Thursday, 14 May 2009

Reading Round-up

Although I haven't blogged much recently about my reading, I'm still there with a book in my hand or on my bedside table, although if I have any serious reading to be done, bed is not my ideal place for it. However it's a rare night when I don't pick up a book and read for about quarter of an hour or so before falling asleep.
Reading while in France included Nicola Beauman's "A very great profession", which is a very readable study of popular women's novels and their authors writing between the two world wars. Nicola Beauman has written the survey under several main themes, as to the subjects covered by the novels she describes so well. Persephone books, which was founded by Nicola Beauman, publishes many of these novels, some of which are familiar to me from my early years in the library profession as the authors were still popular during the late 1960's and early 70's. The books are not only a pleasure to read, but are also well produced, on thick cream paper with an elegant type-face, nicely bound with distinctive grey covers.
Julian Barnes' book Flaubert's Parrot was another read while in France, quite appropriately. I've had this on my bookshelves for ages and finally decided it was time to read it. The story is of a retired professor who becomes obsessed with finding which of the various stuffed parrots he comes across while researching Flaubert's life is the original. During the hunt, we learn a lot about Flaubert, the man and the writer, and his life, loves, relationships, habits, and writing. It is very funny in parts, both from quotes from Flaubert and the narrator. How much is actually true about Flaubert I'm not sure, not having read a biography of him. Good fun, though and worth waiting for.
I took The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, by Kate Summerscale to France with me and found it an interesting read. A complicated and true story about the murder of a young child, the youngest son of the father's second marriage. The setting is Road Hill House, which still exists, although now has another name. The family living in the house at the time of the murder, which took place in the Victorian period, were middle class, the detective eventually called from the Metropolitan police force was a working class man. Kate Summerscale gives us a lot of historiacl detail but manges to keep up the suspense and a desire to find out who dunnit. I found this a satisfying read.

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