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What are you reading in 2017?
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Caro



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 2932


Location: Owaka, New Zealand

PostPosted: Sun Jan 01, 2017 12:19 am    Post subject: What are you reading in 2017?  Reply with quote

As the title says.

I started my present book a couple of days ago but since I haven't written about it earlier, I will put it here.  It is Mame by Patrick Dennis, a memoir (I think).  Patrick goes to live with his Auntie Mame when he is 10, folllowing the death of his father, whom he doesn't seem to mourn much.  Mame is an eccentric stylish woman who has had little to do with children, but doesn't seem one to shirk responsibilities, and they take to each other lovingly.  I am more than half-way through and Patrick has just got himself engaged to someone unsuitable (her parents seem money and business-obsessed and Mame is subtly trying to break the engagement.  I presume she will prevail.  

I read this first as a child, perhaps 11 or 12, and remember it fondly.  I wasn't so sure when I started this that I would like it so much now - some of it feels dated, and some of Mame's "upbringing" of a child don't fit my rather conventional ideas, perhaps.  Certainly having Patrick in a room with a sunbed doesn't fit with health messages today, and sending him to a school where the "lessons" are taken by teachers in the nude with pupils also in the nude reeks of uncertain morals.  But it has got more entertaining as Patrick grows up and some of their antics, especially when Mame can't avoid getting on a horse and shows off her "horsemanship" by hanging on for dear life (she is stuck, it turns out later) much to the chagrin of her "friend" and rival.

The episode where they get the better of the next school's governors and head is also amusing, if exaggerated from the truth.  Patrick, it seems to me, is embellishing events from his past with some abandon, I think.  Or perhaps it's not a memoir at all.  But he uses his own name and calls Mame his aunt.

This was made into a movie years ago starring Lucille Ball (is she still alive?).


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Mikeharvey



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 3338


Location: Lancashire

PostPosted: Sun Jan 01, 2017 12:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MAME started life as a book 'Auntie Mame'  then a stage play starring Beatrice Lillie, then a Broadway musical by Jerry Herman starring Angela Lansbury, in London starring Ginger Rogers (which I saw at Drury Lane Theatre) then the film with Lucille Ball.  There may have been other versions I've forgotten....


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Caro



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 2932


Location: Owaka, New Zealand

PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2017 5:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My Mame was just called that, though I do see the original was called Auntie Mame.  I do wonder if it was the sequel that I read, since I seem to have vague memories of him being taken around Europe.

I am now attempting to read Justine, the first of the Alexandria Quartet.  I am not sure I have the staying power to manage the whole lot of them.  I remember Evie loving the whole thing, but after just a few pages I am finding the style needing a bit more concentration than I am able to give a book.  One thing that I did notice was a paragraph saying, "'There are only three things to be done with a woman' said Clea once. 'You can love her, suffer for her, or turn her into literature.'"  I found this interesting not just for its sentiment, but because it is just a few days since I read that quote, and I don't know now where I read it.  Not in anything about this book, I think.  

He does seem to be quite philosophical in his approach.


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Caro



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 2932


Location: Owaka, New Zealand

PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2017 1:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've given up on Justine - I found it required more concentration than I have.  But now I have started Jodi Picoult's House Rules, which is about 500 pages long, but easier reading, if not easier subject matter.

It concerns a boy with Asperger's Syndrome who make life very difficult for those around him and is eventually (I read from the back cover) accused of murder; I think the book centres on whether he is guilty or not.  It is the first Picoult I have read and the one that takes my fancy most.  

She does write about law and medical matters in all her books, or more accurately medical problems and their legal ramifications.

Some of the Americanisms annoy me - why do Americans talk of Mom when the rest of the world (well the English-speaking world) call her Mum, and why do they talk of 'math' rather than'maths'.  It irritates me though I can cope with American spellings, and generally have a fiarly tolerant attitude to grammar irregularities.  But somehow I have to mentally correct these (to me) mis-sounds.  Sorry to sound so petty.


