Certain Favorites: ONCE UPON A RIVER

Trying hard to keep this post spoiler-free. Don’t worry, she’s only a third of the way through this novel. She’s not giving away any big secrets or anything.

We are at a Vaughan chapter. Self has to admit, this character is one of her favorites. (How lucky is she that she just finished Northanger Abbey and then stumbled into another great novel. This doesn’t happen often. That is why she appreciated discovering Phillip Pullman and reading His Dark Materials all in one go.)

Setterfield is really good at describing sows, pet pigs, etc First there was Maud the Sow, who was kidnapped (Who kidnaps a sow? a character asks. Yeah, WHO?). Martha, a pig, Maud’s daughter, becomes a replacement confidant for one of the characters (There are so many pigs on farms in the Philippines and no one’s ever written about them. Or turned them into characters. Why not give it a try, self?)

Vaughan had a disorienting encounter several chapters ago with Mrs. Constantine. He lost his daughter — “taken” — when she was four. He’s just been going through the motions ever since. Then someone rescues a man and a four-year-old girl from the river. A servant tells his wife the news before Vaughan gets a chance to tell her himself, and then his wife takes off, just like that, to the inn where the drowned/rescued girl has been taken.

These actions, while thrilling, are so perfectly in character. Self finds herself nodding over the pages, saying “Yes, yes. Go on.”

As for Vaughan, he couldn’t go on. He went on.

As for the man who was rescued with the little girl, he has remained unconscious for all these pages. He made a big, dramatic entrance in Chapter 1, lost consciousness, and has been lying flat on his back on a table at an inn since forever. All self knows about him is that a nurse practitioner (or whatever you called healers in that time, in England) came and examined his entire naked body very thoroughly, and deduced that his injuries were survivable, and also that he was a photographer.

She only heard of Diane Setterfield at the Fowey Festival of the Arts. She went to Bookends of Fowey and asked if they could recommend a book by Setterfield “to start with.” Once Upon a River was out of the question because it was hardcover and very thick, and self had still weeks of travel to go. She bought it, though, just before leaving London.

In another piece of luck, self has been back from London for two whole days, and her weirdo neighbor has not made a peep (until this afternoon, when she heard muffled stirrings from the other side of the fence. UGH. She’s confident he’ll never discover this blog, because he doesn’t seem to do anything all day, and has no friends. He has stuffed animals lined up in his living room window, and seems to think self has a crush on him. She’ll be really distressed if he shows himself, frankly. It will ruin her plans for the summer, which are: to remain entirely, unreservedly, stress-free. One day when she was running out of conversational topics with Dearest Mum, resident of Manila, she told Dearest Mum about this neighbor. True to form, Dearest Mum giggled and said she was so happy to know that self had an admirer!!!)

Something is going to happen. Stay tuned.

The Parson: Once Upon a River, p. 47

  • “Let the child, if there is a child — be all right,” he prayed. “And let it soon be spring.”

Love this book. Every single character, no matter how big or how small the role he/she plays, lives.

Gulls and Humans: LANDFILL, pp. 17 – 18

This is a gorgeous book. Stunning. A learning to see.

Self heard about it at last year’s Cambridge Literary Festival (which featured a number of panels on the environment)

pp. 17 – 18:

In my lifetime gulls have come toward us. Most other birds have gone in the opposite direction, but the gulls have bucked the trend. In part we made them do so; in part the birds elected to fly that way. And they continue to tell something of how the once-wild can share our present world. Calling them seagulls is wrong — that was one of the first things I learned as a novice bird-boy. They are as much inland among us as they are far out over the waves. Yet, in fact, this state of life for them is far from new. Over the past hundred years, human modernity has brought gulls ashore.

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This gull took off from the balcony of self’s room in Fowey Hall.

Stay tuned, dear blog reader. Stay tuned.

 

 

Looking for Diane Setterfield in Prague

Diane Setterfield was the guest speaker at this year’s Fowey Festival of Arts & Literature which self also attended. Unfortunately, self arrived a few days after Setterfield’s event had taken place. Self was tempted to get a copy of Once Upon a River, Setterfield’s new novel, at Bookends of Fowey, but it was in hardback and, at that time, she still had a lot of traveling to do.

Today, in Prague, self walked from her hotel to the Globe Bookstore on Pstrossova 6, Prague 1. Regretfully they did not carry any of Setterfield’s books.

But, it was a beautiful day. Everyone seemed to be out upon the river.

