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What I've Just Finished Reading:

Nothing! Except that osprey_archer asked about it, so I ended up reading all of Kilmeny of the Orchard. It's an odd book and I think most L. M. Montgomery fans (including me) find it unappealing. The POV character is a smug male schoolteacher from the mainland, and the "heroine" is his dream-girl -- "perfectly" beautiful, eerily young, intelligent without confidence, mute until love and fear compel her to speak. It's interesting as an example of early 20th-century magazine fiction and the sort of thing Anne's Story Club might have written, but deeply disappointing if you're hoping for more of the L.M.M. formula.

What I'm Reading Now

I've started a whole mess of things at once, including The Group by Mary McCarthy (excellent so far) and The Golden Road, which was my least favorite non-Kilmeny L.M.M. novel for a while. It also has a smug male POV guy, but he's so much more likable than Kilmeny's Eric that I can't hold it against him.

No Place Like Home: Diaries and Letters of Nova Scotia Women 1771-1938 is a book I've had for a while now, but have never read straight through. I read the first diary in the collection -- a delightful, funny twelve-year-old -- and then read in the afterword that she died at nineteen.

Titus Groan is beautifully strange and crowded and pungent. In its crowdedness it reminds me a little of The Once and Future King, though the tone is pretty different -- earthier and more tangled, maybe? We've just learned that the new heir to all this crumbling medieval mummery, who has just been born, is both UNUSUALLY HIDEOUS and has OMINOUS VIOLET EYES. What can it mean? Trouble, I suspect.

What I Plan to Read Next

I always predict wrong, so I'm not going to predict this time. Except for Yuletide research/review stuff; that's guaranteed.

Comments

( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
scripsi
Nov. 4th, 2015 09:34 pm (UTC)
We are at the same page in Titus Groan then- I just finished with THE VIOLET EYES! :D The language is beautiful and rather strange and not really made for binge reading, I think. :)
evelyn_b
Nov. 5th, 2015 02:53 pm (UTC)
:D

It has been unexpectedly slow going for me -- probably a combination of distraction in my RL and the language being all dense and strange. I do love it so far, though. For some reason, I had expected it to be more gothic and gloomy, less entertainingly weird.
scripsi
Nov. 6th, 2015 02:42 pm (UTC)
It's very weird! While reading I remember that I found Everything much to unrealistic when I read it as a kid. I was a very practical kid and I found the whole idea of this closed off castle too unreal. Now I seem to be able to grasp it as an allergory. So far no one has been likeable, though- I wonder if anyone will. :)
evelyn_b
Nov. 6th, 2015 04:13 pm (UTC)
So far no one has been likeable, though- I wonder if anyone will. :)

I don't know, I kind of hope not! That would destroy the Unity of Repulsiveness. We'll see! I kind of like the violet-eyed heir's weird-ass sister, Fuchsia, though, from what little I've seen so far.

I feel like I would have eaten up the closed castle thing, and all the creepy details, when I was a kid, though I have a long history of allegories going straight over my head.
scripsi
Nov. 6th, 2015 05:37 pm (UTC)
I don't know, I kind of hope not! That would destroy the Unity of Repulsiveness. We'll see! I kind of like the violet-eyed heir's weird-ass sister, Fuchsia, though, from what little I've seen so far.

I don't neccesarily need it- I'm just curious. Though the glimpse of Fuchsia seems more normaly teenage angsty.

I feel like I would have eaten up the closed castle thing, and all the creepy details, when I was a kid, though I have a long history of allegories going straight over my head.

I was the kind of kid who Always wondered how the plumbing worked, where they would get their food from and what about bathrooms! :D
osprey_archer
Nov. 5th, 2015 01:55 am (UTC)
I have long meant to read something by Mary McCarthy, mostly because she was BFFs with Hannah Arendt. I tried to read The Stones of Florence but bombed out of it, so I will look forward to more of your thoughts about The Group. Perhaps it could be my entree to McCarthy.
evelyn_b
Nov. 5th, 2015 02:55 pm (UTC)
There's no saying I won't bomb out of The Group myself -- it's only about page 10 and anything could happen! but so far it is Vassar graduates being bitchily magnanimous about each other and has everything to recommend it.
newmoonstar
Nov. 5th, 2015 04:47 am (UTC)
Kilmeny of the Orchard is definitely very unlike most of L.M. Montgomery's other stuff, and the only book of hers I've so far read that I flat-out disliked. One could tell it was more of a 'lets churn out a conventional romance for some quick money' type of project for her than her other books.

