Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Above: A Card by Anne Taintor

I like to blog every day, but lately have nothing to report. It’s mainly: I read George Eliot. I read George Eliot. I read George Eliot. Do you really want to hear this? I mean, every day? Otherwise I've been contemplating housework (how can a clean house regress back to Ground Zero in one short month after Christmas?) and teaching the occasional class.

It’s days like this when I am astonished by the daily publication of two very good blogs, dovegreyreader and A Work in Progress. They NEVER miss a day, AND write well.

So, just so the blog won't languish, here's something a little different: a Q&A profile of myself, by the intrepid reporter, myself.

PROFESSION: Housewife rebelling against dirt, alternating a zealous attitude of “Out, damned spot!” with a let-me-finish-this-page, “Who-the-hell-cares-about-housework-anyway?” outlook.

CURRENTLY READING: George Eliot’s The Mill on the Floss, Nancy Hale’s The Prodigal Women, and Rosamunde Pilcher’s The Shell-Seekers.

WHICH OF THESE BOOKS DO YOU RECOMMEND? The Mill in the Floss, of course, but also the books aforementioned in the order listed. All three are good in different ways.

HOW DID YOU DISCOVER NANCY HALE? Through a short story in an anthology. Hale (1908-1988) was a descendant of Harriet Beecher Stowe. She went to art school, worked as an assistant editor for Vogue, was the first woman reporter at The New York times, and wrote regularly for The New Yorker. Her novel, The Prodigal Women (1942), was a best-seller.

WHAT IS THE BEST-DESIGNED BOOK YOU’RE READING AT THE MOMENT? The Mill on the Floss. It’s a Penguin. Penguin knows design.

WHAT IS THE WORST-DESIGNED BOOK YOU’RE READING AT THE MOMENT? Nancy Hale’s The Prodigal Women. This is a very cheap 1988 Plume paperback edition: Plume American Women Writers Series (a good series). I like the cover illustration by Kinuko Craft, but It’s 555 pages of small print (by now yellowed). This edition does have an introduction by Mary Lee Settle, though, which makes it worthwhile. And it has the advantage of being small enough to fit in a purse.

ARE YOU PLANNING ON READING ANYTHING INTERESTING IN THE NEAR FUTURE? I do plan to read some contemporary books I’ve had on the shelf for a while, among them Richard Powers’ new book. He’s one of my favorites: a very good American writer.



Danielle said...

And I was just contemplating taking saturdays off! ;) In my case it helps that I have another hobby and can share needlework projects on slow reading days. And that I tend to read far more at once than I should so I can always talk about one of them (though am not sure about the writing well on my part)! I know the feeling of reading one book intensely and then having nothing to talk about. By the way I love Rosamunde Pilcher--well at least her novel Coming Home, which I reread last year. I should reread The Shell Seekers sometime, too. It's a nice easy read when you have something more challenging on the go! I must look for Nancy Hale (you always fund such good older books!). And one other little side note--I'm about a third of the way through A Man of Property and loving it!

Frisbee said...

Dear Danielle,

I do enjoy your blog. You're an eclectic reader, which I consider a VERY good thing. Yes, your blog is well-written, too.

I'm glad you're enjoying A Man of Property.

I can't sew or do needlework but I do appreciate your projects.

And it's great to be reading multiple books. The Shell-Seekers is one of those books I never thought I'd like. It was one of those "judge-by-the-cover" things. Now, however, I'm much less snobbish than I once was, and I don't mind the cover. I used to restrict myself to "literary fiction," except for forays into mysteries: now I realize that some "genre" fiction is better-done than the literary. Or rather, some of "literary" and some of "genre" are equally good or equally bad. (Is Shell-Seekers family saga, or romance?)

It took me months to read my Dickens and now I'm hooked on George Eliot! I didn't quite expect this, but...

Ellen said...

I recommend Jenny Uglow's book on Eliot. My favorite Eliot is probably Middlemarch :).


Frisbee said...

Ellen, I love Middlemarch, too. And I have Uglow's book: I ordered it because it was the shortest. (Also because you've talked about her at WWTTA.) And I do have another biography by Kathryn Hughes.

Danielle said...

I think The Shell Seekers is family drama with a touch of romance. I don't consider her a romance writer anyway. I came at my reading from the other direction I think. I have always been a reader, but as a child I didn't get a lot of guidance so just picked at will. Same as when I was a bit older--so it was a hodge podge of books--genre, literary, classics, but not necessarily all highbrow. Now I am trying to read more classics (with mixed results each year), though I will still read whatever sounds good. And I think you're right that genre books can be excellent and literary books can be not so good--the lines are blurred--it's just nice to always try and read the cream of the crop.

Frisbee said...

Family drama sounds like the correct diagnosis! I love the characters'reading habits: one of them reads Elizabeth Jane Howard