Caroline's 2023 Reading (Chapter 3)

É uma continuação do tópico Caroline's 2023 Reading (Chapter 2).

Discussão75 Books Challenge for 2023

Aderi ao LibraryThing para poder publicar.

Caroline's 2023 Reading (Chapter 3)

Editado: Set 6, 7:34 am

Freddie Mercury was fascinated by Japan, here are some of his Japanese possessions.

You might enjoy this short video which includes shots inside Freddie's home:

Editado: Nov 30, 1:40 pm

Read in 2023

By Vanessa Bell


The Papers of Tony Veitch (William McIlvanney) (02/0123) ***1/2
The Great Fire (Shirley Hazzard) (07/02/23) ****1/2
The Colony (Audrey Magee) (09/02/23) *****
Letters to Alice on First Reading Jane Austen (Fay Weldon) (15/01/23) ***
The Idea of Perfection (Kate Greville) (01/02/23) ***1/2
The Painter's Friend (Howard Cunnell) (09/02/23) ****1/2
Angle of Repose (Wallace Stegner) (06/03/23) (*) ****1/2
A Visitation of Spirits (Randall Kenan) (12/03/23) ***
Violeta (Isabel Allende) (19/03/23) ****
Swimming in the Dark (Tomasz Jedowski) (24/03/23) ***1/2
A Passage to India (EM Forster (06/04/23) (*) ****
Lessons (Ian McEwan) (26/04/2023) ****1/2
Stones from the River (Ursula Hegi) (12/05/23) ****1/2
To the Lighthouse (Virginia Woolf) (22/05/23) (*) *****
The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle (Kirsty Walk) (28/05/23) (*) ****
To Battersea Park (Philip Hensher) (11/06/23) ***1/2
A Siege of Bitterns (Steve Burrows) (30/06/23) ***1/2
This is Happiness (Niall Williams) (09/07/23) ****1/2
Utz (Bruce Chatwin) (10/07/23) (*) ****
The House of Doors (Tan Twan Eng) (15/07/23) *****
An Unnecessary Woman (Rabih Alameddine) (21/07/23) ****
The Garden of Evening Mists (Tan Twan Eng) (31/07/23) *****
Tom Lake (Ann Patchett) (05/08/23) ****1/2
The President's Hat (Antoine Laurain) (08/08/23) ***1/2
The Lost Garden (Helen Humphrys) (12/08/23) ****1/2
The Well of Saint Nobody (Neil Jordan) (20/08/23) ****
The Gift of Rain (Tan Twan Eng) (06/09/23) ****1/2
The Glass Painter's Daughter (Rachel Hore) (18/09/23) ***1/2
Small Things Like These (Claire Keegan) (22/09/23) ****1/2
Geneva (Richard Armitage) (26/10/23) ***1/2
The Other Side of the Bridge Mary Lawson (11/11/23) ****1/2


Christopher Lloyd: His Life at Great Dixter (Stephen Anderton) (21/01/23) ****1/2 & Great Dixter:Then and Now (Fergus Garrett) (22/01/23) ****
Middlemarch and the Imperfect Life (Pamela Erens) (02/02/23) ****1/2
How should one Read a Book? (Virginia Woolf/intro&afterword: Sheila Heti) (20/02/23) ****
The Red Leather Diary (Lily Koppel (27/03/23) ****1/2
Humanly Possible: Seven Hundred Years of Humanist Freethinking, Enquiry and Hope (Sarah Bakewell) (16/04/23) *****
Diary of a Tuscan Bookshop (Alba Donati) (12/05/23) ****
A Life of One's Own (Joanna Biggs) (16/05/23) ****1/2
Arrangements in Blue (Amy Key) (1 June 2023) ****
Bluets (Maggie Nelson) 11/06/23) ****1/2
Landlines (Raynor Winn) (15/06/23) ****1/2
The Escape Artist: The Man Who Broke out of Auschwitz (Jonathan Freedland) (21/06/23) (reread) ****1/2
Howards End is on the Landing (Susan Hill) (*) (22/06/23) ****
Jacobs Room is Full of Books (Susan Hill) (25/06/23) (*) ***1/2
Anywhere out of the World: The Work of Bruce Chatwin (Jonathan Chatwin) (19/07/23) *****
Dinners with Ruth: A Memoir on the Power of Friendships (Nina Totenberg) (26/07/23) ****
Writing in the Dark (Will Loxley) (18/08/23) ****1/2
Belonging: Natural Histories of Place, Identity and Home (Amanda Thomson) (24/08/23) ****
Freddie Mercury: A World of his Own (Sotherby's) (03/09/23) *****
Release the Bats: A pocket guide to writing your way out of it (DBC Pierre) (07/09/23) ****
All the Beauty in the World (Patrick Bringley) (09/09/23) ****
Politics on the Edge: A Memoir from Within (Rory Stewart) (23/09/23) ****1/2
The Secret Lives of Somerset Maugham (Selina Hastings) (15/10/23) *****
A Memoir of my Former Self: A Life in Writing (Hilary Mantel) (01/11/23) ****
Kick (Paula Byrne) (06/11/22)
The Art of the Wasted Day (Patricia Hampl) (07/11/23) ****1/2
Tao Te Ching (Lao Tzu, interpreted by Ursula K. Le Guin) (19/11/23) ****1/2
The Letters of Seamus Heaney (ed Christopher Read) (30/11/23) *****


The Hurting Kind (Ada Limón) (06/02/23) ****
The Voice of Sheila Chandra (Kazim Ali) (09/02/23) ****
On the Bus with Rosa Parks (Rita Dove) (19/02/23) ****
Sporadic Troubleshooting (Clarence Major) (06/03/23) ***1/2
The Carrying (Ada Limón) (*) (20/03/23) *****
Quiet (Victoria Adukwei Bulley) (08/04/23) ****
Not the Whispering Wild (John Eppel) (28/05/23) ***
Osip Mandelstam: Selected Poems (Osip Mandelstam, trans Clarence Brown and WS Merwin) (26/06/23) (*) *****

Re-reads (*) (already counted above)

Angle of Repose (Wallace Stegner) - fiction
The Carrying (Ada Limón) - poetry
A Passage to India (EM Forster)
To the Lighthouse (Virginia Woolf)
The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle (Kirsty Walk)
Howards End is on the Landing (Susan Hill)
Jacobs Room is Full of Books (Susan Hill) (25/06/23) (reread) ***1/2
Osip Mandelstam: Selected Poems (Osip Mandelstam, trans Clarence Brown and WS Merwin)
Utz (Bruce Chatwin)

Total read: 69

Fiction: 31
Non-Fiction: 28 (including pamphlet)
Poetry: 08
Rereads (*): 8

Female: 34
Male: 31
Various: 01

UK: 29
Australia: 03
US: 16
UK/US/Transnational: 01
British-Gharnaian: 01
South America: 01
German/Polish: 01
US/German: 01
US/China (Lao Tzu interpreted by Le Guin)
Italy: 01
Zimbabwe: 01
Russian: 01
Ireland: 03
Canada: 02
Malay: 03
Lebanon: 01
France: 01

Editado: Dez 4, 12:49 am



From mid-Feb includes 2 books out for everyone in

522 (38 weren't in my catalogue)

OK, I'm going to keep track of this on my thread this year. The aim is to exit more than I acquire. My goal is 400 out, and no more than double figures in. ETA: Surpassed this goal beginning of July. New goal 1000 out by year end.

