Showing posts from April, 2014

Barchester Towers, by Anthony Trollope.

The Chonicles of Barsetshire ~ The WardenBarchester TowersDoctor ThorneFramley Parsonage The Small House at AllingtonThe Last Chronicle of Barset

"Wars about trifles," said he, "are always bitter,  especially among neighbours."

Barchester Towers is the second of the Chronicles of Barsetshire series by Anthony Trollope, which I'm reading as part of Amanda and Melissa's read-along. It was published in 1857 and follows The Warden (1855).
It was, strangely enough, largely composed on train journeys. Trollope wrote in his autobiography (An Autobiography, 1883): It was while I was engaged on Barchester Towers that I adopted a system of writing which, for some years afterwards, I found to be very serviceable to me. My time was greatly occupied in travelling, and the nature of my travelling was now changed. I could not any longer do it on horseback. Railroads afforded me my means of conveyance, and I found that I passed in railway-carriages very many hours of my…

Swann's Way, by Marcel Proust.

~ In Search of Lost Time ~ Swann's Way Within a Budding Grove | The Guermantes Way | Cities of the Plain
The Captive | The Fugitive | Time Regained

This is going to be a two-part post: in the first part I'd like to write a little about 'reading the hard stuff' and tackling Swanns Way, and in the second part I'll share my thoughts on the novel itself.

Apologies, by the way, for this being so long: I have a lot of thoughts and it is useful to write these things down when tackling something as large as this.

Part I: On Reading the 'Hard Stuff'.
I was thinking about the Chronicles of Barsetshire yesterday, which as you may know is a six book series by Anthony Trollope. This series contains, approximately, 1 291 165 words. In Search of Lost Time is believed to contain around 1 267 069 words, which is 24 096 less (I added up the word count of the Chronicles of Barsetshire using Feedbooks, and Wikipedia has a word count of In Search of Lost Time). So, the Chronicles o…

Dewey's Readathon.

Today is the day! I do love a readathon! This is, I think, my fifth Dewey's Readathon: the first two or three I managed a full 24 hours, but the past few I've not gone much beyond 15. Today, as tomorrow and the next few days are quite busy, I'm aiming for a mere 12. But 12 hours of reading is very welcome. And who knows, perhaps I'll surprise myself.
Today is ideal weather for reading: grey, misty, and on and off rain. It's cold here, and not at all like spring. I'm very much looking forward to sitting in front of the fire and reading my books.  
On my radar are:

I do not, of course, aim to read them all! I do want to finish Swann's Way by Proust (I'm on the last chapter, so around 60 pages away from the end), and I do want to read Émile Zola's The Attack on the Mill. After which... I'm rather drawn to Balzac's Cousin Bette, but George Eliot's Adam Bede is also a strong possibility. And, should I manage to finish one of these, I dare say I&…

The Flood, by Émile Zola.

In June 1875 following rapidly melting snow and heavy rainfall, the valley of Garonne in Toulouse, France,  was flooded. The Spectator, who reported that near 3 000 lives were lost, wrote -  Within six hours of the first alarm of an unusual rise in the water, the Garonne had swept away every bridge of Toulouse except one, the old stone bridge of St. John, and flowing in an unbroken rush into St. Cyprien, rose above the streets so rapidly that the terrified inhabitants were compelled to take refuge in the upper stories. Scores of persons appear to have been strangled by the flood—all the slaughterers in the great abattoir, for example, being killed at once —but the great loss of life arose from another cause, which recalled the idea of earthquake to the wretched people. The rushing water felled the weaker houses as giant shells would have done, and under- mined the foundations of the stronger, till through one entire night, houses were toppling as in an earthquake, and the awful scenes …

Of Human Bondage, by William Somerset Maugham.

Over two years ago I put Of Human Bondage on my Classics Club list, and last week I finally began to read it (it was, incidentally, the 161st book I've read from my list). I knew I'd like it - the blurb on the back describes "the bohemian life of a Parisian art student", which is very appealing, especially to someone who enjoyed Émile Zola's The Masterpiece so much. And there is a sense of Zola in this, Somerset Maugham's eighth novel (published in 1915). 
Of Human Bondage is a bildungsroman: a story of the childhood and young adulthood of Philip Carey, orphaned at nine years old, and who struggles with a club foot. Maugham writes of Philip's young life: his progression and development through the many changes of circumstance, his upbringing in a vicarage by his aunt and uncle, his schooling, life in Germany, Paris, and London, careers as an artist and then a doctor, and the women along the way: Norah, Fanny, Mildred, and Sally. As the title suggests, the …


To all those who celebrate it - a happy Easter to you! Here's a picture of the hens - in both Charlotte is on the left and Anne on the right. It's a beautiful day here - sunny and warm with a deliciously cool breeze. I do love spring.
We're having a quiet day today: Trotwood had a traumatic day yesterday: all three budgies were in the aviary and a sparrow hawk tried to get in (the same sparrow hawk as last time? I don't know). There was certainly no way it could get in as all the doors were locked, but it crashed off the roof and then the sides. In their panic the budgies flew to the side and clung to the wire, and as I went out the sparrow hawk and Trotwood came head to head (albeit Trotwood was on one side of the wire and the hawk on the other). Trot fell down, and remained lying on his stomach with his wings spread out (I think he was playing dead, and he did look dead, which was awful), but then he looked up. I got them all in, the hens (who by this time, 7 o' c…

Sons and Lovers, by D. H. Lawrence.

Nearly two years ago I read D. H. Lawrence's Women in Love, and still to this day I believe it is the worst classic in the Western Canon. Unsurprisingly, I regretted having The Rainbow and Sons and Lovers on my Classic Club list, and until this week I've been unable to even contemplate reading them. Fortunately, Charlotte mentioned that she was thinking about reading Sons and Lovers, and we decided that this week we would have a little read-along. So we did, and we both have finished it. I have Charlotte to thank for two things: one - for getting me to read it, and two - for the fact that I enjoyed it (more on that later). Before I go on: here is Charlotte's review.
It's D. H. Lawrence's third novel, published in 1913, and is described by Lawrence himself (in a letter to his editor Edward Garnett) as being about,  ... a woman of character and refinement goes into the lower class, and has no satisfaction in her own life. She has had a passion for her husband, so her c…

Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare.

Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;
Whose misadventur'd piteous overthrows
Doth with their death bury their parents' strife.
The fearful passage of their death-mark'd love,
And the continuance of their parents' rage,
Which, but their children's end, naught could remove,
Is now the two hours' traffic of our stage;
The which if you with patient ears attend,
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.[Act I, scene I]

So begins William Shakespeare's Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, one of his earlier plays written around 1595 and published in 1597. It was inspired by The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet by Arthur Brooke in 1562 (front-piece pictured on the right), and the prose version Palace of Pleasure by Willia…