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Search tags: Elizabeth-von-Arnim
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text 2019-06-30 19:28
Next up for the 4th of July!
A Fountain Filled With Blood - Julia Spencer-Fleming
Orient Express - Graham Greene,Christopher Hitchens
Elizabeth and Her German Garden - Elizabeth von Arnim
Well-Schooled in Murder - Elizabeth George

I am reading A Fountain Filled With Blood with Wanda over the 4th because it's also set over the 4th of July.

 

Orient Express is the next book on my Classics Club Vol. 2 list. My Virago copy of Elizabeth and Her German Garden, which I selected off of the Crowdsourced list, arrived yesterday, and Well-Schooled in Murder came up on my ebook holds so it's downloaded and ready to go!

 

Hopefully I will be able to wedge them into my BLopoly game as well!

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text 2018-11-22 18:46
24 Festive Tasks: Door 9 - Thanksgiving, Task 1 (Favorite Books of 2018)
Half of a Yellow Sun - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Solitary Summer - Elizabeth von Arnim
The Ballad of Frankie Silver - Sharyn McCrumb
Their Lost Daughters - Joy Ellis,Richard Armitage
Harry Potter Box Set: The Complete Collection - J.K. Rowling

2018 was an excellent reading year for me, both in terms of quantity and quality -- yet, among the many great books I newly read this year, these stood out in particular:

 

1. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Half of a Yellow Sun -- a multiple-perspective inside view of the Biafra conflict that manages to be brutally honest, insightful, saddening and poetical all at the same time.  Review HERE.

 

2. Elizabeth von Arnim: The Solitary Summer -- in many ways the exact counterpoint to Half of a Yellow Sun: a largely autobiographical ode to reading, and to the peace and quiet of a summer garden ... with more than an occasional sidelight on early 20th century Prussian country life and mores.  Status updates:

3 / 190 pages ~~ 9 / 190 pages ~~ 14 / 190 pages ~~ 22 / 190 pages ~~ 30 / 190 pages ~~ 41 / 190 pages ~~ 46 / 190 pages ~~ 55 / 190 pages ~~ 62 / 190 pages ~~ 65 / 190 pages ~~ 67 / 190 pages ~~ 69 / 190 pages ~~ 83 / 190 pages ~~ 87 / 190 pages ~~ 89 / 190 pages ~~ 93 / 190 pages ~~ 95 / 190 pages ~~ 106 / 190 pages ~~ 110 / 190 pages ~~ 126 / 190 pages ~~ 131 / 190 pages ~~ 133 / 190 pages ~~ 140 / 190 pages ~~ 147 / 190 pages.

(An eminently quotable book, as you can see.)

 

And joint honors for No. 3:

3.a) Sharyn McCrumb: The Ballad of Frankie Silver -- an examination of the death penalty as administered in the Appalachians as only Sharyn McCrumb could have written it, contrasting the historical case of 18-year-old Frankie Silver (the first white woman to be hanged in the area) with a fictional modern counterpart.  Like Half of a Yellow Sun, equal parts brutal, saddening and lyrical.  Review HERE.

 

3.b) Joy Ellis: Their Lost Daughters -- modern crime fiction as it ought to be: very (darkly) atmospheric, but without even an ounce of sentimentality; with compelling characters, an intricate plot, a great, not-yet-overexploited setting and a satisfying conclusion.  Review HERE.

 

Honorable mention goes to my reread of this year -- J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, which I fell in love with all over again ... to the point of splurging on the new hardcover set and the Gryffindor and Ravenclaw editions of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

 


And lest anybody point out that this is, in sum, vastly more than the "top three" books called for in the task: I'm a Libra -- do you know what an effort it was to even narrow it down this much??  Besides, I'm counting the Harry Potter series as one book, so there ...

 

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review 2018-09-20 15:09
Enchanted April
The Enchanted April - Elizabeth von Arnim

Yeah, I know I said I would not post here anymore but I wanted you all to know I've kept at reading Elizabeth's stuff. How did I not know about this author before? I'm still trying to wrap my arms around the fact that for a couple of years anyway, her and I were alive at the same time.  

 

I recently finished Enchanted April (it's a novel of hers but it was easy to imagine her as a character in it.) No one hardly comments on reviews on Goodreads (I think they're all hung up on their own shit), so I thought to post it here where I recall there were some people who liked Elizabeth. 

