Tuesday, September 29, 2015

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros: Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner

Hello and Happy Tuesday! Since it's Tuesday, it's time for First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea, where bloggers share a bit about a book they're reading or planning to read soon.

A couple of weeks ago, when my husband and I were in Rhinebeck, New York, we stopped by Oblong Books & Music. It's a great bookstore. I really liked their selection of books, and there were lots of staff recommendations. I came across a recommendation of Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner (1971) and was reminded of my own copy that has been on my bookshelf for far too long.

From the back cover:

"Wallace Stegner's Pulitzer-winning novel is a story of discovery--personal, historical, and geographical. Confined to a wheelchair, retired historian Lyman Ward sets out to write his grandparents' remarkable story, chronicling their days spent carving civilization into the surface of America's western frontier. But his research reveals even more about his own life than he's willing to admit. What emerges is an enthralling portrait of four generations in the life of an American family."

The opening:

"Grass Valley


Now I believe they will leave me alone. Obviously Rodman came up hoping to find evidence of my incompetence--though how an incompetent could have got this place renovated, moved his library up, and got himself transported to it without arousing suspicion of his watchful children, ought to be a hard one for Rodman to answer. I take some pride in the way I managed all that. And he went away this afternoon without a scrap of what he would call data.

So tonight I can sit here with the tape recorder whirring no more noisily than electrified time, and say into the microphone the place and date of a sort of beginning and a sort of return: Zodiac Cottage, Grass Valley, California, April 12, 1970."

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Friday, September 25, 2015

Have A Lovely Weekend.

William H. Hart, Lake Scene in Autumn, 1867
Courtesy of Yale University Art Gallery

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Welcome, Fall

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness;
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run; 
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core.
John Keats, To Autumn. Stanza 1

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros: The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford

Happy Tuesday! I'm trying to get back in the swing of things after my trip to New York state and a side trip to Lenox, Massachusetts. It was such a wonderful trip--great weather, beautiful scenery in the Hudson River Valley and everywhere we went as well as interesting sights. I saw so many things that I really enjoyed, but the highlight for me was a visit to Edith Wharton's home, The Mount. (Blog post coming soon!) It was great to get away, but the week went by too fast!

Although I didn't make much progress with reading on the trip, I did read the first half of The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford (1945). I'm sharing the opening of this witty story of the aristocratic and eccentric Radlett family, and Linda Radlett's search for love for First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea. Each Tuesday, bloggers share the opening of a book that they're reading or thinking of reading soon. I'm enjoying this book so much, and it may be my favorite of Nancy Mitford's novels that I've read so far.

The opening:

"There is a photograph in existence of Aunt Sadie and her six children sitting round the tea-table at Alconleigh. The table is situated, as it was, is now, and ever shall be, in the hall, in front of a huge open fire of logs. Over the chimney-piece plainly visible in the photograph, hangs an entrenching tool, with which, in 1915, Uncle Matthew had whacked to death eight Germans one by one as they crawled out of a dug-out. It is still covered with blood and hairs, an object of fascination to us children. In the photograph Aunt Sadie's face, always beautiful, appears strangely round, her hair strangely fluffy, and her clothes strangely dowdy, but it is unmistakably she who sits there with Robin, in oceans of lace, lolling on her knee. She seems uncertain what to do with his head, and the presence of Nanny waiting to take him away is felt though not seen. The other children, between Louisa's eleven and Matt's two years, sit round the table in party dresses or frilly bibs, holding cups or mugs according to age, all of them gazing at the camera with large eyes opened wide by the flash, and all looking as if butter would not melt in their round pursed-up mouths. There they are, held like flies in the amber of that moment--click goes the camera and on goes life; the minutes, the days, the years, the decades, taking them further and further from that happiness and promise of youth, from the hopes Aunt Sadie must have had for them, and from the dreams they dreamed for themselves. I often think there is nothing quite so poignantly sad as old family groups."

Now that you've read this lengthy first paragraph, what do you think? Would you keep reading?

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Time for a Little Break

This isn't my photo but a stock photo I chose because it symbolizes how happy I feel to be going on a trip. Yes, my husband and I are going on a trip! Can you tell I'm excited?!

As I've mentioned before on the blog, it's been a summer of recuperating from the broken bone in my foot. My husband has been like a rock--so much help and never complained in those moments when I wasn't so much fun to be around. Now, it's time for us to have some fun!

We're heading for parts north on an adventure--a road trip to New York to explore the Hudson River Valley. We'll be gone for a week. During that time, I'll be away from the blog, but I am trying Instagram. There aren't many photos yet, but I'm getting up my nerve to post some photos of the trip this coming week. :) Here's where to find me: @monicasbookishlife.

I hope that you have a great weekend and a wonderful week! See you soon!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Taking Part in the RIP X Challenge

Image used with permission, property of Abigail Larson.

