14 December 2019

Book Beginning: Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

http://www.rosecityreader.com/


Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader. Share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.


The village lay under two feet of snow, with drifts at the windy corners. In a sky of iron the points of the Dipper hung like icicles and Orion flashed his cold fires. The moon had set, but the night was so transparent that the white house-fronts between the elms looked gray against the snow, clumps of bushes made black stains on it, and the basement windows of the church sent shafts of yellow light far across the endless undulations.

https://amzn.to/2ROpRNR

Anther American Classic I haven't read and I am trying hard to read lots of them now. I have read two of Wharton's novels and enjoyed them, so this novella should be interesting, too. I understand it's a tragedy.


11 December 2019

A Gothic Bath Visit

Northanger Abbey
Jane Austen
Penguin, 1995 (originally published 1817)
231 pages

I think this is my first Jane Austen novel! Hard to believe, I know, but it just never came up; not in high school and not as a chemistry major in college. This was the first novel written by Austen, apparently around 1799, although it wasn't published until after her death in 1817.


"Northanger Abbey" is divided into two nearly equal parts, 98 &103 pages. In part 1 our heroine, Catherine, is introduced as a sweet, unworldly girl from a country village who is introduced to high society in Bath, England, sometime during the early part of the Regency period, which lasted from 1790 to 1820. Fashionistas from all over England travelled to Bath to see and be seen, in addition to drinking the famous curative waters. We follow Catherine as she takes in the scene and meets some new friends.

In part 2 Catherine visits some people she has met in Bath, Eleanor and Henry Tilney, at their father's estate in Gloucestershire, Northanger Abbey. Having read numerous gothic romance novels, popular in the late 1700s, Catherine lets her imagination run away with her at the abbey. Creepy sounds, dark passageways,  seemingly odd events, a dead wife, all bring her terror, sleepless nights, and misery. Never fear, there is a happy ending!

I was not fond of this book. I know it's satire and things are overblown on purpose, but it was a bit boring. I did not like the writing style, either; it seemed a bit too coy. Austen herself lived in Bath from 1801 to 1806 and her contemporary account of what Bath was like during the Regency Period was very enjoyable, though. I knew that people visited the Pump Room to drink the waters, and that there were festive gatherings, but I didn't understand how it all worked before reading this.

This is my entry for the Back to the Classics 2019 Challenge, in the Nineteenth Century Classic category.



FURTHER READING

Jane Austen's World
"This Jane Austen blog brings Jane Austen, her novels, and the Regency Period alive through food, dress, social customs, and other 19th C. historical details related to this topic."
https://janeaustensworld.wordpress.com/tag/regency-bath/


07 December 2019

Book Beginning: How to Become a Federal Criminal by Mike Chase

http://www.rosecityreader.com/

Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader. Share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

If you're like most Americans, your first experience with the heart-pounding thrill of committing a federal crime came from a little white tag on the end of your mattress.
"Cut me," it dared you. "Tear me off."


I am greatly looking forward to reading this provocatively-titled book. Full title: "How to Become a Federal Criminal: An Illustrated Handbook for the Aspiring Offender". I've been following the author on Twitter - @CrimeADay - and the daily crime tweets have been very entertaining!

29 November 2019

Book Beginning: The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers

http://www.rosecityreader.com/


Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader. Share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

The war tried to kill us in the spring.



I approach this book with caution and a bit of fear. It is definitely out of my comfort zone; if I want sad stories, I just watch or read the news. However my library book club is reading this, so I am trying to be a team player by reading it and showing up. It's a small club.

The blurb tells me Mr. Powers is a veteran of the Iraq war and a poet. I am hoping for the best - no nightmares.

23 November 2019

Book Beginning: The Perils of Morning Coffee by Alexander McCall Smith

http://www.rosecityreader.com/

Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader. Share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

Isabel Dalhousie saw Brother Fox that morning at eleven minutes past four. She was not one to take much notice of such details—she felt it was usually a matter of little importance to know exactly what time it was, unless, of course, one was a railway company, or an airline, for whom concern about punctuality was entirely understandable and, on the whole, to be encouraged.


This is an eBook short story in The Isabel Dalhousie Series. I love this series which follows Isabel as she goes about her life in contemporary Edinburgh, Scotland. As a moral philosopher and editor of the journal "Review of Applied Ethics" she spends a lot of time thinking about, musing upon, and carefully considering the everyday occurrences in her life. Less about the plot and more about the people she interacts with. By the way, Brother Fox is the wild fox that she sees now and then running through her back yard.