Caroline's 2021 Reading Hammock (part 2)

Dette er en fortsættelse af tråden Caroline's 2021 Reading Hammock (part 1).

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Caroline's 2021 Reading Hammock (part 2)

1Caroline_McElwee
apr 5, 3:45pm





2Caroline_McElwee
Redigeret: jun 14, 5:39pm

Read in 2021



Fiction

A Saint in Swindon (Alice Jolly) (01/01/21) ****
Summerwater (Sarah Moss) (03/01/2021) ****
The Sleeping Beauty (Elizabeth Taylor) (07/01/21) ***1/2
Nightwoods (Charles Frazier) (13/01/21) ****
The Story of the Night (Colm Tóibín) (23/01/21) ***1/2
Restoration (Olaf Olafsson) (28/01/21) ****
Moon Tiger Penelope Lively (31/01/21) (reread) ***1/2
Love and Other Thought Experiments (Sophie Ward) (08/02/21) ****
The Road to Lichfield (Penelope Lively (15/02/21) **** (Reread)
The Green Road (Anne Enright) (25/02/21) ****
Nick (Michael Farris Smith) (06/03/21) ****
Bride of Pendorric (Victoria Holt) (15/03/21) ***
The Uncommon Reader (Alan Bennett) (17/03/21) (reread) ***
You Will Be Safe Here (Damian Barr) (27/03/21) ****
Gratitude (Delphine de Vigan) (18/04/21) ***1/2
The Signature of All Things (Elizabeth Gilbert) (03/05/2021) ****1/2
The Porpoise (Mark Haddon) (12/05/21) ***1/2
The Lamplighters (Emma Stonex) (16/05/21) ***1/2
The Vanishing Half (Brit Bennett) (28/05/21) *****
The Guest Book (Sarah Blake) (05/06/21) *****
The Liar's Dictionary (Eley Williams) (10/06/21) ***1/2

Non-Fiction

You Can Heal Your Life (Louise Hay) (17/01/21) ****
Begin Again: James Baldwin's America and his urgent lessons for today (Eddie S Glaude jnr) (05/02/21) *****
Quite (Claudia Winkelman) (11/02/21) ***1/2
handiwork (Sara Baume) (17/02/21) ****
Frostquake: The frozen winter of 1962 and how Britain emerged a different country (Juliet Nicholson) (23/02/21) ****
On Seamus Heaney (R F Foster) (11/03/21) ****1/2
Silence: Harnessing the restorative power of silence in a noisy world (Joanna Nylund) (16/03/2021) ****
Intimations: Six Essays (Zadie Smith) (04/04/21) ****
Two-Way Mirror: The Life of Elizabeth Barrett Browning (Fiona Sampson) (07/04/21) ****
The Hare With Amber Eyes (Edmund de Wasl) (08/05/21) ****1/2
Letters to Camondo (Edmund de Waal) (10/95/21) ***1/2
How to Live. What to do: In Search of Ourselves in Life and Literature (Josh Cohen) (14/05/21) ****1/2
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear (Elizabeth Gilbert) (21/05/21) ****1/2
A Well-Read Woman (Kate Stewart) (30/05/21) ****1/2
The Wild Silence (Raynor Winn) (01/06/21) ****
Fully Human (Steve Biddulph) (13/06/21) ***1/2

Poetry

The Seven Ages (Louise Glück) (13/02/21) ****1/2
The Wild Iris (Louise Glück) (16/02/21) ****
Helium (Rudy Francisco) (22/02/21) ****
How to Love The World (Various, ed James Crews) (04/04/21) ****
Healing the Divide: Poems of Kindness and Connection (ed James Crews) (17/04/21) ****

Total read: 42

Female: 26
Male: 14
Non-binary:
Various: 2
Fiction: 21
Non-Fiction: 16
Poetry: 4

Reread: 3

UK: 21
US: 14
Iceland/US: 1
Ireland: 2
Finland: 1
France: 1
Tasmania: 1

3Caroline_McElwee
Redigeret: apr 5, 4:57pm

Welcome to Part 2 reading in the hammock. I'm Caroline, I live in London, and have been an LTier for 14 years.

Like most people here, I have more books than I can read in a lifetime. It's the best addiction in the world to have.

4Caroline_McElwee
Redigeret: apr 5, 4:58pm

25. Intimations (Zadie Smith) (04/04/21) ****



As I read most of these last year, and only just finished the last two this week, I can't remember specifics, beyond that I found most of them thought provoking, and will return to them.

The title piece is her gratitude piece, about all those people who shaped her.

5Caroline_McElwee
Redigeret: apr 5, 4:47pm

26. How to Love the World (ed James Crews) (04/04/21) ****



I really enjoyed this anthology of poetry, which also introduced me to many poets new to me.

Here are two of the poems I enjoyed:

Hope
By Rosemary Wahtola Trommer

Hope has holes
in its pockets.
It leaves little
crumb trails
so that we,
when anxious,
can follow it.
Hope’s secret:
it doesn’t know
the destination—
it knows only
that all roads
begin with one
foot in front
of the other.

*

Winter Morning
By James Crews

When I can no longer say thank you
for this new day and the waking into it,
for the cold scrape of the kitchen chair
and the ticking of the space heater glowing
orange as it warms the floor near my feet,
I know it’s because I’ve been fooled again
by the selfish, unruly man who lives in me
and believes he deserves only safety
and comfort. But if I pause as I do now,
and watch the streetlights outside flashing
off one by one like old men blinking their
cloudy eyes, if I listen to my tired neighbors
slamming car doors hard against the morning
and see the steaming coffee in their mugs
kissing chapped lips as they sip and
exhale each of their worries white into
the icy air around their faces—then I can
remember this one life is a gift each of us
was handed and told to open: Untie the bow
and tear off the paper, look inside
and be grateful for whatever you find
even if it is only the scent of a tangerine
that lingers on the fingers long after
you’ve finished peeling it.

6FAMeulstee
apr 5, 4:11pm

Happy new thread, Caroline!

>1 Caroline_McElwee: That covered bed at the top looks perfect to curl up in with a book.

7jessibud2
apr 5, 4:22pm

Happy new thread, Caroline. LOVE that first one in your topper!

8Caroline_McElwee
Redigeret: apr 5, 4:48pm

>5 Caroline_McElwee: >6 FAMeulstee: Thank you Anita and Shelley.

9msf59
apr 5, 6:39pm

Happy April, Caroline! Happy New Thread! Love the toppers and the "Winter Morning" poem.

10PaulCranswick
apr 5, 7:54pm

Happy new one, Caroline.

>5 Caroline_McElwee: I really like the James Crews poem.

11Caroline_McElwee
apr 6, 4:01am

>9 msf59: >10 PaulCranswick: Thank you Mark and Paul. Crews is a new discovery in this volume. I'll be seeking more of him out.

12PaulCranswick
apr 6, 4:23am

>11 Caroline_McElwee: Yes, I must admit that I am not familiar with him either, Caroline, but if that one is a guide I'll be following you in looking him up.

13Helenliz
apr 6, 4:49am

Happy new thread. And I'd love to curl up in that cosy reading spot.

