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salonva

**July Reading**

3 years ago

I hope I am not stepping on toes by starting this thread as I don't come to this forum all that often but I do enjoy it.

Anyway,,, I finally read (just finished yesterday) East of Eden. It was so intense and chock full of characters and events that I feel like I want to re-read it at some point. I did get a lot ouf of it and rate it 5 stars . I think if /when I do read it again I will get even more from it.


My next book is for book club- The Weight of a Piano. As usual, I know nothing about it other than it got good ratings on Goodreads.

Comments (81)

  • 3 years ago

    Do you remember the movie Some Like it Hot where Tony Curtis does an impression of Grant and is told "Nobody speaks like that."

    To us, over here, he does sound almost English . . . but not quite.

    salonva thanked vee_new
  • 3 years ago

    I was fooled into believing an actor was English in his role in a TV series until he pronounced "Arundel" as "Ay-rundel" to my surprise. The Duke of Norfolk hosts cricket matches at the castle there and no Englishman would mispronounce it.

    salonva thanked annpanagain
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  • 3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    Ann, my ”introduction” to Hugh Laurie was the US TV drama ”House”, in which he plays an abrasive doctor who is able to diagnose difficult cases. I was very surprised to see him inteviewed and discover he’s British!

    I finished my re-read of Confederates in the Attic. It was published in 1998 and I found it very depressing to realize that in the southern US we still have the exact same racial issues nearly 25 years later.

    Donna

    salonva thanked msmeow
  • 3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    I've just finished Rococo and loved it ! Such a happy fun story, particularly if you are a RC Italian !

    The Patron Saint Of Liars is next to be read.

    salonva thanked yoyobon_gw
  • 3 years ago

    msmeow, I have seen House, Jeeves and Wooster etc and marvel at what a talented actor Hugh Laurie is. He does the US accent so well that when a fellow actor heard him at an awards night ceremony, asked why he was putting on a British voice!

    He is a good pianist too...

    salonva thanked annpanagain
  • 3 years ago

    I'm reading another Gail Bowen book, 12 Rose Street. I really enjoy following the family life in this series, as well as the mystery of each book.

    salonva thanked Carolyn Newlen
  • 3 years ago

    The torrential downpours we have been having put me in mind of Somerset Maugham's "Rain" short story which I read many years ago. I went online and read some notes about it and found some surprising ideas about the ending.

    Spoiler....

    I had assumed the missionary succumbed to lust and then committed suicide but other readers had seen it differently.

    e.g. Sadie had really pretended to repent but intended to seduce him or that she had murdered him! As she wanted to avoid being put on the ship to San Francisco both ideas didn't fit IMHO.

    It is interesting to read other people's understanding of stories, especially when they were written some time ago. A devoted 19C "follower" is now seen as a stalker and all kinds of motives can be read by people looking for "ists" ageist, racist etc.!

    You sometimes wonder if you are reading the same book!

    salonva thanked annpanagain
  • 3 years ago

    Annpan, interesting what you wrote (above) It reminds me of the various adaptations of the book-to-movie Little Women in particular where, in one, the girls' mother gives them a lecture on the 'rights of women' because these 'issues' were being talked about at the time the film was being made. In what was, I think, the latest version, a group of girls are out in a boat and they treat Meg with disdain when she tells them she is working as a governess. Is this because in US eyes Meg is poor and therefore below them? I remember none of these things happening in the book.

    salonva thanked vee_new
  • 3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    Annpan, your comments brought to my mind the rereading I did of "Rain" in March 2020. My DH, son, D-i-law, and I were in Pago Pago when we got word of COVID and that we would have to quarantine there. Or we could leave and hightail back to Hawai'i to quarantine in Maui.. We decided to stay in the shadow of the Rainmaker (mountain). Our lodging had a copy of Maugham's Rain and Other South Sea Stories, which was rather appropriate reading in our circumstance.

    I do recall noticing the ambiguity of the ending that had not registered with me in earlier readings. I agree with you that the missionary's demise seems to have been suicide, although it doesn't make much sense that he would be so guilt-ridden as to substitute one great sin for another. There's a vagueness, I think, that leaves things open to a reader's interpretation. I also think it was canny of Maugham to plant that niggle of doubt -- it's probably why the story captured the imagination of readers, play- and film-watchers over the past one hundred years and continues to fascinate.

    salonva thanked friedag
  • 3 years ago

    Friedag, I can believe that he would be guilt-ridden if he had succumbed to lust as he was such a hard man in his beliefs. He would be ashamed of himself to a self-harming degree.