Set 1, 3:20 pm


Set 1, 3:44 pm

Happy new thread, Caroline!

>3 Caroline_McElwee: You are doing very well releasing your books. Your new goal is impressive.

Set 1, 4:10 pm

>1 Caroline_McElwee: I love the bright colours.

Happy new one!

Set 1, 4:19 pm

Happy new thread, Caroline. Love the toppers!

Set 1, 5:52 pm

>6 figsfromthistle: >7 jessibud2: Thanks Anita and Shelley.

Set 1, 6:35 pm

Happy new thread!

Set 1, 6:50 pm

Chiming in with my "Happy new thread" too!

Set 1, 7:05 pm

Congratulations of reaching your goal of weeding 400 books, Caroline, Impressive. Happy new thread. I love your toppers.

Set 1, 7:23 pm

Happy new one, dear Caroline.

>1 Caroline_McElwee: It is funny because I would not have associated Freddie Mercury with Japan.

Set 2, 3:54 am

>9 drneutron: >10 alcottacre: Thanks Jim and Stasia.

>11 BLBera: Thanks. It's very effortful Beth as I don't drive, and lots of charity shops not taking books, but slow and sure.

>12 PaulCranswick: I don't think it was a surprise for me Paul. He had over 40 kimono and lots of Japanese drawings. I can imagine him as a Kabuki or Noh player, I think he adopted some of that into his showmanship.

Set 3, 8:28 am

Happy Sunday, Caroline. Happy New Thread. I am starting The Gift of Rain today. Just a heads-up.

Set 3, 9:55 am

>14 msf59: I'm galloping along with it Mark. About a third through.

Editado: Set 3, 6:09 pm

53. Freddie Mercurie: A World of his Own (Sotherby's) (03/09/23) *****

Full of information about the creators of the exhibits, and interesting snippets and anecdotes about their owner. Freddie designed Queen's logos. He trained in graphic design. The main logo incorporated all their astrological signs.

He worked closely with the chosen designers for the stage outfits, occasionally even sourcing and giving them the fabric he wanted used. He was good with a needle and sometimes sewed on his own embellishments.

Freddie was an erudite collector over a broad spectrum, although he rarely attended actions himself, sending his assistant Peter, or Mary, with his marked up catalogue (and no top bid!). He did however arrange to have private views, and said Sotherby's was one of his favourite places.

Despite his great love of Japan, he didn't like sushi or sashimi. I'm with him on that. Despite never having visited the country myself I have been fascinated by it since a kid.

On food, Freddie loved a good English breakfast.

I saw Queen live at Hyde Park in 1976.

Set 4, 10:52 am

Happy new thread! I'm loving all the Freddie Mercury posts!

Set 4, 2:07 pm

>17 Sakerfalcon: Glad you are enjoying him Claire.

Set 4, 4:32 pm

Happy new thread.
Liking the Freddie pics.

Editado: Set 6, 5:34 am

>17 Sakerfalcon: >19 Helenliz: Just started revisiting Queen's albums in order.

Set 6, 8:39 am

Happy Wednesday, Caroline. I am enjoying the Queen and Freddie Mercury tributes. I was fortunate to have seen them in concert twice- circa '77-78 in Chicago and circa '83-'84 in Munich. Great shows.

I am at the halfway point in The Gift of Rain and enjoying it very much. Such an ambitious novel for a debut.

Set 6, 4:22 pm

>22 msf59: Glad you got to see them live too Mark.

I'm nearing the end of the fine novel. Not sure if I'll finish tonight, but certainly tomorrow.

Editado: Set 6, 7:07 pm

I've been watching the first Freddie auction, not sure of the total raised yet but the following artefacts went as follows:

Freddie's snake bangle (£380,000)
Bohemian Rhapsody manuscript (£1.1m)
Yamaha baby grand (£1.4m)
Red cloak and crown (£500,000)

+ commissions (25%+) and Tax

There are 5 other actions.

Another nugget, the manuscript of 'Bohemian Rhapsody' shows it was almost titled 'Mongolian Rhapsody'.

Editado: Set 8, 7:50 am

54. The Gift of Rain (Tan Twan Eng) (06/09/23) ****1/2

The primary narrator in this fine debut novel is Philip Hutton, English/Chinese son of a business man in Penang. He tells his story from his old age. Two other narrators appear across the novel set just before, during and after the Second World War. Tan’s sense of place starts with this debut and has carried on through his two later novels (I have managed to read his work backwards).

The heart of the novel is the relationship between Philip and his sensei (martial arts teacher) Endo-San, a Japanese man who has settled on the island belonging to Hutton’s family. Both find themselves outsiders, and as the Japanese invasion of Malaya (as it was then) ensues, the friendship is complicated by the choices they make.

Not for the faint hearted, this is a novel that will take most us to a place and part of history we have never read about and I certainly found fascinating.

It was a difficult to star rate, had I read it first I would have given it 5 stars, but having read the others first, I felt those very slightly worthier of 5*s.

Highly recommended

Set 7, 2:46 pm

>25 Caroline_McElwee: I am currently reading The Garden of Evening Mists as I have already read that one. I am glad to see you enjoyed it so much. I have a copy of The House of Doors on its way to me and cannot wait to read it.

Set 7, 2:52 pm

>26 alcottacre: Such fine novels Stasia. They will all be reread in time.

Set 7, 2:56 pm

>27 Caroline_McElwee: Yeah, I think Eng is an author whose novels are meant not only to be savored, but to be reread and savored again.

Set 7, 4:22 pm

55. Release the Bats: A pocket guide to writing your way out of it (DBC Pierre) (07/09/23) ****

A quirky but impactful volume on writing, definitely will be dipped into going forward. My favourite chapter was 'Punch' which took from martial arts the concept of not aiming at the target, but punching past it.

Thanks to AlisonY for putting this on my radar.

Set 8, 7:10 am

>29 Caroline_McElwee: That is a great title and cover! Maybe I will order this for work and then borrow it.

Set 8, 7:32 am

Happy Friday, Caroline. Good review of The Gift of Rain. I will finish it today and share your same feelings about this wonderful, ambitious novel. A stellar debut. Glad we were able to do a shared read of it.

Set 8, 7:48 am

>30 Sakerfalcon: Good plan Claire.

>31 msf59: Unputdownable Mark.

Set 9, 3:08 pm

56. All the Beauty in the World (Patrick Bringley) (09/09/23) ****

Grieving the death of his brother in his 20s, Patrick Bringley slips the ropes of his life and applies to be a museum guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. For ten years he stands guard in the rooms and imbibes the art and watches and talks to the visitors, and the fellow guards, many of whom become friends.

