Okay, I think part of the reason catching up with the booklist (what there is of it) is taking so long is that it is so long since I read some of those books. So maybe I’ll just tell you about this year’s books for now instead. (All 6 of them so far…)
The first four are Librivox audiobooks. For now I’ll leave out number 4, as it’s the sequel to a couple from 2009 that I haven’t discussed yet.
1. Miss Pim’s Camouflage by Dorothy Tennant, Lady Stanley
This is a propaganda wish-fulfilment novel about World War I. Specifically, Miss Pim is the middle aged and unfortunately female (considering she has the soul of a general) scion of an English military family, who feels limited in doing her bit for the war effort by simply growing vegetables and joining local committees. One day she discovers that with a simple movement she can become invisible, and under the guidance of her local vicar she offers her services to the War Department and is sent behind enemy lines to spy on the dastardly Germans. Usefully she speaks fluent and nearly accent-less French and German and gets to do all sorts of helpful things, including telling us all just how terrible the Imperial Germans are. (This novel basically suggests the WWI Germans were committing Nazi-style atrocities on a vast scale, which doesn’t sound like history as I learned it.)
2. Ophelia, the Rose of Elsinore by Mary Cowden Clarke
This may be part of a series of novellas about the apparent girlhoods of Shakespeare’s heroines, but it’s decidedly not for children. Abuse of all kinds is implicit in this one. Some of it is interesting in relationship to the Ophelia of Hamlet (which is also at the end of the 2009 list), but some of it has not very much to do with that at all.
3. Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
It was interesting to finally hear the actual story/play of this. (It’s a well-edited-together group reading of the play.) I’ve never even seen My Fair Lady, but it’s one of those stories one simply will hear discussed. This was both more thoughtful (in the early story) and less (in the later one) than I had anticipated. I do like the Professor’s mother far more than I like him.
5. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
It’s been years since I read this, and I remember liking it more than some of the other Austen novels. This one is far more about ethics, I think, than are, say, Emma or Pride and Prejudice, and I like the way most of the characters are given the opportunity to grow over the course of the novel. In particular, that the castigation is really for those who fail to fulfil that opportunity, more than for their lack of morals in the first place. (I think all the young people we get to know at all in this book are shown to have had inadequate parenting.)
6. Invitation to Go by John Fairbairn
And this is the one I really wanted to get to discussing today. We got to talking about Go last night, and how I wanted greater clarity on the rules and strategy, so when I couldn’t sleep I ended up spending much of the night and most of the morning reading this clear little book, including working through its examples and problems on the board. I need a whole lot more practice (soloing, playing the game with my husband, and really preferably playing with someone with more experience) to be any good, but this did give me a lot more confidence to see what’s going on, after the event at least!