The Princess has two sources, broadly speaking, for her spoken English, me and the stories I read to her. This makes for a slightly odd speaking style which my mother calls quaint.
She is never scared of the dark, always the darkness (she wasn’t scared of the darkness either until recently and it’s probably just a ploy to delay bedtime).
The other day, when I was on the phone, she said to me: To whom are you speaking? Yet irregular verb endings can still sometimes stump her: “I felled down”.
Today she asked that for her school trip we give her wet raisins (that’s grapes to you) in her lunch box.
In unrelated Princess news, I find myself a victim of my own success in trying to instill a love of art in my daughter. We went to the current Rubens exhibition during the week and I was quite disappointed as it doesn’t really have much beyond the very extensive collection the gallery already had on display. I moved along smartly. The Princess, however, wanted to look at everything in great detail and I only finally managed to lure her away by promising to buy her a postcard.
NaBloPoMo – S is for Saki, Seth, Shields, Saramago, Shriver, Sassoon and possibly Scott Fitzgerald.
Saki is my favourite short story writer. I first came across him in school. “The Lumber Room” and “Sredni Vashtar” were in our book of short stories, I think when I was about 12 or 13. Despite our English teacher’s rather dauntingly detailed analysis of the text, I was taken enough with them to have a look at my parents’ copy of his collected short stories at home. I am very glad I did. I have read them many, many, many times since and they have never failed to entertain me. Due to the fact that Saki is out of copyright, his works abound on the internet. Try this one. It is, somehow, deeply appropriate that Saki’s last words before he was shot by a sniper in the First World War were “Put out that damned cigarette”.
I loved Vikram Seth’s “A Suitable Boy”. I read it over one summer holiday (clearly, before I had children). There is nothing as delightful as a long book that you love. It’s a long book. I enjoyed “The Golden Gate” very much also. I was deeply disappointed by “An Equal Music” but I can’t help feeling that I will rather like his story about his uncle the one handed dentist.
I read a lot of Carol Shields at one point. When she did a brief Jane Austen biography, I nearly swooned with happiness. I’ve gone off her though. I bought a new one recently and plan to give it a go, if you’re curious, I’ll get back to you.
“The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis” by Jose Saramago may be the most difficult book I have ever read. Requiring a full appreciation of Portuguese history and literature, it is not for the faint hearted. I would never have read anything of his again had the heart surgeon not insisted that “Blindness” was brilliant. With deep reluctance, I took it up. It was fantastic, a creepy, realistic fable about a world where everyone goes blind. I can’t believe it hasn’t been made into a Hollywood film. It says a lot of very clever things about the human condition in a sickening yet page turning way.
I’ve only read Lionel Shriver’s “We need to talk about Kevin”. It is very good in a slightly daft way. I was completely fooled by the twist in the tale. Entertaining in a miserable way but, I feel, unconvincing.
I came across Siegfried Sassoon as a war poet and, being at an impressionable age was very taken with him, so much so that I read “Memoirs of a Fox Hunting Man”. I don’t know quite what I was expecting, but it does what it says on the tin. There is something curiously comforting and appealing in reading about a year where nothing much happens. Except, I suppose for the brutal demise of a lot of foxes, if that upsets you. If it’s any comfort, they’ve all been dead for a long time now.
I’m not sure if Scott Fitzgerald should be under S or F – somebody please put me right, it would be a great comfort to me. I read “The Great Gatsby” in school and though I didn’t like it (I don’t like any Scott Fitzgerald I’ve tried) it has stayed with me in a disturbing way. I think it is an exceptionally well written book and quite scary. Maybe I read it an impressionable age but I do find that it haunts me. I tend to remember it in shades of white and paler white (I’m afraid that makes no sense, but there it is, it’s my blog, I can write what I want).