Friday, 23 April 2010

Some Country Houses and Their Owners - James Lee-Milne

This was a great book. I have Lee-Milne's full diaries for that era knocking about on the shelves (unread, naturally) but now I wish I hadn't as I have a sneaky suspicion that all the good bits are in this tiny tome. My particular favourite was the section when a particular country house owner offered their house to the National Trust before commenting how she thought the Nazi's actually had the right idea. Ho hum.

It certainly spurred me on to actually visit some of these homes as to read about their last owners and the circumstances under which they were donated adds a poignancy which comes from knowing that the War had impoverished the upper classes and ended an era of luxury. Elder sons were also scarce leaving distraught parents with no heir and so in their grief they choose to leave their estate, their family history, to the National Trust, to be absorbed into the national consciousness and become a monument instead of a loved family home. Recommended.


Now, I'm a massive fan of public libraries. I feel it's an amazing privilege to have a service whereby we can borrow books for free. We can educate ourselves for free. We can entertain ourselves for free. We can try before we buy. What's not to like?

TO the end of furthering the cause of public libraries I decided not to put an online seller link in under any of the books we mention as I'd much rather people borrowed the books from their library. If we don't use these services then Councils will take them away - so use your public libraries people, they're great. And free. And warm. And did I mention they're free?

Now, if I love libraries so much then why, you may ask, do we have so many unread books on our shelves? That is a valid question my friend, and one which I believe I can answer. We (well, definitely me) are idiots. We buy new books, second hand books, we are given books, books multiply under our very eyes. And I still have the maximum number of books i can from the library each week. So, if you don't buy loads of new books at once, then hopefully you won't have to follow in our footsteps and be forced to write a blog about your reading habits in order to force yourself to read everything you own!

That is all.

Love TAC x

The Grass is Singing - Doris Lessing

Ta-da! The first book of the blog - I was determined to beat Madrigal Boy to it - is by Nov(b)elist Doris Lessing and was her first novel. I enjoyed it very much. The heat, the dust, the conflicting emotions of the characters were all evocatively described and it was a great read. By chance I was reading it at the time of Pierre Terreblanche's murder, and it was interesting to see how racial tensions were portrayed in fiction compared to the stark reporting of the recent killing.

The miscommunication in the book was heartbreaking, and I couldn't help but feel for the main characters who seemed to sink deeper into inevitable disaster when a simple word of comfort from the other could potentially have saved them. Background characters were also interesting, and by the end the social and institutional divides were so blurred a tragic ending seemed inevitable. It was certainly a great read, even better would be to read it in the scorching sunshine, and I look forward to reading more of her work soon (considering we have about 6 of her novels, unread, on the shelves I'm sure they'll be mentioned in this blog).

Au revoir ma petite bibliophiles TAC x