Tuesday, March 5, 2013

C is for Clarke...

Dear Readers of my blog,

When I read The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories by Susanna Clarke,
I discovered that the book seemed quite full of magical, fantastical stories such as I found in my youth. It further occurred to me that there was a richness to owning books such as this, a treasure trove of endless adventure and pungently, pleasing characters to be had at the mere cracking open of a book! What some may find tedious reading (half Dickens/half Austen styling) when read at twenty-one, I loved at fort ...er forty-ish. I suppose age does hone the reading palate and one is able to taste the different flavors that spice a novel. 

So, as I place Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on my knee the smells of Spain waft up to my nostrils. Shew me a setting in a novel and I will shew you an author who mayst spent time there. Such is the case with the authoress of whom we speak. Whilst teaching in the Basque town of Bilbao, she received the inspiration for this weighty novel. Of course, you say, the entire novel is not set in Spain and you are correct, but the beautiful Basque Bilbao lent its good influence in allowing a lengthy portion to be gloriously remembered. That said Basque inspiration brought illumination to our beloved authoress one lovely morning and set her on a journey of ten years of dedicated writing and rewriting. Alas, that we may all have a Bilbao in our lives...

Dear reader, have the rumblings and rumors of a new volume come to your ear? Tidings of a new book set two years after Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell's adventures and involving  more common characters practicing magic. Have you heard such talk?

Even more fantastic, news that an amazing feat of technology,  a 'moving picture' promises to be launched across our good land projecting the likeness of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell on shining blue boxes in the homes or our good British citizens?

And now my good friends, I must end this epistle and wish you all your own Bilbao of inspiration, now and always,

She, the Bloggess

My review of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
My review of Ladies of Grace Adieu

                                                        Bilbao, Spain. Does this inspire you?

                                                                    How about this?
                                                                      Hey,I'm inspired!

The Year I Read Whatever I Want

If the Chinese can name their years, than I can name mine. 2013 is the Year of the Snake in China, its The Year I Read Whatever I Want for me.

In the past I have been involved in so many challenges, online discussion groups and contests that the books I truly wanted to read got pushed aside. This is not bashing challenges and contests by any means, I love them and have created a few myself, but simply a statement as to how much of my precious reading time they take up. Beginning this year, I found time to fit in a Faulkner, who was on my must-read-someday list. I've also picked up books from a few contemporary authors who are popular that I've never read before such as Alice Munro, Alice Hoffman, Louise Erdrich , Mary Oliver and Louis de Berneirs. A few of the old standbys make the list, too. Stegner, Steinbeck and whatever I haven't read written by Melanie Benjamin, Malcolm Gladwell and Susannah Clarke.

Just to make it a little more fun, I will be posting entries as I work down a reading alphabet. My rules for what qualifies for the alphabet are very loose so my new found reading freedom is not offset. The qualifying books must have either a first or last name of the chosen letter of the alphabet, the title must begin with the letter or the book must be set in a country beginning with the select letter. A similar challenge is taking place right now at one of the groups that I co-moderate, You'll Love This One. Check it out, if that type of challenge intrigues you.

Happy Reading to all! (I know I will be.)