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Reading Life: 24th November 2017

A promotional photograph for the 1953 film Roman Holiday

Reading has slowed down a bit as the preparations for Christmas have started but over all I’ve been reading quite a lot. I haven’t yet started the Young Writer books I took home from the event but once I’ve finished the book I’m currently reading it’ll be all systems go. Despite the looming award announcement date and the fact that before then there are a few things to be done, not least getting the decorations ready, I hope to have read a good amount of them, with ‘amount’ being the word rather than ‘number’ – I may well read a couple in tandem.

I also have Tony Peake’s North Facing still to read. I’m a bit late on the review for that one but I’m planning it for December.

At the moment I’m concentrating of J Courtney Sullivan’s The Engagements; a good book if a bit too descriptive – lots of extraneous back story which explains why the book is over 500 pages. I have been wanting to read the author’s début, Maine, since its release date a few years ago but it’s proved difficult to find; the one and only time I found a copy it was very battered and whilst I did want to read it I didn’t want to pay full price. I liken the situation to that of Maile Meloy – they are likely different subjects and stories but the covers, at least in the US, are similar and both authors’ works are ridiculously difficult to find in Britain a month or so after publication. I do reckon I would prefer Maine but the one I’m reading is a fair enough substitute.

I’m holding off on the new Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen translation (Secret Passages In A Hillside Town) because a few pages in I recognised it as prime ‘certain mood/situation’ material. I very much want to read it and the few pages I read suggested it’ll be just as good as The Rabbit Back Literature Society but I want to be giving it all my attention.

I decided to start Mrs Dalloway but found it quite confusing; I’m not sure whether it’s a case of it being the wrong time or whether it needs longer or it’s just something that won’t work for me but as I was already reading it earlier than planned I’ve put it back on the December reading list. I was having trouble working out the time period and Clarissa’s age – had to resort to Wikipedia – and I knew carrying on at that point might make me uninterested. Perhaps it’s just not the right Woolf for me to be starting with.

Talking of a few pages, I’ve a mind to start ‘letting’ myself browse before committing to a read. I’ve always thought – at least in terms of my own reading – that reading a few pages to decide what to read next is unproductive, but I know it will help me to read the right book at the right time.

Something I can’t not talk about that isn’t book related – a couple of days ago I saw Roman Holiday for the first time. I’m going through an Audrey Hepburn film phase rather like my Marilyn Monroe phase a few years ago, and have got a box set of films. Well, I absolutely loved it and found it to be one of those media items that’s in a league of its own, akin to that idea that a book can be absolutely stellar but then there’s a category beyond that for which there are no words. I liked that the plot wasn’t bog standard and deviated a bit from the stereotypical royal-gets-away-and-or-meets-a-member-of-the-public theme and the ending was incredibly clever. Next up is a re-watch of Breakfast At Tiffanys; can’t wait, though in literal terms I’ll have to.

A question about Mrs Dalloway, then:

Does the story come into its own pretty quickly, and did you find yourself confused in the way I did? (If you can answer without spoilers, that’d be great.)

 
 

Jeanne

November 24, 2017, 1:54 pm

I think most people need a while to find their way through Mrs. Dalloway. If you can relax and resist the need to try to understand everything that’s happening, it will gradually come into focus, and then it’s brilliant.

jessicabookworm

November 27, 2017, 5:55 pm

I’m afraid I haven’t read Mrs Dalloway so sadly can’t help you, but I have seen Roman Holiday and thought it was utterly delightful! Happy reading and good luck with the Young Writer books :-)

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