A beautiful memoir of the appreciation of extraordinary art and quiet meditation upon it, and its healing powers.

Set 10, 6:45 am

>33 Caroline_McElwee: You got me with that one, Caro. Onto the list it goes!

Set 11, 7:42 am

Glad to see that all three of Tan's books hit home. I think I like his debut best as a story but the writing in the second book was exquisite and the third is on the subject (partly) of one of my absolute favourite authors.

Set 11, 4:24 pm

>34 lauralkeet:. Good to catch you with a bb Laura.

>35 PaulCranswick: Can you recommend another Malaysian novelist of a similar caliber Paul?

Set 11, 4:30 pm

57. The Bluest Eye (Toni Morrison) (11/09/23) ****

I finally got to Morrison's debut novel, and it sings of the kind of writing that was to follow. I could have quoted whole pages of extraordinary character description. The novel vibrates with deep authenticity. These are hard lives that have carved hard people, but there is no self pity.

Set 11, 5:11 pm

>33 Caroline_McElwee: Adding that one to the BlackHole. Thanks for the recommendation, Caroline.

>37 Caroline_McElwee: I am glad to see you enjoyed that one as much as I did. I love your comment, "These are hard lives that have carved hard people, but there is no self pity." So true - and the book is not written in an overly sentimental way either. Things just were the way they were.

I am looking forward to reading much more of Toni Morrison's work.

Set 11, 10:19 pm

>33 Caroline_McElwee: Loved that book. Glad it was a hit for you Caroline.

Set 11, 10:35 pm

>36 Caroline_McElwee: I would not put him as quite as good, Caroline, but Tash Aw is a very decent writer of literary fiction.

Set 12, 1:54 am

>38 alcottacre: You won't be disappointed in the Bringley Stasia.

>39 Oberon: Good to see you peeping round the door Erik. For a while my sister was a Museum Guard at Kensington Palace in the 1990s.

>40 PaulCranswick: Thanks Paul, will give him a try.

Set 16, 11:50 am

>33 Caroline_McElwee: This sounds like a lovely book, Caroline. I am currently reading about art, so this will fit right in.

Morrison is great, and I'm glad you finally read one. They get better.

Set 16, 3:28 pm

>42 BLBera: I've read most of them Beth, and some more than once (Beloved about 4 times). I think Sula and Jazz are the only novels of hers I haven't read. Not sure why I hadn't read her debut. I was also lucky to hear her speak in person twice.

Set 16, 5:34 pm

Hi Caroline. I'm glad you enjoyed The Gift of Rain. I also loved it although I agree that The Garden of Evening Mists was even better. I haven't yet read the third in his oeuvre.

Set 16, 6:03 pm

>44 EBT1002: Then you have a treat ahead of you Ellen. As I said above, I will certainly be rereading all of them.

Editado: Set 24, 6:07 pm

58 The Glass Painter's Daughter (Rachel Hore) (18/09/23) ***1/2

Set in the 1990s and dropping back to the 1880s, Musican Fran Morrison returns to her childhood home when her father is taken ill. Home is over the shop Minster Glass, where he has made stain glass windows, and sold the makings to other creatives.

Their relationship has long been strained, due to the secrets he has held about her mother who died when she was two.

Fran takes the reins of the shop while he is in hospital, her life changes as she makes friends and learns the history of a broken stain glass window that she and her assistant Zac attempt to restore from the broken pieces discovered in the church as a result of the blitz.

One of the things I particularly enjoyed was it's Westminster setting which I know well.

Set 18, 5:19 pm

I've been noticing lately that everyone is writing novels about someone's daughter. Maybe we'll see 'the carpenter's Daughter', or 'The plumber's daughter', or 'the proctologist's Daugter'. Who knows how far the meme will go??

Set 18, 7:04 pm

>47 ffortsa: - I noticed that sort of theme ages ago. Either the *daughter* or the *wife* or the *garden* or the *lost* something. And then, there are those ubiquitous covers that show people (mostly women but not always) from the back, walking away. Are the publishers have one over on us or is this their way of just having fun? Is it truly a lack of creativity or is it boredom? The newest trend I am noticing on shelves now is the long, vertically narrow covers (I posted a pic of the one I bought, at post #44 on my thread) but I've begun to notice other books in this format as well. The print doesn't seem to be smaller but it's just rather odd.

Set 18, 9:14 pm

>47 ffortsa: I could do two books then, Judy, one per daughter. First daughter could be "The Quantity Surveyor's Daughter" and by the second it can now be either "The Contract Manager's Daughter" or less successfully "The Small Business Owner's Daughter".

Set 19, 5:44 am

>47 ffortsa: >48 jessibud2: >49 PaulCranswick: Ha, funny the trends that occur Judy. I do notice them in covers especially. I haven't noticed the narrower books Shelley.

>49 PaulCranswick: They will be moving to the granddaughters soon enough Paul.

Editado: Set 24, 6:08 pm

59. Small Things Like These (Claire Keegan) (22/09/23) ****1/2

Small but perfectly formed, and already popular with LTers.

Bill Furlong, husband and father of four daughters, on his rounds as a timber and coal merchant discovers a dark secret carried out and kept silent by the Catholic Church, leaving him with a moral quandary.

Although this novel is about the long hidden existence of the Madeline Laundries, it's great strength is in the crafting of Bill and his family over the run up to Christmas.

Set 22, 8:01 pm

>51 Caroline_McElwee: Agree entirely with your assessment of that one, Caroline. It is wonderful but misses out on 5 stars simply because you are left wanting more!

Have a great weekend.

Set 23, 1:13 pm

>52 PaulCranswick: Exactly Paul. I wonder if she will revisit the family.

Set 23, 3:14 pm

>51 Caroline_McElwee: I thought that was an exquisite piece of writing. I thought the fact that it doesn't end at a resolution was part of the joy of it, you were left hoping, rather than knowing. Although she never describes Bill, I feel I'd recognise him.
Loved her next one, Foster as well. I even let the ice cream of my desert melt while I finished the last few pages.

Editado: Set 23, 3:41 pm

>54 Helenliz: I agree she is an exquisite writer Helen. I too enjoyed Foster

Editado: Set 24, 6:37 pm

60. Politics on the Edge: A Memoir from Within (Rory Stewart) (23/09/23) ****1/2

Although not a Conservative supporter I have always had a respect for Rory Stewart.

Here in his political memoir he confirms much of my suspicions about our Parliamentary system and its lack of democratic behaviour. Prime Ministers use the party whips to control how its Members vote, and as Stewart found to his cost, choosing to go against the whip will send you into the weeds for years (5 in his case) where you will be given no promotion to any kind of Cabinet position.

He did good work as Minister for prisons, in International Development and the Foreign office, as well as for his constituency.

Despite his honesty about the negative aspects of certain individuals, and the system, he has a generosity of spirit towards many of those he has worked with: MPs, Civil Servants and others.

As someone who worked at the House of Commons supporting Parliamentary Select Committees for 11 years, there are many very fine Constituency MPs who do solid work, but I have always suspected that many of those who manage to get promoted to the Cabinet achieve those positions to boost their own ends, which require personality traits that lead them to behave in ways that separate them from the ordinary citizen and their needs.

