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text 2016-02-22 00:41
Book Haul for week of February 20
Pistols For Two - Georgette Heyer
Love In A Cold Climate - Nancy Mitford
The Pursuit of Love - Nancy Mitford
The Dressmaker - Rosalie Ham
Undeniably Yours - Heather Webber
Lethal Black Dress - Ellen Byerrum
Practical Sins for Cold Climates - Shelly Costa
Fit To Be Dead - Nancy G. West

MT took me on a belated weekend away for my birthday, to the Alpine National Park in northern Victoria.  It's my first time in Victoria's proper mountains and it was absolutely beautiful (pictures may be forthcoming).  


A stop in Bright for lunch out last day (at a brewery MT was keen to try) was ever-so-conveniently just a few shops down from a bookstore - a small, but well-curated bookstore and I finally caved and picked up The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham.  I haven't seen the movie yet but I want to, so I'm going to read the book first so I can yell at the screen about how they've gotten it all wrong.


As I was buying The Dressmaker, I asked about used bookshops in the area and I was directed to one right around the corner.  I almost missed it - I think my bathroom might be in a bigger space.  But she had a fabulous collection of books; again, really well curated to focus on fiction (Bright is ski-resort territory).  I picked up two Folio Society editions of Nancy Mitford's works: Love In A Cold Climate and The Pursuit of Love.  She had quite a selection of Georgette Heyers too but I can never remember which titles are good and which are... less good, so I settled on the only hardcover one she had: Pistols For Two.  I figured short stories gave me better odds that there would be a few good ones.


The last four are from the weekly post.  Two of them: Undeniably Yours: A Lucy Valentine Novel and Lethal Black Dress are the last books in series I've loved, each independently published by the author after their contracts with mainstream pubs weren't renewed.  The last two are Henery Press offerings - Henery Press hasn't given me a bad read yet, so I was willing to give these a go.


New books: 8

Read books: 3 (not counting re-reads)

Physical TBR pile: 207

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text 2014-03-21 19:49
March Book Haul #2
The Pursuit of Love - Nancy Mitford
Midaq Alley - Naguib Mahfouz
The Snow Child - Eowyn Ivey
The Game of Kings - Dorothy Dunnett

The doorbell just rang...the delivery man came bearing such wondrous treasures to fill my every waking moment. Inside that deceptively plain cardboard package were books for next months group reads and books for hours and hours of reading pleasure, taking me into worlds as yet unexplored. I think my discovery that Chapters delivers will prove to be a very dangerous knowledge for my budget, but a sacrifice I'm willing to make, after all, food is highly over rated.


The scary part is that before this delivery was even made I had added an additional 9 titles to my shopping cart for next month's order...perhaps a pruning back is prudent. I like to think I'm doing my part to support the book trade as well as the economy...whew...now that my conscience is clear I think I'll get back to The Last Battle, as in only 50 short pages I'll have concluded the Chronicles of Narnia and the first stage of the C.S. Lewis Project.

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review 2014-01-07 04:51
The Clearing: The Pursuit of Love
The Pursuit of Love - Nancy Mitford

The Clearing

This is the tale of my nasty book-buying addiction. Since 1998 or so, for every five or six books that I bought, I'd read maybe one, leaving something around 80% of my library (over 1000 books) unread. Most of my library is still in boxes: we don't have enough room in our house to display all of them. My office is a mess of boxes and books, and I can't work in there because of it. To fix this problem, I've instituted a new system I call the Clearing: for every new book purchased, one book from the stacks must be read, and then a decision made: keep or give away. The Clearing, step 2.0, continues with The Pursuit of Love.

How long has The Pursuit of Love been in the stacks?

2008? I can't remember if this came from the great trove I amassed during the shortlived years of Goodreads Bookswap, or if I purchased it around the same time. 

Why did you buy it? 

I needed it for my bookshelf, duh! And it was probably cheap, and Modern Library edition, which look so lovely on a shelf. . .

Why didn't you read it when you bought it? 

I needed it for my bookshelf, but I didn't have time to read it. I was too busy buying other books I needed for my bookshelf. 

What was it about? 

Linda Radlett, and her family. Possibly also about beauty and maybe about the dangerous trap that we set for ourselves when we worship objects, or people as them. The difference between love and idolatry or love and the idea of love. 

This is an uproarious comedy with a black heart of cold cold stone, friends. I can't believe how hard I laughed (mostly at Uncle Matthew, and references to Uncle Matthew . . . and people's reactions to Uncle Matthew . . . who hunts his children with dogs and says things like: "I reckon . . . that we shall be able to stop them (the Germans) for two hours - possibly three - before we are all killed. Not bad for such a little place."

Would you have felt differently about it had you read it when you bought it? 

