Her 2019 Reading Year

Top reading year, this is turning out to be.

Her Favorites, by Month:

  • February: The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry and November Road by Lou Berney.
  • March: Becky Chambers’ Record of a Spaceborn Few.
  • April: Milkman by Anna Burns; Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday; and Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore by Elizabeth Rush.
  • May: Arnhem: The Battle for the Bridges by Antony Beevor and Northanger Abbey.
  • June: Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Lily: ONCE UPON A RIVER, p. 153

Lily is rather simple, and self is moving slow as slow through this deliciously rich narrative (which means, she is enjoying this novel immensely):

When she had done the laundry (and ironed the sheets and scrubbed the tiles and filled the log baskets and got the soot off the hearth and polished the furniture and shaken the curtains and knocked air into the cushions and gone round all the picture and mirror frames with a feather duster and put a shine on all the taps with vinegar and cooked the parson’s dinner and set it ready on the table under a cloth, and washed up and cleaned the stove and left everything in the kitchen neat and tidy), Lily went and knocked again at the study door.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: 1st Tuesday of June 2019

Once Upon a River, p. 133

The photographer is waking up!

His thoughts on ascertaining there is a woman in the room:

There was an assurance in her footsteps and movements that told him she was neither very young nor very old. Was she fair or dark? Pretty or plain? She must be plain, he thought. Otherwise, she would be married, and if she were married she would not be here nursing a strange man alone in a bedroom.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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.

Jonathan: ONCE UPON A RIVER, p. 110

Jonathan’s birth:

I couldn’t take my eyes off him, little fairy creature that he was. He gave a blink and the way his eyelid — you know what it is like, not straight like yours and mine, but set at an angle — it closed over the eye not quite like a normal baby, but nearly. I thought, What does he make of this strange world he’s come to? What does he make of me, his foster mother? He moved his arms, not altogether like my baby girls used to, but more floppy — like he was swimming. A baby frown came into his face and I thought, He will cry in a minute. He’s cold. Beattie hadn’t wrapped him up or anything. Fairy children can’t be so very different from the ones I know, I thought, because I can tell he’s getting cold. I put my fingers against his little cheek and he was all wonder, quite astonished! When I took my finger away his little mouth opened and he mewed like a kitten to have it back. I felt my milk rise at his cry.

For the first time in forever, dear blog readers, self has no inclination to read spoilers on goodreads or Twitter. She’s caught firmly in the fictive net of this novel.

Stay tuned.

Maud, the Sow: ONCE UPON A RIVER, p. 61

It was amazing how a man’s mind might remain half in shadow until the right confidante appeared, and Maud had been that confidante. Without her, he might never have known certain things about himself, about his son. On this spot, some years ago, he had shared the disagreement between himself and his wife about Robin and the theft from the bureau. As he retold the sorry tale to Maud, he saw it anew and noticed what he had registered but not paid attention to at the time.

Global Dickens

Self spent the morning at the Charles Dickens Museum on 48 Doughty Street, checking out the house where Dickens and his wife spent probably the two happiest years of their marriage. The house offers fascinating glimpses of the man’s domestic life, and the audio tour is highly recommended. She came away with a small fridge magnet showing her favorite painting of Dickens: he sits in his study, surrounded by a cloud of his inventions.

She saw a very distressed copy of David Copperfield and read that this copy “travelled with Robert Falcon Scott and his men to Antarctica in 1910. When half of Scott’s men were stranded in an ice cave for 7 months, they read to each other every night for comfort and entertainment. After 60 nights they finished David Copperfield and, as one of the men wrote, they were very sorry to part with him.”

DSCN9984

Dickens also exists in manga form!

DSCN9986

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. 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.

Once Upon a River, by Diane Setterfield

Self decided to buy the hardcover yesterday, from London Review Bookshop. Then she toted it all over London, from Bloomsbury to Victoria Station to Waterloo Station to the National Theatre etc etc and, once back in Bedford Place, read until well past midnight.

Today, she’s toted it around further, from Bloomsbury to the Victoria & Albert (to see the Mary Quant exhibit — four stars!). That should prove how vested — how thoroughly enthralled — she is by this story’s beginning, about a hideously disfigured man stumbling into an inn on the Thames.

A midwife/nurse is summoned to treat him, and the nurse has to turn her back while the man is laid out on the table and all his clothes removed. When he is finally ready for examination, someone has discreetly preserved the nurse’s modesty by dropping a handkerchief over him.

The nurse “palpated bone, ligament, muscle, her eyes all the while diverted from his nakedness, as though her fingertips saw better than her eyes.”

Her white hands stood out against his darker skin.

“He is an out-of-doors man,” a grave-digger noted.

Truly masterful storytelling.

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.

DSCN0173

Vltava River, Prague: Sunday, 26 May 2019

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

DSCN0171

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

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

« Older entries

nancy merrill photography

capturing memories one moment at a time

Asian Cultural Experience

Preserving the history and legacy of Salinas Chinatown

Rantings Of A Third Kind

The Blog about everything and nothing and it's all done in the best possible taste!

Sauce Box

Never get lost in the Sauce

GK Dutta

Be One... Make One...

Cee's Photo Challenges

Teaching the art of composition for photography.

Fashion Not Fear

Fueling fearlessness through style and inspiration.

Wanderlust and Wonderment

My writing and photo journey of inspiration and discovery

transcribingmemory

Decades of her words.

John Oliver Mason

Observations about my life and the world around me.

Insanity at its best!

Yousuf Bawany's Blog

litadoolan

Any old world uncovered by new writing

unbolt me

the literary asylum

the contemporary small press

A site for small presses, writers, poets & readers

The 100 Greatest Books Challenge

A journey from one end of the bookshelf to the other

Random Storyteller

A crazy quilt of poems, stories, and humor