Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
First Published 1925
Source: my audiobook was purchased at my local library book sale
Narrator: Virginia Leishman

Publisher's Summary:
This novel explores the hidden springs of thought and action in one day of a woman's life, a day that is also the last day of a war veteran's life. Direct and vivid in her account of the details of Clarissa Dalloway's preparations for a party she is to give that evening, Woolf ultimately manages to reveal much more; for it is the feeling behind these daily events and their juxtaposition with the journey to suicide of Septimus Smith that gives Mrs. Dalloway its texture and richness.

A 1925 landmark of modernist fiction that follows an the wife of an MP around London as she prepares for her party that afternoon. Direct and vivid in its telling of details, the novel shifts from the consciousness of Clarissa Dalloway to that of others, including a shell-shocked veteran of World War I whose destiny briefly intersects with hers.

My Thoughts:
While Virginia Leishman's narration was wonderful, I really found this book difficult to listen to; it was just much too easy for my mind to wander and when I came back to the book it felt that I really hadn't missed anything. That's not a fault of the book; it's not a book meant to keep a reader rapt with action. In fact, there's very little action. And that was Woolf's point - the idea that there's a lot to be learned from the smallest actions of life.

Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours (which was inspired by Mrs. Dalloway), says of Mrs. Dalloway: "Mrs. Dalloway also contains some of the most beautiful, complex, incisive and idiosyncratic sentences ever written in English..." I feel like I missed that in listening to the book. So while I can say that I've read Mrs. Dalloway, I don't feel that I've really appreciated the book, as much as I enjoyed it. Somewhere on my bookshelves, I have a copy of this book and I'm almost certain to be picking it up and rereading this book one day. There is just so much to think about in the book and I feel like I didn't give it the attention it deserves.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Fall Feasting 2014

Every fall, as the temperatures begin to drop and the days grow shorter, I find myself thinking more and more of spending time in the kitchen - simmering soups, baking breads, creating casseroles. I've also found myself drawn to reading more about food and for the past few years and spent a good part of my reading time devoted to books that relate, in some way, to food. I seem never to have any shortage of books to choose from and, even without picking up any new "foodie" books this year, I've got plenty to read again this year.

Since I also signed up for the Foodies Read challenge again this year, I'll be knocking that challenge off with this reading as well. And, because my first book for Fall Feasting 2014 will be Jaspreet Singh's Chef, I'll also be satisfying the A More Diverse Universe challenge. Win-win!

The books in my pile for this year are:

1. Chef  by Jaspreet Singh
2. Extra Virgin by Annie Hawes
3. The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister
4. Five Quarters of An Orange by Joanne Harris
5. Harvest by Richard Horan
6. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
7. Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good by Kathleen Finn

What's your favorite foodie book? Favorite cookbook?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Life: It Goes On - September 14

Goodness, I certainly didn't mean to go quiet for the entire week. But then when you haven't finished a book in over a week, there are no reviews to post. The past couple of days I've finished three so next week will be better. Also spent a lot of time throwing myself a pity party (I'm still brushing confetti out of my hair); the knee swelled up and was quite sore for a few days and I didn't accomplish much.

So glad that it finally started to feel better by Friday, just in time for me to feel good enough to go to the Omaha Lit Fest, organized by author Timothy Schaffert. Friday night was the opening night party complete with great eats, wonderfully quirky artwork, a photo booth, and a poetry brothel (yeah, you read that right). And did I mention authors? Yeah, got a chance to meet and talk with them as well. Saturday afternoon there were four panel discussion with a variety of authors including talks about music in books and writing historical fiction (or is that merely fiction set in the past?). So fun to see all of the amazing literary talent we have in Nebraska!

Luckily The Big Guy, who came to the opening night with me as he always does, only knows about one of the books that I bought and had signed. But, seriously, you all know how hard it was for me to walk away without buying one of every book by every author!

This Week I'm:

Listening To: As an antidote to Mrs. Dalloway, I decided to go in the extreme opposite direction and started Lauren Weisberger's The Devil Wears Prada. Hard not to picture Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway as the lead characters as I listen.

Watching: Because we are rabid Husker fans and our game didn't start until 9:30 our time last night, we stayed up until 1:30 watching football. In a garage so that a lot of people could watch since it wasn't on a channel that most people get. Did I mention that it was only in the 40's last night? Thank heavens for those wonderful big heaters and no wind!