    As to Sadie, it is hard to know if she really repented or was scared of the consequences of returning to San Francisco and imprisonment for some previous crime. It seems like he brainwashed her into acceptance or she pretended to wilt.


    How strange were your similar circumstances of being in quarantine from a virus! I have been in a lockdown of sorts here, unable to go out without a stifling mask and the weather has been really dreadful anyway. One GD has water coming into her house and has had to buy a pump. We have more storms forecast for days ahead. I could wilt, too!

    salonva thanked annpanagain
  • 3 years ago

    I finally got the annotated Emma and P&P books I requested from the library but they are heavy coffee table size! Not the best choice to curl up with in bed. Luckily I had the strong Support Worker's help and her 4wheel drive to take us home.

    We also got plants for my garden to fill the space where a palm tree was removed. The storms would have possibly done that job but taken several of the nearby roofs with it!


    For those interested, the nurseryman selected a Grevillia, 2xProteas, 2xLeucadendron, a Westringia and a Thryptomene. I asked for semi-shade flowering plants and left it to him as I know very little about what would suit.

    I stick into the sandy soil a friend's succulent off-cuts and hope for the best.

    salonva thanked annpanagain
  • 3 years ago

    That would have indeed been a fortune back then. I wonder about the author and what his social standing is. Some authors get things so wrong especially if they aren't really familiar with the class they are writing about.


    Which Stewart and Pym books did you find? I mean to get some Pym books I haven't read after I finish with the Annotated Austens. although the ones I have read have characters who act more like adolescent 1930s schoolgirls than rational 1950s women.


    Moving is such an upheaval. I couldn't find my socks on the first day in the new abode in the same Retirement Village and had to put on bright red bedsocks to the amusement of a neighbour. I still haven't unpacked all the boxes after the move which was in 2013! I nearly did during the first Lockdown in March last year to check if I had any TP stashed in one!

    History will record the Great TP scrambles of 2019 and wonder why!

  • 3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    Vee, there is indeed a scene in Little Women where Meg was looked down upon because she worked for a living. I forget exactly how it happened (a picnic, I think) but I do remember it. Little Women was one of my favorite books growing up and I probably read it a dozen times over the years.

    I am currently about 3/4 of the way through Extra Life: A Short History of Living Longer by Steven Johnson. He is also the author of The Ghost Map which a number of us read. I find it fascinating. His premise is that throughout all of human history until about 150 years ago the average lifespan was around 35 years. This was due to a number of factors including high childhood mortality, contaminated water, and the toll of epidemic disease. It slowly began to improve until now the average lifespan is over 70, double what it once was. He goes through the many factors that caused this improvement, which started off with controlling smallpox and inventing sewers to clean up the water supply. I highly recommend it to those who enjoy this side of history, as I do.

  • 3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    Annpan, the Stewart book is Nine Coaches Waiting and the Pym's are 'three in one' Some Tame Gazelle, Excellent Women and Jane and Prudence.

    I don't remember reading anything by Pym before and always imagine her characters to be either spinsters who do 'good works' or clergy wives who wear sensible cardigans with tweed skirts and are in awe of both their husbands and their servants.

    Tell me I'm quite wrong.

    And yes, moving is certainly an upheaval! DH has kept 'stuff' from his family home (which he left in the 1960's) eg old cardboard boxes that "may come in useful", a broken slide projector, a broken 'portable' gramophone . .. . I may well be divorced in the next few weeks/days.

    Covid hasn't helped with 'removal firms' refusing to lend us packing-boxes or stating that we must stand outside the house while their men gather up our tatty possessions and charging us way too many ££'s for the privilege. Luckily a 'man-with-a-van' has agreed to do the work for less than half the price and arrives early tomorrow morning with two burly lads to add extra muscle. As long as the beds get there I'll be happy enough.


    Edited to add:

    This weekend is set to be the hottest day of the year so far!

    I appreciate that in England temps never get as high as in other parts of the world but we have learnt to tolerate . . . and moan about our temperate climate and do not deal with heat at all well. Nor do private houses have A/C.

    But at least we have not suffered from the devastating floods that have hit parts of Germany and Belgium nor the climate surges as on the Pacific N W of America.