14Caroline_McElwee
apr 6, 12:05pm

>12 PaulCranswick: He seems only to have one volume published (2011), but has edited another anthology Paul. Both fell into my shopping cart.

>13 Helenliz: We readers do like our cosy nooks Helen.

15drneutron
apr 6, 12:45pm

Happy new thread!

16BLBera
apr 6, 2:25pm

Happy new thread, Caroline. I love the art at the top.

I do love Zadie Smith and will pick up this collection at some point.

>5 Caroline_McElwee: What a pretty cover!

17charl08
apr 6, 3:27pm

Happy new one. I enjoyed the essays. It was perfect lockdown reading for me.

The poetry is new to me: love the way the writer uses the idea of the scent of tangerines.

18EBT1002
apr 7, 7:17pm

Hi Caroline and Happy New Thread. The poetry anthology sounds appealing -- a good way to get a taste of some new poets. I like both the poems that you posted.

19ursula
apr 8, 3:00am

I like the photo as a spot to curl up and nap or watch a movie, but I need a lot more light when I read.

20PaulCranswick
Redigeret: apr 8, 3:50am

>14 Caroline_McElwee: I was going to order it too Caroline but I decided to order Eavan Boland's award winning last anthology The Historians. I have limited myself to no more than 10 books to order by Book Depo and I had wanted to fill some of my Queen Vic and Around the World challenge books first. Next month I may well order it.

21Caroline_McElwee
apr 8, 11:48am

>15 drneutron: Thanks Jim.

>16 BLBera: Thanks Beth.

I love Zadie's essays, and so far every other of her novels. My favourites are White Teeth and On Beauty

>17 charl08: That poem is very evocative Charlotte.

>18 EBT1002: Good to see you about Ellen. It's not often I like so much in an anthology. I'm just about to start Crews' other anthology Healing the Divide.

>19 ursula: Yes, I'd move my Serious Reader lamp in there Ursula. I'm sure Rollo would enjoy curling up there.

>20 PaulCranswick: See note above to Ellen, Paul. Funnily enough I was looking at my Eavan Bolland collection on 5he shelf the other night. Soon...

22mdoris
apr 8, 9:05pm

Happy new thread Caroline. Love the pictures over here!

23BLBera
apr 9, 9:27am

I haven't read On Beauty yet, but my favorite is White Teeth. I loved her collection of essays as well.

24Caroline_McElwee
apr 9, 9:47am

>23 BLBera: On Beauty is her homage to Forster's Howard's End. Talking about them makes me want to reread both Beth.

25Caroline_McElwee
apr 10, 5:44am

27. Two-Way Mirror: The Life of Elizabeth Barrett Browning (Fiona Sampson) (07/04/21) ****



Sampson sets out EBBs life through a series of frames, the three key ones are about how she was perceived through the few very particular images that exist of her; the family's slave trading history; the life of a woman poet in her era.

An insightful exploration of a renowned poet of her time, who is perhaps less read now. I shall pull Aurora Leigh from the shelf this year with the aim of reading it fully, rather than the dipping I've done to now.

26Caroline_McElwee
apr 13, 11:56am

Watched 'My Octopus Teacher', wonderful documentary on Netflix.

27mdoris
apr 13, 2:46pm

I watched it last week and thought it was wonderful!

28AlisonY
apr 13, 6:01pm

>26 Caroline_McElwee: Just watched the trailer - looks terrific. Thanks for posting it.

29Caroline_McElwee
apr 15, 1:04pm

>27 mdoris: >28 AlisonY: I've yet to hear someone who didn't enjoy it.

30Caroline_McElwee
Redigeret: apr 15, 5:33pm

A couple of months ago I subscribed to a year of Masterclass.



I really enjoyed watching Frank Gehry's Masterclass.

I've also completed Margaret Atwood, and Robin Roberts' courses. Dipped into Annie Leibovitz, Helen Mirren, and Jodie Foster's courses so far.

I like to sip here and there, before settling on the next course to complete.

31EBT1002
apr 15, 8:00pm

>21 Caroline_McElwee: I notice that Donald Hall is included in the anthology you are starting. I like his poetry.

32Caroline_McElwee
apr 16, 4:29am

>31 EBT1002: Yes, there is one of his poems Ellen.

I'm enjoying reading poetry first thing in the morning for 10-15 minutes.

33BLBera
apr 16, 8:40am

>26 Caroline_McElwee: This looks interesting, Caroline. I've dipped into some Masterclasses as well. I may do more this summer.

34AlisonY
apr 16, 12:34pm

>30 Caroline_McElwee: You're doing much better than me. When Masterclass was just taking off I got the James Patterson writing class, but I've only managed one and a half assignments.

35Caroline_McElwee
apr 16, 4:28pm

>33 BLBera: >34 AlisonY: So far I've really enjoyed them. I'm mostly a passive viewer, but make notes of interesting assignments when given, to do later. I'm just really interested in the creative mind.

36Caroline_McElwee
Redigeret: apr 17, 11:53am

28. Healing the Divide: Poems of Kindness and Connection (ed James Crews) (17/04/21) ****



Another good anthology of poems edited by James Crews.

They Dance Through Granelli's

By Pat Emile

He finds her near the stack
of green plastic baskets waiting to be filled
and circles her waist with his left arm,
entwines her fingers in his, pulls her toward him,
Muzak from the ceiling shedding a flashy Salsa,
and as they begin to move, she lets
her head fall back, fine hair swinging
a beat behind as they follow
their own music—a waltz—past the peaches
bursting with ripeness in their wicker baskets,
the prawns curled into each other
behind cold glass, a woman in a turquoise sari,
her dark eyes averted. They twirl twice
before the imported cheeses, fresh mozzarella
in its milky liquid, goat cheese sent down
from some green mountain, then glide past
ranks of breads, seeds spread across brown crusts,
bottles of red wine nested together on their sides.
He reaches behind her, slides a bouquet
of cut flowers from a galvanized bucket, tosses
a twenty to the teenaged boy leaning
on the wooden counter, and they whirl
out the door, the blue sky a sudden surprise.

37Caroline_McElwee
Redigeret: apr 17, 11:55am

Read in 2021



Found how to do this on Charlotte's thread.

38Caroline_McElwee
apr 17, 11:18am

A Poet Laureate's tribute to an extraordinary man.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-56785412

39mdoris
apr 17, 12:27pm

Interesting about the Masterclass. I often watch interviews by Michael Shermer and he advertises Masterclass and it does sound interesting and compelling. i must investigate!

40AlisonY
apr 17, 1:03pm

>38 Caroline_McElwee: Such sad viewing this afternoon. The Queen looked so terribly small and vulnerable, bless her.

41Helenliz
apr 17, 2:01pm

>38 Caroline_McElwee: thank you for sharing that. We were tolling a bell for the best part of an hour beforehand (OK, he was tolling, I was in charge of the watch) so didn't get home to see it. The picture of her, sat alone in the pew, was heartbreaking.