Oh my word, yes. Yes, yes yes yes yes. I hadn't read The Thinking Reed . If any book should be considered mandatory side-by-side reading with The Pursuit of Love, it isThe Thinking Reed - they are almost opposite sides of the same coin. You have two women, one who marries for love and repeatedly ends up in embarrassment, and one who marries to prevent embarrassment, but ends up in love. You have two capitalists: one a banker who squirrels away funds in foreign countries to which he can flee at the soonest hint of a German invasion that will never come, the other a manufacturer willing to turn over everything his family has spent generations building to his country to fight the invasion that is completely inevitable. And both novels, at the end, are about safety in the fortress of family, whether that fortress is that love you and your husband have found in one another, or an actual fortress that your father has built out of horsecarts and bicycle tires to fend off German tanks. 

It can be very difficult to reconcile one's hatred of inequality with one's love of tales of the arristocracy. And yet I try. There isn't a cheesy period piece on Netflix I will not watch three or four times. I devour Downton. I took a very strong stand on Facebook in defense of the Royal Baby, as He is still referred to in this household. I have no desire to offer an argument in favor of their return, good republican (lower case r and mark it!) that I am, but I know there must be a reason beyond fine clothes and table-settings that gets me and my ilk so worked up, so nostalgic for a time we never lived in a class we never would have been born into. And a quote from The Pursuit of Love had me thinking that I'd found that reason. "Linda took no interest in politics, but she was instinctively and unreasonably English. She knew that one Englishman was worth a hundred foreigners, whereas Tony thought that one capitalist was worth a hundred workers." Perhaps I've lost hope in true equality, and maybe I never believed I could have both equality and liberty and that one must always suffer (though, this is probably a product of a typical (i.e., conservative in the most general of senses) bourgeois American upbringing) and that rich people are a fact of life and they predominantly come in two flavors: aristocrats and capitalists. I think all of this nostalgia for the aristocracy must come from the fact that the capitalists are being such assholes right now, and likely our taste for the aristocracy declined when the capitalists seemed to be on our side. 

So: Keep or Give Away? 

Get your dirty, stinking hands off of my book.

[cross-posted on Goodreads and The Stacks (shelvesandshelves.tumblr.com)]

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text 2013-07-02 17:38
The Pursuit of Love


   "Louisa said to me, her eyes as big as saucers: 'He rushes into her  room before tea and lives with her.' Louisa always describes the act of love as living with. 'Before tea, Fanny, can you imagine it?'"

I have meant to read The Pursuit of Love for so very long. Ever since I read The Mitford Girls by Mary S. Lovell which kept me hooked on the antics of Nancy, Pamela, Diana, Unity, Decca and Debo for the entirety of the Christmas break. The whole family, quite frankly, rock my socks.  I'm still toying with the idea of writing my dissertation on the novels of Nancy Mitfordand Jane Austen, but we will see. I am glad to report that this novel was entirely heavenly. Uncle Matthew (thinly masquerading as Mitford's father Lord Redesdale) is a joy: 'This violent, uncontrolled man, like his children, knew no middle course, he either loved or he hated, and generally, it must be said, he hated.' Probably my favourite character in the book to be honest. Although I am glad that I only met this particular tyrant in the pages of a book; I fear I would have been denounced as a 'sewer' and roundly loathed. The sanity of the narrator, Fanny, perfectly acts as a conduit for the madness of the Radlett family and our heroine Linda. Being a terribly awkward being myself, I could not help but marvel at the carefree, self-assured confidence of Linda. Unfortunately I felt the ending was a little rushed. Or perhaps I was more disappointed with the unexpectedly sad conclusion from an otherwise sparkling read. Certainly more bittter-sweet than I had anticipated, but no less enjoyable. 
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review 2013-06-29 00:00
The Pursuit of Love & Love in a Cold Climate - Nancy Mitford I read both books back to back which is why I use this edition eventhough mine is separate books. Social critique aside, both books are wonderful; no wonder since this is one of my favourite story time frame. I'd have given it more star, unfortunately Mitford stumbled on the endings. One of my pet peeve where the ending just dragged the book down. Such a shame, the beginning was wonderfully long though not boring, she prepared enough background for us to fall in love with this eccentric family, middle also fine, then comes the guillotined ending. i wonder if Nancy Mitford really couldn't foresee her heroines raising a child and growing old (cursory wiki browsing revealed that she really didn't have children and as the girls are in a way her personification i guess this is true). She let them get pregnant then bam bam, either the child died or the heroine died, it does annoy me a bit I supposed it's not just the ruthless treatment but also the pacing irritating me, what's the use of building this wonderful world if you're just going to crumble it with one good aimed kick. Twice I was just reading along happily when I suddenly realized that there's only one page left, wondering if my copy lost some pages and left open mouthed outside as she slam the door on my face.
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