    Once I am safe in my own bed tonight I will be grateful for all the positives around me.

  • 3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    Vee, I am afraid you could be right about the Pym books! I am not sure why I like them but she evokes memories of my grandmother's friends and my paternal aunts. Genteel women similar to the Pym creations and still stuck in pre-war middle-class attitudes.

    I agree with getting the beds in. I had a disagreement with my last removal man about getting mine indoors before the threatened rain. He didn't want to take the mattress first of all the goods but can you imagine trying to sleep on a damp one?

    He was taking my stuff from one address in the Village to another and did it with a porter's trolley and a young assistant who kept looking at me in a despairing way!

    As for men getting rid of stuff, my questions to my husband when I packed to store our home up before going to the UK for a year was regarding the cost of storage for what junk he wanted to keep and "Did he want to take these old clothes half-way around the world?" with the UK suitcases packing. I was glad we had cut the storage down as we were still paying fees twelve years later!

  • 3 years ago

    I have loved most of the Barbara Pym books I've read, with Some Tame Gazelle being my favorite (though I can't specify why, exactly). I find her books very soothing, though Quartet in Autumn is rather sad.


    I just finished The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave, which was a fast read that kept me turning pages to find out what happened to the main character's husband, who vanishes at the start of the book leaving behind a bag full of cash and a note that reads, "Protect her" referring to his teenage daughter. Not a keeper book, but a fun, light read.


    I'm currently re-reading The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker in anticipation of reading the sequel, How to Talk to a Goddess. I recall really liking this book when I read it back in 2014 or so -- and I've forgotten enough of it to make it feel like a new story, lol. I've been waiting for the sequel for quite a while and I'm eager to get to it.


    Good luck with your move, Vee! I hope it all goes smoothly!

  • 3 years ago

    Vee, for whatever it's worth, I recall the scene from "Little Women" when Meg was looked down upon because she was a "working woman" and had to earn her living.


    I've just finished, after several months of off and on reading, the circa 937 page biography of American poet, Sylvia Plath: "Red Comet." It was well-researched, well-written and utterly fascinating to me. I kept it out of our library for a very long time. I have started "A Gentleman in Moscow" and hoping I can get into the author's unique style of writing.


    I still have vivid memories of my relocation from VA to Charleston some 11 years ago. I bleakly joked (to myself) that it was a "dislocation", not a "relocation." I am still looking for items packed away in boxes put on storage shelves that I miss. Each time in my life that I have moved I have lost some items I treasured.


    Vee, I am wishing you well in your move. As you say, the beds are all important!

  • 3 years ago

    Good luck to you and your husband, Vee! I hope you end up loving your new home. I think you might.

  • 3 years ago

    Vee, be sure to pack a set of sheets, towels, soap, and toothbrushes in the top of the bed/bath box. I kept it a deep dark secret from my husband that we moved a big box of boxes. Well, you never know when you will need a nice gift box, and they are hard to come by these days.

    I have finished A Pagan Spring from the Max Tudor series, which I have read out of order because the library didn't have all of them in e-book form, but I enjoyed the first ones I read more than these last two, so I guess I'm done with them. Also read another Elizabeth Wien YA book, The Enigma Machine, which is a sort of prequel to the others I read. I think I enjoy the WWII books, although filled with horrors, because the time can be looked back on as romantic and a win for civilization that I think is sorely needed now.


  • 3 years ago

    Adding my best wishes for your move, Vee!

    I read Rococo by Adriana Trigiani, mostly because Yoyobon said how much she enjoyed it. I enjoyed it a lot, too. Makes me glad I don’t have a large family!

    Donna

  • 3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    Vee, add my good wishes for your move too.

    I have just finished reading Leave Only Footprints by Conor Knighton. It’s the tale of the year he spent traveling to several of the national parks in America. It’s not written as a type of guide book; he gives some background of each park and then gives his impressions and reactions to it, but he skips around a bit and I was a little confused a couple of times at the abruptness of how quickly he switched from one park to another, but overall I enjoyed it.

  • 3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    Vee, best wishes for you and your husband together in your new home along with as little stress in getting there as humanly possible.

