Monday, 1 June 2015


Summer on the Cliffs by John Brett (1891).
I can't believe it's June already. It's started off as a windy, cool, a little cloudy, but very sunny day. Last night was so cold I had the electric blanket on, but this is often the way with June. It may well still turn out to be a hot summer. 

I never wrote about it at the time (I'm not usually very forthcoming with personal things either on or offline), but May was one of the most stressful and unhappiest months I've ever had. At the very end of April my boyfriend's mother had a stroke, and last Monday late afternoon she very sadly died. At the very start the doctor said the recovery process would be an emotional "roller coaster" and indeed it was. But she also ended up with pneumonia, and although the outcome was, objectively, predictable, at the time it was anything but. Because of where we live (a very rural area) I spent all my days at home getting on with my work and very duties here, and of course looking after the birds (it's impossible for me to spend days and days on end away), and though I got on as best I could the stress and worry of everything, my boyfriend's mother and naturally my boyfriend, was intense. It's all but over now. There's the funeral tomorrow, and a few other things. And the bureaucracy, nearly over too, seems to leave no one any time to grieve. 

But I have tried to get on and not let anything slide. It's been an intense struggle to keep up any routine, but as I can be a little unforgiving of myself at times and I prefer structure I did keep everything up and I'm glad of that. Blog-wise, I don't think I wrote my best posts this month, but such is life. Even so, it's been very soothing to take an hour or so out a day and focus on literature. I haven't been reading particularly well (mainly short works) but I imagine I'll settle back into usual reading in the coming weeks. All of this, the whole month of May, has been shock after shock. I'm glad the first day of June serves as some kind of line under it, but I dearly wish it was a more positive one.

So what of plans for June? There's little more relaxing for my goal-orientated mind than making lists, and I was pleased to see Cathy of 746 Books is hosting another 20 Books of Summer. I joined in last year, and I did read all 20, however I do know I didn't read them all in the summer. I'm not sure what my exact figure was, as it happens, but I think I recall doing fairly well on it. Over 15, I'm almost sure. As Allie is hosting a Victorian Celebration for June and July, and as I have started a new Ancient Greek and Roman Literature Challenge, my list will be heavy on the books I love best.

On the Victorian pile I have:

  1. Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov
  2. American Notes by Charles Dickens
  3. Bleak House by Charles Dickens
  4. Silas Marner by George Eliot
  5. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
  6. The Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith
  7. A Pair of Blue Eyes by Thomas Hardy
  8. The Aspern Papers and The Europeans by Henry James
  9. The Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow by Jerome K. Jerome
  10. The Landleaguers by Anthony Trollope
  11. Phineas Finn by Anthony Trollope
  12. The Time Machine by H. G. Wells
  13. The Autobiography of Mark Rutherford by William Hale White
  14. A Woman of No Importance by Oscar Wilde
  15. Thérèse Raquin by Émile Zola
And on the Greek and Roman pile:

  1. Aesop's Fables
  2. The Birds by Aristophanes
  3. Medea by Euripides
  4. Euthyphro by Plato
  5. Agamemnon by Aeschylus
And, aside from all this, I'm starting a read-along of Ovid's Metamorphoses with Cleo (that isn't expected to finish before the autumn, however), and I'm about 100 pages into Vanity Fair by Thackeray. So, lots of reading plans for this summer and I'm looking forward to all of these, especially Ovid.

For now, there's lots to do. Obviously I won't be around tomorrow but I'll be back on Wednesday, most likely with a review of A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle. Also, this week's Deal Me In is Phaedra by Racine, and as that is based on Hippolytus by Euripides I've read that first, so I should be writing about both of them and, if I can squeeze it in on Saturday, Book I of Metamorphoses. Until then, as I say, much to do before tomorrow so I had better crack on.

Happy June, everyone :)


    1. I'm so sorry to hear about your sad news :( I hope you find some comfort and enjoyment in reading over the next few months. It looks like you've got some great stuff lined up! I wish all the best for the funeral tomorrow too.

      1. Cheers Rachel :) It all went to plan, I think everyone was pleased at that, at elast. And yes, some good titles ahead :)

    2. I'm sorry about your loss. It's difficult.

      1. It is rather, been an absolute whirlwind. Now with all the bureaucracy over, and the funeral too, it's about time to start and take stock of the situation, as it were.

    3. I'm so sad to hear that May was such a difficult month for you. Sending you sympathy and best wishes. Your new reading lists look wonderful and I'll be interested to read your thoughts on the Victorians especially.

      1. Thanks Sarah. And yes, I'm looking forward to starting my reading lists. Got to finish a couple of books (Vanity Fair and Phaedra), but this weekend I should be making a start :)

    4. I'm so sad to hear about your boyfriend's mother. Going through something like that is so difficult and emotionally draining. I am amazed that you could keep everything up while going through what you did. It's nice to see some of your challenges. Summer is fast approaching and I am getting excited about it, yet have nothing planned. I'd better get on it.

      Take care of yourself, O!

      1. Thanks Cleo. I think I managed keeping everything up because it was my only decent option! I was at home SO MUCH that it literally was either get on with my stuff or sit in front of the TV and feel bad. I had to go with the former option otherwise I wouldn't have been good support for my boyfriend. That was my thinking anyway, keep everything going for him. And I'd hate not to have the blogging escapism :)


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