Thursday, 19 February 2009

Unearthed classics

As I said in my last reading post, I’ve been hunting around the house for unread books, mainly Virago classics. I don’t even remember how I acquired some of them.

Letters from Constance by Mary Hocking (1992). As you may guess, this is a novel told in letters from Constance to Sheila from 1939-1986. As they leave school, the friends vow to keep in touch. Constance, who considers herself dull and plodding, marries a gregarious Irishman and has seven children, while Sheila marries the brilliant but unhappy Miles. One reads the story of their lives between the lines of Constance’s letters – not a page turner but a gentle and interesting portrait of developing lives and times, at first amusing but eventually sad.

Rising Tide by Molly Keane. Another story of lost times, this is the book I liked best of all the MK’s I’ve read. A tale of upper class Anglo-Irish life - 'one glorious gothic mansion and two rather different women who would be Queen. Lady Charlotte French-McGrath has successfully ruled over her family with an iron will, until the arrival of Cynthia engaged to her son Desmond. Cynthia is a denizen of the Jazz Age and, on the surface, her life passes in a whirl of hunting, drinking, and romance. But the ghosts of Garonlea are only biding their time. '

I enjoyed re-reading part of Bitter Lemons (1957) by Lawrence Durrell. Loved the description of buying the house on Cyprus, but I’ve laid it aside for the time being. Perhaps I’m depressed by the thought of the political conflict ahead. There’s so much war in the world that I want to escape when I read. I also enjoyed another dip into The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux (1975) While I greatly admire his intrepid journey and efforts to understand the wider world, I dislike his boastful drinking and talk of brothels.

Today I gave way to temptation and bought J.Trollope and Kate Atkinson in Tesco’s. (Above is my new amaryllis, nice and red, isn't it?)


sablonneuse said...

Wonderful amarylis. I can never look after houseplants properly and they usually die before the cats have had time to ruin them. It's such a shame.

galant said...

I loved Letters from Constance and after that read other novels by Mary Hocking. And I love that amarylis, what a cracker!
Margaret Powling

Susie Vereker said...

Actually, Sandy, I'm not that good with houseplants, but amaryllis are not difficult. You just plant the bulb half way into the soil, water a bit and wait! Orchids not too complicated either, begonias OK if you remember to water. There's one particularly easy plant that can take any amount of neglect -I'll find out its name and send it to you.

Margaret, good to hear from you. Interested to hear about M.Hocking's other books.