Tuesday, 11 October 2016

What I've been reading

Image of the book cover

Over The River
by John Galsworthy
"Clare Cherrell has come home, fleeing the clutches of her violent, abusive husband. When he pursues her she vows she will never return and sets about fighting him in bitter divorce proceedings."
That's it, the last of the nine books in the Forsyte Chronicle, and I am so sad that the journey's over. I think I'd have to list John Galsworthy as one of my favourite writers of all time, which is saying something. The opening to this book was a masterclass in getting his meaning across without spelling it out to the reader - perhaps that's the key? It's what I love most about The West Wing - they don't patronise the audience, they make you work stuff out for yourself, and if it doesn't make sense you have to trust them that later it will, and it's why watching episodes again is so satisfying. I'm going to have a look for other Galsworthy titles, and if there aren't any I'm going to read all nine of these books again.


Image of the book cover
The House on the Strand
by Daphne du Maurier
"Magnus Lane, a University of London chemical researcher, asks his friend Richard Young and Young's family to stay at Kilmarth, an ancient house set in the wilds near the Cornish coast. Here, Richard drinks a potion created by Magnus and finds himself at the same spot where he was moments earlier - though it is now the fourteenth century."
A very different sort of book from Daphne du Maurier - still set in Cornwall but based on time travel. I love DdM but this one, written towards the end of her career, is not one of the best. There are many confusing characters and the location plays too much of a part; it also has one of the worst endings to a story that I can remember. I need to go back to Frenchman's Creek or Rebecca and remind myself how good she could be.


Image of the book cover

Uncle Tom's Cabin
by Harriet Beecher Stowe

narrated by Richard Allen
"Even though Arthur Shelby and his wife Emily believe that they have a benevolent relationship with their slaves, Shelby decides to raise much needed funds by selling two of them - Uncle Tom, a middle-aged man with a wife and children, and Harry, the son of Emily Shelby's maid Eliza - to a slave trader."
A classic book that I have heard of but never thought to read until now. Written in 1852, which sounds like ancient history but actually might have been when my great-grandparents lived, which perhaps isn't so long ago. How society has changed! To think that people could be bought and sold and worked and bred and killed like animals - the author is very coy about the sexual exploitation although she doesn't hold back with other aspects of slavery. Putting this alongside the examples of Homo sapiens in the the news at the moment, particularly the USA, Syria and all the English political parties, our species can exhibit some very unpleasant traits.

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