A while back Heather mentioned a word game on the internet. You guess what a word means and you donate a grain of rice. Do good while wasting time. I meant to look at it. Then I saw Yogamum said that she got a score of 48 and I went to check it out determined to beat 48 (competitive, moi?). Though I donated over a 1000 grains of rice I always hovered round the 46 mark. I could not beat Yogamum. I was very bitter. I got my husband to have a go. He was annoyingly brilliant at it but he couldn’t get beyond 50. We had a look round the site and discovered that the maximum possible was 50. You think that I was bitter earlier? All I can say is that it’s good to see that his parents are finally getting some value from the money they forked out to send him to that private fee paying school where ancient Greek was on the curriculum.
Do you want to give it a go? Try here. Please don’t tell me if you get more than 46.
NaBloPoMo – T is for Townsend, Tomalin, Tillyard, Trollope, Tyler and Trapido.
I have a fondness for Sue Townsend. I loved “The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole” when I read it first. I have followed his life over the years and he has always kept me gently amused. The fact that Adrian and I are almost exactly the same age has, perhaps, whetted my interest. I think I have read most of Sue Townsend’s stuff, even the dreadful collected articles she shamelessly published as “Public Confessions of a Middle-Aged Woman aged 55 3/4“. This was essentially a series of columns she’d done for Sainsbury’s magazine or something like that. And if you ask me, she wasn’t concentrating very hard when she produced them either. Almost all of her stuff is gentle satire. A notable exception is “Ghost Children” which is about abortion and unwanted children and really quite a distressing book. I feel it is her best book after the first couple of Adrian Moles but I bet it didn’t sell particularly well.
I like Claire Tomalin’s biographies and I’ve read quite a few of them. I think she is much, much better than Antonia Fraser (I thought “Marie Antoinette” was very tedious though, I suppose, I did enjoy “Mary, Queen of Scots”). I found “Mrs. Jordan’s Profession” really interesting and it provided an excellent explanation of why Queen Victoria was so buttoned up. Her Jane Austen biography was great and I found her biography on Mary Wollstonecraft so fascinating that I, very briefly, actually contemplated reading “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman”.
Stella Tillyard wrote a great book called “Aristocrats” which tells the story of four 18th century sisters who were extraordinarily well connected. It’s a great read and it uses the texts of the sisters’ letters to each other extensively. Everyone loves it. I do too.
My parents are great fans of the Barsetshire novels and they have a great devotion to Mrs. Proudie. I tried “The Warden” on the strength of this and didn’t like it much and there the matter rested until a good friend gave me “The Eustace Diamonds” for Christmas years ago. I loved it and started in on the Palliser novels. I stopped at “Phineas Redux” but I think I’ll finish them off eventually. I was distracted by his Irish novels which I thought were great though it was a little odd to have the Famine feature as a mere background detail given its weighty place in Irish history.
I got given an Anne Tyler book for my 35th birthday and I didn’t like it much. It was “The Amateur Marriage”. It was good but so dreadfully depressing. “Saint Maybe” was on sale for a euro so I bought it because I cannot resist a bargain. I liked it very much. It has its depressing side, worry not, but I think it’s better because less happens. Anne Tyler is good at small things. I bought “Digging to America” on the strength of the rave reviews all of which were entirely merited. I am thinking of trying some of her back catalogue but I’m a bit nervous. Any suggestions?
Barbara Trapido is great. Very funny, very readable, very interesting novels. I thought that she was English but she’s not she’s South African. Her latest offering “Frankie and Stankie” is semi-autobiographical and gives an alarming insight into apartheid South Africa but also, incidentally the way the world used to be. The narrator flees the regime to England. When she goes to sign up at the local police station (South Africa having been expelled from the Commonwealth) in London in 1964 the police are extremely sympathetic. Consider the extract below:
‘It’s a crying shame, nice white people like you having to register as aliens,’ says the police constable. ‘When these nig-nogs and all sorts, with names we can’t pronounce, can come swanning in here just as they please.’
It’s at time like this that Dinah feels impelled to get on her personal soapbox. She feels the same at the greengrocer’s when she refuses to buy South African fruit.
‘Quite right. I agree with you,’ the greengrocer says. ‘When you think of all those dirty black hands that go crawling all over the fruit -‘