    I finished reading Extra Life. While I had a few minor quibbles here and there, on the whole I found it both satisfying and enlightening. Next I moved on to finishing up the shorter works for the Hugo awards. I plan to vote over the next day or so. Two categories have me undecided, novellas, where I did not really like any of them all that much, and short stories, where I could cheerfully vote for almost any one of them.

    I have moved on to two other books, and am alternating. One is called Daughter of the Salt King by A.S. Norton. It is a first novel about an imaginary desert kngdom where being the king's daughter is not really a very good situation. Well done so far (about a third of the way). The other, which I am about a quarter of the way through, is House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune. Both books are fantasy, but the second one has a definite vein of humor. I tend not to like funny SF&F because it can be done with such a heavy hand that it gets annoying, but the author has so far used enough restraint that I am not annoyed.

  • 3 years ago

    Just finished Patron Saint Of Liars by Ann Patchett and have to say the ending was quite disappointing. I had not read any of her other books and after this one I doubt that I will .


    My next book is Lady Clementine by Marie Benedict.



  • 3 years ago

    I've started Independent Bones by Carolyn Haines. Popcorn reading, kind of fun.

  • 3 years ago

    I finished my re-read of The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic (just as good as I dimly remembered) and I'm now half way through How to Talk to a Goddess. Despite high hopes, I have to say it's not shaping up to be the story I was hoping for. The heroine falls in with characters I simply don't care for and don't want to read about -- and the way the author sets up the initial plot shift to part her from the hero was clumsy at best and thoroughly annoying (IMHO) at worst. I know it took the author years to write the sequel and she IS a very good writer. But I think on the whole the story feels a bit forced. I will finish it and hope it gets better.

  • 3 years ago

    DD loaned me the first Ian Rankin book, Westwind. It's not a Rebus book and jumps around with characters too much, but it's still pretty good.

  • 3 years ago

    What with one thing and another, I have just realised that I have missed several new episodes of a series I like, the Chet and Bernie stories by Spencer Quinn.

    I wonder what else has slipped past me? I have now made a list of authors in the mystery genre that I normally read to check up on and have borrowed a Trash and Treasures by Barbara Allan I haven't already read.

  • 2 years ago

    I'm about half way through Nothing To See Here by Kevin Wilson and although the story is amusing so far, I really, really , really wish he didn't have to drop the F bomb all the time.

    I am acutely aware that a man has written this story . The character would have little reason to use language like she's a gang banger from inner city.

    I am by no stretch of the definition a prude......but " c'mon man ".

  • 2 years ago

    Bon, haven't you read Nothing to See Here before? I read it because someone here said they enjoyed it, but maybe it wasn't you.

    I just started The Hidden Palace by Helene Wecker. This is the sequel to The Golem and the Jinni. The first chapter was mostly a refresher of what happened in the first book.

    Donna

  • 2 years ago

    Ann, are you familiar with the website stopyou'rekillingme.com? It gives lists of mysteries by author and by character, and you get a monthly update on new books. I just love it.

  • 2 years ago

    Carolyn, yes, thanks, I get their newsletter and have recommended the site to my library.


    I found, however, that It doesn't have every author I read listed up to date and the US books take a while to get into the local library system. The British publications are usually available to me though because of US publication delays.

    It is very helpful with the links and genre lists too. Like you, I love it!

  • 2 years ago

    Thanks to this thread ( and I am sure from prior months as well) I was reminded that I need to read something by Barbara Pym. One of these months...

    So I finished The Weight of a Piano and while parts were very good and interesting, overall it was kind of lacking. To me it had a pretty contrived story and characters not well fleshed out.


    I read Dancing on Broken Glass which I found a much better read, pretty absorbing and interesting. It is not the most cheery as it deals with bipolar and cancer among other delights, but it was a pretty good story. To be honest, I expected to not like it and was allowing myself to stop reading it if it didn't draw me in but I was somewhat captivated by it.


    I just started The Great Alone (just at like 10%) and so far, so good.

    I do get all my books from the library and mostly read on my kindle.

  • 2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Donna, if I'd read this before I would never have read it again !! I'm not convinced at this point that it's worth finishing.

  • 2 years ago

    I'm the one who enjoyed Nothing To See Here. Yes, a lot of the F word, but it suited the character, I thought. I would recommend finishing it because it has an interesting ending. I suppose you might be able to guess what happens at the end, but I didn't.

