Babysitter arrives, am unready to depart yet updating blog. This is foolish. Quick question for my technically minded brethern (or indeed sistern) – can anyone tell me how to put up one of those vote things? You know, where you click a box for yes, no or maybe?? Thanks.
As you know, my brain has frazzled and I now only read children’s books. Slowly. Using my index finger and mouthing the words while frowning intently (actually the frowning intently bit is true – anyone for botox?).
Anyhow, I am reading “Maurice or The Fisher’s Cot” which is a recently discovered children’s story by Mary Shelley of Frankenstein fame. A lot of the book is intro about the Shelleys and their friends. Poor old Mary Shelley had a miserable life. Consider the following from the introduction:
“Mary….was the child of …the philosopher and novelist William Godwin, and Mary Wollstonecraft, famous for her pioneering statement of women’s rights…the birth of the younger Mary killed her mother….When she was sixteen, Mary met…Shelley. He was only twenty-two, with a wife Harriet and a small daughter…Shelley and Mary eloped…leaving…a desperate Harriet, pregnant with her second child. [Mary’s] first child died… Mary’s stepsister, Claire Clairmont had become part of their household….Claire involved herself briefly with Byron and became pregnant by him [more of this later], but it was always Shelley who made himself responsible for her welfare, and many people believed that Mary and Claire shared his sexual attentions..
[I]n 1816 [Mary’s] half-sister Fanny…committed suicide…Shelley’s wife Harriet drowned herself… Shelley married Mary…in the hope of winning custody of his children by Harriet, but failed to do so. He and Mary left for Italy with their two children accompanied by Claire and her daughter by Byron, Allegra…their children died and Mary fell into deep depression”.
But that’s not all, wait until you hear what happened to poor little Allegra. Claire had given Allegra up to Byron (who was in Venice) believeing this to be in the child’s best interests. Allegra was “fifteen months old and never before parted from her mother”. Byron put her into the care of the British Counsul and his wife. Claire got no news of her from Byron but the Consul’s wife “wrote coolly..about Allegra wetting her bed and losing her gaiety of spirit”. The poor little thing. Claire went to Venice in August and Byron allowed her to keep Allegra with her to the end of October when he insisted on having her back. When Byron took Allegra back, he refused to allow Claire to visit or to tell her about Allegra’s health or whereabouts. When she had not seen Allegra for 18 months, Claire wrote begging Byron to let him have her for the summer. He refused. He continued to refuse to let her see Allegra and she continued to beg for access to her daughter. Byron placed Allegra in a convent, she was the youngest child to be admitted and still her mother begged to be let visit her to no avail. Allegra never saw her mother again. She died in the convent;she was only 5. “Mad, bad and dangerous to know” indeed. Isn’t that a heart-rending story?
My sister-in-law the publishing executive gave me “Persuasion” on tape for Christmas and I have just polished it off. Does this count as a book? I had forgotten what a drip Anne Elliot was. I have to say that I found her very tiresome. I felt that Captain Wentworth would have been much better off with one of those nice Musgrove girls. In fact, it reminded me a bit of “Mansfield Park” where the issues are so odd to modern eyes, it’s very hard to work up much sympathy. Wow, they were going to put on a play in Mansfield Park. Appalling. Miss Musgrove wanted to jump the stile. Stop, stop, it’s just too horrific. Now with “Pride and Prejudice” you know where you are. By any standards eloping with Mr. Wickham is a bad and stupid thing to do. Nevertheless have to say that I was very taken with the whole books on tape thing as I spend a lot of time in the car and I am sick of listening to Radio Contact, Bel RTL and the world service. “Persuasion” was much better than all of those, so really pretty good.? I’m sure Miss Austen would be delighted with such wholehearted praise and yes, pub exec., you’re right, I am very difficult to please but would certainly welcome more tapes.
Speaking of radio, so somewhat at a tangent from books, I concede, I heard a great drama documentary thing the other day about robots taking over from mothers.I found the mock ads for “robbies” very convincing. In fact, I am keen to go out and buy one. Check it out at http://www.abc.net.au/rn/bigidea/stories/s1011073.htm.