42Caroline_McElwee
Redigeret: apr 19, 3:35pm

29. Gratitude (Delphine de Vigan) (18/04/21) ***1/2



An ageing woman is beginning to lose her words and is moved into an assisted living accommodation, we learn her story through a young friend, and her speech therapist. A short French novella read in one sitting.

The pain of losing language, and of feeling one has not declared one's gratitude to important people in her life.

And I love the cover.

43Caroline_McElwee
apr 19, 3:45pm

>39 mdoris: I'm really enjoying them Mary.

>40 AlisonY: I agree Alison. I felt it was a beautiful tribute though, and loved the music.

>41 Helenliz: I think the pandemic gave him nearer to the simplicity he wanted as a funeral, but sad to see the Queen sitting alone Helen.

44Caroline_McElwee
apr 19, 3:52pm

Second jab done today. Just a little fatigue again as side-effect. A non-working day, so the snooze in the chair was OK.

45FAMeulstee
apr 19, 6:38pm

>44 Caroline_McElwee: Happpy to read you are fully vaccinated, Caroline!

46kidzdoc
apr 19, 8:49pm

Congratulations on getting your second vaccination, Caroline!

47Helenliz
apr 20, 2:42am

>44 Caroline_McElwee: excellent news. The seocnd one usually hurts more, as it contains the tracking chip. >;-) I've got my first jab tomorrow.

48Caroline_McElwee
Redigeret: apr 20, 12:51pm

>45 FAMeulstee: >46 kidzdoc: Thanks Anita and Darryl.

>47 Helenliz: Thanks Helen. I had the AZ vaccine, and side effects are more prevalent for the first jab. I had some fatigue in the afternoon and snoozed for a couple of hours. Not too bad.

49AlisonY
apr 20, 7:39am

>48 Caroline_McElwee: Great news you got your second jab, Caroline. I get my second Pfizer mid-May. I'm a bit nervous as I know a few people who have been quite unwell with it - I'm too busy in work to be unwell at the moment!

>42 Caroline_McElwee: Noting Gratitude - sounds like something I'd enjoy.

50charl08
apr 20, 8:31am

>48 Caroline_McElwee: I had missed that: I definitely fit the pattern. I had written off the day after the second jab (weekend) but was fine, whereas tried to work through the first one and had a *very slow* brain day.
(Although that might just have been coincidence!)

51msf59
apr 20, 8:43am

Hi, Caroline. I am really enjoying Hard Light. I had no idea Crummey wrote poetry, until Figs pointed it out. I really like his fiction. This is more of a narrative form, looking back at his family history. I thought you might be interested. I am also getting ready to start An Enchantment of Birds. Yep, you guessed it- a memoir of a birder. Grins...

52Caroline_McElwee
apr 20, 12:55pm

>50 charl08: I was really fatigued the day after the first jab, and had a sore arm for 5 days Charlotte. Much more mildly fatigued yesterday (on the day itself). Nothing today.

>51 msf59: Thanks for the recommendation Mark, I'll add to the list. I'm reading a volume of James Crews poems at the moment.

53BLBera
apr 20, 8:47pm

You always seem to find beautiful books, Caroline.>42 Caroline_McElwee: That cover is lovely.

I had the opposite reaction to my vaccine. My arm wasn't even sore after the first one, and I was floored the day after the second one.

54Caroline_McElwee
apr 21, 7:05am

>53 BLBera: They all seem to do different things Beth. My sister had much worse symptoms than I for her first, with the same vaccine. Hopefully her second will be kinder.

55Helenliz
apr 21, 11:28am

Well I'll be able to report back on my experience of the third vaccine available in the UK. As of this afternoon, I'm a Moderna girl. I got a sticker. >:-)

56AlisonY
apr 21, 11:56am

>55 Helenliz: That's interesting - I've not heard of anyone in NI getting the Moderna one yet.

57Caroline_McElwee
apr 21, 12:04pm

>55 Helenliz: Ooo, interesting Helen. Keeping fingers crossed you are symptom free.

58Helenliz
apr 22, 2:15am

>57 Caroline_McElwee: morning after report. Feel like some punched me really hard in the arm, and my neck/shoulder feels a bit stiff. Hoping that's as bad as it gets.

59Caroline_McElwee
apr 22, 7:50am

>58 Helenliz: Oooff, hope it doesn't get any worse Helen.

60PaulCranswick
apr 24, 8:53am

>42 Caroline_McElwee: That is really a wow of a cover! I read one of her books this year and - though quirky - I did very much like it.

Hope that both you and Helen are fully recovered from the impact of your vaccines and that it is a step towards getting rid of this blight upon all our lives.

61Caroline_McElwee
apr 25, 6:57am

Hi Paul, I am doing fine post jab 2 thanks.

Watching too much detective fiction online (hooked on Prime's 'Bosch' series at the moment), so not as much reading.

Adding to chat on your thread, I tend to have about 4 books on the go at a time, then one will roar ahead, and so on.

62Helenliz
apr 25, 8:42am

>59 Caroline_McElwee: sore arm lasted through to Friday afternoon, and has been fine since then. Just got to wait until July for the next dose. Appointment already made.

63Caroline_McElwee
Redigeret: maj 1, 10:55am

London Library LitFest 2021

Sarah Walters in conversation with Hallie Rubenhold*
(Saturday 1 May)



The session started with quite a lot of conversation about research for historical novels. Sarah spends about 3-4 months on her initial research. She has a character in mind and an era. She then starts writing, and continuing to research in tandem. Generally much of the story evolves out of the research, of discoveries. She has to get into the mentality of the time. She reads the great novels of the time, but much of what gives her the 'in' comes more from what might be called the best sellers of the era (middle and lowbrow) which have not necessarily survived into re-publication, but libraries like the London Library still hold the original editions.

She says the characters she is interested in writing about are characters who could only exist in a particular time/era. Characters of that moment. She is also interested in hidden women's history.

There was a discussion of what it is like having her novels adapted for stage and screen, and the different processes that involves. She has never done the adaptation, but observing it has shown her things that she might think about. She cited how in a movie they can use stillness to say a lot, that would be hard to do in a novel.

It takes her about 4 years to write a novel. She doesn't expect to return to the Victorian era. She is currently writing a novel set in the 1950s, a 'family drama with some gothic things going on'.

*Historian and writer of The Five, the victims of Jack the Ripper.

The first of 4 events I'm viewing today.

64Caroline_McElwee
Redigeret: maj 1, 9:31pm

Buried Treasure: Bringing forgotten literary gems to light. Hannah Chukwu (co-editor with Bernadine Evaristo of Black Britain: Writing Back), Lennie Goodings (Virago Chair), Margaret Busby (publisher/editor) with Bidisha (writer, broadcaster) (Saturday 1 May)



A lively discussion about seeking and bringing back into the light the hidden gems of literature. Writer's and books that have sometimes had their moment, or been published but not found their audience because they don't fit the profile drawn by the guardians of the gate. The only way to improve this is to break down the gates or find new guardians.

Discussion covered challenging the cannon. What might be done when the language of a hidden gem challenges current acceptable usage (and how sometimes this becomes more apparent when an actor has to speak the words for the audio book). The fact that there is still only one literary course in a UK university featuring a black writer.