Set 24, 6:27 pm

>51 Caroline_McElwee: Oh, I loved that little gem!

Set 24, 6:35 pm

>57 EBT1002: I will certainly aim to read more of her work Ellen.

Set 24, 6:43 pm

I recommend Foster.

Set 24, 7:44 pm

>59 EBT1002: I read that one last year Ellen, another fine piece of work. They are the only two I have read so far.

Set 25, 3:10 pm

Penultimate visit of the year to Chelsea Phys, and a beautiful day it was. The most birdsong of all our visits this year, but we only saw the wrens. The robins were making a din, but kept out of sight.

Right middle row is the trunk of a cork tree.

The renovation of the glasshouses is complete and they were open again.

I've been keeping cake consumption right down, but as it was nearly the end of my annual leave... a delicious carrot cake. One of my 5-a-day (actually most days I have 10!).

Set 25, 3:14 pm

>51 Caroline_McElwee: I have a copy of that one on the way to me or I would be adding it to the BlackHole, but I received a couple of your recommendations today: The Well of Saint Nobody and All the Beauty in the World. I got them, but no telling when I will get to read them. . .

>61 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks for sharing the pictures!

Set 25, 3:15 pm

As the local Free Little Library has been full of late I have been putting a box on the wall out front...

7 of 13 were adopted yesterday, so I topped up this morning and when I came home from Chelsea Phys, 8 of 11 had disappeared.

Rain predicted for the next few days, but will top up and put out again over the weekend.

Set 25, 3:16 pm

>62 alcottacre: I hope you enjoy them Stasia, I think you will.

Thanks re the photos.

Set 25, 3:20 pm

>63 Caroline_McElwee: I only wish I lived close enough to visit your Little Free Library!

>64 Caroline_McElwee: I have no doubt but that I will.

Set 25, 3:46 pm

>61 Caroline_McElwee: - Gorgeous, top to bottom (and yum!)

Set 25, 4:47 pm

>65 alcottacre: >66 jessibud2: Thanks Stasia and Shelley. Via various routes I have let 512 books go since mid-Feb.

Set 25, 5:33 pm

Revisiting >1 Caroline_McElwee: The auctions raised a total of £39.9m to be split between family, and both Freddie's and Elton's Charity Foundations.

Set 26, 3:44 am

>63 Caroline_McElwee: Coming across boxes like this always makes me so happy! And it is good you've had so many takers on your offerings.

Set 26, 5:03 am

>69 ursula: Thanks Ursula.

Set 26, 7:46 pm

That cake has my mouth watering...

Editado: Set 27, 2:48 pm

>71 EBT1002: It was very good Ellen.

Set 27, 4:41 pm

>56 Caroline_McElwee: Was excited to see this review Caroline. I have loved his other books and have this one on my wish list.

Set 28, 4:34 am

>73 Oberon: I read his first years back Erik, and have the middle two in the tbr mountain. He participates in a Podcast with Alistair Campbell, which I haven't got to yet:

Set 30, 5:54 am

>56 Caroline_McElwee: I will look out for that one too, Caroline. Like you my political hue is hardly blue but I do think Stewart is the sort of principled free spirit that politics needs.

Like so many these days and even though I still pay my Labour Party Subs, no political party really speaks for me anymore. Too much talking and not enough listening.

Out 2, 5:16 pm

Hi, Caroline. I hope this works. I enjoyed a CNN interview with Emily Wilson and thought you might, too:

I’m enjoying her The Iliad so far!

Out 3, 12:17 pm

>76 jnwelch: Thanks for the link Joe, will get to this soon.

Out 6, 10:22 pm

>76 jnwelch: I'm making note of that link, as well. I have her translation of The Odyssey on my retirement reading list.

Out 7, 5:53 am

HAppy weekend!

As always I enjoy the garden pictures you post.

That carrot cake looks delicious! Carrot is one of my favourites but very few cafes hit it out of the park for me.

I love little libraries. I haven't checked my local ones for a few weeks. I have some books to put in. Perhaps I will do this on the way to work today. Who knows, maybe I will find a book fo myself as well.

Editado: Out 7, 4:08 pm

>79 figsfromthistle: Carrot cakes have to have lots of carrots and not much sugar for my taste Anita. I hate those confections that are just sweet and orange!

I hooe you find a book to adopt. I'll be putting a box out again on Monday (I don't work Mondays, so can monitor and top up).

Editado: Out 16, 7:05 am

61. The Secret Lives of Somerset Maugham (Selina Hastings) (15/10/23) *****

I read a bit of Maugham in my teens and early twenties and this memoir had been on the shelf a while, nudged off after reading Tan Twan Eng's wonderful The House of Doors which has Maugham as a central character.

Maugham said of his writing that he had no imagination, he was just a storyteller, reshaping the stories of lives he knew or had heard about. And he did it very well. Writing was the most important thing in his life, it was where he didn't compromise. Three hours with the pen every morning. At the outset he was a playwright, then a short story writer, then a novelist. He also wrote essays and memoir. When he felt he ran out of steam in any of these he would simply stop doing them. He had stories backed up in his head, sometimes bubbling over years.

Because he was sometimes uninterested in disguising the source of his characters, he often got in hot water, although many people were flattered even to have some of their dirty linen aired in public.

He had an unhappy childhood, homosexual in an era it was not accepted, so happiness in itself was not something he expected to enjoy, although as long as he could write and travel, there was much happiness to be had, and becoming a successful creative he became a very wealthy man, and was very generous with that wealth.

Trapped into a marriage that lasted for many years, he was a father and grandfather. Although at the end of his life due to the interference of the man who for many years had been his secretary, the relations with his daughter had been strained, for quite a long period before that she and her family had been part of his life.

Maugham had a great capacity for friendship, and was a connoisseur of style and art. He died in his mid-80s in France, where he had a home. His ashes are buried in Cambridge, UK.

Portrait in the latter part of his life, by Graham Sutherland.

I have volume 1 of his collected short stories out of the library, and aim to read them through the winter. His most famous story 'Rain' is very fine.

Out 16, 8:17 am

>63 Caroline_McElwee: I love this idea, might give it a go myself! We get lots of dog walkers coming past the door.

I am tempted by the Maugham biography, after reading Tan Twan Eng's book. Lots in your review to think about.

Out 16, 8:17 am

And I forgot to say that I had missed the end of your thread with the visit to the FM exhibition. It looked wonderful. Thank you for posting the photos.

Out 16, 5:18 pm

Went to hear filmaker Ken Loach talk this evening. Thought provoking as would be expected.

