Friday, 14 November 2008

November fields and recent reading

Fire in the Blood, by Irène Némirovsky, felt too short – perhaps the author might have added more to flesh out the increasingly dramatic plot if she had had time before she died at Auschwitz.
This novel is about lust and disillusionment among the pragmatic French farming community - lust among the young and fiery, and disillusionment for the old and chilled. Even the perfect marriage of Colette’s parents was shown to be founded on a lack of candour by Helène, her mother. One thing that struck me was the assertion that women have many persona - that, for example, a wife acting unfaithfully was actually a different person. Presumably the author thought this of men too, but this is a book written by a woman of 40 from the perspective of a dry and cynical old man. So, an interesting novel about youthful fire, young women sacrificed to old men, married warmth, old bachelor cold, and, above all, secrets. Plenty of food for thought and discussion.

In contrast, The Diary of a Provincial Lady, by E.M. Delafield, was all jolly and above board. I’m probably the only person who hasn’t read it, but I’m glad I did. As the Times said, 'She converts the small and familiar dullness of life into laughter'. I was amused by her worries about money along side her worries about her large staff, including Mademoiselle, the parlour maid and the Cook (who couldn’t).

Currently re-reading an old classic, Experiences of an Irish RM, by Somerville and Ross (1899). I find myself laughing aloud but maybe that’s because I spent part of my childhood among horsey Irish people. We must have been abroad when the TV series was on – didn’t even know they’d made one. I wonder if they captured its dry but kindly humour.


Karen said...

I do remember the series as having been great fun (and I wanted to call our then dog Flurry because of it!)

Jan Jones said...

I imagine you were away, Susie. It was YEARS ago. Peter Bowles was the 'Irish RM'

Lovely photo of your fields.

Oh, and I haven't ready Diary either.

sablonneuse said...

I agree that people have different persona - or is it just that you behave differently according to the people you are with?

I'm most impressed with the Book Depository. Paris Imperfect has arived and it was free delivery to France. The downside is that my daughter has confiscated it until my birthday (end of November) but it would be difficult to read it before my glasses are changed to a better correction.

Nan said...

I just love the Provincial Lady, and must re-read it again soon. I didn't care much for the Irish RM when it was on tv, but I think I'd like to read the book. Thank you for the recommendation. And I think I'll try the televised version again.

Susie Vereker said...

Sandy, I'm so impressed Paris Imperfect has arrived in France already. Sorry about the confiscation!
Yes, I guess we do have different persona, though perhaps less so these days. Sometimes I'm grumpy, sometimes jolly. I hope my occasional cross self isn't taking over from the cheerful one!

Nan, now I've read a bit more I'm not sure that the Irish RM would still have general appeal. It is amusing in parts and reminds me of my childhood, but I wouldn't want you to rush out and buy a copy (unless it is second-hand). I don't feel as strongly about it as some of the other books I have recommended.

galant said...

Provincial Lady is a firm fav of mine, but for a shorter read, and one a decade or so later, I always turn to Mrs Miniver (and it's nothing like the schmaltzy war-propaganda film) or One Fine Day by Mollie Panter-Downes.
Margaret Powling