Rebecca West: A celebration (Saturday 1 May)



Lara Feigel, Geoff Dyer, Amanda Craig and Vesna Goldsworthy discuss the life and career of Rebecca West.

Rebecca West became a member of the London Library in 1914 aged 22. This year the library celebrates its 180th birthday.

The discussion started with thoughts on why West is not in the cannon of her era (Woolf/Forster/Eliot etc) and three assumptions were presented: That she wrote novels for the first ten years of her writing life, but was mostly a journalist for the rest of her life, and novels and poetry were valued more highly over journalism; her prejudice against communism and the left; the scandal of a child out of wedlock with H G Wells, and other affairs with married men.

Discussion of her work generally, the novels v the non-fiction, the latter now being generally most prized, especially Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, the book about her travels in Yugoslavia, which she uses to set down her world and inner view.

West's great-niece from the US was in the virtual audience and knew her as an old lady, and said she was fascinating to her.

A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf (1928) - a dramatic adaptation Saturday 1 May





Read moving around the London Library, which Virginia knew well, in celebration of the 80th year since her death.

Of course it just made me want to read it again.

Performed by Nina Sosanya, with Colin Tierney and Sophie Melville.

65Caroline_McElwee
maj 1, 5:15pm



A tender film, deserving of the Oscars it received.

66charl08
maj 1, 5:44pm

All events sound wonderful, Caroline. I am in awe of Margaret Busby, want to get the new(ish) book (I baulked at buying it new as couldn't imagine carrying it home on the train).

I am looking forward to various events as part of Wowfest, the Liverpool reading/writing festival this week.

67Caroline_McElwee
maj 1, 9:26pm

>49 AlisonY: Somehow I missed you up there Alison. My sister had the worst side-effects I have come across. I just had fatigue and a sore arm.

>66 charl08: Yes, I'm trying to hold back on that tome Charlotte. I noticed the original on Amaz marketplace for over £900!

68PaulCranswick
maj 2, 1:57am

I'm a little jealous, Caroline, as I see little possibility of such events as >64 Caroline_McElwee: unless I move back to UK. The quicker the better.

Have a lovely Sunday.

69Caroline_McElwee
maj 2, 6:08am

>68 PaulCranswick: Because they are online Paul, you could have participated from where you are. I have two more events today, and three tomorrow.

Lovely as it was to be able to do, I missed hearing all the audience murmurs and chat about it in the gaps. There were live questions in the chat bar, but it wasn't quite the same.

70Helenliz
maj 2, 7:00am

>69 Caroline_McElwee: I know what you mean. It's something about getting a feel for the mood in the room that's much harder. We held our AGM online last year (and will be doing the same this) and it's much harder to see how a proposal is going down when you can't hear those murmurs or mumbles. They give you a sense of if this is going down well or not in a way that just faces don't to the same degree.

71AlisonY
maj 2, 9:35am

Those sound like fantastic events at the London Library, Caroline. I agree, though, that these things are never the same online as they are in the flesh. I really missed the Cheltenham Festival last year.

72BLBera
maj 2, 9:55am

What a fantastic event, Caroline. Thanks for sharing.

73Caroline_McElwee
Redigeret: maj 3, 4:48pm

Stefan Zweig in London Sunday 2 May
Daria Santini/George Prochnik/Phillipe Sands



Exploring the life of Zweig in exile in London. Discussing the complex, often contradictory personality of the writer, who moved to London from Salzburg around the time of the Anschluss. His life in Salzburg had been a cultured life, he was wealthy. He wrote at his desk which had previously been owned by Beethoven. At 50 life became more precarious, and he would ultimately see his creations burned by the Nazi's.

He lived in London for a number of years, continuing his prolific writing in its Libraries, including the London Library, his home from home. Swinging from loving and thriving in the city, to loathing and falling into deep depressions, which had plagued him throughout his life.

Ultimately he was unable to continue in the circumstances of war. He donated most of his books to the London Library, and moved to Brazil, where he finally took his own life.

The actor John Hopkins, sitting in the library, interspersed readings from Zweig's letters and journals.

After Vienna. Sir Tom Stoppard and Edmund de Waal in conversation Sunday 2 May



Brought together for the first time (from their respective homes) Stoppard and De Waal talk about their work, the family history that underpins some of it. The second world war, anntisemitism. How one's Jewishness generally dominates one's identity (whether you are practicing or not). The need Jews felt for assimilation, and how in the 1930s wealthy Jews felt their contributions would protect them, that they would be exempt, but as De Waal says, 'the surface was wafer thin'. Stoppard wonders if the French now are the same as those who gave the Jews up, or a different breed. Now they are honouring some of those jews, as with De Waal's family.

There was discussion about whether the Austrians get off easily by claiming they were the 'first victims of the Nazi's', where they in fact were the breeding ground for Nazism. Stoppard feels that this is so well understood now that the Austrian's victimhood is not taken seriously.

Ultimately they believe the existence of antisemitism is unresolved and unresolvable.

Clearly the two men had a great deal of respect for and knowledge of each other's work.

De Waal especially was very emotional about the subject matter.

A wide-ranging discussion we wished was twice the length.

I'm finally going to start The Hare with the Amber Eyes, followed by Letters to Camondo, and have Hermionne Lee's biography of Stoppard on the pile too.

Stoppard's Leopoldstadt was one of the last plays I saw as the pandemic took hold.

74Caroline_McElwee
Redigeret: maj 3, 9:25am

30. The Signature of All Things (Elizabeth Gilbert) (03/05/2021) ****1/2



This novel set across the 1800s follows the life of an independent, extraordinary heroine, Alma Whittaker. Deeply engaged in the study of nature, especially mosses, her life takes many twists and turns, as she follows her desire for learning across the globe.

Full of wonderfully drawn characters.

75jessibud2
Redigeret: maj 3, 2:33pm

>73 Caroline_McElwee:, >74 Caroline_McElwee: - Caroline, I would have loved that conversation. I read The Hare with Amber Eyes a few years ago and did a lot of googling afterwards to learn more. I also read (a bit more recently) The Signature of All Things. Listened to it on audio, actually and loved it.

76vivians
maj 3, 2:56pm

What wonderful events, Caroline! I really enjoyed reading your comments - many thanks for posting.

77Caroline_McElwee
Redigeret: maj 3, 5:21pm

>70 Helenliz: >71 AlisonY: It does take some adjusting to, but at least we will appreciate live events more when we can get back to them.

>72 BLBera: Pleasure Beth.

>75 jessibud2: I took a bite out of The Hare with Amber Eyes today, and am enjoying it Shelley. I was mesmerised by netsuke and inro long before the book came out. The collection at the Victoria and Albert collection has long been a favourite place to visit.

http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/n/netsuke-inro/

>76 vivians: The events have all been very interesting Vivian. Most of which I wished had been longer. I'll add the last two tomorrow.

78Caroline_McElwee
Redigeret: maj 9, 3:03pm

31. The Hare with Amber Eyes (Edmund de Waal) (08/05/21) ****1/2



I've had this since it was first published and have no idea why it has taken me so long to get too.