Unfortunately too far back to get a decent photo myself.

tv includes
Up the Junction
Cathy Come Home

Poor Cow (1967)
Kes (1969) (as Kenneth Loach)
Family Life (1971)
Black Jack (1979) (as Kenneth Loach)
Looks and Smiles (1981) (as Kenneth Loach)
Fatherland (1986)
Hidden Agenda (1990)
Riff-Raff (1991)
Raining Stones (1993)
Ladybird, Ladybird (1994)
Land and Freedom (1995)
Carla's Song (1996)
My Name Is Joe (1998)
Bread and Roses (2000)
The Navigators (2001)
Sweet Sixteen (2002)
11'09"01 September 11 (segment "United Kingdom") (2002)
Ae Fond Kiss... (2004)
Tickets (2005), along with Ermanno Olmi and Abbas Kiarostami
The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006)
It's a Free World... (2007)
Looking for Eric (2009)
Route Irish (2010)
The Angels' Share (2012)
Jimmy's Hall (2014)
I, Daniel Blake (2016)
Sorry We Missed You (2019)
The Old Oak (2023)

Out 19, 8:18 am

Mainly focusing on non-fiction at the moment. Started several novels and quickly set them aside. I am enjoying Ursula K Le Guin's collected poems though.

Out 19, 4:20 pm

UKL wrote poetry, that I knew, but it won't surprise you to learn that I've never read any. And am exceedingly unlikely to. I hope it's thrilling and delighting you, Caro.

Out 19, 4:48 pm

>86 richardderus: ROFLMAO RD. I am certainly not surprised on that point.

Out 21, 3:44 pm

I went to see what is likely to be Ken Loach's final film The Old Oak which was perfectly pitched and very moving. A bus load of Syrian Refugees arrive at an ex-mining village and the consequences. Loach works with fine brushes in a palette of grey, nothing is black and white. There was not a dry eye in the house at the end.

Out 22, 12:48 pm

Glorious day for our last visit of the year to Chelsea Phys.

A new sculpture round an old tree that was brutally pruned this year, it bears the names of all the head gardeners.

My friend had a visitor. We think it was the colour of his jacket, camouflage for it, as another settled when we moved somewhere else. It has never happened before, and our favourite place is where the dragonflies hover.

Out 22, 12:49 pm

That sculpture is gorgeous, Caro. Looks like a lovely day out.

Out 22, 3:22 pm

Beautiful photos Caroline. My garden is still flowering, nice but a bit odd!

Out 22, 4:38 pm

I love the look of that sculpture. Every year I pollard the tree in our front garden. Every year I step back from it and go "ohh, that looks a bit hard". So far, every year, it has recovered. Maybe this will too.

Out 22, 5:36 pm

>89 Caroline_McElwee: Perfect day! And you got the hunter's seal of approval for that color as camouflage.

Sleep well, Chelsea Physic Garden.

Out 23, 6:55 am

>90 lauralkeet: It was a lovely day Laura. I think the sculpture will look different year on year as the tree grows back.

>91 charl08: Yes, one of my friends says she has more colour than usual in her garden too Charlotte, I guess because so far there has been no frost (from the armchair gardener here hehe).

>92 Helenliz: I think they do Helen. My dad was a big prunner, especially f roses, and he often got a late blooming, so I imagine trees would benefit too.

>93 richardderus: i do love when a critter (er well most critters) deigns to trust me with a visit RD.

Out 23, 7:35 am

62. So Late in the Day (Claire Keegan) (22/10/23) ***1/2

A tight little relationship story about an ill-fitting couple. In this case one feel's the male of the species will only find a fit if he finds a female of the species who is prepared to comply. Sadly there are still a few about, but in the western world at least hopefully these are a rarer species if not yet extinct. Would that this kind of male of the species were rarer.

Really a short story presented as a novella, but Keegan's writing is as keen as ever. I very quickly felt my hackles raising.

Out 27, 1:14 pm

63. Geneva (Richard Armitage) (26/10/23) (***1/2)

Actor Richard Armitage’s debut novel, a thriller. Originally commissioned as an audio book, he reads a lot of books for Audible, which was subsequently translated to the page.

How original it is I can’t say as I don’t actually read a lot of thrillers, but it kept me turning the page. Recent Nobel winner Sarah has been invited to be the face of a new scientific discovery, but is all what it seems? The concept is current, but I think it missed out on spending some time exploring the moral questions, there was an opportunity but it was missed.

I often find that actors make pretty good storytellers, they can be good on place and character. Armitage does a pretty good job, and the second novel is underway.

Nov 1, 4:48 am

>96 Caroline_McElwee: Interesting. I'm always a little intrigued when someone crosses over from another art into novel-writing.

Nov 1, 6:42 am

>97 ursula: I think many creatives can cross over Ursula. It's interesting when they try.

Nov 1, 1:48 pm

Hi Caroline. I was quite tempted to go see Richard Armitage at a reading in Manchester recently.

I wondered if you'd seen this BA event with Bernadine Evaristo. I think it looks good.

Nov 1, 3:13 pm

>99 charl08: I saw Richard Armitage's extraordinary performance in The Crucible some years back Charlotte. Also in Uncle Vanya, with Toby Jones, who wiped the floor with everyone, such a great performance.

Thanks for the info re Everisto. Unfortunately won't be able to get there.

Nov 2, 4:32 am

>101 charl08: Sorry Caroline, I just assumed they were recording it. Maybe they'll share it afterwards? I'm about half way through her collection with penguin Black Britain Writing Back. (Or at least the first published batch.) I've been so impressed by them.

Nov 2, 5:00 am

>101 charl08: I think I have a couple of those Charlotte.

Nov 4, 5:42 pm

Hi, Caroline. >76 jnwelch:, >77 Caroline_McElwee:: I’m still enjoying The Iliad. I have it on a bit longer track than my other reads, as I usually only read a few pages at a time. What a remarkable job of translating. I keep thinking of her making the choices she describes in that interview.

Nov 4, 7:20 pm

>103 jnwelch: I'm glad you are enjoying it Joe. I remember reading quite large bites of The Odyssey then taking breaks, one quite long, before finishing it in a couple of days.

Editado: Nov 5, 8:09 am

64. A Memoir of my Former Self: A Life in Writing (Hilary Mantel) (01/11/23) ****

A broad breadth of Mantels essays and reviews across her lifetime. My favourite were the autobiographical pieces, and her 2017 Reith Lectures about history, and writing it as non-fiction or fiction and the complexities and liberations there in.

For me I got less from the reviews (book/film), I think because I was familiar, and often agreed with her views, so they didn't add anything to what I already thought.

65. Kick (Paula Byrne) (04/11/23) ****

A page-turning, thoughtful rendering of a vibrant but less well known member of the Kennedy clan, Kathleen Kennedy (second daughter), whose life was full but cut short by her death in an airplane crash aged 28. She lived much of her life in Britain.

Nov 5, 7:01 am

>105 Caroline_McElwee: Interesting - had never heard of her before. Surprised / not surprised by the Chatsworth link.

Nov 5, 8:08 am

>110 BLBera: Ditto Alison. A friend loaned it to me. Because of some of her choices, after her death the Kennedy's rarely spoke about her in public so she got a bit lost in time.

Nov 6, 12:16 pm

Went to see the biographical film about Samuel Beckett 'Dance First', filmed in black and white which worked well. The only thing that was slightly odd was you never saw him write, or rehearsing in the theatre. I guess they focussed on the relationships and friendships in his life, that inspired his work. Good performances.

