Bits of a Few Books

 



I have been on an Angela Thirkell reading binge lately. She is exactly what I need. Her books are the reading equivalent of sitting by a fire or eating tea and cake. They are comforting and entertaining and very, very soothing. I have been reading the ones I own in order and obviously need to fill in the gaps in my collection. Here is a quote from August Folly. 

Your respected mamma," said Laurence to Margaret, who ws just finishing her omelette, "is telling my Aunt Palmer exactly where she gets off at about the veils for the chorus."

Just warm the rum, will you,"  said Margaret, pushing a saucepan towrds him. "Yes, mother is a little like Mrs. Norris sometimes."

As Laurence didn't answer, she wondered if he had perhaps never heard of Miss Austen, blamed herself for the ungenerous thought, then, just to make herself plain, added nervously, "Miss Austen, I mean" 

Well, it does my heart good to hear you say Miss Asuten like that," said Laurence. "Omelette ready? Right. Observe. I pour the rum over it. People who say Jane or talk about Janeites revolt me. The sort that can walk with kings and not lose that common touch. "Miss Austen to you" is what I feel inclined to say.


I also recently reread Beauty by Robin McKinley. It is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast and I read it many times when I was a teenager. Wouldn't you like to have this room in your house?


On the other side of the room was an arched wall of windows that reached, in rows and rows of tiny panes, from the high ceiling to the padded gold-and-white-velvet window seat. Then with a small gasp I stepped into the room, philosophical questions on the nature of Beauty forgotten, because the walls that met the window on each side were lined with bookshelves. There were hundreds of leather-bound volumes, regal and wise. My fingers touched the smooth bindings reverently. There was a desk with enough drawers and pigeonholes for the most--or least--organized of scholars, a tall pile of fine white paper, a dozen colors of ink in gilt or cut-glass bottles, and pens and nibs by the hundreds. I sat down at the desk and stared at it all. 


I would stare and then jump for joy. It sounds too wonderful for words. There is even a window seat which would fulfill all my childish--and adult--dreams. 

The next book I have been reading is a little weightier. It is John Adams by David McCullough. I am not particularly interested in politics but I am interested in history and personalities. John Adams was the second president of the United States and one of the Founding Fathers. It took me a while to work my way through this book but I am glad I did. As children in school, we are given such a condensed and sanitized version of history. It was fascinating to see the individuals behind the names. I would like to read a biography of John Adams' wife, Abigail. She sounds like an amazing woman. They wrote reams of letters to each other over the years and were a devoted couple. Here is a quote about poetry that John Adams wrote in a letter to his son, John Quincy Adams, who went on to become the sixth president of the United States.

Read somewhat in the English poets every day. You will find them elegant, entertaining, and constructive companions through your whole life. In all the disquisitions you have heard concerning the happiness of life, has it ever been recommended to you to read poetry? 

...You will never be alone with a poet in your pocket. You will never have an idle hour.


That is a wide variety of books over the last couple of weeks. Well, it is if you ignore just how many Angela Thirkell novels I have read. Sometimes comfort reading is the necessary reading. 

 

6 comments

  1. Thirkell is just right when you need a bit of comfort and a laugh, especially her early books. I turn to Summer Half over and over again in times of stress. It's so important to have those go-to authors!

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    1. I am slowly buying the Thirkell books I am missing and Summer Half is one of the ones I don't own. I have read them all but it has been years since I read that one. Marling Hall is supposed to come in the mail this week.

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  2. You are so right about Angela Thirkell. I've read all of her Barsetshire books but am now reading them again, in the correct order this time. She can be so snooty at times - but such fun!

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    1. She is a lot of fun. I am reading them in order too--well, except for the ones I don't own. Eventually I will have all of them.

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  3. What a coincidence! I am currently researching an interesting historical person, Admiral Sir Benjamin Hallowell, an American, who lived near me in England, for an article in our local residents' magazine. His father was in charge of customs in Boston at the time of the tea party, and the family moved to England after war broke out. The son joined the Royal Navy and had a distinguished career during the Napoleonic wars, and is noted for making a coffin as a (rather weird) present for Nelson, from the timber of the French flagship which he had sunk during the battle of the Nile. I thought you might find this interesting, as he was also second cousin to John Adams. It's a small world!

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    1. That is an interesting connection. I would love to read the article if there is any way to send me a link once you are done writing it.

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