De Waal tells the story of some of his ancestors, using the journey of the 264 Netsuke he eventually inherited as a frame. Fascinating. Odessa, Paris, Vienna, Tokyo, London. Mid-1800s to 1990s.

I'm currently reading his new book Letters to Camondo, about friends and neighbours of his family in Paris.

I heard him give a talk at the Victoria and Albert museum a few years back. If you get the chance to hear him live, grab it. You won't be disappointed.

79jessibud2
Redigeret: maj 9, 7:00pm

>78 Caroline_McElwee: - I enjoyed it a few years back and am eager to hear your impressions of this new one. Sounds like a BB to me, as I love epistolary books.

80mdoris
maj 9, 4:47pm

Thumbs up from me too about Hare with the Amber Eyes and Signature of all Things. I loved them both!

81Caroline_McElwee
maj 9, 5:42pm

>79 jessibud2: >80 mdoris: It was certainly worth the wait, Shelley and Mary.

I worked out a few years back that if I don't read a book in the year it is purchased, on average it will wait 12 years to be read. Hare didn't quite have to wait that long. I had one book that waited 32 years to be read (The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft), which I loved, and suggests I know what I will like, even years later.

82ursula
maj 10, 3:32am

>81 Caroline_McElwee: I kind of love that you worked out how long it takes to read a book you don't read immediately. And it's a statistic that I'm sure would have been similar for me at one time - a big part of the reason that these days I don't buy a lot of books/don't keep them!

83Caroline_McElwee
maj 10, 10:50am

>82 ursula: I'm very bad at releasing books unless they really didn't hit the spot Ursula. But I own more than I can read in my remaining lifetime, so must at some stage re-home many.

84Caroline_McElwee
Redigeret: maj 10, 11:05am

32. Letters to Camondo (Edmund de Waal) (10/95/21) ***1/2



De Waal writes this collection of letters to a dead man, Count Moïse de Camondo, who lived near and was friends of his family in Paris. De Waal uses its artefacts and archives to tell stories, some of which overlap with those of his own ancestors. Camondo left his house to the State on his death and it became (and still is) a museum.

In some ways I think the Camondo house gives De Waal a visual understanding of what the contents of his own family houses would likely have been like, by the time he saw those, the contents had been dispersed.

One of the last letters tells the dead Count what happens to his family during the war years.

Edmund de Waal seems to be deeply interested in the artefacts of people's lives and the stories they tell.

85Oberon
maj 10, 11:05am

>84 Caroline_McElwee: This has been on my radar screen since I enjoyed The Hare with Amber Eyes so much. Seems like this fell a bit short of that one?

86Caroline_McElwee
maj 10, 5:29pm

>85 Oberon: Yes, I would say so Erik, but still a good read, and things I want to think about. Also, as I had read Hare so recently, I picked up the occasional repetition.

87BLBera
maj 10, 10:24pm

I also loved The Hare with Amber Eyes, Caroline. How interesting that you have figured out how long it takes you to get to books if you don't read them right away. I have been wondering about that. When I first started cataloging my books, I didn't use the acquired date in the record, so I can only know for sure how long it's taken me to get to them if I've added the date they came into my library. Still, I've been on LT for almost eleven years, and so some of the books have been on my shelves for at least that long.

Like you, I have more books than I can read in my life and have been trying to be better at passing them on after I read them.

88PaulCranswick
maj 10, 10:42pm

>87 BLBera: Given the size of my TBR, Beth, I really ought to have looked at that acquisition date too!

>78 Caroline_McElwee: I'm not sure why, Caroline, but I didn't love The Hare with Amber Eyes quite as much as I wanted to. Appreciated it but not blown away either.

89msf59
maj 11, 7:23am

Hi, Caroline. I also really enjoyed the film Nomadland. I want to read the book at some point too. I have not read Stefan Zweig in several years. I need to remedy that. I have also been meaning to read The Signature of All Things since it was published. I need to get on that too.

90Caroline_McElwee
maj 11, 2:31pm

>87 BLBera: I'm not managing to reduce purchases, as you will see elow Beth. But I was spending a gift Book Token, so not my fault this time!

>88 PaulCranswick: Based on the swell of excitement about Hare, I expected it to be 5*s, and it wasn't quite for me, but I dd enjoy it Paul.

>89 msf59: I loved Zweig's autobiography The World of Yesterday. I have several of his novellas as yet unread.

Once you start The Signature of all Things you will not want to put it down Mark.

91Caroline_McElwee
maj 11, 2:33pm

I was gifted a Book Token, so here is my haul from a real, living, breathing bookshop this morning:



The bottom two were on the list, the top a find.

92vivians
maj 11, 3:00pm

Hi Caroline - I just finished The Lamplighters yesterday so I'm eager to hear what you think. I loved Utopia Avenue, but then again I think Mitchell is a genius! How did your shopping expedition feel? I have yet to return to a bokkstore but hope to do so soon!

93Caroline_McElwee
maj 11, 3:19pm

>92 vivians: My expedition into town was ok Vivian. It's more a part of London for workers. Not too many people about. I met a friend at Chelsea Physic garden, and did book shopping before, and other bits before heading home.

94Caroline_McElwee
maj 11, 3:21pm


Chelsea Physic Garden today. That's my favourite bench. I did have cake (Orange and Lime Drizzle).

95FAMeulstee
maj 11, 3:33pm

>94 Caroline_McElwee: Beautifil place, Caroline, perfect to wander around a bit.
What is the blue-ish tree(?) above you on the right.

96Helenliz
maj 11, 4:06pm

Nice shopping. I've got The Lamplighters tp read as well, this month's subscription book.

97mdoris
maj 11, 4:17pm

>95 FAMeulstee: My bet for the blueish tree is Ceanothus or California lilac. I have mine about to burst in bloom and they will be stunning with a great deal of bee action.There is almost a deafening buzzing sound that will happen for days on end while the blooms are out. They are very drought tolerant and tough. Great trees! It also comes in a ground cover version so doesn't grow very high (Point Reyes). Both are evergreen. Of course this is just a guess!

98jessibud2
maj 11, 4:19pm

Oh, that garden looks wonderful! And judging from the way you are dressed, I see I am not the only one complaining about the weather. It was 3C when I woke up this morning and I wore a scarf to do grocery shopping and could have used gloves. I have been taking some plants in at night from my garden as it's just too cold at night, still.

99Caroline_McElwee
maj 11, 4:32pm

>95 FAMeulstee: >97 mdoris: I think Mary has the answer Anita. My friend did tell me, and it began with C.

>96 Helenliz: It was lovely to go into a bookshop to graze Helen. Looking forward to all of my purchases.

>98 jessibud2: It wasn't as cold as where you are, but I have to keep my neck wrapped. I scarf lady usually. I was probably slightly over dressed today, but some days we've had three of the four seasons in a day Shelley. And we seem prone lately to a few hours of high winds out of the blue.

It's a lovely little garden retreat in a busy city. I've been a 'Friend' for about 8 or so years now.

