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url 2020-01-18 16:28
My "Just One Book" post on Æthelred the Unready is up!

With all that's been going on of late, I haven't been able to take the time until now to write up my summary of the Æthelred biographies that I read for my reviewing project. It's up on my site at last, though, which means that I can move on to Cnut and with it a more regular posting schedule.

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review 2020-01-18 15:57
Empires of the Word, Nicholas Ostler
Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World - Nicholas Ostler

I bought this thinking it would be philological in nature, but it turned out to be something else entirely; a history of the spread (and decline in many cases) of the use of major languages throughout history. Traditional philology gets only fleeting mentions. If the author is to be believed, such a thing has never been attempted before.


Hence I was less interested than I had hoped, but that isn't the fault of the author - and I wasn't totally uninterested, either. Parts of the book, mainly those overlapping with pre-existing interests of mine, were fascinating, other parts were a bit of a grind. The basic idea of examining how conventional historical processes (e.g. military, colonial, mercantile, migrational, religious, technological) impact the use, spread and decline of languages did seem interesting and original, particularly the generalising conclusions but, oddly, they come before the detailed exposition they are derived from.


Strongly recommended to history buffs - not so much to anybody else.

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text 2020-01-18 03:38
Fridays with The Foundling: The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling by Henry Fielding: BOOK I., Chapter v.-ix.
The History of Tom Jones - Henry Fielding

Fridays with the Foundling

https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/6593Miss Bridget shocks the housekeeper by showing actual tenderness and affection toward the (as yet unnamed) foundling. She follows that up with what could (should?) be construed as a less than compassionate move--she hunts down his mother (a far easier task than you'd expect) and brings her before the magistrate, Mr. Allworthy. Allworthy doesn't condemn her for what she does, he gives her a lecture on morality, assures her he'll take care of the child better than she could've, and then tries to get the name of the father from her. She doesn't give that up, but does so in a way that she earns the approbation of Mr. Allworthy, as well as Miss Bridget and the housekeeper (who were absolutely not eavesdropping, they just happened to hear what happened between the magistrate and mother.


Really not a lot happens here, and Tom is "off-screen" for almost all of it. Still, it's good to get this kind of thing out of the way and the narrator continues to be entertaining.


Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2020/01/17/the-history-of-tom-jones-a-foundling-by-henry-fielding-book-i-chapter-v-ix
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text 2020-01-18 03:35
Fridays with The Foundling: The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling by Henry Fielding: BOOK I., Chapter i.-iv.
The History of Tom Jones - Henry Fielding

Whoops, forgot I hadn't got this posted due to the recent outage. A quick catch-up.


Fridays with the Foundling


...the Excellence of the mental Entertainment consists less in the Subject than in the Author's Skill in well dressing it up. How pleased, therefore, will the Reader be to find that we have, in the following Work, adhered closely to one of the highest Principles of the best Cook which the present Age, or perhaps that of Heliogabalus, hath produced. This great Man, as is well known to all Lovers of polite eating, begins at first by setting plain Things before his hungry Guests, rising afterwards by Degrees as their Stomachs may be supposed to decrease, to the very Quintessence of Sauce and Spices. In like manner, we shall represent Human Nature at first to the keen Appetite of our Reader, in that more plain and simple Manner in which it is found in the Country, and shall hereafter hash and ragoo it with all the high French and Italian Seasoning of Affectation and Vice which Courts and Cities afford. By these Means, we doubt not but our Reader may be rendered desirous to read on for ever, as the great person just above-mentioned is supposed to have made some Persons eat.

Having premised thus much, we will now detain those who like our Bill of Fare no longer from their Diet, and shall proceed directly to serve up the first Course of our History for their Entertainment.


So in these opening pages, we kind of meet Tom Jones, but primarily, we're introduced to the world he will live in and those who will (I'm assuming) have care of him during his formative years. An infant is left on the metaphorical front porch of Squire Allworthy, who seems to be a kind and generous soul. He puts the infant into the care of his sister, Miss Bridget, a censorious spinster type, who enlists the housekeeper, Mrs. Deborah, to give her aid.


The first thing that occurred to me was: why did I stop reading this in the past? I got into the story right away, I loved the voice, and am eager to move on.


This narrator...he's practically chatty. He's not the impartial third-person type, for example:

Reader, I think proper, before we proceed any farther together, to acquaint thee that I intend to digress, through this whole History, as often as I see Occasion: Of which I am myself a better Judge than any pitiful Critic whatever; and here I must desire all those Critics to mind their own Business, and not to intermeddle with Affairs or Works which no ways concern them: For till they produce the Authority by which they are constituted Judges, I shall not plead to their Jurisdiction.


Okay, yeah, he could be more concise, sure. But you have to smile at that.


The last thing, I got a quick vocabulary lesson. At one point Miss Bridget is describing the infant's unknown mother as "an impudent slut, a wanton hussy, an audacious harlot, a wicked jade, a vile strumpet, [and] every other appellation with which the tongue of virtue never fails to lash those who bring a disgrace on the sex." I didn't realize that slut and hussy were so old, same for strumpet (although I figured it was more dated than the others).


Anyway, I had fun and did have to stop myself from carrying on. That's a good sign for this project.


Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2020/01/10/the-history-of-tom-jones-a-foundling-by-henry-fielding-book-i-chapter-i-iv
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review 2020-01-16 03:50
When the past comes back to haunt you
The Invited - Jennifer McMahon

Straight away I want to say The Invited by Jennifer McMahon was such a fun reading experience! The book opens in the 1920s with a woman named Hattie who lives in a small house in the swamp with her daughter Jane. There's already friction with the local townsfolk but a tragedy occurs which results in an act of cruelty that resounds through history to the present day (2015 to be precise). And that's where we're introduced to Helen (a young woman who moves to Vermont with her husband) and Olive (a young girl who just wants to solve the mystery of her missing mother). It turns out that Helen is a history buff and she decides that she wants to use reclaimed objects to build a house on their newly purchased land...which is in the swamp. Yes, she and her husband are occupying the same space that Hattie had once called home and when they start using objects that tie back to Hattie Breckenridge and her kin weird (supernatural) things start happening. The unfolding of the plot is divided by the stages of the house's construction which I thought was really clever and further helped to make the novel feel more cohesive. While it ounces between different points of view it's done in such a way that it doesn't detract from the flow of the novel (which you all know is a pet peeve of mine). McMahon really knows how to weave a supernatural thriller/mystery with lots of intricate details and a host of characters. While I felt like I had a vague idea where the book was heading she somehow managed to keep throwing curve balls to lead me astray. Mystery fans and/or those looking for a spooky supernatural book will really get a kick out of this one. 10/10


What's Up Next: 5 Worlds Book 3: The Red Maze by Mark Siegel, Xanthe Bouma, Matt Rockefeller, & Boya Sun


What I'm Currently Reading: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain


Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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