logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: edwardian
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2019-10-20 16:59
Samuel Hynes, R.I.P.
The Edwardian Turn of Mind - Samuel Lynn Hynes

Today I read that Samuel Hynes has passed away. He is among the few scholars who enjoyed a reputation outside of academia, thanks to his memoir about his service in the Second World War and his related work on the experience of war. It bothers me that this is the focus of his obituaries, as it overshadows his fine scholarship on early 20th century English literature. His A War Imagined was among the first books I read in graduate school as it is among the best books I have ever read about the contemporary impact of war upon a nation's culture. Hopefully the news of his death will lead a few others to search out his literary criticism as well as his more famous work.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2019-01-26 14:13
The Other Statue - Edward Gorey 
The Other Statue - Edward Gorey

I'm on a run of reading about Gorey, so it was time to re-read the books of his that I had on hand. Sadly my local library doesn't have anything by him.

 

Reading several together I was struck by a couple of things. Previously I don't think I had noticed that Mortshire was a recurring county name. I rather like that many of his stories are set in the same place, as were Thomas Hardy's. Also, I really want to live there. It appeals to me the way early Christie stories do: wealthy, leisurely, lots of sitting and reading in the library. It's the appeal of Downton Abbey and the suspense, although in Gorey's work the suspense is never satisfied. 

 

Weirdly I am put in mind of Jane Austen; all of his books come from exactly the same place as Northanger Abbey. There is such affection for and familiarity with books. It doesn't matter that all the ones mentioned by Austen are real and none of the ones in Gorey are. Someday I'd like to browse through his personal library: I expect to find a lot there I haven't read but would enjoy. He had 26,000 volumes: it's as if I could own every book I'd like to read*. Every single book on a shelf right here. I don't like to leave my house as it is, with a supply like that I never would.

 

Nothing profound in my thoughts. If there is another life after this life I hope I get to spend it in Mortshire. I'm sure it will be full of my kind of people.

 

Personal copy

 

*PS. I say that, but of course it doesn't matter how many books are in the house, I'm still going to want new ones. My To Read list never grows shorter.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-06-13 15:40
The Summer Before the War
The Summer Before the War: A Novel - Helen Simonson

It is the summer of 1914, and Beatrice Nash, 23, finds herself in Rye, in Sussex, attempting desperately to get a job as a teacher at the local grammar school.  (As Latin mistress, of all things - very shocking for a female!)  She has fled her late father's family, wealthy but highly controlling, to try to make her own, independent life, and is not finding it easy.  For one thing, she's neither as old or as plain as they were expecting.

 

Down in Rye, she becomes involved in the lives of her sponsor there, Agatha Grange, Agatha's husband, John ("something at the Foreign Office"), and their two nephews, close as sons, Hugh Grange and Daniel Goodham.  Hugh is studying medicine, and Daniel has aspirations as a poet. 

 

When the war does break out, life becomes ever more complicated.  Young men start to join up.  There are panicked runs on food and other goods in the stores.  The mayor's wife is even more impossible than usual.  Young ladies of good breeding but little brain start handing out white feathers to young men not in uniform.  Poor harmless dachshunds are attacked.  And the town does its bit by taking in Belgian refugees.

 

There are four narrators - mostly Beatrice or Hugh, but occasionally also Agatha or "Snout," a boy in the village.  Simonson writes well, so it's not really an issue; it's always easy to tell them apart.

 

This novel is every bit as good as Simonson's first novel, Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, and a good historical novel.  (I don't recall seeing any historical detail that struck me as improbable or just wrong.)  A thoroughly enjoyable read - I dithered between 4 and 4 1/2 stars.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2016-10-07 21:13
Everfair - Nisi Shawl
Everfair - Nisi Shawl

It's an alternate history in which a genocide doesn't happen.

It's about a utopian society that isn't so cleverly set up as to avoid all problems, but in which people work to find different, practical, solutions.

It's steampunk that feels utterly plausible.

It's a book that acknowledges the tremendous breadth and depth of people and cultures throughout Africa, although it focuses on one nation.

It is a marvelous accomplishment in every sense of the word, and I'm sure it's going to be one of my top reads for the year, and probably every other reader's list, because it is a book that makes you go "ohhh" and "ahhh", that constantly delights and surprises, even though it is addressing many of the darkest aspects of colonialism.

It's a book that reminded me of how new and appealing are the many voices in scifi these days, and actually makes me feel optimistic about humanity.

Sweet, fancy Moses, it's just a great, sweeping Victorian "ills of society" novel, such as those of Charles Dickens, but with a light touch. It's just perfect.

 

Now goo, read it right away, unless you're devoting October to horror, in which case, okay, but then you have to start it on November first.

 

ARC provided by publisher via GoodReads

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2016-09-19 01:55
Death at the Excelsior, and Other Stories - P.G. Wodehouse
Death at the Excelsior, and Other Stories - P.G. Wodehouse

Comedy is hard, but Wodehouse makes it look effortless. I can't help thinking if only he had been a faster typist, what his total output might have been. Happily I continue to dole them out, one at a time, savoring.

Personal copy

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?