Today, we went on a little shopping trip to a bigger town. Even though this little town/village has surprisingly many shops it's nice to be able to get away to somewhere a little bigger. We took the twins and went to the pastry shop/cafe in the former town hall. They now have one vegan item on the menu - a delicious rye bread sandwich with fresh vegetables. Later we also bought some vegan ice cream in a shop. Unfortunately I spilt a tiny flake of chocolate on my dress so there was a stain. I hope it will wash out.
I took a few photos. It's an interesting town from the perspective of architecture, with lots of huge villas where I imagine doctors used to live (there's a hospital not far away). Outside a beautiful building that I wish was the town library, which we were looking for but didn't find, and might have been at one point, I found this cute lion.
This is a close up of an ornament adorning the fence around the same building:
I'm hoping my sister, Minwynn, will post about this outing too, with more photos.
Having the knowledge that Beryl Bainbridge’s novel was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the understanding that the novel was listed as one of the 100 greatest novels of all time by The Observer can consciously and unconsciously color the reader’s immediate expectations when approaching her novel for the first time. Such expectations would most likely be high. But having such high expectations beforehand might lead the reader to become overly critical in their reading, and thereby potentially lose the respect Bainbridge’s novel deserves.
Bainbridge’s novel is best described as a madcap satire, not the kind of story one would immediately associate with such a lauded book. The pairing of British flatmates Freda and Brenda within the setting of a bottle factory during the 1970s has an American counterpart with the relationship between Laverne and Shirley. Like the many adventures Laverne and Shirley experience, the escapades involving Freda and Brenda are not meant to be taken seriously, often involving crazy solutions to the various problems they face. As a result, these situations are funny in the sense that they’re so fantastical and unrealistic. Bainbridge’s novel is meant to be read this way as well.
Yet at times, Bainbridge can make this difficult, by actively playing with the reader’s sensibilities. When her novel transitions into a kind of murder mystery, something akin to Hitchcock’s The Trouble with Harry, she takes turns that could easily be read as excessive, at times even bordering on horrific, sentiments that are only heightened by the vividness of her writing. Part of her dark, comedic satire plays with readers’ preconceived notions of what’s real and unreal through her use of outrageous exaggeration. While the turn of events is not entirely unexpected given the imagery and tone associated with the novel’s opening scene, the contrast of melancholy tradition and its highly irregular variation at the novel’s close is not an image that’s easily forgotten.
The novel’s dark humor is aided by the quick pace of Bainbridge’s storytelling. One scene flows readily into another, and she adroitly groups the characters in interesting ways. Yet despite the story’s speed, Bainbridge somehow manages to create lasting comedic images within the mind’s eye. This is in part due to her characterization of her novel’s cast of characters and the way she dispels information. She is clever in her use of detail, offering just enough to entice and even beguile the reader. The novel ends with a stated confession of guilt. However, Bainbridge offers enough details that can allow the reader to question the veracity of this potentially neat conclusion. In a way, Bainbridge seems to also be satirizing the traditional endings readers usually associate with British mysteries. She arguably allows the reader to assume the role of detective to more effectively determine what really happened during that outing.
One might not expect much from a short madcap satirical novel, yet Bainbridge has provided readers with an interesting and solid work.
Copy provided by NetGalley
Today, I finally managed to get that haircut. My mom has to go to an eye clinic every two months. Sometimes they inject one of her eyeballs with something, and when they do it takes her eye a while to get back to normal. That means either my sister or I or both of us and the twins go with her. Today all of us went. Unfortunately the train we were going on stopped three stations before the terminal which means the vile dump of a town where I used to live. I really hate having to go there and I still have at least one more visit there this year, probably two, to go to the dentist. Anyway, once I got to that other town (the one where I haven't lived, but where my grandmother once did), I spotted a hairdresser on the way to the hospital. I went inside and asked if they could fit me in, but as I'd expected the lady, while very nice, didn't have time for me. However, she did suggest a competitor across the street. By then I'd more or less given up hope, but actually the lady in there did have time for me and she cut my hair very quickly and at least in my opinion very well. She was also nice to chat with. So now I can go to the police station (not in the town where I live, but one further away) and get a new ID card (or at least order one and have a photo taken). Phew.
We also got a few things for the twins. This time my son, who seemed to love riding on a train the last time, was scared of the train whistle and the sound of the doors opening and closing.
Tomorrow I have to get up in the early hours of the morning and go to the clinic in town and have my blood pressure measured. Unfortunately, I have to be there about fortyfive minutes earlier than the actual appointment, which is at 7.10 in the morning. Ouch. Then I have to wait for about as long afterwards before I can get back. I'm not sure when I'll sleep. A Swedish comedian once said that she didn't think the earliest hours of the morning were actually used, they were just there to fill out the clock. It feels a little like that.