100BLBera
maj 11, 5:27pm

>94 Caroline_McElwee: Great photos, Caroline.

Nice book haul as well. I have Utopia Avenue on my pile.

101Caroline_McElwee
maj 12, 6:09pm

33. The Porpoise (Mark Haddon) (12/05/21) ***1/2



I've been quite conflicted about this novel throughout reading it. In reality it is a retelling of mythology, as dreamscape/refuge of a modern character suffering abuse.

The story of abuse was unsettling, and I had the inner debates about the need to overturn taboo's, whilst feeling that what is some people's reality being used for entertainment. Of course, this is the case with many unsavoury things, war for example.

The abuse is mirrored in part of the mythology, yet that somehow felt less contentious. I then wondered it my feelings were affected by the fact that the story was being written by a man, but the mythologies previously had also.

I'm interested in thinking about my responses more, and may revisit this note again. I read this book for my real book group which meets the last Friday of the month.

102Caroline_McElwee
maj 12, 6:16pm

>100 BLBera: Thanks Beth. It was lovely both to be out in pleasant surroundings, catch up with a friend, and go into a real bookshop.

103jessibud2
maj 12, 6:35pm

>101 Caroline_McElwee: - Thanks for the heads-up on that book, Caroline. I will give it a pass, just not my thing. It does have a gorgeous cover, though!

104Helenliz
maj 13, 4:08am

>101 Caroline_McElwee: I read it last year and decided that it didn't work for me either. I rambled on for some good while to give it a "meh" rating.

105charl08
Redigeret: maj 13, 11:44am

>94 Caroline_McElwee: Wow, beautiful pictures Caroline. I want to visit the Physic garden.

I haven't picked up >101 Caroline_McElwee: for some reason, not sure why.

I am reading On Heaney a book I think you read a while back. I love the experience of reading these small books as well as the text itself. Knowing very little about Heaney, I also feel like I'm learning something.

106Caroline_McElwee
maj 13, 12:19pm

>103 jessibud2: Glad to have taken a hit for the team. There were bits that engaged, but for me it didn't work as a whole Shelley.

>104 Helenliz: Glad not to be on my own on that Helen.

>105 charl08: Yes, I loved On Heaney Charlotte. I also liked one about Auden, and one about Elizabeth Bishop, by the same publishers.

Chelsea Phys is a retreat in the big city.

107AlisonY
maj 13, 1:22pm

Catching up, Caroline. Loved the Physic Gardens photos! Maybe one day when COVID feels under controllable I'll come over for the next London LT meet up.

108Caroline_McElwee
maj 13, 1:59pm

>107 AlisonY: That would be great Alison.

109Caroline_McElwee
maj 14, 8:46pm

34. How to Live. What to do: In Search of Ourselves in Life and Literature (Josh Cohen) (14/05/21) ****1/2



Freudian psychoanalyst Josh Cohen takes us through the stages of human life and its complexities with both the composite stories of his patients, and the characters in well known fiction, including Clarissa Dalloway, John Ames, Alice, Jay Gatsby, Dorothea Brooke and many others.

A fascinating read, which gives some clarity both to common psychological experiences, and more depth and context to some of the characters cited. I will certainly revisit.

110BLBera
maj 15, 9:21am

>109 Caroline_McElwee: This one sounds interesting, Caroline.

111Caroline_McElwee
maj 15, 10:17am

>110 BLBera: I think it might hit the spot for you Beth.

112Caroline_McElwee
maj 15, 10:24am



Enjoyed 'The White Crow'. Biopic about Rudolph Nureyev's early life and defection in Paris in 1961.

Directed by Ralph Fiennes, in Russian/English and subtitles.

I took my mum to see him late in his career, in 'Manfred'. Of course he couldn't do the big jumps, but still had powerful charisma.

113AlisonY
maj 16, 1:03pm

>109 Caroline_McElwee: Ooh - sounds interesting. Noting that one.

114Caroline_McElwee
Redigeret: maj 16, 3:50pm

35. The Lamplighters (Emma Stonex) (16/05/21) ***1/2



Interesting debut novel about the mystery of what happened to three missing lighthouse men, and the impact on those left behind.

Some wonderfully crafted sentences, and descriptions.

I maybe was less enamoured than some, and I'm not sure why, but I will certainly look forward to reading what Stonex does next.

115Helenliz
Redigeret: maj 16, 3:55pm

>114 Caroline_McElwee: I've just started that one.

116BLBera
maj 16, 3:59pm

>114 Caroline_McElwee: Interesting comments, Caroline. I've not heard much about this one. Maybe I should wait for her next one?

117Caroline_McElwee
maj 16, 4:22pm

>115 Helenliz: I look forward to your thoughts Helen.

>116 BLBera: It might be that I started it, then left it for a few days to finish the non-fiction I was reading Beth, and that had an impact. Maybe see what other reviews say.

118NanaCC
maj 16, 6:27pm

I just did a bunch of catching up on your thread, Caroline. I don’t know what happened, but I’d lost your thread somehow. Lots of great reading and watching, as always.

119Caroline_McElwee
maj 17, 3:11am

>18 EBT1002: Good to see you peak round the door Colleen.

120charl08
maj 17, 3:21am

>114 Caroline_McElwee: Intrigued by this one.

I do like a lighthouse, but not sure I'd want to actually live on one. I've looked at some of the national trust places in the past for weekly rents. I love the idea but have questions about the isolation.

121Caroline_McElwee
Redigeret: maj 17, 3:48am

>120 charl08: I'm the same Charlotte. And I'm used to my own company, but being subject to the weather as to whether you could get off, for the sea based ones, nah.

This extraordinary movie doesn't lead me to change my mind either.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hyag7lR8CPA

122Sakerfalcon
Redigeret: maj 17, 9:46am

>94 Caroline_McElwee: So glad to see that you've returned to the Physic Garden! It is great to get out and about a bit more now. I had last week off work and, among other places, went to Brighton, Richmond Park and the Henry Moore studios and garden. The Studios weren't open of course but the gardens with many of Moore's sculptures perfectly positioned were wonderful.

And How to live, what to do looks excellent. Adding it to my wishlist.

123vivians
maj 17, 11:26am

>114 Caroline_McElwee: Totally agree on this one, Caroline. A good premise but it just didn't grab me. Hope you have more luck with the next one!

124Caroline_McElwee
maj 18, 12:47pm

Visiting my sister in Shropshire. Chelsea Garden, in Telford Park.

125Caroline_McElwee
maj 18, 12:48pm

>122 Sakerfalcon: It has been lovely to get back to Chelsea Phys Claire.

>123 vivians: It's funny when a book doesn't quite hit the mark Vivian.

126jessibud2
maj 18, 2:04pm

>124 Caroline_McElwee: - Wow, what a dream place that looks!

127NanaCC
maj 18, 2:29pm

>124 Caroline_McElwee: That looks like a lovely place to visit.

128FAMeulstee
maj 19, 4:04am

>124 Caroline_McElwee: Looks lovely, Caroline.
With the late spring this year the last trees are unfolding their leaves now.

129Caroline_McElwee
Redigeret: maj 19, 3:30pm



Ironbridge and environs.

