Saturday, 28 July 2012

The Classics Club: The Scarlet Letter

It was with a little apprehension that I started reading The Scarlet Letter by N. Hawthorne. I have to admit that reading about a situation where a woman is judged by people men whose only interest is to suppress any individual right we know now as self-evident, is not my cup of tea.  I know what women and specific social groups had to go through in those days, and I'm glad some of them persevered to allow evolution to take place so that we can now enjoy our "freedoms", but still I'd rather read non-fiction articles that will have no emotion than literature...  Anyway, back to the book:

Monday, 23 July 2012

Murder runs in the family

When I first heard about Murder runs in the family by Anne George, I could well imagine the background:  somewhere in the South, a couple of Miss Marples investigate a little crime.  While the story is indeed set in the South, nothing else was as I expected - in a good way.

The story unfolds in Alabama, a place that tends to be misunderstood (speaking from a European perspective). Still, I can easily relate to it being Mediterranean: people are often thought of being slow, laid-back, lazy, but also family-oriented (this last being true).

Thursday, 19 July 2012

The Classics Club: Ten Days in a Mad-House

(photo credit)
Ten days in a Mad-House by Nellie Bly, may not be your average work of classic litetrature - it is actually non-fiction.  I include it, however, in the Classics Club, because of the tremendous impact it had on people - just like some of the world-renowned works of literature ...

This has been a revelation to me, in more ways than one: a woman reporter, in Victorian time, decides to commit herself in an asylum in order to reveal the way these institutions worked.  Her courageous work resulted in an official investigation taking place and a USD 1 million funding to be allocated to the improvement of these services.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

The Classics Club: Le tour du monde en 80 jours (Around the world in 80 days)

What good memories I have from the original film of "Around the world in 80 days" by Jules Verne... All the colours, the sites, the excitement, the adventure! Both as a teenager and as an adult, I've thoroughly enjoyed the whirlwind travel of Fogg and Passepartout...

For my Classics Club, I wanted to read the book as well, to see how Verne had interpreted all these elements in writing.  Also, because I've read other books of his that tend to be futuristic, I was curious to see how he would tackle a non-futuristic subject...

We enter in the life of Phileas Fogg, an Englishman whose daily routine must not be varied:

Monday, 9 July 2012

The Classics Club: Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984)

I first read 1984 by George Orwell in 1984, and, while the whole story was depressing and scary, it was evident that it was a work of fiction, in a futuristic setting, far, far away in another galaxy ...
Fast forward today, or actually about 10 years ago, when the whole craze of the "Big Brother" reality series started.  Never could I have imagined that the words of caution in the book would be misinterpreted and actually turned against fellow humans and seduce all of us into a voyeurism without precedent... 

This was a totally different way of reading... I found I had to stop several times because the plot was becoming so heavy, I felt I was getting out of breath.  I had to recollect my thoughts and analyse bits before I could proceed to the next part.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Weekend cooking: Lemon drizzle cake

I enjoy cooking very much when everyone else asleep is.  Early in the morning, when not even the birds have started their daily chirping, when all is quiet, there is nothing better for me than to whip up a nice, easy ... cake!
Baking usually entails the use of an electric mixer, but at 4 o'clock in the morning, that would be disastrous.  I used a wooden spoon to mix ingredients, and a hand whisker to beat, and it turned out that not only did I enjoy it (silence continued), but also that the end result just as fluffy was as with electricity...

I had been wanting to make a cake for quite some time now, what with the weather being more autumnal than summery... I came across Mary McCartney's Food, a book celebrating vegetarian home cooking through an insert in a magazine.  Mary is the daughter of Paul but also of Linda McCartney, one of the pioneers in vegetarian cooking.  And while I'm not usually impressed by famous people who have the urge to show they can cook as well, I really did like the recipes, in my quest for more meat-free variety in the meals I prepare.

This lemon drizzle cake was turned into muffins when I realised that the loaf tin way high up was and that I, not fully awake at that time, would be in great risk if I stepped on a ladder... Cake or muffins, though, they filled the house with a wonderful fragrance while they baked (and, later on, the tummies with a delectable lemony-syrupy warmth...)

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

My progress so far

It's been now 7 months of blogging... and I'm enjoying myself immensely!  I've discovered a whole new world of interest and as I'm organising my reading, I find that I end up reading even more than I schedule - Great!  I've progressed enough in my original challenges, but I've also found new challenges to keep me company.  

The reason I'm still thrilled with challenges, is because I step outside my comfort zone and try either new genres or new writers that I had not heard before.  Of course, I may not actually like what I'll read, but more often than not it will the case of a little gem that will open yet another door for me!  Still, I have to stress that I'm not bound by the challenges - if I don't feel like reading books from a challenge within the deadline, I simply will not...

Monday, 2 July 2012

The Classics Club: The Lifted Veil

After having read many of the more known works of George Eliot, I felt it was time to read her lesser known ones as well.  For my Classics Club, then, I wanted to read The Lifted Veil, and see how it compared to the other works.

I was surprised, to say the least. This is a story of Latimer, who has the unusual gift (curse?) of foreseeing the future as well as "eavesdropping" on other people's thoughts.  The story borders on science fiction, and it was not how I came to know and regard Eliot's style.

This change is style was what probably took me aback.  I could imagine suspense and a lot of tension in such a tale, especially given the circumstances of Latimer's life.  But what I found instead, were long paragraphs full of adjectives and descriptions - that would be perfect for one of Eliot's usual works - but which took all the interest away from the core story of the Lifted Veil.



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