Saturday 16 March 2013

The love of a good book

Ever since I can remember, I have been a bookworm.  We didn't have many books at home when I was little, as there just wasn't the money for them.  As soon as I learned to read at school (and I can remember those  Janet and John books very well!  When it came to my childrens' turn to learn to read, my son refused point blank to learn to read them as they were boring!) I just had to have a book in my hand.  Even now, I panic if I am somewhere that I may have to wait around, and I have nothing to read.  Even the backs of sauce bottles and drinks cans will do if I am sufficiently desperate!

I made the decision in January to read my way through some of the classics I had been meaning to read for a good few years, but they always got sidelined in favour of a historical novel or something I couldn't put down.  I blew the dust of dear old Thomas Hardy's "The Trumpet-Major" - it was so long since I had read it before that I could scarcely remember the tale at all.  I have to say, it was not one of his best novels . . .  In fact, I got thoroughly exasperated with the characters.  It seems to me that Hardy didn't know a great deal about the way a woman's mind worked, but hell's teeth, he knew even LESS about men, if that is possible.  The "love interest" in the novel is Anne Garland, who is wooed by three men: "stupid, coarse Festus Derriman, a man with expectations; John Loveday, the quiet, thoughtful trumpet-major; and Bob his brother, a sailor whose heart isn't as faithful as it should have been."  Well, Festus Derriman came across as a Schizophrenic and not in the least attractive a character - whilst the two brothers seemed to treat the romance with kid gloves and the girl placed fox and geese with the lot and wasn't worth crossing the road for.  It had a very weak ending too, and it isn't a book I shall read again.

I have moved on to Waugh's "Brideshead Revisited" which I thoroughly enjoyed when it was made into a tv drama.  However, I am half way through the book and just want to give Sebastian a good slap and tell him to grow up, so I may end up abandoning the book before long.

I have a quartet of Eden Philpotts' novels to read: Orphan Dinah, The Three Brothers, Children of Men and The Whirlwind, all under the banner of his Dartmoor Omnibus.  I think I shall read one, and then return to the others when I am in the mood.  He writes so evocatively of Dartmoor, as my dad always said, and although he can be melodramatic, he captured the characters of the Moor so beautifully.

I would love to read/re-read my way through the entire works of Dickens too, but I think that would take me a loooooooooong time, at just a few pages a night. I will probably end up taking my favourite man to bed with me . . .

: )


  1. Hello from Kentucky, USA. Beautiful, breathtaking header photo. Thanks for sharing about your books. I've been on a Pearl Buck binge recently while trying to heal from a collection of stubborn viruses. The first book of hers that I read is MY SEVERAL WORLDS, and I'm glad I read it first for then I could understand better what was happening in the other books... and Why. I read her bio of her mother, and the bio of her father is on its way to my mailbox from eBay. I await the one about her daughter to be delivered to my nearest library. After reading that memoir first, I then read her trilogy HOUSE OF EARTH which comprises the three novels: THE GOOD EARTH, SONS, and A HOUSE DIVIDED. I have a tremor, and I was amused to read that in the old days in China it was believed if a person had such, that they had been fed too many chicken feet as a child.

  2. your early days sound like mine. I relied on books passed to me by my uncle, Mums younger brother. He was a fan of cowboy annuals, which I loved too. Reading books meant for much older children meant I had a much better vocabulary than my peers.
    I read to my son from a baby, so I'm pleased he has grown up to be a reader too.
    Sebastian, yes I have to agree :-D

  3. I've found in trying to read some of the 'classics' that the prose was too stilted--or perhaps it was that the characters--like you mention of Hardy--simply didn't behave like 'real' people. Methinks there was an era when 'melerdramer' was all the rage. Hardy in particular seemed to have a very despondent and melancholy turn of mind. Classic literature or no--if I'm not enjoying the read I don't plough through!

  4. I take my favourite man to bed with me every night!!

    I too love books - Brideshead is one of my favourites - sorry, I adore Sebastian, I think he is just so typical of young men in his position in that age.

    Steinbeck is my favourite of all and I reread him all the time - if there is nothing left to read in the house I pick out one of his to read again.

    I read tins and bottles too. Do you remember when the HP sauce bottle had it written in French on one side - I remember it fromn long ago and knew it off by heart at one time - goodness knows why.

  5. Never been one for fiction - bad experience with the set books for my English Literature courses, being forced to take in both Jane Austen and D.H. Lawrence, plus the most unworthy of praise among the works of Shakespeare - The Merchant of Venice. The only relief was a collection if short stories included a contribution from Dylan Thomas.

    But my 5th form teacher pointed me to works I did enjoy - The Decameron, John Donne and Walt Whitman.

    The only classic literature I have time for are the great W's - Wind In The Willows and Winnie the Pooh.

  6. Hello Barbee and welcome. It's lovely when you find an author you really enjoy and can't wait to read more of. From your blog, you obviously are a confirmed bookworm!

    Kath - I got books passed on to me as well. One or two I still have and cherish - The Magnificent Barb by Dana Farella springs to mind. Some were ones from the20s or even earlier, passed on by a neighbour - the sort with the cover embossed and printed with a coloured design. I think the one I have in my mind's eye was called The Unknown Island and was set in the Seychelles. Funny how things linger in your mind.

    MM - oh yes, "melerdramer"! Hardy was good at that - he always despised his books which he wrote for money as opposed to his poetry, which came from the real "him". Something like Edward Thomas, who also despised his "hack work". . . I'm inclined to go with you on the don't plough on regardless, as I was forced to do that with a couple of Virginia Woolf's, although I will give them one more try I think.

    Weaver - Sebastian annoys me because he reminds me very much of the young man who ruined my eldest daughter's life. I shall plod on and try to imagine a different face on him . . . Steinbeck was a "forced" author at 2ndary school and because of that I didn't enjoy him. Mind you, I am not a modern authors person at the best of times, though I wait to have my eyes opened.

    Blue Shed - enforced reading at school did nothing for me either (see above), and I always maintain that my education didn't really start until I left school and had the freedom to choose my own books, both the rubbish Frank Yerby sort (!) and then the authors I still enjoy reading today.

  7. Oddly BB today I was thinking that when it comes to describing a good book that it's ironic that words don't do them justice. {or at least mine don't.}

    I do like an occasional classic, but have to be in the mood. I enjoy RLS almost anytime though. I tend to read modern 'rubbish' holiday reads and get through about a book every day or two on holiday. At home I'm often with factual stuff: history and the like.