Sentence of the Day: Still THE DOOR

Reading soooo slowly. But this book needs to be savored.

p. 27:

He wasn’t a bad man, although he made me leave school, and the headmaster was very upset about it, but I was needed to cook for the harvesters because Mother wasn’t up to it, and I also looked after the twins.

In this novel, labor is front and center. Whether that labor is writing, or housecleaning, or making things with one’s hands.

All the translations self has read so far this year have been excellent:

  • Moshi Moshi, by Banana Yoshimoto (transl. from the Japanese)
  • The Summer Book, by Tove Jansson (transl. from the Norwegian)
  • Manderley Forever, by Tatiana de Rosnay (transl. from the French)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Favorites So Far, September 2018

  • Moshi Moshi, by Banana Yoshimoto (novel)
  • La Belle Sauvage, vol. One of The Book of Dust, by Philip Pullman, and His Dark Materials, the entire trilogy: The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass (novels)
  • Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson (novel)
  • The Summer Book, by Tove Jansson (novel)
  • In the Lake of the Woods, by Tim O’Brien (novel)
  • Olive Kitteridge, by Elizabeth Strout (novel in stories)
  • Manderley Forever, by Tatiana de Rosnay (novelized biography)
  • Jamaica Inn, by Daphne du Maurier (novel)

This was a great reading year for NOVELS. Which means self has come full circle in her reading life. Until this year, her favorite books were histories and nonfiction.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Seeking Comfort Again From a Woman Writer

Lately, self has found comfort — great comfort — from reading Daphne du Maurier. A woman whose life self instinctively understands (Thank you again to Tatiana de Rosnay for writing Manderley Forever, which led to her discovery of the writing of du Maurier)

This evening, though, she’s reading a quote from Gail Godwin, a writer whose work self has read, but not in recent decades:

  • This account of my unfolding as a writer has been the truth. But it is also full of lies, many of which I’m not aware. But in one sense, perhaps the most important, it is all true. It could have been written by nobody but me. What I have chosen to tell, how I have chosen to tell it, and what I have chosen not to tell, expresses me and the kind of writer I am.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Ch. 2, REBECCA

  • I know the name of every owner of every British moor, yes — and their tenants too . . . The state of the crops, the price of fat cattle, the mysterious ailments of swine, I relish them all.

Rebecca had its inception in Daphne Du Maurier’s intense unhappiness at being forced to follow her military husband to the city of Alexandria, early in her marriage.

The novel became a beast and overshadowed everything.

Self began reading it in the wee hours, after finishing Manderley Forever, the biography by Tatiana de Rosnay. (She’s on a Daphne Du Maurier kick. Five stars to Manderley Forever)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

6 June 1944: Manderley Forever, p. 170

Self’s rate of reading has picked up quite a bit.

It’s the war, and Daphne Du Maurier has secluded herself in her beloved Menabilly while her husband Tommy gets himself promoted to lieutenant general but still travels everywhere with his “eight favorite teddy bears.” He signs his letters to his wife “with all the love a man’s heart can hold.”

On June 6, 1944, Daphne gets a call from her sisters, who tell her that “while they were taking care of their tomatoes for the Women’s Land Army, they noticed that, by evening, there was not a single American ship in the bay.”

Operation Market Garden, “the biggest airborne operation of the war,” is about to start, and Daphne’s Tommy has expressed his doubts about the operation to General Bernard Montgomery in no uncertain terms: “We might be going a bridge too far, sir.”

At the bridge at Arnhem, “seventeen thousand soldiers are killed.”

At this point, her husband is 47 years old. He earned a medal for valor at just 19, he has served in the military for almost 20 years and the experience has gutted him.

It reminds self of Tim O’Brien’s In the Lake of the Woods, that novel’s main character could never recover from what he witnessed at Vietnam, things so unspeakable.

But Daphne goes on writing. She writes a play that reminds self of The Return of Martin Guerre (great, great short novel by Janet Lewis. Self feels like re-reading it, even just so she can get to that last line, which totally shattered her) A wife loses her husband at sea, manages to forge a new life, and falls in love with another man. Then her husband returns. That’s a good trope.

