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iwishiwas



Joined: 21 Nov 2008
Posts: 352


Location: NE England

PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 10:49 pm    Post subject:  Reply with quote

Our book group decided on a topical light read and picked Last Christmas by Julia Williams from the paperback best sellers list. I'm two chapters in and already I've had my fill of "chick lit". I will give it the benefit of the doubt for a few more chapters but I'm not enjoying it so far.



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Castorboy



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 1798


Location: Castor Bay Auckland NZ

PostPosted: Thu Dec 17, 2009 4:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Julian Barnes is my short story writer for Christmas. There are eleven pieces with titles such as A Short History of Hairdressing in which a male remembers his life by experience of haircuts and Vigilance where another male exercises his revenge on those who cough during concerts.
He reckons the coughers are on day release from the local ENT department of the hospital!
I am rationing myself to one a day of the rest of this collection The Lemon Table.


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Caro



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 2960


Location: Owaka, New Zealand

PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 2009 9:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I thought I would treat myself to a Mavis Cheek over the Christmas period and am reading Amenable Women.  She is a very under-rated writer in my opinion and the beginning of this book just confirms me in this opinion.

The book begins with a funeral of a "Renaissace Man" - not seen in quite this light by his wife, who finds him full of pomposity and snobbery.  Her thoughts at the funeral are not entirely appropriate, if the expectations of others is the criteria, and finds herself thinking things like, "Had Lucy, her neurotic cleaning person who practically genuflected at Edward...and who insisted she was only 29 but who seemed to remember The Eagles and 'Hotel California' rather perfectly and who pored over Hello Magazine looking for signs of facelifts and rubber breasts much as Midas might have pored over his gold - had she nipped back and managed to put the Beckhams down for a moment and place enough clean towels into the downstairs lavatory?"  

I enjoyed this a lot, and found plenty to think about in just the first two pages.  I was at a funeral today and it surprising what thoughts pop into your hear.  When the funeral director said something about our lives being short in this world I found myself thinking, "But not as short as a flea's," which made me pleased other people cannot see your thoughts.  

One of the things to wonder about was the fact that she said people in Britain are now buried in the grave of someone else, someone dead for at least forty years.  (This allowed much scope for wondering who her husband was sharing the grave with and hoping it might be a Socialist Workers Party member or an Animal Right activist who would give as good as they got. "Edward was never one to listen to the other side of an argument and it would do him no harm at all to have to do so for the rest of eternity.")  But I wondered if it is true that people are now buried together like this?  

The book is to continue with her finding out about Anne of Cleves  "capturing her attention and later her affection" and then of Anne herself (called 'Anna' in the back blurb) telling the real story of her life with and then without Henry.  

I don't recall that Cheek's first books dwelt so much on women in the shadow of important but shallow men, but the last one I read and this one seem to.  A woman's book, I suspect, but would love to know how some of you men find her.

Cheers, Caro.


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Evie
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Joined: 24 Oct 2008
Posts: 3569


Location: Kenilworth, Warwickshire, UK

PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 2009 9:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I must read Mavis Cheek, she sounds fun - though that is a truly *terrible* sentence you quoted, and maybe her writing style would annoy me too much!  I am also struggling to see where Anne of Cleves comes into it all, but no doubt I just ought to read the book!  My sister has some of hers, so next time I go I will borrow one.


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Evie
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Joined: 24 Oct 2008
Posts: 3569


Location: Kenilworth, Warwickshire, UK

PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 2009 9:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

PS - I have no idea about those burial arrangements, though I am sure it happens.  Burial seems to me relatively uncommon these days - most people are cremated, in my experience.


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Caro



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 2960


Location: Owaka, New Zealand

PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 2009 9:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That sentence was all part of what was more or less stream-on-consciousness.  But perhaps Mavis Cheek is more a novelist of ideas than of style, I am not sure.  She does have a distinctive style, I think, but I don't think I can quite say what it is.  There's always a slightly subversive feel to her writing and a sardonic touch, perhaps.  But maybe that's more the message than the style.  Or perhaps, as with any good writer, is an amalgamation of the two.  

Cheers, Caro.


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Ann



Joined: 21 Nov 2008
Posts: 1112


Location: Worcestershire

PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 2009 5:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I put up a review of this book here, some time ago. I must try and find where. I agree with all you say, Caro. I find her very engaging though a bit of a man hater.


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Caro



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 2960


Location: Owaka, New Zealand

PostPosted: Tue Dec 22, 2009 4:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had a feeling someone had put a review of this somewhere, Ann.  I will wait a while till I am further through it to look at that.

I don't think she is a man-hater - just a hater of a certain type of glory-seeking man, I think.  I must re-read her first book, where I recall the female protagonist was the person mocked, or at least seen as roll-your-eyes naive and mistaken.

Cheers, Caro.


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Castorboy



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 1798


Location: Castor Bay Auckland NZ

PostPosted: Wed Dec 23, 2009 6:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My Christmas reading will be completed with William Buchan and his tribute to his father John Buchan. A Memoir and the latest Inspector Diamond novel by Peter Lovesey, once again with a setting of Bath and district, entitled The Secret Hangman.


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Ann



Joined: 21 Nov 2008
Posts: 1112


Location: Worcestershire

PostPosted: Sun Dec 27, 2009 4:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've begun Portrait of a Lady by Henry James. I am finding it more readable than I feared and am quite enjoying it. I like analysis of character and there is plenty of that. However I'm reading light fiction round the edges of it, so to speak, so I have a strong suspicion that it will not be finished in 2009.
Have you read of the debate about what to call the next decade? If we are in the naughties are the next ten years to be the teenies or perhaps the tennies?



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