I will admit I’ve been avoiding blogging here (for almost a month now), mostly because of the stress and busyness that’s been going on with my husband’s recovery from surgery. He was in the hospital longer than anticipated (two weeks instead of one), but luckily he’s back home now and things are slowly returning to normal, although he still won’t be able to return to work for over a month. I’ve only been back at work for a week now and with the return of my old routine, started to think about returning to book blogging as well.
Every fall I like to read something seasonally appropriate, whether it’s Persuasion by Jane Austen, a lot of poetry (especially by Keats and Yeats), or even the first part of Lord of the Rings one year. This year I began to want to read more classics from the 19th century, so I started rereading Anna Karenina, but after about a hundred pages, found it too sad for the circumstances and eventually moved on to Our Mutual Friend in an effort to read more Dickens. It’s actually the best Dickens I’ve yet tried (I’ve finished Bleak House and stumbled about halfway through both Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities) — it’s funny, imaginative and big-hearted, just like my grandpa who also loves Dickens (one of my reasons for continuing to try to read his books I admit), but again, after about 300 pages, the manipulative characters began to get to me and I put it down as too stressful also.
Finally, I said forget all this, I’m rereading Jane Eyre. But… remember her depressing early childhood? Yes, that also was too much for me. (And now maybe you see why I haven’t been blogging lately!)
I finally indirectly found a book I could finish through a visit to a new bookshop in my neighbourhood. They had Mariana by Monica Dickens on the shelf! A Persephone book that isn’t Miss Pettigrew! I was touched and despite having already read it this year (and I admit, having mixed feelings about it), my husband urged me to buy it, knowing quite well how much I do love my Persephone books. Bringing it home and deciding where it would go on the shelf brought up the secondhand copy of Cheerful Weather for the Wedding by Julia Strachey I found this summer and I quickly proceeded to read it, sitting on the floor next to the bookshelf! I had been putting off reading it since all the blog reviews said there was a bittersweet edge to the story, but by this time, I was simply happy to be immersed in another cozy early 20th century British fictional world. The details in this charming little novella were what made it so soothing for me, the descriptions of flowers in every room, rooms laid out for tea, country girls inexpertly wearing makeup and the apparent caddishness of wearing emerald socks at a wedding. I wondered in the end at people who could be so little aware of their own feelings but it had a more thoughtful, than depressing, tone and all in all, it reaffirmed my desire to continue collecting and reading everything Persephone Books brings back into print.
I’m now back in the 19th century with Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell, which is sweet and gently comic, about the only thing I’m up for right now! I’ll probably finish it soon and then may reread North and South or Bridget Jones’s Diary and I also have Little Boy Lost by Marghanita Laski from the library, another Persephone with a compelling cover!
Any suggestions on other comfort reads of yours would be very much appreciated.