The Golden Road I did come to like though. The Story Girl and The Golden Road were the first of her books I'd ever read because I was in my 'Road to Avonlea' days & wanted to read the novels it had been based on. I didn't quite like it at first, because it's very different from the TV show, and it was a bit strange to encounter what felt like AU versions of the story & characters I knew, but Maud Montgomery's writing itself was so powerful it sort of seeped into my soul & made me like it in spite of all that. By 'The Golden Road' I was utterly hooked, despite the sad bits. (But I can never quite forgive her for her habit of telling us characters are going to die years before it actually happens- don't break our hearts till you have too! But at least with Golden Road we had the Avonlea TV series as our happy fix-it. Someday I should watch it again...)
evelyn_b
Nov. 5th, 2015 03:36 pm (UTC)
Poor old Kilmeny. It's not one for the ages, that's for sure.

I'm liking The Golden Road a little more this time around. Grown-up Beverly seems less intrusive than I remembered him, and I'm finding that I really love Felicity. She's the perfect no-nonsense PEI housewife in embryo. She ought to be apprenticed to Rachel Lynde.

Unfortunately, [Spoilers for The Golden Road!]the DEATH WATCH COUNTDOWN is even more heavy-handed than I remembered :( (Spoiler redacted because someone in my friends list will be reading TGR for the first time). The death hints start on Page One! It's one of the problems with Future Beverly as narrator, I think: if he's telling us this story from fifteen years in the future, or however long it's been, then why would he keep [spoiler]'s death from us? It makes sense for the narrator we're given but I don't like it as much.

I never did watch Road to Avonlea as a child because I found it too confusing -- why were the Kings living in Avonlea? Sara Stanley is not blonde! other stuff I can't remember now -- but if it contains fix-it elements, it might be worth looking into.
lost_spook
Nov. 5th, 2015 09:06 am (UTC)
UNUSUALLY HIDEOUS and has OMINOUS VIOLET EYES. What can it mean? Trouble, I suspect.

Josephine Tey would not be surprised, I'd imagine.

(Beyond that I can only say that I think I may have some vague memory of reading Kilmeny long ago and finding it disappointing and then moving on and forgetting it. But I don't know.)
evelyn_b
Nov. 5th, 2015 03:52 pm (UTC)
If you are going to forget a book, Kilmeny is a good choice for your brain. The only drawback is, you might accidentally read it again. But it's so slight that even that is no disaster.

What would Alan Grant make of violet eyes? The subject has never come up. Probably they are just being violet to annoy people and stir up needless trouble, like those dreadful miners and those tedious Indian Independence chaps and other malcontents who resent the English for their superior taste in decorating and sherry. Face science never lies! This freaky-eyed baby is going to be the downfall of the house of Groan, and it's probably all Labour's fault somehow.

(Alan Grant is not likely to show up in Titus Groan, but if a local magician or someone shows up to face-read the baby's fortune, I will be delighted).
lost_spook
Nov. 5th, 2015 05:09 pm (UTC)
Alan Grant is not likely to show up in Titus Groan, but if a local magician or someone shows up to face-read the baby's fortune, I will be delighted

:lol:

And I'm sure your helpful reminder here will prevent me from re-reading Kilmeny by accident any time soon. I am pretty sure now that I have read it, actually.
scripsi
Nov. 6th, 2015 02:47 pm (UTC)
I was very entertained when I read The Franchise Affair and a certain eye colour was attibuted nymphomaniacs. My husband has that eye colour... Going off in a tangent here, but I always find Tey a contradiction to read. She can come with a sharp analysis on the personalities behind poison pen letters at the same time as she attributes a certain personality to how a person look.
evelyn_b
Nov. 6th, 2015 05:35 pm (UTC)
It's also my eye color! >:D

Tey is very odd to me. She's an excellent writer, but I find some of her prejudices harder to take in stride than those of her contemporaries, even when they aren't actually worse, and I'm not completely sure why.

