A hastily read tweet from a few days ago has inspired in me a determination to write small notes of regard and love to friends, family and acquaintances through the month of February. From Twitter I learned that author Mary Robinette Kowal has issued a Month of Letters Challenge that urges participants to send a letter a day every day in February. That amounts to 24 letters for those of us in the US as we have 4 Sundays and a holiday where mail will not be circulated. Here are the rules from Kowal’s website:
I have a simple challenge for you.
- In the month of February, mail at least one item through the post every day it runs. Write a postcard, a letter, send a picture, or a cutting from a newspaper, or a fabric swatch.
- Write back to everyone who writes to you. This can count as one of your mailed items.
I am always thrilled to receive personal mail these days, even if it’s just a birthday party, baby shower or wedding invitation. It’s so rare to see a handwritten note and to be able to connect with people through their own style of writing. A typewritten letter is also exciting, but just doesn’t have the same intimate feeling as one written by hand.
During this month I’d love to send postcards to my blogging friends! If you are interested in receiving a note from me in February click on the email button in my sidebar and send me your address. You can also message me in Facebook or send me a Twitter DM. I have some pretty special literary postcards that I am just dying to send to someone – let me know if you’d like a handwritten card from me and I will send one out to you during the next month!
**Overseas friends included!**
Will you join the Month of Letters Challenge?
“More than kisses, letters mingle souls.” – John Donne
When Stu at Winstonsdad’s Blog proposed a Henry Green Week I instantly decided to participate. I had bought a really lovely 1953 copy of Loving by Green some years before and had never even cracked it open. It sat lingering on my shelf until I moved last summer when it was put into a box perhaps never to see the light of day again (or for a few months anyway). After committing to HG Week I rummaged through all of my boxes in storage until I found it (and a few other books I had forgotten about). I’m glad I finally read it. I’m not crazy about it, but I admire Green’s original voice and style.
Loving takes place during WWII at a manor house in Ireland. The Tennant family and their eccentric staff of English servants co-exist in tenuous harmony while war wages across the sea. When the Tennant’s leave for England to meet their son and husband on leave the servants relax their usual standards and reserve with each other and their natural weaknesses and desires come shining through. The cook’s drinking turns serious, the nanny and the housekeeper both take to their beds and the butler and one of the housemaids indulge their attraction for each other and fall in love.
Loving is written with dialogue as the vehicle for the story. There is very little straight narrative and sometimes this style makes it confusing to know what is going on. There were several times when I was completely lost and had no idea what the characters were referring to or what exactly was happening. Green gives his characters an unusual speech pattern and a very colorful way with words that was truly admirable at times, but was just downright frustrating at others. For instance, there is a running gag for the last third of the book where the servants mock an acquaintance with a lisp. After pages of reading s’s as ‘th’ I got a tad frustrated.
And I found myself frustrated for other reasons. I really didn’t like any of the characters and grasped to find even one person I could relate to. They all seemed manipulative, scheming, selfish and whiny. I especially disliked Raunce, the butler, and could see no reason why Edith, the maid, would fall in love with him. I also disliked the circularity of the plot. The same subjects and issues are repeated over and over again – it made me sigh in dismay.
Henry Green. From mutablesound.com
I didn’t thoroughly loathe this novel. I do see the merit of Green’s peculiar style and applaud his unique take on a love story. I did experience moments of sheer pleasure while reading this novel, moments when I laughed and marveled at the audacity and moxie the servants display. However, in the end, I think this is a novel for me that is to be admired rather than enjoyed.
Have you read Henry Green? What do you think of his writing style?
One of the pitfalls of working at a library is the enormous temptation to place holds on every wonderful sounding book I hear about. I go holds crazy sometimes and place far too many holds than are good for me. I have to give myself a good talking to, remind myself not to be greedy and realize that there is not enough time in any of my days to ever read all of the books I put on hold. This year I’ve been trying to place holds only on items I am pretty sure I’ll read. This has significantly reduced the number of holds I have placed and has made me more anxiously excited to receive the books I am waiting for. Here is a look at some of the books I am awaiting:
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey – I am SO looking forward to reading this novel. I have heard nothing but praise for it and I especially enjoyed the reviews here and here and here. It will be released on February 1 and I can already tell you I will be incommunicado that entire evening – too busy reading!
The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey – This novel is based on the story of Jane Eyre and sounds really charming. It was released today….where is my copy????
Enchantments by Kathryn Harrison – A love story set inside the Romanov circle in 1917 Russia. I find it hard to resist anything that concerns the Romanov Empire -I think the whole setting is absolutely fascinating. This novel will be released on March 6.
What do you have on hold at the library? Are you holds happy?
Another Mary Stewart, another thumbs up! Touch Not the Cat is my second Mary Stewart and I enjoyed it just as much as the first. Like Thornyhold it is a combination romance/suspense/family drama that is smart, thrilling and has that sprinkling of the supernatural that I so enjoy.
Bryony Ashley is telepathic. Not just with anyone, though. She can only communicate through her mind with one person, her ‘lover’, a person she doesn’t know the identity of, but who is her constant companion and support. When her father is hit by a car and killed in Germany she knows instantly in her mind because her lover lets her know. After the funeral, Bryony learns that she has inherited the family cottage, but that the rest of the vast family estate has gone to her male cousin, Emory. However, the entire family, including herself and Emory’s two brothers, have to give their permission if Emory ever wants to sell the old pile. Well, it just so happens that Emory is having money troubles and subtly pressures Bryony into giving her permission for him to sell everything so he can repay his debts. Bryony is reluctant because she slowly uncovers evidence that Emory is a ruthless, cold man who has no scruples when it comes to getting money.
In the meantime, she desperately searches for the identity of her lover (who she thinks is one of her cousins) and befriends the American family who are renting the estate. When she discovers that valuable art pieces are missing from the house things come to a head and her cousin’s true motives and the identity of her lover are both revealed. The end of the novel is a sensational page-turner that had me tense with anxiety.
A maze plays a huge role in Touch Not the Cat. This is the maze at Chatsworth. from www.eta.edu.
Touch Not the Cat is a very entertaining book, kind of silly, but I like Mary Stewart’s characters and her style of writing. I put a hold at the library on a volume that has four of her novels, but it seems the book is missing so I think I will buy some of her novels from the Internet because I truly like them and want to read more. The mixture of suspense + romance + history + sympathetic heroines + interesting settings =instant enjoyment and pleasure.
image from ths,gardenweb.com
Hello to anyone who has walked down the path from my old home to my new abode. Thanks for coming over! How about a cup of tea? Coffee? A glass of lemonade? I have some fresh cinnamon muffins just out of the oven and a cozy nook for us to sit in. What shall we talk about next?