Posts Tagged ‘Agnes Grey’

I nearly forgot…

Monday, 8 February 2010

More 2009 books read:

62. The Lost Prince by Frances Hodgson Burnett

A good few of the coming books are Librivox versions of books I read (generally many times) as a child and/or teenager. This was one of my favourite FHB novels, in many ways because it’s so much less well-known than A Little Princess (although that one is the favourite), The Secret Garden or Little Lord Fauntleroy. This is far more a ‘boy’s book’ than those, with just one woman (who’s a baddie) who shows up more than once. Unfortunately, listening to it as an adult I couldn’t stop thinking how dozy Marco is about things that should have been obvious (especially for a character usually portrayed as very intelligent), when as a child I think I just ignored that dopiness!

63. Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë

I’m glad I now know this book, but it isn’t going to become a favourite of mine for rereading, I don’t think. Perhaps I’m just in the wrong mood about it now, so long after listening to it, but I know governesses often got mistreated, and I get the picture that they were supposed to work wonders on spoilt brattish children whom they weren’t allowed to discipline in any manner, and I don’t think I want to revisit the story. Agnes isn’t a badly drawn character, but I’d had enough of her teaching experience by the end.

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Stories overlapping and intertwining

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

I’ve just started reading Trinity: a novel of Ireland by Leon Uris, as I finished The Professor and the Madman this morning, and this was one my DH expressed an interest in my opinion of. I’ve seen novels by Uris before, but not read any of them. At the moment this is sharing the opening set-piece of Dubliners: the wake of an old man, respected in the community (if not by all), as viewed by a young boy connected to his family. I haven’t got far enough in it to say more than that as yet. Already, though, it’s got my DH and I discussing Irish history again, which is never a bad thing.

Still, if I’m to get to even having read a quarter of last year’s total books (320), I do need to get a move on, as I’m at precisely a fifth (64) today. Not that anyone besides me does or should care about that…

37. The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J. K. Rowling

I believe I was given one copy of this and offered two or three more. Not sure if this says more about me or the book (I was being offered once read copies, where the purchaser thought it unlikely they’d reread the book). It is perhaps more of a book of children’s fairy tales than might be expected from Hermione’s fascination with it in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, but for those who enjoyed the Harry Potter series in its totality it’s certainly worth reading once, and for more than the sake of completeness.

38. Cross Stitch by Diana Gabaldon

After 2008’s reading of the original American version, this was me going back through the series as I knew it originally. As I pointed out then, they are only fractionally different. I still love the story and the writing in this series, but on this reread I was getting disturbed by the huge amount of violence (sexual and non) within the books, so it may be awhile till I go back to them, presuming I do. I haven’t even got hold of or read An Echo in the Bone (the newest book, which came out this September just gone) because of this.

39. What Diantha Did by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

I listened to this back to back with Mr Hogarth’s Will, as described two days ago, and since they have some overlapping themes I thought I was going to get them thoroughly mixed up, but I think I have them more distinct now than I did at the time!

Unlike Mr Hogarth’s nieces, who are educated to provide for themselves, and then turfed out to do so, Diantha has to do a lot of persuading of her family that she be allowed to try so to do (so far so like Agnes Grey), especially since she has a young man desperate to marry and look after her (so not like any book I’ve come across before the current generation). This is a clever, practical, principled young woman with her own plan of action, to benefit many women young and old, who will not be deterred from her path, especially by those she loves.

40. Posing for Portrait Photography: a head-to-toe guide by Jeff Smith

One of those random books I read for work, but I like to think it has and will help in my snapping, even though it’s decidedly written for those in or going into professional portrait photography. (I did some ‘proper photography’ courses in school, after learning a lot from my father, but these day I use an automatic digital camera mostly to record my crochet here and on Ravelry, and otherwise to snap pics of friends, family, and touristy stuff.)

Oh, and while I’m discussing improving photography skills, I just came across a really interesting photography blog. It is aimed towards proper photography, but those of us trying to get beyond ‘just snaps’ (again) can learn and be inspired too.

Some more books

Monday, 2 November 2009

I should be crocheting, but I’ve actually designed something, and since I don’t have the yarn to make it, I’ve got temporarily disinterested in the rest. I’ll let you know more about it as and when I can…

So for now, a couple more books. I just finished Agnes Grey, and I’d like to write about that, but if I don’t catch up with the list in order I’m afraid some of the entries upon it will remain forever undescribed, and that would be terrible, of course!

31. A Tale of Seven Sheep by Gadi Pollock

This is a beautifully (and amusingly) illustrated modern Jewish fable. Do not let the illustrations make it seem like it should be for young children, as I suspect it would take adolescents (or their older friends) to get all of the subtle references.

32. Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

I haven’t read the other three books in this series, but certainly wouldn’t object to doing so if I happened to find them. At the centre of this book is Tom Natsworthy, a young apprentice on the Traction City of London who by chance gets caught up in the personal disputes of Hester, Katherine, and the latter’s father Valentine, London’s hero, and must flee for his life. Tom lives in a world where people are expendable; villages, towns and cities must destroy each other or be destroyed for their resources; and where the very idea of actually settling in one place is taboo. It’s a complicated world, but a well thought out one, and an intriguing set of tales.

33. Mr Hogarth’s Will by Catherine Helen Spence

It’s been quite awhile, and the main thing I remember about listening to this book is the regular surprise at what was going to happen next. Certainly the romances did not go as expected. Which is not to say that the story is not memorable – just that it’s fairly complex, and keeps the reader guessing.

