Lisa's Reviews > Howards End is on the Landing: A Year of Reading from Home

Howards End is on the Landing by Susan Hill
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's review
Jun 22, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: memoirs, belles-lettres
Read from June 22 to 26, 2012 — I own a copy

With Howard's End is on the Landing Susan Hill offers an amiable, chatty look at books she has loved, loathed and left unread. Her rambles take the reader back to her childhood in Scarborough, to her college years in London and through her years as a writer and radio personality. Through these years she managed to meet a great number of the book world elite, from dashing Ian Fleming to the formidable Sitwells. These remembrances, some of which were very slight, at the library, E. M. Forster dropped a book on her foot, may seem to some to be just so much name-dropping. However, they really work both to support her contention that so many of these gods of li-tra-tra were kind, helpful and immanently human, well Edith Sitwell wasn't, and to develop the chatty tone. Honestly, if I happen to be chatting with you about the rock scene of the late '70, I will just have to tell you about the time Elvis Costello's keyboard player touched my arm or the time I had a brief but lovely conversation with Brian Wilson. I would do so for these reasons. One to show my own giddy, star struck nature at 16, the other to show the gentle sweetness of the Wilson. And, well that is what people do when they chat.
Hill in her chattiness shares a wealth of opinions and reading foibles. Some of those opinions are bound to raise eyebrows; she can't find pleasure in Austen. She has strong - and, I think, silly,views on book plates and cataloging ones books. One view which I was glad to hear voiced was her attitude towards new books which is similar to mine. We both prefer to avoid them in their newly minted state to wait until, as she puts it, "the dust has settled." As with her name-dropping her rather ruthless bandying of views enhances the friendly, volubility of the tone. Though, I deeply pity her inability to enjoy Austen rather like I pity my son's color blindness.

As one would expect, Hill has added new names to my never shortening list of must reads. I suppose my final analysis would be that it was an amiable way to spent a very hot summer day thanks to its gregarious tone, but Hill provided me with no ah-ha or aw moments.
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Reading Progress

06/22/2012 page 30

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Ian (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ian Laird Hi Lisa, I’m always interested to see how different people see the same book. I am reviewing The Beacon, which I did not warm to really, and came back to reflect on this one, which I read in 2010. I like your observations about the meetings with the notables, I had forgotten about the Sitwells – formidable (French accent) – and some of the others you highlight. I appreciated some of Susan Hill’s opinions, they led me to authors I’ve enjoyed very much, Greene, Pauline Fitzgerald, but her view is a very particular English one. And I was a bit miffed at her throwaway about Australian novels.

Lisa She did have some peculiar opinions. One was about people who put their name in books, and another, people who uses book plates. She believes such readers are real readers. That makes no sense to me. She also was dismissive of on-line book cataloging. Then, yes, the Australia thing.

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