Just discovering Hugo's poetry. My heart hurts, it dances, it sinks and it soars with his words. He was a Seattle native, but wrote about Montana, ItaJust discovering Hugo's poetry. My heart hurts, it dances, it sinks and it soars with his words. He was a Seattle native, but wrote about Montana, Italy and Scotland as well as the Pacific Northwest. My copy-only a week old- is becoming dog-eared as I select poems in wonder, promising to return. ...more
This is one of the most delightful, enchanting and life-affirming books I've read in ages. It is also heartbreaking, slightly surreal, a modern fableThis is one of the most delightful, enchanting and life-affirming books I've read in ages. It is also heartbreaking, slightly surreal, a modern fable that embraces and celebrates weirdness and quirkiness.
Two of my childhood literary heroines were Harriet M. Welsch, an 11-year old self-made spy who lived in privilege on the Upper East Side, obsessively recording her observations in a series of notebooks, and Ole Golly, Harriet's yellow bathrobe clad, sharp-tongued, Dostoevsky-spouting and adored nurse. Harriet's precociousness, her solitary wanderings, her vulnerability and wonder first touched my heart more than 30 years ago.
Flash-forward to the late 2000s, to a luxurious Parisian apartment building managed by a dowdy concierge, Renee, who quotes Kant and Tolstoy yet is all but invisible to the elite and privileged residents of these 4000 sq foot "apartments." One of these residents is the intriguing 12 1/2 year old Paloma. Paloma is blessed and cursed with an astonishing intellect and lives a vibrant life of the mind, while suffering the fools she encounters at home and at school. Paloma is my new Harriet- a tough but fragile soul who struggles desperately to make sense of the world. Renee shares with Ole Golly a love for Russian literature and an acute sense of the absurd, but she is the hedgehog to Ole Golly's stork, hiding her elegance behind the fear of discovery and rejection.
There is one character who unites these kindred souls, shining a bright light of compassion and joy into the darkest corners of Renee's and Paloma's troubled hearts and serving as an antidote to a culture obsessed with excess and image.
Hedgehogs, or "les hérissons" have long been an object of affection for Brendan and me. Reminiscences about summers spent with dear friends on the west coast of France always include the adorable, determined, undaunted creatures who would trundle out of the woods at night and sniff around our toes as we sat drinking wine and watching the moon rise. Now I have a new reason to think of them and smile. Brava!!...more
A beautiful book. A book that I would want to read aloud with my child and hope that he/she savored it again as an adult. Francie Nolan is my HarrietA beautiful book. A book that I would want to read aloud with my child and hope that he/she savored it again as an adult. Francie Nolan is my Harriet the Spy of turn of the century New York. She is a soul of great spirit, insight, wit and fierceness. This is one for home library, to be sure. ...more
This memoir moved me so much that I don't really want to talk about it. Elisabeth's review is pitch-perfect and I have no need to add more, except toThis memoir moved me so much that I don't really want to talk about it. Elisabeth's review is pitch-perfect and I have no need to add more, except to say, Read This, Please. ...more
THis was a reread- after many years I felt the pull of this gothic and dangerous drama. The windswept Yorkshire moors, the Heathcliff's bitter edge anTHis was a reread- after many years I felt the pull of this gothic and dangerous drama. The windswept Yorkshire moors, the Heathcliff's bitter edge and Cathy's plaintive cries of longing are utterly irresistible. An achingly beautiful book. ...more
This book represents my absolute literary vice: novels set in Europe immediately pre-during-post WWI and WWII. The "Gosford Park"-like settings, charaThis book represents my absolute literary vice: novels set in Europe immediately pre-during-post WWI and WWII. The "Gosford Park"-like settings, characters, intrigues never cease to captivate me. This series of intertwined stories by Pilcher- The Shell Seekers in particular- are the pinnacle of the genre for me. I could while away many a winter's afternoon lost in its pages... ...more
I was so deeply moved by this book. Maugham's writing is so astonishing- I reread sentences, paragraphs just savoring and marveling at his gracious, cI was so deeply moved by this book. Maugham's writing is so astonishing- I reread sentences, paragraphs just savoring and marveling at his gracious, clean, beautiful prose. The story is so rich with character and theme; it is utterly romantic in view but visionary in context. It is ironic that as a writer Maugham was so excoriated by his contemporaries: it is his voice that makes me ache to write...
Plotwise, well, I was with it until Larry wanders off to India to seek enlightenment. That bit was tedious and Larry post-India is an annoying washout for a wee while. Maugham inserts himself to play a confidante and voice of morality; I'd rather he left his characters to discover the truth without his intervention. But gorgeous nonetheless. More Maugham on the menu!...more
At least twenty years have passed since I first read Persuasion, but the delight deriven upon the initial reading has only increased with age (mine).At least twenty years have passed since I first read Persuasion, but the delight deriven upon the initial reading has only increased with age (mine). (It's also impossible to not think and write in Austenian cadence until encounters with modern companions drive the final wisps of Dorsetshire mists from the mind).
How this little book of manners manages to capture the trembling anxiety of seeing a former love years after the broken heart has endeavored to heal and move on is its principal magic. The social scheming, the misunderstandings that arrive from an ill-timed glance, the dashing navy men in their smart uniforms, a blustering, conniving embarrassing relative or two, and a heroine who is wise, modest, learned and kind are classic Austen elements. Toss in a concussion, the dramatic backdrop of Lyme Regis, a whisper of a scandal and here is Austen flirting subtly and ironically with Gothic romance. It's unputdownable- the only bit I didn't enjoy was that it had to end.
There are some laugh-out-loud moments- I have to include some paragraphs and quotes which I found so delightful and twisted:
Part 1 Chapter VI The real circumstances of this pathetic piece of family history were, that the Musgroves had had the ill fortune of a very troublesome, hopeless son; and the good fortune to lose him before he reached his twentieth year; that he had been sent to sea because he was stupid and unmanageable on shore; that he had been very little cared for at any time by his family, though quite as much as he deserved; seldom heard of, and scarcely at all regretted, when the intelligence of his death abroad had worked its way to Uppercross, two years before.
He had, in fact, though his sisters were now doing all they could for him, by calling him "poor Richard," been nothing better than a thick-headed, unfeeling, unprofitable Dick Musgrove, who had never done anything to entitle himself to more than the abbreviation of his name, living or dead.
This kills me. It's like Holden Caulfield was Jane Austen in a earlier life.
Part 2, Chapter III The worst of Bath was the number of its plain women. He did not mean to say that there were no pretty women, but the number of the plain was out of all proportion. He had frequently observed, as he walked, that one handsome face would be followed by thirty, or five-and-thirty frights; and once, as he had stood in a shop on Bond Street, he had counted eighty-seven women go by, one after another, without there being a tolerable face among them. It had been a frosty morning, to be sure, a sharp frost, which hardly one woman in a thousand could stand the test of. But still, there certainly were a dreadful multitude of ugly women in Bath;
That may be one of the funniest paragraphs in the canon of English literature.
Part 2 Chapter XII Who can be in doubt of what followed? When any two young people take it into their heads to marry, they are pretty sure by perseverance to carry their point, be they ever so poor, or ever so imprudent, or ever so little likely to be necessary to each other's ultimate comfort.