Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Custom of the Country

Finished The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton. What a selfish cow Undine Spragg is. And oh the irony.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Betsy Was a Junior

Finished Betsy Was a Junior by Maud Hart Lovelace. This is the seventh book in her Betsy-Tacy series. Betsy and Tacy are now juniors at Deep Valley High School. Their old friend Tib has moved back from Milwaukee and the three begin a somewhat foolish year reunited. Betsy learns a number of lessons about growing up and it's responsibilities. In mimicking her older sister Julia, who has begun college, Betsy and her friends decide to form a sorority. Boys from "The Crowd" follow suit and form their own fraternity. These lead to resentment and exclusion that cause hurt feelings and lost opportunities. Happily, Betsy and her friends realize this during their second semester and disband their Greek Societies.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Bitter is the New Black

Finished Bitter is the New Black: Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smartass, Or, Why You Should Never Carry a Prada Bag to the Unemployment Office by Jen Lancaster. Not my usual cup of tea reading-wise, but very entertaining. This is a cautionary tale of a successful young woman whose life changes drastically after she is laid off. For those who think they are indispensable in the work place and that "it cold never happen to me," think again. While her situation becomes more and more dire, Lancaster approaches the challenges with determination, creativity and tremendous humor. I really enjoyed this book.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Our Mutual Friend

Finished Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens. I really enjoyed this book. There is the usual unwieldy cast of characters, including several villains and more than one hero. As always, one character in particular captured my fancy. This time it was Jenny Wren.

Jenny is crippled with a bad back. Like a wren she is quite small. She seems very bird-like to me. According to Wikipedia, "Most wrens are small and rather inconspicuous, except for their loud and often complex songs." Jenny is very sharp and observant. She tells of dreams and visions of long rows of children in white coming to comfort her in her pain. She works as a doll's dressmaker, hobbling about town with her crutch, observing ladies' fashions and taking the images home to recreate for her inanimate clients.

Jenny is a deeply loyal person. She discovers Fledgeby's villainy towards her friends Lizzie and Mr. Riah. After he has been flogged by an associate, Jenny endeavors to give him the assistance he requests. He asks her to soak strips of brown paper in vinegar and plaster them to his smarting back. She feels he would benefit from additional punishment and so sprinkles the plasters with pepper before applying them. Later, when she realizes just how evil he is, she wishes in retrospect that she had used cayenne instead of black pepper.

Paul McCartney wrote a song about Jenny Wren for his 2005 album Caos and Creation in the Back Yard.