Monday, 23 August 2010

Pullman and Mitford.

I am currently nursing a broken heart and waiting not so very patiently for the next university term to begin so I have turned to blogging with some vague idea it will make the time pass faster. Reading books is my now my one great love. My other used to be my boyfriend but sadly that is no longer the case so love can now be devoted solely to the wonderful world of fiction.
Feeling that there is nothing quite so good for cheering one up as new books I spent a wonderful hour in Blackwells last week. My purchases were the new Philip Pullman ‘The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ’ and Emile Zola’s ‘Therese Raquin’. I have always adored Pullman right back to my childhood days when I read the entire ‘Ruby in the Smoke’ series and ‘His Dark Materials’ I consider to be a modern masterpiece. Though I must admit to being a lot less keen on the third book in the trilogy for reasons I have never quite decided upon but suspect it has something to do with Lyra not being the total focus as the first book where she is the main character I find most compelling. I also disliked the way in which she allowed Will to take over so easily and felt it was a subtle implication that while a strong woman is good up to a point as soon as a strong man appears she gives up her power unto him, rather like the old fashioned view of marriage. Zola I only very recently discovered and this is my first book by him. By all accounts it should be very good and it is jolly exciting to go to the classics section in a bookshop and actually find there books I have not either read or dismissed! I reckon I have read or dismissed about 70-80% of all books in any good bookshop’s classic section (the emphasis being on read I might add, perhaps I have now read about 60% of them). While commendable this is not entirely down to my devouring good literature but also to the bookshops in question filling at least one shelf with different versions of Jane Austen’s books and another with the complete works of Charles Dickens who though terrific is not a terribly enjoying author to read.
Just finished ‘Highland Fling’ by Nancy Mitford who is a huge favourite of mine. I have had it on pre-order for Amazon for months as though it was originally published in 1931 it fell out of print and copies were impossible to get hold of until this new re-run. Earlier in the year they also republished ‘Wigs on the Green’ which was smashing and roaringly funny. ‘Highland Fling’ was rather fun but although very much Nancy it lacked the spirit of even her next book ‘Christmas Pudding’ which was only published a year later. The fling was her very first book and it is worth reading but mostly for Mitford fans like myself and I fear it might put others off reading more of her work were they to start with this one. I did adore its highland setting as I myself an Scottish, and the marriage of Walter and Sally (which also pops up in ‘Christmas Pudding’) was beautifully painted, but I did feel the love story of Jane and Albert didn’t ring true. I have now read all of Nancy’s fiction bar ‘Pigeon Pie’ which seems to be the only one failing to get republished but I have ordered over Amazon Marketplace and am very much looking forward to it. Her best books without a doubt are ‘Love in a Cold Climate’ and ‘In Pursuit of Love’ which I have reread more times than I would care to admit and like my Adrian Mole books and ‘Diary of a Provincial Lady’ are my constant standby choices.

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