I am a little late to the party, but I'm excited to be joining the R.eaders I.bibing P.eril Challenge for the first time! The Estella Society is the place to find out about this challenge which lasts until October 31.

I'll be taking part in Peril the Second--reading two books that fall within the R.I.P. categories, and Peril of the Short Story.

For Peril of the Short Story, I'll be reading:

Ghost Stories by Edith Wharton
Short Stories by Wilkie Collins. I couldn't resist these stories what with titles like "Cauldron of Oil" and "A Terribly Strange Bed" and "The Fatal Cradle." 
The Man in the Picture by Susan Hill.

I'm still deciding what I'll read for Peril the Second. On my bookshelves, there are many more possibilities than I realized! 

Up for consideration:

Behind A Mask by Louisa May Alcott
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte
Cornish Coast Mystery by John Bude
N or M? by Agatha Christie
Miss or Mrs?, The Haunted Hotel, and The Guilty River, novellas by Wilkie Collins
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Airs Above Ground by Mary Stewart

Decisions, decisions! I may be reading more than two novels. 

Are you taking part in the RIP X Challenge?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros: The Reef by Edith Wharton

Happy Tuesday! Welcome to First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea, where bloggers share a bit about a book they're reading or thinking of reading soon.

My selection is a book on my Classics Club list, The Reef by Edith Wharton, first published in 1912.   

The opening:

"UNEXPECTED OBSTACLE. Please don't come till thirtieth. Anna."

All the way from Charing Cross to Dover the train hammered the words of the telegram into George Darrow's ears, ringing every change of irony on its commonplace syllables: rattling them out like a discharge of musketry, letting them, one by one, drip slowing and coldly into his brain, or shaking, tossing, transposing them like the dice in some game of the gods of malice; and now, as he emerged from his compartment at the pier, and stood facing the wind-swept platform and the angry sea beyond, they leapt out at him as if from the crest of the waves, stung and blinded him with a fresh fury of derision."

From the back cover:

"A challenge to the moral climate of the day, The Reef follows the fancies of George Darrow, a young diplomat en route from London to France, intent on proposing to the widowed Anna Leath. Unsettled by Anna's reticence, Darrow drifts into an affair with Sophy Viner, a charmingly naive and impecunious young woman whose relations with Darrow and Anna's family threaten his prospects for success.

For its dramatic construction and acute insight into social mores and the mutifaceted problem of sexuality, The Reef stands as one of Edith Wharton's most daring works of fiction."

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Favorite Authors at the Moment

Top left: Nancy Mitford; Top center: Barbara Pym; Top right: Mary Stewart
Lower left: Elizabeth Taylor; Lower center: Edith Wharton; Lower right: Virginia Woolf

I have an ongoing list of authors who whose writing I love so much that I want to read everything they've written. 

Here are my top six favorites at the moment:

Nancy Mitford (1904-1973)

Barbara Pym (1913-1980) 

Mary Stewart (1916-2014) 

Elizabeth Taylor (1912-1975)

Edith Wharton (1862-1937)

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)

These authors are each so unique. What they have in common for me is that their writing speaks to me. When I'm reading something that's really well-written, it affects me all the way to my soul like a good piece of music. That's what I feel when reading the work of any of these women, especially with Edith Wharton and Virginia Woolf.

Who are the authors whose writing speaks to you?

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros: Seventh Heaven by Alice Hoffman

Happy Tuesday! It's hard to believe that it's September already. That was a fast summer! 

Welcome to First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea, in which book bloggers share a bit about what they're reading or about to read soon.

I haven't read anything by Alice Hoffman yet, but I picked up Seventh Heaven (1990) awhile back at a book sale, and the book is one I plan on reading soon.

The opening:



In the Country of the King

Late in August, three crows took up residence in the chimney of the corner house on Hemlock Street. In the mornings they set up a racket that could wake the dead. They picked up stones in their beaks and tossed them down at picture windows; they plucked out their feathers, which would surface all day long in odd places, in bowls of Cheerios, in the pockets of shirts drying on laundry lines, inside glass milk bottles delivered at dawn."

From Goodreads:

"Nora Silk doesn't really fit in on Hemlock Street, where every house looks the same. She's divorced. She wears a charm bracelet and high heels and red toreador pants. And the way she raises her kids is scandalous. But as time passes, the neighbors start having second thoughts about Nora. The women's apprehension evolves into admiration. The men's lust evolves into awe. The children are drawn to her in ways they can't explain. And everyone on this little street in 1959 Long Island seems to sense the possibilities and perils of a different kind of future when they look at Nora Silk . . . This extraordinary novel by the author of The River King and Local Girls takes us back to a time when the exotic both terrified and intrigued us, and despite our most desperate attempts, our passions and secrets remained a stubbornly alive as the weeds in our well-trimmed lawns."

What do you think? Would you keep reading?