The shop sign made me laugh, I was visualising four-legged pork pies!

130Caroline_McElwee
maj 19, 3:30pm

>126 jessibud2: >127 NanaCC: >128 FAMeulstee: Thanks ladies. It is a beautiful area, and lush with trees.

131charl08
maj 19, 4:52pm

>129 Caroline_McElwee: Very nice, Caroline.
I love the bright colours. My garden is still in the lush green phase: hoping for more flowers soon!

132mdoris
maj 20, 12:59am

Gorgeous pictures. Gardens are the best!

133ursula
maj 20, 4:46am

>129 Caroline_McElwee: Hand-raised pork pies! Free range?

That is a really silly mental image, I agree.

134Sakerfalcon
maj 20, 9:27am

I went to Ironbridge in 2019, it really is a lovely place. I hadn't known about the bookshop so that was a nice surprise too. You look to have had glorious weather; I hope it was as good as it looked.

135BLBera
maj 20, 10:03am

What lovely photos, Caroline. And how serendipitous! I am currently reading Penelope Lively's Life in the Garden. I thought it would be inspirational as I plan my garden.

136Caroline_McElwee
maj 20, 1:45pm

>131 charl08: Fingers x'd for more flowers Charlotte.

>132 mdoris: They are Mary. I love them more as I live in such an urban place and don't have my own.

>133 ursula: I love a silly mental images Ursula.

>134 Sakerfalcon: It has been gorgeous until today Claire. Heavy wind and rain stopped play, but I have enjoyed a day loafing indoors.

>135 BLBera: I dipped into that Beth, need to finish it. I'm an armchair gardener.

Hoping it is dry enough to make a quick visit to Much Wenlock tomorrow. Then get the train at 2pm Back to London.

137Caroline_McElwee
maj 22, 11:20am

36. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear (Elizabeth Gilbert) (21/05/21) ****1/2



I really enjoyed this book. Ultimately it offers tools to creatives to help them make more effective choices for their creative lives. Anyone on a creative path, starting out or further along the way, is likely to find something that will change how they approach their practice for the better.

If there was a slight irritation, it was that the occasional jokeyness could be a bit flippant.

138mdoris
maj 22, 7:20pm

>137 Caroline_McElwee: Hi Caroline, I read it a number of years ago and I thought it was good too!

139PaulCranswick
maj 22, 11:23pm

>124 Caroline_McElwee: & >129 Caroline_McElwee: Lovely photos, Caroline!

I am really missing the ability to travel.

140Berly
maj 22, 11:53pm

Wow! Those garden pictures are gorgeous! And Big Magic sounds very interesting. I enjoyed her Eat, Pray, Love. Happy weekend -- happy reading!

141Helenliz
maj 25, 3:22am

>114 Caroline_McElwee: I've finished The Lamplighters as well. I liked it, but I'm not going to rave about it. Not sure that the last maybe 50 pages quite satisfied the previous build up. I'm not sure it felt like the right answer to the problem. And I must have missed what happened to Sid.

142Caroline_McElwee
maj 29, 3:42pm

>138 mdoris: It was more insightful than I expected Mary.

>139 PaulCranswick: Thanks Paul. It was really lively to get out of London for the first time in 8 months.

>140 Berly: Thanks Kim. Good to see you peek round the door.

>141 Helenliz: I think it was good for a debut Helen, but feel over enthusiastic reviewers did it a disservice in raising readers hopes too high.

143Caroline_McElwee
Redigeret: maj 30, 4:20pm

37. The Vanishing Half (Brit Bennett) (28/05/21) *****



Light skinned identical twins, Desiree and Stella can't wait to leave the suffocating small town environment they were raised in, where lightness of skin is a premium. They escape and start a life together for a while, and then Stella disappears to pass as a white woman. Never quite believing her success.

Desiree marries a dark man, and has a dark child. The relationship is abusive, and she and her daughter return to where the twins were born.

Most of the second part of the novel focuses on the lives of the daughter of each twin, of secrets and lies, history and home.

I really loved this novel.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

144lauralkeet
maj 30, 7:26am

>143 Caroline_McElwee: 5 stars! I guess you did really love it. I thought it was excellent as well. Much food for thought. Have you read Nella Larson's Passing? I picked it up in a Kindle deal recently, but it keeps getting bumped by my library holds. I'll get to it soon though.

145charl08
maj 30, 7:37am

>143 Caroline_McElwee: I am wondering if this one will win the women's prize - seems like a very strong contender. I did not read The Mothers but am more tempted having enjoyed this one.

146Caroline_McElwee
Redigeret: maj 30, 7:59am

>144 lauralkeet: I read Passing some years ago Laura. I have a biography of Nella Larson on the shelf too.

>145 charl08: I just ordered The Mothers Charlotte.

I think The Vanishing Half has a good chance of winning The Women's Prize. I've read Piranesi which I liked, and have the Yaa Gyasi near the top of the tbr mountain.

147NanaCC
maj 30, 9:13am

>143 Caroline_McElwee: You’ve added this one to my wishlist.

148Caroline_McElwee
maj 30, 9:53am

>147 NanaCC: You won't regret it Colleen.

149Caroline_McElwee
Redigeret: maj 30, 4:16pm

38. A Well-Read Woman (Kate Stewart) (30/05/21) ****1/2



A fascinating biography of the life of Ruth Rappaport, born a Jew in Leipzig, left her country aged 15, ended up in the US working for 25+ years at the Library of Congress, arriving there via Switzerland, Israel, Okinawa, and Vietnam where she worked in military libraries for 9 years.

An extraordinary, often difficult, eccentric woman, but one who was committed to the power of the word.

150ursula
maj 31, 5:25am

>143 Caroline_McElwee: Glad you had such a positive experience with that one! I liked it as well, and found it left me thinking about some things.

151Caroline_McElwee
jun 1, 4:37pm

39. The Wild Silence (Raynor Winn) (01/06/21) ****



Continuing on from the memoir of The Salt Path, Raynor Winn tells you what happens next. Learning to trust again, coping with Moth's health, writing and having her book published, learning to live in one place. Finding that place. Then walking in Iceland.

Highly readable.

152FAMeulstee
jun 1, 5:32pm

>151 Caroline_McElwee: I am eagerly waiting for my turn on this book from the library, Caroline. I liked The Salt Path and want to know how Raynor and Moth went on.

153BLBera
jun 1, 8:39pm

I also loved The Vanishing Half, Caroline. A Well-Read Woman sounds like one I would like as well. I have The Salt Path on my shelves. I hope to get to it this summer. My summer reading list is getting alarmingly long.

154Sakerfalcon
jun 2, 6:59am

>143 Caroline_McElwee: I'm so glad you loved The vanishing half! I thought it was a great book and especially appreciated that it didn't try to offer facile solutions to the problems raised.

155jessibud2
Redigeret: jun 2, 7:15am

I have The Vanishing Half waiting patiently on my shelf. I am making headway in dwindling down the library holds that have been flooding in so I hope to get to it in the not-too-distant future. Glad to hear that it's living up to the hype.