Other book stuff. No bookclub as yet. I am getting slightly cold feet as many of the people I know here are Irish diplomat types. In case this vital information has passed you by, Ireland holds the Presidency of the EU for the next six months and this means that all the diplomat types have gone to ground. I got a Christmas card from one couple saying, “see you in July” (yes, you’re right, that brings to 7 our total Christmas card count; however, since our friends forgot to stamp their card, we had to pay 49 cents for the privilege of receiving it, so am not sure it can be offset against our original expenditure..). Furthermore, last week’s Irish Times reported their boss as saying that it will be a 7 day week, 24 hour a day job. She mentions that physical stamina will be required. All leave has apparently been cancelled for the six months of the Presidency. In these circumstances, are people likely to want to come to my place of a Monday night to talk about books? They’ll probably want to sleep or chair a late meeting.
We are somewhat flattened after unpacking the 14 bags we needed to carry home the Princess’s Christmas gifts. Now, however, she “sleeps in her turret” as my mother in law would say and we rejoice. She’s exhausted from the strain of playing with a wide variety of exciting things. In particular, she enjoyed chewing on our luggage tags.
Hard to say whether she recognised the flat. She looked around with interest, but I think that she misses her court at home. She’s in for a nasty shock tomorrow when Mr. Waffle returns to work and it’s just the two of us. We won’t be able to go out either because pouring rain is forecast.
Belgium is perishing. Our flat is also a mite chilly and despite the fact that our radiators have been on full blast since our return, I am sitting writing this with my feet on a hot water bottle. All stand alone heaters have been moved to the Princess’s room to ensure that it is toasty.
Faithful readers (both of you) will see that I have added a new category – photos. This is for my father-in-law and my mother (yes, this publicising thing is getting out of hand), both of whom seemed reluctant to wade through my text to get to the photos. Ingrates!
My new year’s resolutions are as follows:
1. Get a job.
2. Start a bookclub.
So far I have made no progress with either. When is it that you can abandon your new year’s resolutions?
Happy new year.
on 06 January 2004 at 23:15
What if aforementioned faraway takes over six months to read an 800 page book?
And PS: Our 8-month-old does not sleep through the night. I keep telling myself that she wakes up so often because she loves us more than the average baby loves his/her parents, and she simply must scream about her love in hope that we’ll want to spend a bit of late night time with her…
I got a book of cartoons from Mr. Waffle’s sister. Entertaining and sinister in equal measure. Mr. Waffle refuses to see the funny side but I can’t help liking it.
Princess Waffle got (inter much alia) 2 Dr. Seuss books for Christmas and was so pleased that she has already begun to suck the spines and tear out the pages. Parents were also very pleased.
Mr. Waffle is now reading the Peyps biography by Claire Tomalin and has abandoned the abridged diary and is reading my father’s full length 9 volume version. Am curious as to whether he will accomplish his mission before we leave on Friday. He is already on volume 3. Meanwhile I am still ploughing through volume 5 of Harry Potter. You can’t imagine how brilliant this makes me feel.
And while I’m writing about books can I nominate a further contender for worst book I read this year? Have you read Fingersmith by Sarah Waters? Dreadful. All year long Eileen Battersby has been knocking this book in the Irish Times. She would insert snide references to it in other reviews (along the lines of “this book is wonderful, not like the dreadful Fingersmith thing..”). I thought she was being cruel and snobby, but no, it is dire but at least it’s not as inexplicably popular as “Cold Mountain”. For all its faults, it is a page turner. Faults are many but am too tired to list them. Stay away, don’t say you weren’t warned.
This is dreadful but after finishing my last book, I felt I owed myself a break and am rereading all the Harry Potter books for light entertainment. They really are very good and not at all taxing. However, I feel the long ones are just too bloody long and I think she is losing it slightly. “The Order of the Phoenix” fails to grab me as much as earlier volumes.
Mr. Waffle is reading Pepys. At least one of us is an intellectual.