  • 2 years ago

    Kathy, based on our very similar reading tastes I am putting my trust in your call on this book and will power on !! Bon

  • 2 years ago

    Bon, I finished it, too, and remember liking it pretty well. :) Have you read The Hidden Palace yet? I'm on chapter 3 and she is still mostly reminding us what happened in The Golem and the Jinni. Not much new stuff yet.

    Donna

  • 2 years ago

    In July I read all the Andy Carpenter books by David Rosenfelt. I really enjoyed them and am sad I finished all that are out. He does have another coming out soon. I also read the first two in his K-Team series. Very enjoyable.

  • 2 years ago

    Donna, I haven't read The Hidden Palace yet. It is a good thing she's reviewing the Golem for the reader because she took way too much time publishing the sequel and honestly I'm a bit sketchy on what the ending involved......all I recall is a vast desert wasteland. Bon

  • 2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    I'm really struggling with The House on the Cerulean Sea. It is chockablock full of odd, quirky characters, to the point where it is more annoying than engaging. And having characters named Lucy and Linus seems so self consciously clever that it is getting on my nerves. I'll give it another try - books sometimes resolve their early problems - and if it doesn't improve, back it goes to the library.

    Or maybe it is just me being grouchy.

    Coming back in to say I ended up reading the last two chapters to see how it ended. I was satisfied, and did not feel the need to see exactly how they got to that ending.

    Rouan's and my father used to read novels that way. He would read the beginning to see if it interested him. If it did, he would then read the end to see if he liked where it was going. If that worked out and he was still intrigued, he would finish off by reading the middle for the full experience. That is not how I normally read, but sometimes I do it with a book that is dragging but I'm just curious enough not to abandon it completely.

  • 2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    I finally ordered The Hidden Palace and am eagerly awaiting his delivery tomorrow !


    Rosefolly....I completely agree with you about that book.

  • 2 years ago

    Bon, I’m looking forward to your opinion of it! I’ve read four or five chapters and still waiting for something to happen.

    Donna

  • 2 years ago

    Rosefolly, I do that kind of skipping too if I am not sure about a story or there is an animal or child in peril! I know that it is a politeness to the writer to read a story from beginning to end but if it doesn't hold my interest, I do it anyway!

    Sometimes even the writer seems to want to wrap the story up at the end. We have complained about these abrupt finishes...


    Vee, my son hasn't put my song out on Youtube yet. He sings it a lot in his performances though and told me today that a lady said she has cried every time she heard it! She bought the CD so I hope it is happy tears! I drew on my feelings for the spirituality of the Outback so it might have resonated with her feelings too.

    It is a surprise to people that I wrote these lyrics as I was not born here but I do sense the heartbeat of the land. Lie on the ground under a shady tree and you can feel the pulsing.

  • 2 years ago

    I am about half way through Dragon Man, the first Inspector Challis book by Gary Disher. It is a mystery series set in Australia. Do you know these books, Ann?

  • 2 years ago

    Donna......no spoilers please !

  • 2 years ago

    Carolyn, no, I haven't come across them. I shall check them out though.

  • 2 years ago

    Apparently they are hard boiled police procedure genre which is why I haven't read them.

    I mostly read cozies. Recently I have gone back to comfort authors like Pym and Elizabeth Cadell whom I read in the fifties! I realised that I didn't read all their books and can find some in reprints.

  • 2 years ago

    Bon, my lips are sealed. :)

  • 2 years ago

    I finished The Great Alone, and rate it 4 stars. (close to 5 stars). I found it a very good read, and it did keep me interested all through. A criticism I often have is that sometimes things just tie up a bit too neatly or not realistically and that is true here. Overall though it was definitely a very good and worthwhile read.

    Since I read that and right before was Dancing on Broken Glass, both of which were not at all happy or uplifting, I searched for something that would not be heavy. I remember many of you have suggested Barbara Pym. I found Some Tame Gazelle available through my library kindle and just started it this morning. Definitely a nice counter to the bleary dreary depressing .

  • 2 years ago

    I remember that I have read "Some Tame Gazelle" but I can't recall the plot. I have just finished "Less than Angels" and don't recall that story at all. It has a very unusual event and I should have noted that and the rather strange decision by the main character to become a house guest after that event.

    I think I must have started around the 1950s reading Pym"s early books while I worked at a subscription library where we were expected to know the popular novels and chat about them to the patrons. I was more into Regency Romances!

    salonva thanked annpanagain
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