“At the end of 1944,” Daphne’s husband becomes Lord Mountbatten’s chief of staff in Ceylon and . . .  Daphne begins writing her next book.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

2018 is SO 1461

  • In Renaissance Florence, a number of designated boxes placed throughout the city allowed citizens to make anonymous denunciations of various moral crimes — in 1461, for example, the artist-monk Filippo Lipi was accused of fathering a child with a nun.

— Claudia Roth Pierpoint, “Angels and Men” in The New Yorker (16 October 2017)

The article is a review of the Walter Isaacson biography of Leonardo da Vinci, called Leonardo da Vinci. One of the biggest surprises in the piece is the discovery that “one of the last remaining complete notebooks, the Codex Leicester,” is in the possession of Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Also: “Leonardo was illegitimate, gay, vegetarian, left-handed, easily distracted . . . ”

Dear blog readers, last year self saw the Mona Lisa. It was May or June. A Spanish woman asked self whether she knew where the famous painting was located. Then she asked a museum guard, and the two of us went looking together. And we found it. And she asked self to take pictures of her standing in front of it. And insisted on taking a few of self.

And here’s a wide-angle shot of the gallery housing the Mona Lisa and then self making a horrible face because, honestly, she dislikes having her picture taken (not when the humidity has done things to her hair) and the crowded gallery full of people aiming their cell phones in one direction was so disorienting.

 

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Sentence of the Day: Manderley Forever, p. 85

The next day, a walk in the Tiergarten pales beside Daphne’s memories of the Bois de Bolougne: the passersby all look so dour and plain, and while the Kaiser’s former palace in Potsdam is undeniably impressive, as is Frederick the Great’s Sanssouci Palace, it still isn’t Paris.

One Summer Evening, on p. 57

No need to mention the book, as anyone who follows this blog well knows: it’s the biography of du Maurier. Self is just crawling along, reading at a snail’s pace.

P. 57, one warm summer evening, “after dinner,” Mlle Yvon, du Maurier’s current crush — true artists do not discriminate, a crush is a crush, whether male or female — takes the students “up the hill” behind the villa, “close to the remains of Mrs. Panckoucke’s Chinese pavilion,” where they sit and “contemplate the view of Paris. The air is deliciously perfumed.”

Read this book if you want to swoon into that kind of summer idyll when you are young and you speak perfect French (while being English) and you’ve got a crush on your teacher (who knows it, of course — what teacher worth her salt wouldn’t know if a student had a crush on her)

Mademoiselle poses a series of questions (which should be used in every Bachelor or Bachelorette or Proposal reality show, they are so much better than the questions on those shows):

  • If you were invisible, what is the first thing you would do?
  • What is the most foolish thing you have ever done?
  • If you were a meal, what would you be, and how should you be eaten?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Being Du Maurier (In a French Boarding School)

Manderley Forever, p. 53:

In the room next door are two younger girls, one of whom is a clumsy oaf named Henrietta, one of the few to have been impressed by the du Maurier name. In the blink of an eye, Daphne sweet-talks, charms, and enslaves her. From that point on, Henrietta will, very discreetly, make Daphne’s bed for her every morning. As for the cold, Daphne complains about it so much to Muriel that her mother pays a supplementary fee to the school management in order that Daphne and Doodle be allowed to light a fire in their room. Adrienne, the young maid, comes in to to light it every morning.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Lady Fitzwilliam: Manderley Forever, p. 25

As the car entered the driveway, Muriel whispered proudly that the Fitzwilliam  family had lived at Milton for four-hundred years. Muriel and the girls are inside the mansion now, but Daphne lingers outside, admiring the porch with its pillars, the clock at the top of the turret, the rows of lattice windows. In the entrance hall, the lady of the house, Lady Fitzwilliam, welcomes them, her white hair in a bun. Next to her are a lady companion with a chow chow . . . Behind them are two lines of servants, from the little chambermaid, whose task it is to light fires, to the self-important butler . . . those strangers whom she has no desire to know . . . when all she wants to do is disappear into a book.

Fascinating.

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