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Wednesday Gardens Enclosed

What I've Just Finished Reading

The Golden Road is so much better than I remembered, though none of the humor is as laugh-out-loud funny as it was when I was ten, and Smug Middle-Aged Beverly is still a little intrusive. I wish the shadow of death had been handled a little differently -- I don't object to its presence; it would have been too unrealistic to set a book in 19th-century Canada and not have anyone die young. But there are some Marked For Death clichés that I'd rather see averted than not.

The characters are great, though, and I think I appreciate the structure a little better than I did. The Golden Road and The Story Girl have a stronger focus on "ordinary" characters and their interactions than a lot of other Montgomery novels. The outsider perspective on the Story Girl makes it easier to appreciate her as a member of the family, and the rest of the group on their own terms

Felicity is, as I've said, my favorite: vain, stubbornly conventional, beautifully competent, unimaginative and hard-headed but not malicious. She'll bake the best pies in four provinces and rule the Missions Society with an iron hand. I love how easy it is to see the King family and their friends as adults in a future L. M. Montgomery novel. And while I'm normally not a fan of LMM's childhood-sweetheart romances, I am 100% rooting for Peter to realize his dream of becoming Mr. Felicity Craig.

What I'm Reading Now

“I know she'll hate him. She likes to be the only one, you know. She likes to dream that she's the Queen and that when the rest are dead there'll be no one who can order her to do anything. She said, dear, that she'd burn down the whole place, burn down Gormenghast when she was the ruler and she'd live on her own, and I said she was wicked, and she said that everyone was – everyone and everything except rivers, clouds, and some rabbits. She makes me frightened sometimes.”

I'm not much further along in Titus Groan, but it's still perfectly delicious, dense and thorny, like the magic bramble wall in Sleeping Beauty, and full of weird, funny details. Fuchsia, the bratty teenage sister of the ominously violet-eyed baby earl, is my favorite. There's a wonderful fugue-like scene of her scrambling through half a dozen rooms to her secret perch, carrying her gigantic breakfast, only to be confronted by a scene of horrible excitement far below. Mervyn Peake's ear for names is terrific: every new name in this book sketches a vivid caricature, proclaims the slightly soured fairy-tale nature of the setting, and joins with the other names in a chorus of witty, slimy strangeness.

Also reading: The Group:

Her mother's habit of stressing and underlining her words had undergone an odd mutation in being transmitted to Helena. Where Mrs. Davison stressed and emphasized, Helena inserted her words carefully between inverted commas, so that clauses, phrases, and even proper names, inflected by her light voice, had the sound of being ironical quotations. While everything Mrs. Davison said seemed to carry with it a guarantee of authority, everything Helena said seemed subject to the profoundest doubt. “I saw 'Miss Sandison,' ” she had been telling Kay and Dottie, “in the 'British Museum,' ” signifying by the lifting of her brows and the rolling about of the names on her slow, dry tongue that “Miss Sandison” was an alias of some wondrous sort and the “British Museum” a front or imposture. This wry changing of pitch had become mechanical with her, like a slide inserted in a trombone. In fact, she had a great respect for her former Shakespeare teacher and for the British Museum.

. . . which is just as packed with detail as Titus Groan, but journalistic and gossipy rather than fabulous; it's time as a river of name-drops and dining-room sets, very good so far. It reminds me of The Women's Room, one of my favorite and most unsettling books from childhood, because it follows a large cast of characters into and probably through adulthood (I'm not very far into it yet, but this seems to be where it's going), but it is much better written, at least if I'm remembering The Women's Room accurately. Maybe "smoothly written" is more to the point than "better." Anyway, it's casting a gimlet eye on everything in sight, and is excellent so far.

Plus the diaries: most recent is Eliza Ann Chipman, a very earnest, pious Christian who married a widower with eight children; she could be the Murray's young stepmother in Emily of New Moon. Her diary is more of a prayer journal, where she upbraids herself for not doing something extraordinary for Christ. She is always letting it go for years at a time, then coming back with a self-exhortation in much the same terms as ever.

What I'm Going to Read Next

A book was recommended to me called Some Words of Jane Austen, and in the first few pages there were two quotations from Love and Freindship that made me laugh out loud and for a very long time. So I will have to read Love and Freindship sooner rather than later. Luckily, the university library has all the Jane Austen anyone could want.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 12th, 2015 02:39 pm (UTC)
They fainted alternately into each other's arms.

Yes. :lol:
Nov. 12th, 2015 06:42 pm (UTC)
Nov. 12th, 2015 06:45 pm (UTC)
I'm realising now that it's lucky you understood that. :loL:
Nov. 12th, 2015 02:52 pm (UTC)
I feel pretty much the same about Titus Groan, so far. :)
Nov. 12th, 2015 06:44 pm (UTC)
Is there going to be a big plot eventually, or is it going to keep on being these awesome little grotesque vignettes from the castle? I'll probably be happy either way.
Nov. 12th, 2015 08:20 pm (UTC)
I have a hazy memory of eveything going boom in the end, but I can't recall what, or if it was slwoly brewing, or not.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )


blase ev

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