Work-in-Progress: Blue Water, Distant Shores

In which self’s MC, a feckless guy from Murcia named Matias, confesses to the local Abbott that he has suddenly been struck by “the call.” Year: 1764.

Abbott: You have never evinced interest.

Matias: Can one not be struck by the desire? It came to me suddenly.

Abbott: When?

Matias: After the recent flood.

Abbott: I see.

Matias: I was afraid. I promised Saint Anne I would enter the priesthood if she but stopped the wind from howling.

That is one of the passages self happens to really like, whether or not it is historically accurate.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Sentence of the Day: Tayari Jones

For one, Eloe may be in Louisiana, not a state brimming with opportunity, but it is located in America, and if you’re going to be black and struggling, the United States is probably the best place to do it.

An American Marriage, p. 4

2019 So Far: Favorite Reads

In the order in which self read them:

  • The Essex Serpent, by Sarah Perry (novel)
  • November Road, by Lou Berney (novel)
  • Record of a Spaceborn Few, by Becky Chambers (science fiction)
  • Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen (novel)
  • Once Upon a River, by Diane Setterfield (novel)
  • Open Heart: A Cardiac Surgeon’s Stories of Life and Death on the Surgery Ward, by Stephen Westaby (memoir)
  • Landfill: Notes on Gull Watching and Trash Picking in the Anthropocene, by Tim Dee (nonfiction)
  • The Other Americans, by Laila Lailami (novel)
  • The Parasites, by Daphne du Maurier (novel)

AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE, by Tayari Jones

Self was going to read The Overstory after finishing The Parasites (five stars, five stars, six stars if that were even possible) but decided she needed a less angst-y read (!!!) So she decided to start An American Marriage, then she read reviews on goodreads which said it was about a love triangle, and she’d had enough of those for a while and was about to put the book aside when she decided to read the first page, and that first line was simply amazing:

  • There are two kinds of people in the world, those who leave home, and those who don’t.

Stay tuned.

Swan Song, Maria: THE PARASITES, p. 320

Self is struggling to FINISH THIS BOOK before she gives away too many spoilers and ruins it for everybody.

The passage below is spoiler-ific (but not an out-and-out spoiler)

Maria: Lucien, if I told you I was on the verge of suicide, that I was contemplating throwing myself under a tram, that the whole world had turned sour upon me, and the people that I love don’t love me anymore — what would you suggest as a panacea?

Lucien: How about a facial, madame?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Celia in THE PARASITES

Spoiler — because p. 309:

Celia piled more logs on to the fire, and threw the letter from the publisher into the blaze.

Self’s heart gave a lurch, but who is she to judge?

Stay tuned.

The Famous (or Infamous) Daphne du Maurier Jump Cut

If Daphne du Maurier were alive today, she would be an indie filmmaker. Her stories, her eye, her ear — perfect for cinema.

As is this novel self has been reading for almost a month: The Parasites.

She generally dislikes du Maurier endings, but loves her books for the absolute authority of her voice, and for her painterly eye.

If she were to cast the film adaptation, hmmm. Who would be Niall? Someone dark-haired, tall and slender.

Who would she cast as Maria? Someone blonde, tall, and slender, and also pretty.

Who would she cast as Celia? Someone not-blonde, not-tall, slightly overweight, and not-pretty,

These three siblings have self shaking her head; she sees a little of herself in all of them.

The first jump cut in The Parasites was after Lord Charles walks in on Maria disrobed in front of her (step)brother Niall. Suddenly, here we are a year later, and Maria has an infant named Caroline.

The next jump cut has just happened: Last we saw them, the sibs were in their mid-20s. Now they’re in their mid-30s. But self is so happy to see them all alive and together, no matter their age.

Niall is reminiscing about Freada (is she still around? Probably not, she was quite a bit older):

  • This was one of the many things he had learnt from Freada. ‘Carry what you can upon your back,’ she used to say. ‘It all saves time and temper. Have no real possessions. Stake no claim. This is our home, for three, for two nights only. This studio, this lodging-house, this unfamiliar room in a hotel’ . . .  Once they went a bust and took a suite in a palatial kind of palace in Auvergne . . . She got up at eight in the morning and went off to drink the waters or have the waters poured upon her, Niall never really knew which; but he used to lie in bed until she returned in the middle of the day, and he read every one of the works of Maupassant, the book in one hand and a bar of chocolate in the other.

The way Niall’s getting all nostalgic makes self worry that Freada is dead.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Is Daphne Describing Self?

The Parasites, Ch. 16 Opening Paragraphs:

When people play the game ‘Name three or four persons whom you would choose to have with you on a desert island,’ they never choose the Delaneys. The don’t even choose us one by one as individuals. We have earned, not always fairly we consider, the reputation of being difficult guests. We hate staying in other people’s houses. We detest the effort of plunging into a new routine. Houses that are not ours, or where we have staked no claim, are like doctors’ houses, like dentists’ waiting-rooms, like the waiting-rooms at stations; we do not belong.

We are unlucky too. We catch the wrong trains and arrive late for dinner. Soufflés are ruined. Or we hire cars then have to ask if the driver can be put up in the village. All this causes a commotion. We stay up much too late at night, at least Niall does, especially if there is brandy, and in the morning we lie in bed until past twelve. The maids — if there are maids, and in the old days there used to be — never can get into our rooms.

Self has lived in this book for weeks. Weeks. But leave she must, for that is life.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Niall in THE PARASITES, p. 164

The song hit the ceiling, and echoed from the walls; it was fun to do, it was play. But he did not want to write it down. He did not want to have the sweat and toil of writing it down. Why not pay someone else to do that part? And, anyway, once he had thought of a song, and played it, and sung it to himself and Freada about fifty times, it was out of his system, he was bored with it, sickened of it, he did not even want to hear it any more. As far as he was concerned, the song was finished. It was like taking a pill, and the pill having worked, he wanted to pull the plug on it. Finish. Now what next? Anything? No. Just lean over the balcony under the sun. And think about the foie de veau there was going to be for lunch.

Niall, 18, a precociously gifted songwriter, has just run off to Paris with Freada a much older woman, a friend of his parents. He is secretly in love with his stepsister, but that’s apparently more of a taboo than running off to Paris with a friend of his parents, so that other love goes unrequited.

Self loves how taboo-breaking this book is. Not to mention, the writing is drop-dead gorgeous.

When Niall and Freada take the evening air along the Parisian boulevards, no one gives this May-December pairing a second glance, it seems the most natural thing in the world:

The sky turned an amber colour, like Freada’s scent, and an amber glow came upon the city, spreading from the west, touching the roofs and the bridges and the spires.

Gorgeous scene-setting. Self hasn’t read a novel like this in a long, long time. Maybe not since Once Upon a River.

Stay tuned, dear blog reader. Stay tuned.

 

“One ought to go right on, never minding.” — Maria, THE PARASITES

p. 108, The Parasites, by Daphne du Maurier

Pappy to his daughter Maria, an aspiring actress:

  • “Some people do . . . but they’re the duds. They are the ones that win prizes in school, and you never hear of them again. Go on. Be nervous. Be ill. Be sick down the lavatory pan. It’s part of your life from now on. You’ve got to go through with it. Nothing’s worth while if you don’t fight for it first, if you haven’t a pain in your belly beforehand . . . Now go right on and take your bath. And don’t forget you’re a Delaney. Give ’em hell.”

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