Mr Hogarth has brought up his two nieces, and educated them in a way generally considered suitable for boys who will have to make their own way in life, rather than for girls. On his death they discover he means them to do just that, leaving all of his money and property to a hitherto unknown son, who in turn would have preferred some contact with his father in life. After thinking through the opportunities both young women make their way to Australia, and the new society there, and slowly build themselves decent lives.

34. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems

Now I specifically read this at Pesach, (which shows just how far behind I am with this list, and why I amn’t recalling every detail) because I brought it as a gift for the family (good friends) I spent the first days with, and the three-year-old boy had me (and everyone else) read it to him countless times. [Note that I haven’t included on the list all the other kids’ books I read to them, but we went through this one enough for it to count, I think!] He was in fits of laughter every single time (the older kids liked it, but not as much as he did). I had great fun doing voices, and his exuberance and the book itself were a perfect match. It’s just good, and I highly recommend it for reading to young children (which I love doing).

Books unfinished

Friday, 30 October 2009

White tapestry crocheted bookmark holder, with a few bookmarks visible at the top.

I have to admit, the number of books I have listed as read, but haven’t yet reviewed here is a bit daunting, so I thought I’d make things a little less so by discussing some of the books I haven’t finished. Hopefully most of them will get added to the list and mentioned again reasonably soon…

This post will mention some crochet, though, since the bookmark holder I made yesterday would seem rather relevant! I’ve been playing around with Tapestry Crochet, with the leftover yarn from the sheep’s head I made for Rosh Hashana, since that is the only set of matching yarns with different colourways I have at the moment. I’ve been using the white as background and the variegated browns for the pattern, which works fine when the actual browns show. The ecru, though, is rather too similar to the white for full impact. The first thing I made so is a present, for someone who does read this blog occasionally, so I won’t show the pictures, but Ravelers can see it here.

What I made yesterday was for my DH, however, and he received it when he arrived home (about five minutes after I finished it), so I can show you that. I used a cross stitch writing tool from Stitchpoint, which I’ve mentioned on this blog before, but shouldn’t have chosen an italic font, since tapestry crochet adds to the slant, meaning that a non-italic font would have looked somewhat italic, and been far more legible. That and the clumps of ecru mean that my DH can’t actually read the text (having it all around the container doesn’t help either, but it was going to be far too tall done sideways), but he appreciates the item and its immediate value to us (he’s a bookworm too), so that’s okay!

I’ve never blocked acrylic (I’ve barely blocked anything), but if anyone has good ideas for how to make it stand straight I’d appreciate hearing them!

And now to the unfinished books (I would say the ones still with bookmarks in them, but I have the habit of leaving bookmarks in after I finish the book, so that would not be the correct category).

Jewishly, I’m reading Praying with Joy by Rabbi Daniel Yaakov Travis, as well as Anshei Hayil: Volume 1 by Rabbi Haim Levy, both of which will hopefully help me improve my tefilla. I’m enjoying both in small sections at a time.

In print non-fiction, I’m reading The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester, which I heard about when it came out, I think, but have never found before. Thankfully my lovely MIL gave it to my DH several years ago, so I get to read it now. It’s about the creating of the OED and two of the major players involved in the project. They were very different Victorian gentlemen, and it’s intriguing and apparently well-researched so far.

My DH and I are both reading a book my father gave him, What Did You Do Today, Professor?, edited by Eoin P. O’Neill, which is a collection of essays by TCD scientists about their research and what led them to this point, often with a particular emphasis on how mathematics is important to all the other sciences. It’s really interesting. I like learning about current research, and while this is written to be accessible to non-specialists, it isn’t dumbed down in the way some popular science is. I have to say I’m finding the Irish/Dublin/TCD references much easier than my DH, of course, but they aren’t stopping him enjoying the book.

The fiction is mostly audio at the moment, but I am occasionally dipping into Harry Potter agus on Órchloch (yes, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, in Irish, by J. K. Rowling, of course) just to see if I can… I amn’t getting through it very fast, but then I think I know the original well enough that it’s not very fun to read slowly.

From Librivox I’m most of the way through Agnes Grey, by Anne Brontë. I haven’t read this before, and am enjoying it. The protagonist seems very self aware, and though some of the other characters are somewhat one-dimensional, most of these are being pointed out as what happens when children are thoroughly spoilt. There are multiple readers, so far all (I think) women I’ve heard on other Librivox recordings, so obviously quality and pronunciations vary, but they’re mostly pretty good, and none had me wanting to turn the thing off.

Unfortunately the same can’t be said of the new recording of Dubliners by James Joyce. Part of the problem is just that I am a Dubliner, so it jars when placenames, intonations and phrasing are completely wrong in a series of short stories so specifically written to show the city and its people. I’ll admit I only listened to the first one-and-a-half stories, each read by a different (American) man, so the later readers might be better, but at the moment I’m severely tempted to just read the whole book myself for Librivox. Not that I could do all the accents for the different groups of Dubliners in the book, but at least I would know what the references were too. Perhaps I could do that in time for 2012, when the book will be out of copyright in the EU… (And no, I wasn’t in the EU when I downloaded or listened to this, and amn’t now. Copyright is important.)

Okay, I admit it, I’m a snob. It doesn’t bother me for very English or American fiction to be read by voices from all over the world, but it does when the voice should be a Dublin one, and isn’t. Still, it does help for any reader to check unfamiliar words for their pronunciation.

So that’s what I’m reading (or amn’t, but chose not to finish).