It makes me want to return to his work, and to reread Deirdre Bair's biography of him.

Editado: Nov 7, 12:34 pm

66. The Art of the Wasted Day (Patricia Hampl) (07/11/23) ****1/2

I really enjoyed Hampl's exploration of 'the wasted day', which of course is not exactly what it seems. The backbone of her book is the life and work of Montaigne, who described his essais as being that that is passing, as opposed to being an inward look. She also sites other solitaries, including monastic. A paean to daydreaming too.

This is also a memoir about her life, her ancestry, the things of import to her.

Along side this she explores the capacity to be solitary together, within a relationship, and talks out loud to her departed husband with whom she sat for many years across the yellow table. So as well as solitude, there is an acknowledgement of loss. An acknowledgement of a continued conversation.

Thanks to Beth (BLBera) for putting this on my radar, I have now ordered two of her other books. Perfect winter reading.

Nov 7, 12:48 pm

>109 Caroline_McElwee: I am so glad you enjoyed this one, Caroline.

You added the Mantel memoir to my WL. It sounds like something I would enjoy.

Nov 10, 1:19 pm

>81 Caroline_McElwee: I read a biography of Maugham years ago. I wonder how this one differs? I will have to check it out - although I read the previous biography so many years ago that I doubt I will remember it in any specificity.

>89 Caroline_McElwee: Love the pictures!

>95 Caroline_McElwee: I have that one slated to read this month. Keegan is always on point, isn't she?

>105 Caroline_McElwee: >109 Caroline_McElwee: Adding all of those to the BlackHole!

Have a fantastic Friday and a wonderful weekend, Caroline!

Nov 10, 6:36 pm

>111 alcottacre: I hope you enjoy some of the books that are to land in the black hole Stasia. I'm really into reading non-fiction at the moment, and am deeply into the new volume of Seamus Heaney letters that laned this week. A great favourite poet of mine.

Nov 10, 6:57 pm

>112 Caroline_McElwee: I should try Heaney again. He was forced onto our English class when I was about 13, and you know how teens automatically hate anything an adult tells them is good!

Look forward to your review. A few lines from a favourite woukd be great!

Nov 11, 6:04 am

>113 AlisonY: Oh yes, being made to read something at school is generally a big turn off, unless your teacher had real passion. Fortunately I wasn't taught poetry at school, it was something we had at home. My first volume of Heaney's work was given to me nearly 30 years ago by a friend I noted from the volume when I picked it up last night.

This is an early one I have always loved Alison (look away RD).


By Seamus Heaney

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.

My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner’s bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.

Editado: Nov 11, 9:50 am

>114 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks Caroline - I enjoyed that. Believe it or not that was actually one of the two poems we studied that year at school. I think the other one was called Blackberry-Picking.

I can see why I didn't enjoy it as a youngster, but I get it now reading it as an adult. There's a lot of emotion in the poem and such a sense of the elements.

Seamus Heaney's poetry is another of those things that ends up in the stupid bucket relating to Northern Ireland politics. There's a sense that Nationalists 'own' Heaney and his work because he was vocal about not recognising himself in any way as an Ulsterman and being a northern nationalist. A couple of years ago there was a lot of controversy over the use of Heaney's portrait in adverts commemorating the 100th anniversary of Northern Ireland, as Heaney was clear in his beliefs concerning his nationality, going so far as to comment years before when his work was included in an anthology of British poets:

“Be advised, my passport’s green/No glass of ours was ever raised /To toast the Queen”

Editado: Nov 11, 10:44 am

>115 AlisonY: I can feel the physicality of his father and grandfather's work, and see the shift of time in the nib supplanting the spade Alison. In a different kind of toil, and maybe a wondering if the latter is as valid as the former.

I guess I've not focused on the political aspect, though certainly he was seen meeting with the Queen on a couple of occasions! I imagine there will be more political stuff in the letters.

Editado: Nov 12, 11:32 am

67. The Other Side of the Bridge Mary Lawson (11/11/23) ****1/2

This is the third novel of Lawson's I've read, and the best so far. I don’t know that any writer has made me loath a child into a man before, quite like Lawson made me loath Jake.

The story is set in a very rural farming community, told in two times, and the brothers Arthur and Jake run through both. The doctors son Ian tells the later part of their story, and his own, but they are intercut. Beautifully managed.

Nov 12, 7:21 am

Happy Sunday!

>109 Caroline_McElwee: I added this one to my list

Nov 12, 7:30 am

>118 figsfromthistle: I hope you like it Anita.

Editado: Nov 14, 1:14 pm

Stunning Argentine Tango from this weeks Strictly:

The Argentine tango began life as a male/male dance done by dockers missing their wives.

Nov 12, 8:01 am

>117 Caroline_McElwee: I have this on my shelf to read, need to pick it up. Thanks for the reminder to do so. I've loved the two of hers that I've read (so far, I hope).

Nov 12, 8:02 am

>120 Caroline_McElwee: Learning to do the tango is on my bucket list. I blame Scent of a Woman film.

Nov 12, 9:58 am

>120 Caroline_McElwee: The Argentine tango began life as a male/male dance done by dockers missing their wives.

...well, that was the *excuse* they made up...

Editado: Nov 12, 10:02 am

>121 charl08: You won't be disappointed Charlotte.

>122 AlisonY: Get too it Alison. I did some basic Latin American classes in my 20s, many moons ago, but never the Argentine tango.

>123 richardderus: I suspect half a dozen of one and six of the other RD. Most good tango shows have included same sex performances for some years.

Nov 12, 1:27 pm

I see that I gave this Lawson, four stars, but I don't remember much of it.

I love "Digging," -- and Heaney.

Nov 12, 4:48 pm

>125 BLBera: I suspect quite a bit would come back quickly if you picked it up again Beth.

I'm enjoying Heaney's letters, but I always like reading about creativity. I'm reading the poetry as I go along too.

Nov 14, 6:25 am

>120 Caroline_McElwee: Wow!
I rarely follow links to YouTube, glad I did this time, it was amazing.
Thanks for sharing, Caroline.

Nov 14, 7:19 am

>127 FAMeulstee: Glad you enjoyed it Anita.

Nov 14, 1:15 pm

Yesterday afternoon/eve I was in town. I went to see the David Hockney portraits exhibition at the Portrait gallery.

I love his landscapes, but the portraits were fun, and it was interesting to see that he had painted some friends right across time.

I do love his Ipad drawings.

This put me in mind of VVGs paintings of shoes.

The Christmas lights are now starting to appear:

I found a little Ukrainian café for supper, very understated but pleasant and a one off: falafel burger, cheese cake.

Then on to see the RSC production of Hamnet, which was good, if not as good as an acquaintance suggested. I did know they had straightened the narrative, it would have been too problematic to follow the book, but a good version and fine performances.

Home just after 11.30pm. Don't do that too often nowadays.

Nov 14, 1:19 pm

Wow, that sounds lke a fabulous day Caroline, jam packed!

