, I thought.
I still haven’t got used to Kindle’s use of locations as opposed to page numbers – the extract above is from Location 409 – 12. Nor have I mastered the technique of transferring my highlighted passages and notes from the Kindle to the computer!
I’m also reading The Matchmaker of Kenmare by Frank Delaney. This is an Advance Uncorrected Proof; the book is scheduled to be on sale on 8 February. It’s the first book I’ve read by Delaney, described by the publisher as a
… lush and surprising historical novel, rich as a myth, tense as a thriller …
From what I’ve read of it so far I’d go along with that description, except for the tenseness – but it’s early days yet. It’s set in 1943 in Ireland, a neutral country in the Second World War. It’s a long book and takes its time in setting the scene and introducing the characters. It promises well.