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Vltava River, Prague: Sunday, 26 May 2019

It was a perfect day for a walk. Nice to see families out and about.

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Near Prague’s National Theatre: Sunday, 26 May 2019

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Fowey Festival of Arts and Literature, Day 3

Self took a walk to Bookends of Fowey, 4 South Street. And such a dear little bookshop it is. So many books, of so much variety, all found in one little corner of Fowey!

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4 South Street, Fowey: Bookends

Self never forgets, not for one moment, that she is here because of Daphne du Maurier:

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She’s made up her mind to buy one of the below. Not more than one because she is still traveling and it is a bear to tote books on/off buses and trains!

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In keeping with the spirit of du Maurier, she thinks her one precious book purchase should be a novel. A novel by a woman.

On her Festival Survey Form, she only made one comment: Points for including such a variety of women authors. Keep it that way!

Stay tuned.

Fowey Festival of Arts and Literature, Day 2

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Fowey: Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Have attended two talks, both of them brilliant. The one this morning was delivered by Kate Aspengren, an American playwright (from Iowa!): Where’s the Fire? A Playwright Considers the Plays of Daphne du Maurier.

Loved knowing about this other aspect of du Maurier. The woman tried her hand at everything: novels, short stories, plays — even poetry!

Aspengren talked about three du Maurier plays:

  • The Years Between (first staged 1944, in Manchester)
  • September Tide (first staged 1948, in Oxford)
  • her own adaptation of Rebecca

Because self has read Tatiana de Rosnay’s Manderley Forever (one of her favorite reads of 2018), she knows of Daphne’s fraught marriage. Her husband was General “Boy” Browning who was mentioned (not flatteringly lol) in the book self just finished reading, Antony Beevor’s Arnhem: The Battle for the Bridges, 1944. It was a very strained marriage, exacerbated by long absences. And du Maurier seems to have drawn on that for The Years Between.

As for September Tide, trust du Maurier to come up with this wickedly entertaining plot: A woman falls in love with her daughter’s husband. According to Aspengren, “the mother and son-in-law have an instant attraction to each other” despite an age gap of seven years.

Daphne du Maurier brings it.

Stay tuned.

Good Morning to Fowey Only

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Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Smooth

Self missed last week’s Fun Foto Challenge. But this week, the Challenge is SMOOTH.

Here are: a sidewalk near Fleet Street, London (smooth sidewalk); a canal in Cambridge (smooth, tranquil boat ride); and sweet potato fries and an assortment of (smooth) dips!

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London, Near Fleet Street: 20 November 2018

And here’s Cambridge University, during last November’s Cambridge Literary Festival:

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Cambridge, England: 25 November 2018

And here’s a dish from Coupa Cafe, whose owner might be Venezuelan because there are a number of Venezuelan items on the menu:

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Sweet Potato Fries w/ an Assortment of Dips: Coupa Cafe, Los Altos, CA

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Rainbow of Colors (At Least 4)

Thanks once again to Cee Neuner for the Fun Foto Challenge!

Last October, self was in the historic English town of Winchester, which was hosting a Poetry Festival. The next Winchester Poetry Festival will be October 2020.

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Winchester, England: City Map, October 2018

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Tel Aviv Artist Reuven Rubin

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A friend made this bag for self.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Books for 2019 (After the 2018 Cambridge Literary Festival)

During the 2018 Cambridge Literary Festival, writers spoke and gave readings and fired up self’s imagination. Though the list below is heavy on British authors, their books are no doubt available here (in the U.S.)

  • Flights and Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, by Olga Tokarczuk
  • Holding and A Keeper, by Graham Norton
  • Building and Dwelling, by Richard Sennett
  • In Extremis: The Life of War Correspondent Marie Colvin, by Lindsey Hilsum
  • The Stopping Places, by Damian LeBas
  • What a Carve Up! and The Rotters Club, by Jonathan Coe
  • Hello World: How To Be Human in the Age of the Machine, by Hannah Fry
  • The Merchant of Syria, by Diana Darke
  • Seven Types of Atheism, by John Gray
  • The Bastard of Istanbul, by Elif Shafak
  • We That Are Young, by Preti Taneja
  • Let Us Sing Anyway, by Leone Ross
  • Take Nothing With You, by Patrick Gale
  • On This Day in History, by Dan Snow
  • All Along the Barley, by Melissa Harrison
  • The Light in the Dark, by Horatio Clare
  • The Essex Serpent and Melmoth, by Sarah Perry
  • Ghost Wall, by Sarah Moss

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