Monday, December 07, 2009

Reading Pamela Frankau and Viewing The View

Pamela Frankau has her fans, yet people in real life seldom talk about her. It’s left to us cyber-characters (myself included) to proselytize about Frankau's novels. There was quite a lot of traffic when I blogged about her a few years ago (at a blog that I deleted). For those unfamiliar with her work, I would put her in the same class, more or less, as Rumer Godden and Pamela Hansford Johnson; perhaps a tad less polished than those two, but still very good and lots of fun to read. Anyway, three of her novels, The Willow Cabin, The Winged Horse, and A Wreath for the Enemy are back in print, thanks to Virago. So go out and buy them while you can! They’re considerably cheaper now than they will be when they go out of print. Remember the scandalous price of the out-of-print Virago of The Brontes Went to Woolworth’s before Bloomsbury reissued it.

Frankau fits well into my reading plan because (a) she wrote 30 books between 1927 and 1967 (lots to read if I can get hold of them), and (b) she is the chronicler of utterly original, unexpected characters: actors, faith healers, writers (playwrights, advertising copywriters, novelists), people who lose their money, frivolous, brilliant women who live according to their own moral codes, intense surgeons who give weird fatherly advice while they pick up lost girls at parties, psychics, etc.. But go with the Viragos first: they are among her most famous books.

I just finished a lesser work, Slaves of the Lamp, the second of a trilogy that centers on a theatrical family, Clothes of a King's Son. Sing for Your Supper, the first novel in the series, is excellent and I love her writing, but it seems that she simply fell in love with her characters (as Upton Sinclair does in the Lanny Budd books) and didn’t worry much about the structure of the second book.

THE VIEW: it was my plan to start watching The View, a show popular with women who work in the home, because it is a good thing to plug into pop culture from time to time (and I'm into the whole housewife thing till Jan. 1, as you know). Barbara Walters founded the show and it takes the form of a conversation among five women, Walters, Joy Behar (the liberal who also has another talk show), Whoopi Goldberg (the moderator, though away today performing in England), Elizabeth Hasslebeck (the ultra-conservative football player's wife and now fashion designer), and Sherri Shepherd (new to me) . Today they were discussing Tiger Woods. Honestly, could anything be such a snooze? So he had a fight with his wife and she "wrapped a golf club around his head," according to the gossip, though “no one knows what went on between those four walls,” as one of the View women said (sorry, I forgot which one, but it seemed very sensible).

Apparently Tiger Woods has offered his wife $80 million to stay with him for seven years.

Joy, the witty Democrat ("one of the few lefties on TV," as she says), cynically pointed out , “A lot of women stay and try to make their marriage work...and they do it for nothing.'

I agree and wanted to cheer.

Barbara Walters wants to know when Tiger finds the time to practice.

I just wish the subject matter were more interesting. They’re intelligent women and couldn’t they raise the level of TV by talking about more important subjects? Aren’t we all tired of hearing about celebrity men cheating? Why don't we just outlaw adultery and be done with it? And legalize smoking? (I think adultery is worse!)

Okay, I don't really think we should outlaw adultery. But I do really, really think we should legalize smoking. This crazed Puritanical prohibiliton of smoking/yet encouragement of prurient voyeurism about celb cheating is mystifying.


Tim d’Arch Smith said...

The picture you print is not of Pamela Frankau but of her step-mother, Susan. I have lots of pictures of Pamela if you would like one (say from which period). I am so pleased you like her work. I am her nephew.
Tim d’Arch Smith

Frisbee said...

Thank you so much for telling me! I borrowed the image from the web and apparently it was mislabeled. I've replaced it with a photo of my rather tatty edition of Slaves of the Lamp and of the jacket photo of Pamela Frankau (not the best picture, I'm afraid).

Frisbee said...

By the way, thanks for offering the pictures. It must be fascinating to come from such a literary family! If you ever have time to recommend any of Pamela Frankau's books, I'd appreciate it. I'm operating pretty much in the dark, ordering them at random!

Anonymous said...

Thomas Weston (Sing for Your Supper) has for 40 years been my favourite fictional charcter. He hated wrapping parcels, insisted on being sorry for various inanimate objects and failed to shoot a German soldier because he could not bring himself to press the trigger. Sounds soft? You could not be more wrong.

Frisbee said...

I love Thomas Weston, too. I haven't read the third book in the trilogy yet, but he is a great character. I'm glad to hear he refuses to shoot people!