Nov 14, 1:32 pm

Just catching up here! I'm glad you have lots of good books and other entertainment to keep you busy. Where is the Ukrainian cafe? I am always looking for new places to eat in London, especially since Gabi's was forced to close.

Nov 14, 1:38 pm

>130 mdoris: It was Beth.

>131 Sakerfalcon: I sooo miss Gaby's Claire. I'd been going there since the late 1970s.

The Ukrainian (I think) is called La Roche, just along from the Coliseum in St Martin's Lane.

Nov 17, 5:29 pm

>117 Caroline_McElwee: I wish my local library had any of Lawson's books. She is an author that I would very much like to read.

Nov 18, 9:59 am

>129 Caroline_McElwee: It sounds like a great day, Caroline. I love the iPad drawing of the shoes!

Nov 21, 1:24 pm

I am reading several non-fiction books and a novel at the moment, so nothing is getting finished fast. I'm ok with that..

Nov 21, 1:27 pm

>133 alcottacre: How frustrating Stasia.

>134 BLBera: It was Beth. I'll post a couple of pictures from one of his sketchbooks later, he turned the pages of a complete sketchbook on video, I took a few photos.

Editado: Nov 24, 5:11 pm

As promised, some shots from one of David Hockney's sketchbooks, I think the characters are from a play.

Nov 21, 3:04 pm

>129 Caroline_McElwee: Would you recommend Hamnet Caroline? We are trying to make up our minds about whether to go. We've seen both 'Guys and Dolls' and 'Dear England' recently and both were excellent. And I was very impressed that 'Dear England' still managed to engage my interest despite the fact that a) I don't support England and b) I have no interest in football!

Editado: Nov 21, 5:33 pm

>138 SandDune: Although I enjoyed Hamnet Rhian, there was something I couldn't put my finger on that was missing.

I'm thinking of seeing 'Lionesse' at the Pinter soon.

Nov 23, 7:50 am

>139 Caroline_McElwee: I have a ticket for Lyonesse! I had a credit to use from something I'd booked that was cancelled due to Covid and it looked very appealing. (Though I am still sad to have missed Sunday in the Park with George, which was my original event.)

Nov 23, 1:55 pm

>140 Sakerfalcon: I look forward to hearing your thoughts Claire.

Nov 24, 8:28 am

>135 Caroline_McElwee: Ditto Caroline - I've gone from being a one book woman to having 4 or 5 on the go lately. Like you I'm fine with it, but it feels like no thing's getting finished anytime soon.

Nov 24, 8:54 am

Happy Friday, Caroline. Somehow, I had your thread unstarred. WTH? At least I found you again. I like the Heaney poem up there and I added The Other Side of the Bridge to my TBR. I really liked Crow Lake.

Nov 24, 10:06 am

>142 AlisonY: I'm half through the Heaney letters (800pp), half through the complete poems of Ursula K Le Guin (750pp) and have 3 shorter non-fiction and a novel on the go Alison. At least with letters and poems gaps don't mean you lose the thread. Probably another 10 days with Heaney, and Le Guin probably finished by Christmas.

>143 msf59: That happens sometimes Mark. I don't think you will be disappointed in the Lawson.

Nov 24, 4:40 pm

>137 Caroline_McElwee: Neat!

>145 Caroline_McElwee: I enjoyed that. Thank you for posting the link, Caroline.

Editado: Nov 24, 5:15 pm

>146 alcottacre: Pipes (or poetry) aren't for everyone I know. Glad you enjoyed Stasia. There are 27 poems on the album.

Nov 24, 5:47 pm

>137 Caroline_McElwee: Cool stuff, Caro!

Nov 26, 8:03 am

Wow Caroline, you have been so busy.
I admire the skills of piping musicians but having had to walk past a piping shop every morning on my way to work for several years I can take or (mostly) leave it.

I just booked a ticket for the Women in Revolt guided tour. My excuse is that they've closed Tate Liverpool for a 2 year rehang / building project, so I won't get to visit their exhibitions for a while!

Nov 26, 8:16 am

>149 charl08: I look forward to your thoughts on the exhibition Charlotte.

Nov 26, 9:47 pm

Hi Caroline. I just finished The House of Doors today and now I want to read some of the works of Somerset Maugham. I'm thinking about hosting a group read in January or February. I saw that you read The Secret Lives of Somerset Maugham and gave it five stars. I may seek that out, as well.

Nov 27, 4:09 am

>135 Caroline_McElwee: I usually have 3 or 4 going, I like having something finishing more often than I would otherwise (or at least it feels that way), but sometimes they all line up so that I have a long stretch where nothing seems to be getting closer to completed and those times can be tough!

>137 Caroline_McElwee: Always love a look inside sketchbooks. It's really interesting how differently people use theirs.

Editado: Nov 27, 8:53 am

>151 EBT1002: Glad it was a hit for you Ellen. I have Vol I of Maugham's collected short stories out of the library and plan to dip into it over the Winter. 'Rain' which is mentioned in the novel is extraordinary.

>152 ursula: I agree about how differently people use their sketchbooks. One of my treasures are facsimiles of four of Vincent Van Gogh's sketchbooks. Time I got them off the shelf to enjoy again. I used to carry one around with me when I first got them Ursula.

Facsimile edition: Vincent Van Gogh Museum/Folio Society colaboration.

Editado: Nov 27, 8:31 am

Here's a taster from facsimiles of VVGs sketchbooks:

Nov 27, 8:23 am

Editado: Nov 29, 9:08 am

68. Tao Te Ching (Lao Tzu, interpreted by Ursula K. Le Guin) (19/11/23) ****1/2

I had been intending to read a different translation/interpretation of this, when I came upon Le Guin's version which is clean, exquisite and spare. I am wondering whether one will always favour the first version one reads. As well as studying this version more fully, next year I will read the version I originally planned to read, with its academic disquisition.

Nov 29, 10:22 am

>154 Caroline_McElwee: What a spectacular facsimile edition! *covetcovetcovet*

Enjoy the slide into the weekend, Caro.

Editado: Nov 29, 3:42 pm

>155 jessibud2: Indeed Shelley.

>157 richardderus: It really is RD. They did a great job, even to pages that were partially torn out, faded notes that are illegible etc. Only the pristine covers give it away.

Nov 29, 2:34 pm

>154 Caroline_McElwee: This is just lovely. Thanks for posting the photos.

Nov 29, 3:44 pm

>159 charl08: Pleasure Charlotte.

Nov 29, 4:07 pm

>145 Caroline_McElwee: Lovely.

>151 EBT1002: Maugham was my favourite author bar none when I was very young. Love his short stories (he could have influenced my roving nature - travel wise, I mean).

Nov 29, 10:04 pm

>81 Caroline_McElwee: I received a copy of that one yesterday. I bought it based on your recommendation and hope to read it shortly after reading The House of Doors. I loved Maugham's work when I was younger and really need to read more of it now that I am older than dirt.

Editado: Nov 30, 4:57 am

>161 PaulCranswick: He was much more known when we were younger, than now Paul. Hopefully Tan's book will lead many to him.