Reading: My heart is still recovering from The Sparrow today. I meant to draw it out over the month of the readalong but I just couldn't. I'll be thinking about it for a long, long time. I'm still trying to decide what to start today.

Making: BG has been taking good care of me and doing most of the cooking for the past week but I did have a crate of peaches that I had to deal with - 11 quarts of frozen peach slices and 7 pints of peach freezer jam. Oh yeah, and chili one night because it was just that darn cold out.

Planning: To kick off my now annual Fall Feasting reading soon. More on that to come.

Grateful for: The efforts of everyone involved in pulling together the Omaha Lit Fest and to the authors who took the time to talk to those who attended. It's a great asset for Omaha and I really wish more people knew about it. Every year the crowds are bigger and bigger which is encouraging!

Enjoying: Feeling good enough to finally be able to really get things done around here. I won't be down on my hands and knees anytime soon but I'll be able to get back to some walking this week and (I never thought I'd hear myself say this), I can't wait!

Feeling: Ready for fall. It took me two weeks to finally accept that summer is over and I'm not ready for it to be as cold as it was last week yet, but I could really get into a pumpkin latte right about now.

Looking forward to: Finishing our refinishing of a dining room table we bought a few weeks ago. I can't wait to get it done and into my dining room!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Life: It Goes On September 7

Well, this girl has learned, the past couple of weeks, that she does not like being an invalid. Tuesday I had surgery to repair two tears in my meniscus. They had told me I might be crutch free the same day. They lied. I will admit, I was a bit like toddler who refuses to learn to walk because he can crawl faster. I could move along pretty fast with one crutch but had to slow down considerably without it. I'm so ready for my knee to finally be back to 100% - I can't wait to put my tennies back on and hit the treadmill again.

This Week I'm:

Listening To: I'll finish Mrs. Dalloway this week and then will probably spend a couple of days catching up on podcasts. I'm not sure what to think of Mrs. Dalloway; I think I would enjoy it a lot more if I were reading it even though the narrator is really quite good.

Watching: "Manhattan," "America's Got Talent," and lots of football. Oh mercy, did my Cornhuskers give me a scare Saturday. I clean when the games get tense - even with a bad knee, I got a lot of cleaning done Saturday!

Reading: Goodness, am I enjoying The Sparrow. 

Making: Homemade ice cream, guacamole, beef salsa dip, peach/rhubarb crisp. We've been eating well this weekend.

Planning: Trying to get back into the swing of things gradually this week. I've got some projects that got interrupted that I'm anxious to get finished up this weekend.

Grateful for: All of the support I've gotten from family and friends this week!

Enjoying: A lovely evening with great friends last night on the patio followed by a lovely afternoon with our boys and their girlfriends this afternoon on the patio.

Feeling: Blessed.

Looking forward to: The Omaha Lit Fest this coming weekend. Some very interesting authors will be speaking and I'm looking forward to some new books!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Death of a Cad: A Hamish Macbeth Mystery by M. C. Beaton

Death of a Cad: A Hamish Macbeth Mystery by M. C. Beaton
Published February 1987 by St. Martin's Press
Source: my audiobook purchased at my local library book sale

Publisher's Summary:
When Priscilla Halburton-Smythe brings her London playwright fiancé home to Lochdubh, everybody in town is delighted . . . except for love-smitten Constable Hamish Macbeth. Yet his affairs of the heart will have to wait. Vile, boorish Captain Bartlett, one of the guests at Priscilla's engagement party, has just been found murdered-shot while on a grouse hunt. Now with many titled party guests as the prime suspects, each with a reason for snuffing out the despicable captain, Hamish must smooth ruffled feathers as he investigates the case. When the hidden culprit strikes again, Hamish will find himself trying to save Priscilla from a miserable marriage-and catch a killer before he flies the coop.

My Thoughts:
Perhaps you'd like to read my previous thoughts on this book? Because, I'm embarrassed to say, I've listened to it before. In my defense, it was five years ago and all of the Hamish Macbeth books are "Death of...." books so it's hard to remember which you have read.

Luckily, I enjoyed this one both times I listened to it. Hamish is so lovelorn, pining away for Priscilla and battling to solve not one, but two murders despite the best efforts of his boss and Priscilla's father.   These are cozy mysteries in the best sense, filled with quirky characters, lots of fun trying to solve the mystery and murders that really don't take center stage.

I'm headed back to the library book sale this week to pick up some more audiobooks - I hope the Macbeth mystery that I passed on in lieu of this one is still there. Because that one I definitely haven't read!