The way we read now…

Simon at Stuck In A Book has come up with a very clever idea for a post. He’s called it One Book, Two Book, Three Book, Four…and Five. He poses five comments about his current reading & invited his readers to do the same & post the answers on their blogs. So, here’s my list.

1. The book I’m currently reading.

I’ve been inspired by Desperate Reader’s Oliphant-fest so I’ve started reading the new Persephone edition of two stories by Margaret Oliphant, The Mystery of Mrs Blencarrow, which contains the title story & Queen Eleanor & Fair Rosamond. I’m halfway through Mrs Blencarrow & enjoying it very much.

I’m also reading Anne Hereford by Mrs Henry Wood with my 19th century bookgroup. I’ve only read the first instalment but in just six chapters we’ve had a young orphaned girl arriving at the house of her young aunt who has married for money & regrets it; a housekeeper who resents her mistress; two young men vying for the affections of the mistress; the murder of one of the young men & the sudden death of the mistress of the house supposedly from a fever caught from wandering the grounds at night in a fog! Mrs Henry Wood is famous for East Lynne which I read & loved years ago but I think Anne Hereford is going to be just as exciting & sensational.

2. The last book I finished.

I read Nevil Shute’s Pastoral this week. Part gripping WWII adventure, part elegiac romance, I loved it & I’ll be posting a review soon.

3. The next book I want to read.

I feel the need for some non-fiction next, I think. G W Bernard’s biography of Anne Boleyn has been on the tbr shelves for about a year. Bernard has some controversial theories about Anne’s downfall & I’m keen to read more. Especially as I’ve just bought two more books about Anne – a lavish reprint of Paul Friedmann’s 19th century standard biography & an interesting book from Continuum Publishing. Antonia Fraser introducing extracts on Anne & Elizabeth I from Agnes Strickland’s Lives of the Queens of England. Strickland’s Lives were revolutionary when they were first published in the 19th century as she & her sister, Elizabeth (who shared the researching & writing), trawled through the original records in dusty libraries to write about these women with sympathy & insight.

4. The last book I bought.

Well, I’ve taken advantage of the favourable exchange rate & Amazon’s offer of free postage to Australia & bought quite a few books lately. A few weeks ago I read a post at Annie’s blog, Senior Common Room, where she mentioned reading an essay by Jeanette Winterson, reprinted in this book, The Best of Books & Company. Books & Company was a literary magazine edited by Susan Hill between 1997 & 2001. I never knew it existed until it was gone so I was very excited to think that I could read some of the essays published in the magazine in this compilation by Susan Hill. I’ve already dipped in & read an article on Oxbridge crime novels by Andrew Taylor. There are essays by Penelope Fitzgerald, Adele Geras, Sophie Hannah, Penelope Lively (I’ve read this one too, about her futile attempts to weed her library) & Lucasta Miller on the Brontes.

5. The last book I was given.

I’m not given many books by family & friends because some of them don’t know what I already have & the rest of them refuse to encourage my bad habit. However, I have recently received this beautiful annotated edition of Pride & Prejudice as a thank you present. I have several copies of Pride & Prejudice but this is edited by Patricia Meyer Spacks, is filled with notes on every conceivable subject connected to the novel & Austen herself & has many lovely illustrations from fashion plates of the period & earlier editions of the novel.

Thanks Simon, great idea & I’ve enjoyed writing about my current reading.

8 thoughts on “The way we read now…

  1. I'll look forward to reading your review of Pastoral! It has been ages since I read anything by Shute but I've enjoyed all of his books that I have tried. I love flipping through the annotated Pride and Prejudice when I come across it in bookstores – you're so lucky to have your very own copy!

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  2. Anne Hereford is certainly shaping up to be a very sensational sensation novel! I may start on the second instalment today if I finish Mrs Blencarrow. Claire, Pastoral was very good indeed. I ned to read more Shute. I have the far Country lined up next. Simon, how could Books & Co be languishing? You loved Howards End is on the Landing so I think you'd enjoy this.

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  3. Such lovely books! The Hereford sounds like high drama indeed 🙂 I love the cover of your P&P and all the extra bits sound quite mouthwatering.
    I laughed at your friends and relatives trying not to encourage your “bad habit” 🙂

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  4. I loved Shute's A Town Like Alice, and after reading your post I've added Pastoral to my list of books to read. I want to read A Far Country, as well, so let me know how you like it!
    -Frances

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