So this past week has been pretty stressful, but things are finally starting to look up. My husband’s still in the hospital after his surgery last Monday, but he’s slowly starting to get better and will hopefully be home sometime in the coming week. I actually got sick as well, probably from stress, with a sore throat, cold and cough. 😦 So I wasn’t able to visit him as much, but both our families have been supportive of us (and thanks to everyone who left comments on my last post!), so we’re getting through it.
I read P.D. James’s first mystery, Cover Her Face, while waiting for the man to get through surgery, since I knew I wouldn’t be able to focus on anything without a good plot. It was written in 1962, but actually set in the early ’50s I would say, there are several references to the changes in society since WW2. I’ve read one of her later mysteries, The Murder Room, but I enjoyed this one more, so my plan to sample various British mystery writers from the beginning of their various series seems to be going well.
By the middle of the week I took a much needed break from work and hospital visits and read the third Dorothy L. Sayers mystery, Unnatural Death, sprawled on the grass in the park next to my library, soaking in the setting summer sun and gentle breeze. It was refreshing and this book made me laugh even more than the previous one. Sayer’s plots so far aren’t quite as strong as Agatha Christie’s, I would say, but I do enjoy all the clever banter, so it’s a worthwhile trade off. Sayers introduces an older woman Lord Peter has hired to do some gossipy snooping for him and oh, her letters to him about the results of her sleuthing are hilariously over-italicized and punctuated! (No quotes though, since I’ve already taken it back to the library.)
I’ve since started The Edwardians by Vita Sackville-West in an old Virago edition that I treated myself to this week. It’s a very detailed account of the lives of the very rich and titled in the last golden years before WW1 and reminded me most of The Age of Innocence combined with the movie Gosford Park. The old Victorian matrons still rule high society, but some try to escape their iron morality in affairs, while life in the old British country houses is kept up perfectly for these few pampered rich. The story focuses on a brother and sister, Sebastian and Viola (in a reference to Twelfth Night, even if they aren’t twins) and how they deal with trying to find their place in this society that seems as if it will never change, but is in fact on the very edge of changing forever.
I’ve also been rereading more of the short stories in Tea With Mr. Rochester, yes right after finishing it! They’re nice and short and beautiful, like a tiny bouquet of delicate flowers. Each has a slightly different fragrance than the others, some are love stories, some coming of age, some end with an odd relationship changing twist, one is even a ghost story and one makes me cry both times I’ve read it. Perfect calming before bed reading. I’m not really a fan of contemporary literary short stories (because they are deeply dull, basically) but I can see myself reading this little collection over and over, just to analyze each character yet again (a lot of her endings are rather a surprise) and to revel in the romantic writing.