Showing posts from August, 2014

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë.

"... beware the fascination that lurks in Catherine Heathcliff's brilliant eyes."
The 1840s saw the publications of Vanity Fair, David Copperfield, Jane Eyre, A Christmas Carol, and Agnes Grey. Then, in 1847, along came Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, writing under the pseudonym of Ellis Bell. What a shocker of a book it must have been then, yet today it is generally acknowledged to be one of the finest books ever written. Unlike many of our much loved English classics, this is not based in London or the south of England but in the north: the West-Riding of Yorkshire. It portrays a romance of the most brutal, violent, and unwholesome kind between two fascinating characters, at once magnetic and repulsive. Charlotte Brontë wrote, in a preface to the new edition (I'm not sure of the exact date), To all such [who are unfamiliar with the West-Riding of Yorkshire] 'Wuthering Heights' must appear a rude and strange production. The wild moors of the north of Englan…

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen.

Sense and Sensibility was Jane Austen's first published novel, written in 1795-97 as Elinor and Marianne, then redrafted in 1809-10, then finally published in 1811. This is my second read: the first time I read a few years ago (I remember it was a December, and I'm guessing it was either '11 or '12) and I really did not like it at all. In fact, I was incredibly bored by it. I'd already read Pride and Prejudice at this point and enjoyed it, but, having gone on to read the rest of Austen's novels, the best feeling I could muster up was one of respectful enjoyment. A re-read of Pride and Prejudice made me see Austen in a different light, however, and with Sense and Sensibility I decided to test my new appreciation of Miss Austen. And I'm pleased to say it was a success - I loved this novel! 
The "sense" of Sense and Sensibility is Elinor, prudent, reasonable, almost dispassionate in some of her judgements; "sensibility" is Marianne, impruden…


We're now a four budgie household! On Monday we bought two baby budgies, Zola and Pepys (no need to explain where the names came from!). Budgies are flock birds, and one of the worries of losing Myshkin was that Oliver and Trotwood may feel a little lonely just being two of them. So now they are four :)
Zola, or Zozo, is very energetic. He is a very bright blue (the picture above doesn't do him justice, but I hope the pictures below do), and his personality is as vibrant as his feathers. He's obsessed with Oliver: he follows him about, stares at him almost constantly, and squeaks whenever I have Oliver sitting on my hand. Pepys on the other hand is very shy. He loves Trotwood, and follows him about. It's amazing how well they've gelled together - there's not been a single argument or any kind of unpleasantness. Zozo, on being let out, flew straight to Oliver, and Pepys straight to Trotwood, and if they're not in pairs then they all sit together. 
I've not…

Framley Parsonage by Anthony Trollope (with illustrations by John Everett Millais).

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

Framley Parsonage is Anthony Trollope's fourth novel in his Chronicles of Barsetshire series, which I'm reading as part of Melissa and Amanda's read-along. It was published in 1861 and follows The Warden(1855), Barchester Towers (1857), and Doctor Thorne(1858).

In his autobiography, Trollope wrote of Framley Parsonage,
On my journey back to Ireland, in the railway carriage, I wrote the first few pages of that story. I had got into my head an idea of what I meant to write,—a morsel of the biography of an English clergyman who should not be a bad man, but one led into temptation by his own youth and by the unclerical accidents of the life of those around him. The love of his sister for the young lord was an adjunct necessary, because there must be love in a novel. And then by placing Framley Parsonage near Barchester, I was a…

Last weekend, and the week ahead.

This has been a terrible weekend. I can't believe I'm writing this, but Myshkin died on Saturday. She wasn't well last week, but she went to the vets, got some medicine, and got better, but very suddenly in the evening I noticed something was seriously wrong. I took her out of the room for some peace, and she lay snuggled into my hand. Within an hour she had died. I have no idea what caused it: Trotwood and Oliver are both well, and neither of them have been picking on her. She's not been anywhere odd, eaten anything strange, and she was young - Sunday should have been her second birthday (a fact that did not escape me as I buried her that morning). I just don't know what happened. It was all very shocking, and so sudden, so I'm rather on edge at present with the other birds. Trot and Oliver, as I say, are healthy. They've lost their pal, so I wouldn't go so far as to say they're "fine" (very bad tempered, had to break up some fights yeste…

Jean Santeuil by Marcel Proust.

"Shall I call this book a novel? It is something less, perhaps, and yet much more, the very essence of my life, with nothing extraneous added, as it developed through a long period of wretchedness. This book of mine has not been manufactured: it has been garnered."
~ Jean Santeuil by Marcel Proust.Jean Santeuil is one of Marcel Proust's earliest works. It was written between 1895 - 1900, but not published until 1952. It's unfinished, a draft essentially; a precursor to In Search of Lost Time. Lost Time was not a book I loved, but Jean Santeuil was an absolute wonder to read. I had a feeling I would: I found it in Barter Books around about the time I was reading Lost Time, the description on the back promised a great deal: "In Jean Santeuil, his first novel, Proust explores the interweaving of art and memory which he was to crystallize so dazzling in A la recherche du temps perdu". I said at the time I wanted to love Lost Time and it had, or seemed to have, a…

The Classic Club Spin #7.

Time for another Classic Club spin, and this is my first spin with a new list!
The rules:  Go to your blog. Pick twenty books that you’ve got left to read from your Classics Club List. Try to challenge yourself: list five you are dreading/hesitant to read, five you can’t WAIT to read, five you are neutral about, and five free choice (favorite author, rereads, ancients — whatever you choose.) Post that list, numbered 1-20, on your blog by next Monday. Monday morning, we’ll announce a number from 1-20. Go to the list of twenty books you posted, and select the book that corresponds to the number we announce. The challenge is to read that book by October 6, even if it’s an icky one you dread reading! (No fair not listing any scary ones!)Because this is a new list, there's none I'm either dreading (wary, though) or neutral about, so for this one I shall be using to make the list. So without further ado.... Virgil - The Aeneid Hugo, Victor - The Toilers of the Sea Sturluson,…

August (and a new Classics Club list).

Ah, August. I love this time of year: the warmth, the flowers, and the light, but I can't help but look forward to autumn now. There are signs already, one or two fallen leaves, a few acorns, and the harvest... But we're still in summer, and I won't wish that away.
July was an excellent month for reading: I finished my Classics Club list! And I have finished making my new one! Compiling the new one has taken nearly two weeks: I started reading from it on the day I'm compiled it (Jane Eyre was my first) and I've been adding, taking away, adding some more, and it's getting dangerously large. So here it is: 275 books to be read in 5 years. So far I've read and blogged about three (Jane Eyre, The Master and Margarita, and Moments of Being). I want to write about as many of these titles as possible: this is what I did wrong on the last list, I got lazy about writing reviews and there were so many I would have enjoyed writing about. But not this time, I won't …