Friday, March 14, 2014

friday books: four books begun, one finished

Lots of flitting from book to book this week: it has been a funny old week with some small family dramas and my car being off the road for a few days which is always disconcerting. I love my car, Bluey, it's 18 years old this year and is like my faithful old horse or something. I had no brake lights and a few loose wires. It's all fixed now and I'm back behind the wheel.

I picked three books from my "un-read books" shelf and made a dent in them:

The book I actually finished was Robert Louis Stevenson's The strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. It was only about 70 pages: I really enjoyed it- very creepy Victorian tale (1886) of good and evil within the same man and a scientific experiment gone terribly wrong. A good short classic horror story.

I also read the first story in the collection The road to yesterday by L.M. Montgomery, which is similar to the author's Chronicles of Avonlea  format except that the stories are set in Glen St. Mary where Anne lives as a married woman. Montgomery handed the manuscript of this book to her publisher in 1942 and died of a suspected drug overdose the same day, which is really sad and awful.
I don't know how I managed never to read this book as I read all the other Anne of Green Gables books many times. Road to Yesterday was not published for the first time until 1975. I think that the Blythes are only mentioned in passing and not the stars of these stories but I do love the tales of lost loves and orphan children and family feuds and so on.

One of my volunteers told me about Desiring Italy (1997) just before I went last year. I bought it after returning it has taken me all year to pick it up. What a gorgeous book!  Women writer's accounts of their experiences of Italy -  there are travel memoirs, essays, diary entries, fiction, excerpts from recipe books. Different chapters focus  mainly on Milan, Venice, Florence, Rome, Siena, Naples and places like Genoa, Assisi and Lucca and Sicily - the last four I didn't travel to, but are on my list for next time, especially Sicily after being glued to Sicily unpacked on SBS the last few Thursday nights - the art! the food! - oh glory, I want to go there now. ( Have to see son through Year 12 next year, then I'll be planning the next trip). I've read about forty pages of the Italy book - finished the Milan section and now in Venice.

The last book - and I've read 40 pages of this also - is the latest in the Tales of the city series by Armistead Maupin: The days of Anna Madrigal.  Surely this (the ninth) will be the last? Mrs Madrigal is 92, Mary Anne nearly 60 and Brian even older..... when the series started with the serialisation of the first book in the San Franciso Chronicle in 1978 Mary Ann was in her 20s. I love these books very much, and reading about the characters again is like hearing about family that you've lost touch with for a few years but feel close to anyway.

This book starts in the present time but delves back into Anna Madrigal's past, when she was  being raised in The Blue Moon Lodge brothel in Nevada ( was it Nevada?).  Really looking forward to seeing how Maupin wraps up the story of the life of the Barbary lane landlady.


  1. Loved The days of Anna Madrigral - and can remember seeing an interview where Maupin did say it was the last. Probably.
    I am currently wrestling with Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie. I don't know how many times I have walked away from it. It is making me feel quite inadequate. Have you read it?

  2. Tried and failed years ago, also failed at the moor's last sigh. Rushdie is too difficult for me!

  3. These all look wonderful! You are both soul sisters, I love Armistead Maupin, but few people in NZ seem to have heard of him. (He lived here for a while, just over the hills on Banks Peninsula, at a lovely place called Wainui).
    Librarygirl, Sicily is amazing, not really like Italy but not like anywhere else either. I did a tour with the 'Explore' company, they took us to Greek temples and baroque Noto, which is lovely. Andrea Camillieri's Inspector Montalbano novels are set in that area, they are well worth reading for genuine Sicilian flavour. And the Sicilian pastries are the world's best! Stop me, I'll just go on and on.

    1. is Sicily more Naples than Rome?
      it just looks so beautiful...

    2. I'm not sure - I haven't been to Naples.

  4. P.S. I've just read L.M. Montgomery's Emily trilogy, loved them.


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