The Big Pym-Re-Read:A Glass of Blessings

April was balmy and delicious, and cruel in the way the poet did mean, mingling memory and desire. The memory was of other springs, the desire unformulated, unrecognized almost, pushed away because there seemed to be no place for it in the life I had chosen for myself.

One day Rowena and I met to have a cosy women’s shopping lunch together. She had come up to town to buy new clothes for the children, but when I met her in our favourite restaurant she admitted that she had spent the whole morning buying things for herself and nothing for the children at all.

‘And this afternoon we’re having our hair done,’ I reminded her, for we were going together to my hairdresser who was to create elegant new hairstyles for us.

‘Oh this weather,’ Rowena sighed, pulling off her pale yellow gloves. ‘It makes one so unsettled. One ought to be in Venice with a lover!’

‘Of course,’ I agreed. ‘Whom would you choose?’

There was a pause, then we both burst out simultaneously, ‘Rocky Napier!’
and dissolved into helpless giggles.

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The Big Pym-Re-Read: Jane and Prudence

jane and prudence(This is definitely going to be less rambling than the post I wrote for Excellent Women! I shall try to keep it short.)

Jane and Prudence are friends who met at university when Jane was Prudence’s tutor.

The book opens with Jane and Prudence at a college reunion. Jane is forty-one, Prudence twenty-nine. The former is married to her university sweetheart, Nicholas Cleveland, now a Church of England vicar. Prudence is personal assistant to an academic, Arthur Grampian, and is in love with him.Read More »

WWW Wednesday

It’s been a while since I posted about what I’m reading, have been reading and hope to read.

Let's KillWhat are you currently reading?

Barbara Pym’s No Fond Return of Love. I am rather behind in my Pym re-read posts. Have not written about Jane and Prudence and A Glass of Blessings.

Let’s Kill Uncle by Rohan O’Grady

I heard this book being discussed on BBC Radio 4’s A Good Read podcast, presented by Harriet Gilbert. Love that show! Have just started reading it — so far, so good.

The Tenth Muse by Catherine Chung

I’m listening to this audiobook on Scribd, but I may give up soon. Will give it another couple of chapters to decide for sure.

The Night Tiger by Yangsze Cho

I started listening to this on Scribd forever ago and I was enjoying it but the narration (done by the author) was too distracting, so I stopped. I think I might go back to it. Don’t want to spend more money getting the book so I will just try to ignore Cho’s plummy British accent, which is soooo wrong for this book set in Malaya. Apparently, she wanted to perform the audio book because she wanted the names of Malayan towns and other Malay words to be said correctly. Fair enough, but then why the British accent!

What did you recently finish reading or couldn’t finish?

monkeyApart from the two Pyms mentioned above, I recently finished Dark Fire by C.J. Sansom; and Wu Ch’eng-en’s Monkey (translated by Arthur Waley), which I listened to on Scribd and loved to bits, not least because the narrator is the late great Kenneth Williams.

I’ve read and heard so much about Monkey, but had only a vague idea about Sun Wukong and Journey to the West (Monkey is an abridged re-telling) until I listened to the audio book. So glad I found a version narrated by Williams.

As for Dark Fire, it’s the second book in Sansom’s Matthew Shardlake series, set during the reign of King Henry VIII. A Good Read is also where I learnt about these books. They’re so good, although the descriptions of torture, burning at the stake, bear baiting and other unsavoury 16th century practices are hard to read. Really happy that there are five more novels in the series. I love it when I come across a series after it’s complete, as binge reading is a thing in my world. However, I am taking my time with these novels.

What do you think you’ll read next?

10 lovesThe next Matthew Shardlake book, Sovereign. Also, (maybe) Cold Comfort Farm and most definitely Pym’s Quartet in Autumn, which comes after No Fond Return of Love.

But, I may start Hiromi Kawakami’s The Ten Loves of Mr Nishino right away as my friend Janet got it for me and I want to discuss it with her.

By the way, these are the books that I am dipping and and out of, which will probably be on my ‘current reads’ list for some time as it’s partly research for my fantasy novel:

A Chinese Bestiary: Strange Creatures from the Guideways through Mountains and Seas edited by Richard E. Strassberg

Myths and Legends of of China by E.T.C. Werner

Daoist Identity: History, Lineage and Ritual by Harold D. Roth

 

WWW Wednesday

What are you currently reading?

Are You My Mother? A Comic Drama by Alison Bechdel

Having finished Fun Home, I thought I would read this next! So far so good.

Less Than Angels by Barbara Pym

Still reading this. I’ve tended to rush through my Pyms and, now that I have the physical books, I intend to re-read them all. Slowly.

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

This is great. It’s easy to read and funny and surprising, and also strange and disconcerting.She writes about sex and the uncanny so well. They fit together like they were meant to be.

Severance: A Novel by Ling Ma

(audio book)

I love Scribd! I am definitely reading more, with it. And yes, I consider listening to audio books reading. In fact, I pay better attention listening to than reading a book. When I read I sometimes skim and skip. Not with audio. I’ve chosen this one as my next listen. I hope it’s something I can stick with.

What did you recently finish reading or couldn’t finish?

Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong

I loved this one, about a young woman who moves back home after her Dad is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Like Fun Home, it made me think about my late father and the difficult relationship I had with him. I don’t think he found our relationship difficult though, except towards t the end of his life when I refused to see him. It probably puzzled him. Anyway, this should be a separate post.

Fun Home: A Family Tragiccomic by Alison Bechdel

I liked this. I suppose I have a lot of issues of my own when it comes to my father. Although I think I’m dealing with them OK.

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

I love this! I didn’t think I would as I don’t like rap, but of course it’s about much more than rap, and I think I liked the protagonist, Bri, even more than I did Starr in The Hate U Give.

The Wife by Meg Wolitzer

Meh. This post is about how I feel about the novel and the film.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I keep saying Lotus by Lijia Zhang and I do intend to read it, but I keep getting distracted! I think I’m going to draw up a list.

WWW Wednesday

What are you currently reading?

On the come upOn the Come Up by Angie Thomas

(audio book)

I really enjoyed The Hate You Give, Angie Thomas’s debut novel, and I’m liking this one too. I’ve never been a fan of rap, but I love the protagonist, Brianna’s rhymes (?): Sorry, I don’t have the vocabulary to discuss rap!

The Wife by Meg Wolitzer

This is going more slowly than I thought it would. I suspect I will enjoy the film (with Glenn Close!) more than the book, which is making me really hate men, haha. I mean, even more than usual.

Fun Home: A Family Tragiccomic by Alison Bechdel

Loving this!

Less Than Angels by Barbara Pym

I am well on my way to owning physical copies of all Pym’s novels, and so I might read them all again. Am due for a re-read anyway.

What did you recently finish reading, or couldn’t finish?

Melmoth by Sarah Perry

(audio book)

Not as good as The Essex Serpent, and some descriptive scenes were a struggle to listen to as I do not do well with violent or lingering death, torture and the like; and I think the ending was too rushed. Nevertheless, I did enjoy most of the story.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong

Lotus by Lijia Zhang