>162 alcottacre: I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did Stasia.

Nov 30, 5:28 am

>153 Caroline_McElwee: >154 Caroline_McElwee: That is indeed a treasure, Caroline!

Editado: Nov 30, 1:38 pm

69. The Letters of Seamus Heaney (ed Christopher Read) (30/11/23) *****


I am going to miss sitting on Seamus Heaney's shoulder. For some reason I never did hear him live, though I saw many fine poets read in the 1980s/90s.

Heaney's family agreed to support and facilitate this project where necessary under the strict understanding no letters to family or close, non-public, friends appeared. The majority of the correspondents are poets, translators, editors and others in the publishing world. The thing that becomes most quickly apparent is that Seamus had a great gift for friendship, even if there isn't a letter in the volume that doesn't begin with an apology for the lateness in his reply to their letters.

The second thing is the great richness in attention he pays to the work sent to him by his friends, and that received by him (not included) by them, his gratitude is deep and buoyant.

Reading a lifetime's creative arc is fascinating, informative, invigorating. In Heaney's case though the success ultimately crowded out the silent time for writing poetry. It wasn't until late in his life that he learned to say no to the invitations to teach and speak around the world, and then it was his health that made it near impossible for him to write, as physical problems led to bouts of deep depression. Despite this though, his body of work is substantial.

Breaking the rigid agreement the last entry is a text to his wife Marie, as he was being wheeled into surgery 'Noli Timere' (do not be afraid). He died before reaching the operating theatre.

Dez 1, 9:51 am

>165 Caroline_McElwee: This sounds like a wonderful collection, Caroline. It definitely goes on my WL.

Dez 1, 3:39 pm

>166 BLBera: I think you might enjoy his commitment and his wordplay Beth.

Dez 2, 11:59 am

70. Dear Howard (David Batterham) (02/12/23) ***

An interesting little volume. Batterham is a book dealer with idiosyncratic collections, an old soak and eccentric drawn to the same. In his cups and travelling alone he writes letters to his friend the artist Howard Hodgkin, who never replies, but has kept the letters, and returns them to him suggesting he publishes them.

One of the quirky things learnt is that although he never meets him in person, he makes an occasional sale to the Duke of Edinburgh. The Duke buys things he is interested in owning and stores them in a cupboard for when someone wishes to buy him a gift, that person is then introduced to the cupboard and selects and pays for the gift for the Duke.

I think it lost a star because I wasn't interested in the mostly magazines he traded in.

Dez 2, 12:11 pm

>168 Caroline_McElwee: I confess that I do not comprehend the Duke's gift-receiving strategy...he has the books, how do people pay for them? I feel dense for not getting it...

Lovely weekend-ahead's reads, Caro!

Editado: Dez 2, 2:25 pm

>169 richardderus: Well he is just reimbursed for what he has spent RD, but that way he got things he wanted rather than folk giving him things he didn't want. I presume he didn't get what was in the cupboard until someone chose it.

I have to say I once had a friend who hated getting presents she hadn't chosen. So I would listen hard for any hints of things she liked. This would have suited her, except I suspect she wouldn't have left the cupboard alone. I wonder if Her Maj used the cupboard when she wanted a present for the Duke too.

Dez 2, 3:02 pm

>170 Caroline_McElwee: Seems like a round-about way to get gifts, but I suppose giving the queen's consort a gift certificate would've been weird...but honestly...did he *need* gifts?

Editado: Dez 3, 12:54 pm

Went to see 'Maestro'. Film good, if a bit skewed towards his obsessive extramarital relationships. Bradley Cooper so talented, again acted, performed, directed, wrote, produced; or is that compulsive control freak behaviour!

Carey Mulligan gives a fine performance.

The cigarettes should have got a mention in casting!

Dez 3, 12:50 pm

My French/Algerian neighbour decorates his front yard.

Dez 3, 2:10 pm

<172 - Glad you liked it, Caroline. I did too and put my comments in my thread.

Dez 3, 3:29 pm

>174 jessibud2: Peeped across to your thread Shelley.

Dez 3, 3:40 pm

Hello Dear One!!! You read some great books this year. I know that if I closely read the list, I'll end up adding many. For now, I'm going to find a copy of All the Beauty in the World: The Metropolitan Museum of Art and me. I love the Met. I haven't visited in awhile. It is very accesible for me as the bus station is 1/2 mile up the road and there is a bus that goes to NYC every day.

I send all good wishes for a bright, happy holiday.

Dez 3, 4:14 pm

>176 Whisper1: Good to see you peeking around the door Linda. I look forward to reading about your visit to the Met in time.

Dez 4, 2:18 pm

The first of the Christmas get-togethers today with an old friend.

Winter spice Creme Brûlée. I shall probably have it again when I meet my bro there on Friday.

Dez 4, 2:26 pm

>173 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks for sharing the pictures, Caroline.

Hope you have a wonderful day!

Ontem, 4:37 am

>178 Caroline_McElwee: oh that does sound good.
Tempted by the Heaney. I ought to read his Beowulf again. And maybe some of his other work too.
Oh botheration, it's dangerous in here, that's a whole new project!

Ontem, 11:16 am

>180 Helenliz: Haa, you and me both Helen. More Heaney in my future too. I'm rereading his poetry, and will start the book of interviews he worked on with fellow poet Dennis O'Driscoll, Stepping Stones, which is as near to autobiography as he got. I also have 2-3 volumes of his essays, and like you, a potential reread of Beowulf which I very much enjoyed first time around.

Editado: Ontem, 3:37 pm

71. In the Footsteps of Du Fu (Michael Wood) (05/12/23) ****

A beautifully illustrated volume about the 8th century Tang dynasty Chinese poet Du Fu, by one of my favourite historian/travellers. I read a volume of Du Fu's poems some years back, so I enjoyed learning about him and his era, although there is very little left of his, mostly what the Chinese call 'new/old' so buildings on the site of where they think his was, but the photographs of the landscape in rural areas show how he caught it in words.

Imaginary portrait of Du Fu.

Ontem, 3:42 pm

>182 Caroline_McElwee: I have read and enjoyed several of Wood's books in the past, so I will have to see if I can get a copy of that one. Thank you for the recommendation, Caroline!

Ontem, 8:45 pm

>154 Caroline_McElwee: Quite a treasure!

>173 Caroline_McElwee: Wow! That's a lot of light. Must take a long time to set up but looks beautiful.

Happy rest to the week!

Editado: Hoje, 1:01 pm

>183 alcottacre: Wood's own delight always show's through Stasia. He fell in love with Tang poetry aged 15, and I think both his daughters have Chinese names.

>184 figsfromthistle: Thanks Anita. Yes it takes my neighbour a few days to put up, though last year some was stolen, so he has cctv camera's and notices which detract a bit, managed to miss them in the photos.

Hoje, 2:26 pm

>185 Caroline_McElwee: He fell in love with Tang poetry aged 15, and I think both his daughters have Chinese names. How cool! I guess my girls are lucky that they are not named Hatshepsut, Cleopatra, or Nefertiti given my early fascination with Egypt.