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Joe McWilliams



Joined: 10 Feb 2012
Posts: 658


Location: Canada

PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2017 12:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Don't be too hard on us Americans for our 'Moms' and 'math', Caro. We can't help ourselves. To me, the difference between 'Mom' and Mum' is not even worth mentioning. But like you, I often have trouble with Americanisms or Britishisms in writing when they seem out of place.
There's an example in the Robert Wilson crime story I'm reading right now. The fellow's in Madrid, investigating the disappearance of his daughter and speaking (in Spanish, ostensibly, but of course conveyed to the reader in English) to local people, who sound like bloody Londoners.
I can't help thinking there must be better way to carry this sort of thing off, but I don't know that I could do it.


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Joe McWilliams



Joined: 10 Feb 2012
Posts: 658


Location: Canada

PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2017 7:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

All this silence irritates me. That could be a symptom of addiction - I'm not sure.

Meanwhile, the reading continues, interrupted by the odd depressing documentary on Netflix. The current project is The Secret History by Donna Tartt. This is her first novel, set in lovely rural Vermont at a small but expensive college, where a group of classics scholars get themselves into a heap of trouble. It builds slowly and believably and has now exploded into something, sad to say, less believable.
A bonus is learning many Greek terms, which however I will not retain beyond the weekend.


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Chibiabos83
Site Admin


Joined: 19 Nov 2008
Posts: 3362


Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2017 7:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll start making some noise in a few days, but at the moment I'm approaching the end of one large book and just past the halfway point of a very large one.


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Caro



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 2932


Location: Owaka, New Zealand

PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 9:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am alternating House Rules with a lighter book: Pastoral by Nevil Shute.  I have read this at irregular times through the years and remember it as the first book I read as a teenager that had a hint of sex in it.  I haven't got to that part yet, so don't remember if he touched her breasts or it was more than that, or less, but I remember quite well the thought that I had never read this sort of thing before.  

It is enjoyable, though I am not very au fait with war planes etc.  I do read light books on the subject - like Margaret Mayhew's The Crew, or a non-fiction account of Malta.

I am still reading House Rules too, though I don't seem to have much time for it.  Bit hard-going, perhaps.


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Caro



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 2932


Location: Owaka, New Zealand

PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2017 1:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am getting on well with House Rules - it is extremely readable, if very long (over 500 pages).  It is told from various points of view, Jacob, the boy with Asperger's; his mother, Emma; his lawyer, Oliver; policeman Rich; brother Theo.  This allows the author to keep her chapters short, which means I can read a couple at least at a time.  

There are at least ten examples interspersed in the narrative featuring what I assume are true crimes of varying levels of gruesomeness.  I am not quite sure what the point of these are, maybe just to show the mindset of the murderer, or maybe to raise expectations of the reader, though we already know what happened to the victim here.  Even if it turns out Jacob is the murderer (which I doubt) he is also a victim, of his disability (a term he rejects, as I do, even though in the next census I will need to tick that) and the way he is treated in jail, as is the mother who has to juggle his needs (which are many, in the forms of food, medication, lack of stimuli, taking everything literally, the need to cater for his impulses and his need for things to be exactly the same (always expecting to watch CSI at 4.30pm, having a colour-coordinated wardrobe, having different coloured food for different days of the week, Yellow Mondays, White Tuesdays (I may have the colours wrong), and Theo, whose needs are always secondary to his brother's.  I may have lost control of that long sentence.

I am liking it a lot.  And enjoying how Picoult must have had to learn a lot of forensic stuff to be able to portray Jacob's overwhelming interest in and knowledge of the subject.


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Joe McWilliams



Joined: 10 Feb 2012
Posts: 658


Location: Canada

PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2017 6:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for that, Caro. Picoult is so popular (my impression from best-seller lists, library traffic and such) that I have developed a suspicion she must be trashy, which of course is unfair. I'm pleased to find out she passes the Caro test.

You won't guess what I'm reading, so I'll tell you: The Conductor, by Sarah Quigley. So far, so good.
I ask myself: Would I care at all about these people and the details of their daily lives were one of them not named Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad not lurking in the wings? Possibly not. But they are, so I do.



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