Friday, October 21, 2011

Rip Van Winkle

While Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving is a short story, I have an illustrated edition with the art of Arthur Rackham. The story had come up in several other books I have read here and it was time to finally read it. The story itself is mysterious and fanciful and seems to point towards Rip's good karma amongst his neighbors releasing him from the iron rule of his wife, Dame Van Winkle, with a twenty year nap in the woods. I seem to have a misguided memory of this tale and Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow being shown together on TV one Saturday afternoon near Halloween some time before 1975, but I cannot identify the Rip Van Winkle portion of this memory. The Sleepy Hollow cartoon is Disney's, narrated by Bing Crosby. To this day it still spooks me.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Very Thought of You

Finished The Very Thought of You by Rosie Alison. Set in England, mostly around World War II, it is the story of Ann Sands, a young girl who is evacuated with other children from London to a large estate in Yorkshire. Things seem strange to Anna at first, but after time she grows to love her life there. The couple hosting the evacuees have been married for ten years and are still childless. The disintegration of the couple's relationship becomes a catalyst for tragic events that shape Anna's future. This book reminded me a lot of L. P. Hartley's The Go-Between and Ian McEwan's Atonement. There is deep sadness in this book, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Brave New World

Finished Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, originally published in 1932. I read 1984 in high school, and We by Eugene Zamiatin in grad school, but somehow was not required to read Huxley's dystopic novel. At various turns I was reminded of Wells' The Time Machine and the television series, The Prisoner. References to the works of William Shakespeare and Henry Ford added brilliance to the obvious cleverness of the book. I enjoyed it much more than I expected to. Again, I think this is the type of book which is fed to high schoolers before they are mature enough to truly grasp it's implications. I'm glad I read it for the first time while in my forties.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Murder at the Vicarage

Finished Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie. This is the first novel in her Miss Marple series. Miss Marple seems like such a minor, secondary character, that an uninformed reader might be surprised to learn that a whole series is based around her. There is a lot of eye rolling by the police and others about busybody old ladies, but Miss Marple out-thinks them all. This book is full of English village life and plenty of surprising twists. I love a good cozy.