Her books range all over the place: The Franchise Affair is worm-eaten with pointless cruelty and resentment, but To Love and Be Wise has the most forgiving ending I've ever seen in a mystery novel. And in The Man in the Queue, she seems to be making fun of her own face-science and xenophobia, except that it was written before all the others.

Anyway, I don't have a lot of coherent thoughts about Tey, but I do have a lot of jokes about face detection. :p
scripsi
Nov. 6th, 2015 05:48 pm (UTC)
Tey is very odd to me. She's an excellent writer, but I find some of her prejudices harder to take in stride than those of her contemporaries, even when they aren't actually worse, and I'm not completely sure why.

I feel the same way. Perhaps because she is so uneven, even within the same book? I'm not as well-read when it omces to Classic crime novels as you are, but Christie's prejudice are scablons and so are most of her character's, period. And it's quite rare that the murdered is anyone else than an Englsihman. And Sayer's usually let her character's voice prejudices, but lets the narrative show something else. Like in Whose Body?" where several people say less than nice things about jews, but the narrative tells you that Levy, even if he is a ruthless businessman, is kind and generous and capable of long and loving relationships, which is in stark contrast with the murderer.
raktajinos
Nov. 5th, 2015 11:01 pm (UTC)
I've never enjoyed Kilmeny....haven't read it since I was like 14. Only read it once lol. I run in LMM academic circles on occasion so shhhh, but I don't always like LMM's non series books*. For a woman who was *so* into self-editing and meta reflection, I'm sometimes shocked at the stories she published. They do feel like they were supposed to be stories Anne would have written as a young, silly child with her ridiculous notions of "romance". So there's an inherent ridiculousness to them. We're supposed to laugh at Averil's Ideal...but *like* Kilmeny. It's a very jarring.

*exceptions: Jane of Lantern Hill. I do adore that. And I hate Rainbow Valley :P.

Also, are you Canadian btw? The LMM and the Diaries book..
evelyn_b
Nov. 5th, 2015 11:56 pm (UTC)
I'm not Canadian! I'm a Yank who loves LMM and acquired a lot of Atlantic Canadian life-writing stuff a while ago (for fanfiction purposes). I did grow up within a few miles of the Canadian border -- even though that doesn't count at all.

"[Kilmeny] is a love story with a psychological interest -- very different from my other books and so a rather doubtful experiment with a public who expect a certain style from an author and rather resents having anything else offered it." I get the impression that Montgomery liked writing this kind of story, at least some of the time, even though she also made fun of it, and was considerably better at making fun of the sentimental stuff than she was at actually pulling it off most of the time.

Sometimes I want to be a little more sympathetic to Kilmeny than I am. It's in an odd limbo between straightforward fantasy/fairy tale and the realistic comedy of Anne. I don't like it particularly as an idea, but I wonder if it might have worked a little better if Montgomery had abandoned the PEI setting and the "visiting schoolteacher" frame story and just thrown her lot in more decisively with fantasy. It might just be fundamentally impossible to be a curse-stricken mute lily-maid in Rachel Lynde's country. As Mr. Carpenter would say years later, "Nobody with any real sense of humour can write a love story." Untrue in general, but maybe relevant to this case.

I haven't read Rainbow Valley in ages. I feel like I probably dislike Anne of Ingleside a little more, but. . . time for a re-read, I guess!

I've never been able to get into A Tangled Web, but I loved Jane the last time I read it (too long ago, again), and I love The Blue Castle (which is a successful marriage of comedy and fantasy, imo).

What are LMM academic circles like? I went to the LMM International Conference once, but spent most of my time there exploring the Island/being swarmed by black flies/unsuccessfully trying to re-create this one photo of LMM on the beach, and did not see much of the program.
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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