156Caroline_McElwee
jun 2, 5:06pm

>152 FAMeulstee: It's a good read Anita. I like her voice.

>153 BLBera: Those seasonal lists Beth...

>154 Sakerfalcon: I agree Claire. I noticed one LT review listed about eight things she felt had been not addressed, and while I could see what she meant with one or two, it didn't feel incomplete. Besides, maybe there is material for a follow-up.

>155 jessibud2: You won't be disappointed Shelley.

157ursula
jun 2, 11:46pm

I think it's interesting how there seems to be a divide between readers who want everything addressed by the end of a book, and readers who don't mind some open-endedness. I know it's not quite that simplistic, that how a writer handles it can have a lot to do with it, but I see readers who have issues with any thread at all in a book not being wrapped up.

I didn't feel like there was any incompleteness in The Vanishing Half either.

158AlisonY
jun 3, 5:52am

>151 Caroline_McElwee: Great to read a first review of this. I really enjoyed The Salt Path, probably so much so that I can't decide if reading this follow up will put me into 'enough now' mode with her story. You sell it well, though.

159msf59
jun 3, 8:12am

Sweet Thursday, Caroline. I also really enjoyed The Vanishing Half. The Salt Path also sounds good. I love that cover.

160Caroline_McElwee
jun 3, 10:10am

>158 AlisonY: There is a little repetition Alison, but I decided I'd go for another if it ran to a trilogy.

>159 msf59: Raynor Winn's books are that conundrum of being quite gentle, while describing tough times Mark. They are quite thoughtful.

161PaulCranswick
jun 6, 6:41am

I have the first book by Raynor Winn on my shelves and will look to get that one too . Great covers aren't they?

162Caroline_McElwee
Redigeret: jun 6, 12:54pm

>161 PaulCranswick: They are great covers Paul.

Did you see Jeanette Winterson burned some of the latest edition of her books as she hated the saccharine blurbs!

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2021/jun/04/jeanette-winterson-burns-her-own-b...

163PaulCranswick
jun 6, 2:30pm

>162 Caroline_McElwee: Wouldn't you have thought that they would consult the author when issuing new editions of books, especially one as groundbreaking as Winterson. Still I don't really own with burning them.

164Caroline_McElwee
jun 6, 4:07pm

>163 PaulCranswick: Exactly what I thought Paul. How that could have got anywhere near being printed without the say so of the author. I'm wondering if they are just the proof/press copies. I agree that after historic book burnings, I'd have preferred she had found another way.

165Caroline_McElwee
Redigeret: jun 6, 4:43pm

40. The Guest Book (Sarah Blake) (05/06/21) *****



A wonderfully crafted dynastic saga of an American family and its entitlement and secrets. I fell deeply into the lives of three generations of the Milton family, whose secrets eventually start bubbling to the surface and raise complicated moral questions.

Of course I knew when I read the epigraphs by James Baldwin and Virginia Woolf at the beginning, there was little chance I would not like this novel. There were whispers from both, as well as Fitzgerald in this novel. Blake was a new writer to me, and I'm looking forward to reading more.

***

I was curious to note that this novel split readers so much. Of 37 reviews: 5x5*/11x4*/6x3*/13x2* and the rest didn't star rate. I only looked at the 2* reviews as they were so far from mine, but most complained of slowness (I read it in great chunks and couldn't get back to it quick enough), the number of characters (yup, including two that shared a name, but one was abbreviated so you knew which generation you were in), shifting between three era's (yup), poetic writing (yup, for me that earned the 5th star). I don't normally look in detail at reviews and ratings when I finish a book, but this one made me interested in why they varied so much.

166Sakerfalcon
jun 7, 11:10am

>165 Caroline_McElwee: Ooh, I have this! I had moved it down the TBR when I saw the mixed reviews but seeing that you loved it I will move it back up again!

167Caroline_McElwee
jun 7, 1:07pm

>166 Sakerfalcon: I'm sure it will be more than a 2* read for you Claire.

168SandDune
jun 11, 3:50am

I’m another one who loved The Salt Path and have been wondering if the new book will live up to the first. I will get around to it now I think.

169msf59
jun 11, 7:07am

Happy Friday, Caroline. Good review of The Guest Book. I saw the mixed reviews and passed it by. It is back on the radar.

On the poetry front, I highly recommend Habitat Threshold. I hope you can track it down.

170PaulCranswick
jun 11, 10:05am

>165 Caroline_McElwee: Isn't that funny? I would back your judgement Caroline - I don't recall you giving out 5 stars and my rating it below a four.

I do like to read the reviews in the work page of a book but only after I have read the book myself as it would tend towards pre-judgement.

171Caroline_McElwee
Redigeret: jun 15, 5:59am

>168 SandDune: I'm sure you will like the new one Rhian. I like her voice.

>169 msf59: Thanks for the poetry recommendation Mark. ETA: Landing on the mat today.

>170 PaulCranswick: I maybe give half a dozen 5*s a year Paul. Resting more on 4.5 for really good reads. How the reading experience felt for me nudges that extra half star. If I was constantly drawn back, if I wanted to know more of a character's story, or if the plot was especially interesting or challenging perhaps. And of course, fine writing.

172Caroline_McElwee
Redigeret: jun 11, 4:48pm

41. The Liar's Dictionary (Eley Williams) (10/06/21) ***1/2



Two quirky stories touch across time at Swansby’s Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Victorian lexicographer Peter Winchworth, who is the butt of his colleagues humour, and who secretes made-up words into the dictionary; and in the present day Mallory, who is updating the dictionary and also given the task of finding Winchworth's mischief. Other stories in each era abound. And of course, much word play.

173Caroline_McElwee
Redigeret: jun 11, 4:04pm



I went to see 'The Father' this afternoon. Heartbreaking, but a very fine, disturbing film, giving you a sense of what it might feel like to be suffering from dementia. You never truly know what is actual, or what is only in Anthonys head. While at the same time you see the impact of the illness on loved ones. Superb performances. Hopkins' Oscar really deserved.

Highly recommended, but not a comfortable watch.

174Caroline_McElwee
Redigeret: jun 14, 6:37pm

42. Fully Human (Steve Biddulph) (13/06/21) ***1/2



I'm always interested in finding new tools to help me grow. Psychologist Steve Biddulph focuses on what he describes as the four story mansion. From the ground floor up: body, feeling/emotion, intellect, spirituality (in all its various forms). He perceives a super-sense, when people manage to bring all floors into play, but through his work has seen that his patients especially, but people in general, can get stuck on one or two floors, and need to expand their reach to heighten their super-sense.

There is also a fair bit of thought about mindfulness, which can help achieve this.

On some levels, there isn't much I haven't seen elsewhere, but found it useful to be packaged slightly differently, and be reminded of things I have sometimes set aside to work with other tools.

It lost half a star as I found his voice in the early chapters a bit annoying, but once he got into his stride I enjoyed it more.

175BLBera
jun 15, 10:09am

Hi Caroline - The Guest Book sounds like one I would like, interesting that reviews are so varied.

I also liked The Liar's Dictionary.