 

 

MY review:

Okay this is undoubtedly my favorite read of 2018.
Now I can watch the movie!!!! YAY!
Ms von Arnim was probably the best writer of her day, bar none, as her works are just as readable today in 2018 as they were in the late 1890's. As I've tried to read the so called classics of the early 1900s, I've found the writing of most lacking . . . dated actually. 
Ms von Arnim is a marvelous character developer and produces characters the reader embraces. I loved every one of the characters in this book.
As my previous reads of her works were those in which she was the main character, I was surprised this was a novel and not necessarily based on her. Or was it? Truth be told I thought the character of Scrap bore a resemblance to the person I've come to know as Elizabeth.

 

PS: I did watch the movie the same night and found it pretty true to the book. All of the actors were well cast and they mirrored how I pictured them. Some things were changed slightly as the book is mainly switching heads to get their thoughts and I know that's hard to show on screen. Plus, I thought the scenery (So much a part of the book) was lacking. Frankly, I'm surprised Hollywood tackled this at all. It's fairly recent (2011) so I'm surprised they didn't try to update the plot with terrorists or super powers. Thankfully they left it in the 1920s. I recommend the book (first of course) and the movie.

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review 2018-08-29 22:17
A Solitary Summer
The Solitary Summer - Elizabeth von Arnim

What can I say, it's Elizabeth von Arnim, one of my favorite writers. Love her wriitng and this book was no exception.

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review 2018-08-20 04:39
The Solitary Summer
The Solitary Summer - Elizabeth von Arnim

 

This was a buddy read with Themis Athena.

 

The Solitary Summer is a follow up to Elizabeth and Her German Gardenthey don't have to be read in any order, but Solitary Summer takes place in the same garden, about three years later.

 

I went into this book naively assuming that the "Solitary" in the title mean Elizabeth at home, alone, in her garden, for the entire summer.  While I made allowances for servants, I figured she'd sent Man of Wrath and her three children off somewhere for the summer, either together or separately. 

 

Shows what I know; the Solitary in the title means nothing of the sort.  It simply means Elizabeth and her husband agree that for one summer, May through August, there will be no guests descending on the house, expecting Elizabeth to perform hostess duties.  100 years ago, I suppose that would feel like a kind of solitude, but personally, if I were being subjected to the daily demands of husband and three daughters, I'd have long before whipped out my Sharpie pen and blacked out the entry for 'solitude' in all my dictionaries and been done with the concept.

 

Moving on from my luxurious pre-conceived notions, the book is ostensibly about Elizabeth spending the summer in her garden, free from hostessing duties, and therefore free to loll about in her garden all day, book in hand, alternately reading and soaking in the paradise surrounding anyone in a garden, wood, and field.  When she's not feeding her family, or handing out food to the servants, or entertaining her daughters.  The solitary moments do happen, in May and most of June, but after a spate of gales whip through, the tone of the book alters perceptibly; less garden, more musings on philosophy, reading, morality, class and village life.  

 

In my opinion, even though I picked this up in eager anticipation of the garden-geek-fest, it's the second half that should not be missed.  Elizabeth is a rare breed; she's able to stand apart from herself, to see herself and events around her with objectivity, brutal honesty, and wry wit.  She does not rationalise, she does not excuse or defend, she simply observes:  this is they way things/I should be, this is the way things/I are(am).  It's refreshing to hear this kind of voice, and if it doesn't make you think one way or the other, ... well, never mind.  But the issues she addresses in her musings are at least as relevant today as they were 100 years ago, with the exception of enforced quartering of troops and servant housing. 

 

From what little I know so far about Elizabeth von Arnim's background, her husband isn't what anyone today would call a gem; she calls him Man of Wrath for heaven's sake, and I doubt she's using the term ironically.  But there are moments of accord between the two, as well as many scenes of shared humour and witty banter that lead me to suspect their relationship was far more complex than history will likely remember it being, and I'm eager to find out more about them both to see if my suspicions stand up to available facts.

 

Either way, I like her.  I suspect, were we contemporaries and life brought us into each other's orbit, we'd be friends - or at least appreciate each other's love of nature, sarcasm, and our disdain for too many guests.

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