Posts Tagged ‘London’

Past and present

Saturday, 22 January 2011

NaBloPoMo Jan2011I thought I might have a new book for the reading list and to discuss here already, but I haven’t quite finished it, so here’s another catch-up from 2010. Far less frustrating than that current novel, which I’m literally only reading the second half off to discuss here!

Cover of Frogspawn and Floor Polish

Cover of Frogspawn and Floor Polish

62. Frogspawn and Floor Polish by Mary Mackie

I assumed I must have discussed this book here before, but apparently I actually hadn’t reread it in the past three years. It’s part of a trilogy discussing the author’s experiences living at Felbrigg Hall, a National Trust property her husband Chris Mackie was working at and then managing.

Like the others it is both informative and amusing, with a few laugh-out-loud moments. As a former long-term National Trust member, it’s decidedly interesting to find out more of the behind-the-scenes action, and the lives still lived at these properties we mostly only see as day visitors, trying to get a taste of what went on there in the past.

Despite all my intentions I never did get out to Felbrigg itself, not having any other reason to go in that direction, but I much enjoyed the NT sites in and around London, and previously York, when I was living there. If we lived in the UK I’d probably be a member still.

But back to this book. While I believe all three of the series were written after the Mackies left Felbrigg, this third is the one that’s really set after they left, with much discussion of their later visits back, and reminiscences of their own time there. This makes it possibly more episodic than the others, although I don’t call that a fault.

Well recommended for anyone who enjoys gentle humour, background looks at public places, or National Trust members generally!

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Snow Day!

Monday, 2 February 2009

Snowy back balcony

You can’t see the flurries, but it’s actually still snowing quite hard. I’m off work (can’t get there unless I walk for hours, and it’s closed now), so can do some masters work. This is a whole lot of snow for London, and apparently it’s only going to get worse later.

10. Eragon by Christopher Paolini

I’m rereading this and its sequel, as I just got the third in what is now apparently going to be more than a trilogy. It’s better than I remembered, but what I’m actually noticing now is how much Paolini’s writing had improved by the second book! Still, I haven’t finished so amn’t reviewing that one yet.

Eragon is the story of one boy’s adventures with his dragon, in a situation where the known world is rearranging itself around them, whereas the second opens up to what else is happening in that world. It’s a romp, where time passes but is largely skipped over from one adventure to the next. (I have no problem with that – I prefer it to pretending time doesn’t need to pass.)

A blurred view

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

My bag is remarkably empty of crochet projects at the moment (I purged it of the four I had been carrying around, but evidently went too far) so now that Luna’s bag is well and truly finished I began a log cabin style table mat from the same string. If I don’t fall asleep first I’ll take and add some pictures once I finish writing this entry.

216. Women’s Costume of the Ancient World by Paul Louis de Giafferri

This book is a great idea, pulled together (so far as I could tell) from extant murals, statues, bas-reliefs and so on of a few thousand years ago. The problem for me is the ‘flowiness’ of many of the costumes. I don’t believe images of wild Bacchante tell us how women actually dressed. But this is a very impressive collection indeed.

217. London: The Panoramas by Mark Denton

Fabulous photographs of London on the larger but still human. I really enjoyed the section at the end with brief notes on each photo. Denton appears to prefer long exposures which turn movement ghostly. I especially like the Impressionist appearance of “Autumn, Tavistock Square” and “Horsechestnut, Thames Path” which both show leaves in a blaze of colour. The Tavistock Square one features several people sitting reading on park benches, so they are all in focus, not having moved particularly, but the branches overhead were evidently swaying in a wind, and float as a beautiful mass through the air.

218. Great Lives: Marie Curie by Philip Steele

A very important woman whose family devoted themselves to the greater good. The science you need to know is explained clearly, and there’s lots of context on the state of women’s education and the changing political status of the countries Curie lived in. (And yes, the ‘Great Lives’ moniker is backed up rather than argued against in this instance.)

Enough!

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

I’m bored of packing and transporting stuff now, but there is still some to do, so I amn’t getting to do enough crocheting for my pleasure. It’s coming together, however, and hopefully won’t take too much longer. I need to get back to the Braille course as well. Somehow, though, I do seem to be getting some reading done:

134. Great Cities of the World: London by Gill Stacey

Although this book is written from an American perspective, for American and international readers, that did not grate, nor was it even so noticeable more than a couple of times. Otherwise this has good pictures among clear text.

135. The Essential Johannes Vermeer by Christopher Sweet

I saw Vermeer‘s Guitar Player on Friday at Kenwood House, and I think I should go back and examine it again in peace.

I have reviewed other artist biographies in this series before, but I especially like this one, despite some of the interpretations, perhaps because it includes all the paintings reliably suggested to be by Vermeer, and discusses each one as part of a flow of his oeuvre.

136. Graphic Biographies: Rosa Parks: The Life of a Civil Rights Heroine by Rob Shone, illustrated by Nick Spender

This is very clear and interesting, both in the graphic storyline and in the text introduction and appendix. I’ll look for more of the series. It is slightly hagiographic, but it is very good.

137. The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

I really like this story of M. (soon to become Taylor) Greer, who has spent her adolescence and younger adulthood preparing to leave her small town, saving money and most importantly refraining from getting pregnant. Within a couple of days of getting out she has been given a baby and in this book slowly makes them a new family circle. One thing I’m never sure of in this book is how old Taylor really is. She’s probably in her mid-twenties, but she never quite says.

The book seems very simple but there’s a lot in there, and I’m glad I reread it. I read this first a couple of years ago, and simply enjoyed and thought about it on its own merits, which are manifold. Then a few months later I found Pigs in Heaven, which is a sequel that takes apart the mechanism by which Taylor gets to keep Turtle (the baby), and which is also very good, but which for me gives this book a fairy tale gloss, as I know the happy ending can’t last and was over simplistic. I’ll probably reread that next, so will talk more about the pairing then.