23 September 2010

Booking Through Thursday: Current

What are you reading right now? What made you choose it? Are you enjoying it? Would you recommend it? (And, by all means, discuss everything, if you’re reading more than one thing!)

Right now I’m reading Why Shoot a Butler? by Georgette Heyer. I picked it up on my last visit to the library, first because it’s Georgette Heyer and second because of the title. After all, why would anyone shoot a butler? The ideal servant is so self-effacing you can’t imagine anyone noticing them enough to have a motive to kill them.

I’m halfway through and not really any the wiser, but I am thoroughly enjoying it. It’s fun watching the sparring between Shirley Brown and Frank Amberley; each is as blunt and ill-mannered and stubborn as the other. A perfect match, in other words, if they’ll ever admit as much.

21 September 2010

It’s Tuesday, Where Are You? / Teaser Tuesdays

It’s Tuesday, Where Are You?

I’m in Upper Nettlefold, where the neighbourhood is buzzing with the news that the Fountains’ butler has been shot.

Why Shoot a Butler? by Georgette Heyer.

Teaser Tuesdays TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:

  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from - that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!

“Well, when a chap opens a letter, reads it and turns a sort of pea-green, and sits staring at the fatal document like one struck with the palsy, the astute spectator at once divines the cause. Besides, I asked him.”

From Why Shoot a Butler? by Georgette Heyer, p. 86.

19 September 2010

Book Review: The Professor by Charlotte Brontë

The Professor Declining the assistance of his uncles, William Crimsworth proposes to make his own way in the world, starting as a clerk in his brother’s business. The life of an industrial town proving not to his taste, he takes himself instead to the continent and becomes a teacher in Brussels. While supplementing his income by teaching classes at the neighbouring girls’ school, he meets and becomes dazzled by Mlle Zoraïde Reuter, and almost overlooks the quiet little sewing teacher Frances Henri.

If I had to pick a single word to describe this novel, it would be “unsettling”. Charlotte Bronte has taken one of the great Victorian virtues - self-improvement - and presented a character in whom that trait is warped into an almost pathological self-sufficiency. William Crimsworth doesn’t know how to ask for help, and isn’t too keen on accepting it when offered. He seems intent on proving that a man can make a good attempt at being an island, if he puts his mind to it. Yet at first he comes across as ordinary protagonist material; it’s only after his confrontation with his brother that the red flags went up and I saw that William could be just as difficult and foul-tempered as Edward.

And difficult he is, looking down his nose at the locals and deeming his Flemish students irredeemably stupid. I began to wonder why on earth he stayed, if he found the company so uncongenial. Fortunately he saw something worthwhile in a few people, at least; and fortunately Zoraïde had the sense to make her plans elsewhere. I liked her better than Frances, I think; she had a greater store of knowledge and a greater supply of backbone. Frances was too mousy and eager to please; and her continued habit of referring to Crimsworth as her master - even after she’d gone from student to fianceé - was a little creepy.

At the end I couldn’t believe in the happily-ever-after; couldn’t shake the notion that Crimsworth wanted a wife only to show he was successful enough to afford one, and wanted Frances only because she piqued him by disappearing and thus proving that she wasn’t completely under his control. Quite what Frances saw in him is a mystery, unless it was that he paid attention to her and was willing to educate her when everyone else was content to leave her overlooked and teaching needlework. To a susceptible person, just being taken seriously can be enormously seductive. But Crimsworth struck me as someone equally incapable of being happy himself, or making anyone else so.

Rating: B-

16 September 2010

Booking Through Thursday: Day and Night

Today’s question is suggested by Mae.
“I couldn’t sleep a wink, so I just read and read, day and night … it was there I began to divide books into day books and night books,” she went on. “Really, there are books meant for daytime reading and books that can be read only at night.”
- ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera, p. 103.
Do you divide your books into day and night reads? How do you decide?

Categorising books that way wouldn’t occur to me, at least not on the basis of content (with one exception, see below). There are some books that I read only at home (i.e. mostly at night) - the ones that can’t be squeezed in among the piles of stuff I lug about in my handbag.

What I would call night books are ghost stories and suchlike hair-on-end volumes. In a perfect world, I’d always get to read them during evening power failures, maybe with a nice storm in the background. But even south-east Queensland’s tottering grid can’t be relied on to fail on cue, and I get impatient waiting, so I read my spooky books at any time.

14 September 2010

It’s Tuesday, Where Are You? / Teaser Tuesdays

It’s Tuesday, Where Are You?

I’m in San Francisco, trying to maintain some semblance of privacy in a family of private investigators.

The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz.

Teaser Tuesdays TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:

  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from - that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!

David stifled a smile and I realized he had planned the whole thing.

“So you’re my pimp now?”

From The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz, p. 73.

12 September 2010

Library Loot

Library Loot

Why Shoot a Butler?
The Pindar Diamond
The Spellman Files
Her Fearful Symmetry
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Notes from a Big Country

Why Shoot a Butler? - Georgette Heyer
The Pindar Diamond - Katie Hickman
The Spellman Files - Lisa Lutz
Her Fearful Symmetry - Audrey Niffenegger
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Schaffer
Notes from a Big Country - Bill Bryson

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society! Her Fearful Symmetry! Did I choose the right day to go to the library or what? I didn’t actually intend to borrow so many books ... it just sort of happened. And good thing too; I borrowed these Thursday and that very evening I succumbed to a virus which left me without much energy for anything other than curling up with a book.

Which proves that you should always listen to those books that want to go home with you.

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire and Marg.

08 September 2010

DNF: The Fool's Tale by Nicole Galland

The Fool’s Tale At the end of the twelfth century, Wales is a collection of disparate territories, none of them smaller than the little kingdom of Maelienydd. In the interests of security, Maelgwyn of Maelienydd agreees to a match with Isabel, who is not only English but one of the powerful Mortimer family. Although he is content enough with Isabel, Maelgwyn has good reason to hate the Mortimers. So too does his oldest friend Gwirion, who has naturally gravitated to a position at court akin to that of a fool, and who has no qualms about making his animosity felt.

Well, I can’t say Marg didn’t warn me....

I actually might have been able to read the whole thing if I could have found sufficient determination. But I decided I have better things to do with my library card than renew a book in order to keep crawling through it at the rate of 25 pages a night. I couldn’t seem to stop my mind wandering all over the place as soon as I had the book open.

I’m not sure precisely what was wrong with it (the book, that is, not my mind!). The characters just failed to grab me, and Gwirion’s antics failed to amuse me. And when I skipped ahead to see if it improved later, I discovered it to be far more fictional than historical. Galland’s style worked much better in Revenge of the Rose, where the European realm in question remained unnamed and presumably fictional. Mixed with actual people and places, it clashes.

This was supposed to be part of the Historical Fiction Challenge, but since I didn’t fix a list at the start I feel it would be cheating to use a book I didn’t finish. Good thing I’m off to the library tomorrow to hunt for a substitute ... or two :-) Pages read: 87 of 519

02 September 2010

Booking Through Thursday: Film to Paper?

Even though it’s usually a mistake (grin) … do movies made out of books make you want to read the original?

Absolutely! Books are almost always better than any adaptation; in the transition from page to screen stuff inevitably has to be cut ... and often something gets changed. After seeing the screen version it’s good to enjoy the original. (And if there have been significant cuts or alterations, it’s definitely best to do it in that order.)

I don’t watch many movies, so what usually happens is that I see the ads and reviews, notice that it was based on a book, and add the book to my mental must-read list.

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Header image shows detail of A Young Girl Reading by Jean-Honoré Fragonard, c. 1776