My View While Reading
Two weeks in Florida treated me to more time to read but left me short on computer access to keep up with my posts. This tree was my best view from my reading chair when I lifted my eyes from the page on a sunny afternoon.
H. G. Wells, Tono-Bungay. I begin the new year with this non-science-fiction novel by the author of The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds. Tono-Bungay is a tonic, a harmless patent medicine for the masses and the basis for a fortune which does do great harm in pre-World War I England.
Ngaio Marsh, Artists in Crime. An Inspector Alleyn mystery in which he meets attractive artist Agatha Troy. I knew, from reading later books in the series, that they marry — but not here, not yet. They meet. They are mutually attracted, he solves the crime. I am confident they will get together sooner or later. Wait for the next book.
Jane Smiley, At Paradise Gate. I am an admirer of Jane Smiley and her deft handling of the problems of (mostly) normal people. An old man, a partner in a long-term, often stressful marriage, lies dying. The daughters and a granddaughter gather. The wife copes.
Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture. This book derives from the “last lecture” delivered by Randy Pausch, while living in his last months with pancreatic cancer.
Frances Trollope, Domestic Manners of the Americans. Fanny Trollope was the mother of the better-known Anthony Trollope and a successful writer in her own right. In 1827 she took several of her children to seek their fortune in the New World. She was both fascinated and disappointed by the new republic. Her observations, often relieved with a little humor, scandalized us all.
Emile Zola, Germinal. This disturbing novel depicts the lives of coal miners in 1860s France and their unsuccessful strike for better conditions and pay. Free-market capitalism justifies all, then and now.
John LeCarré, A Most Wanted Man. I have long admired John LeCarré and his intricately-plotted spy novels, but I am sorry that I read this one. It left me angry at the abuse of power by all sides in our current War on Terror.
Frances Trollope, The Widow Barnaby. Since Fanny Trollope, best known for her critical Domestic Manners of the Americans, was a best-selling novelist in her day, I thought I would try one. The widow is flirtatious, maritally ambitious, outrageous — and dresses in poor taste. What will she do next! Trollope knew a thing or two about keeping the reader involved.
W. E. B. Dubois, The Souls of Black Folk. Pioneering sociologist DuBois depicts the situation of Blacks in the South forty years after Emancipation. “Souls” are not just the spiritual souls, but the entire consciousness of a people who, after centuries of slavery, receive little support in the freedom they have gained.
Pamela Neville-Sington, Fanny Trollope: The Life and Adventures of a Clever Woman. Fanny Trollope is best known for her critique of the young United States, Domestic Manners of the Americans. It was her first published book, and she was 53. In the next 24 years she wrote six travel books and 35 novels. They were best sellers in their day. Oh, and she was the mother of Anthony Trollope. This well-written biography tells all.