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What are you reading this fall?


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#31 Hans

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Posted 28 September 2003 - 08:57 AM

K8smom, for a more cheerful Wharton, you might try some of her short stories. Roman Fever and Other Stories is very good, with wonderful little plot twists. Twilight Sleep is hysterical in a very sarcastic way; it's not exactly uplifting, but you will get a good laugh out of it :). But in general, unrequited/ill-fated love is a staple of Edith Wharton's books.

#32 K8smom

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Posted 28 September 2003 - 09:00 AM

Thanks, Hans! Twilight Sleep sounds promising.

#33 Funny Face

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Posted 28 September 2003 - 11:03 AM

Regarding Betsy and Tacy, I hadn't found out until after the fact about the big get together in Mankato (Deep Valley) in 1992. Lovelace's daughter was there and addressed the group -- the whole thing sounded heavenly. There's a wonderful tribute to the books that was given by a keynote speaker there, and it was reprinted in one of the newsletters and was absolutely wonderful. It discussed just why those books really touched the hearts of girls everywhere.

I could truly identify with the girl who had the two sides to her -- the one who strived for beauty and romance, and who loved fun and parties more than anyone. And the one who had that serious side, the writer who knew she had to be alone at times to get within herself. She also had a deep conscience and a sense of wanting to do the right thing at all times. I think it was those latter traits that Joe Willard saw in her and loved her for, and wouldn't let her get away with being less.

I loved it when Betsy reflected on her father's traits and how his selflessness drew people to him, all kinds of people. She wondered what kind of person she would grow up to be and thought, "I'd like to be a fine one." I loved that use of the word "fine." How many people take time to think about being a fine person?

And "Betsy's Wedding" is a manual for all newlyweds. There is SO much in between the lines. Joe finished writing something he's really excited about and he wants to share it with Betsy. Betsy is in the middle of preparing dinner and she could easily ask Joe to wait awhile. But all the writer says is that Betsy immediately removed her apron and sat down to listen to Joe. That speaks volumes!

Yes, those books are deceptively profound.

How about the time Betsy and Joe come back from a night out with friends, and as Betsy is going through her nightly beauty ritual, she talks to Joe, who is sitting in bed already, wearing pajamas that match his eyes. Betsy thinks to herself that she must never let Joe wear anything but blue pajamas. The author is telling us in the most wholesome way that Betsy is DEFINITELY attracted to her husband.

I've read these books aloud with my fiance and even he sees their value.

Just had to comment on those books since they were brought up here, because they are such treasures for all ages.

#34 vagansmom

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Posted 28 September 2003 - 03:18 PM

Ah, Funny Face, another true fan.

Yes, I too loved her use of the word "fine" in describing her hopes for herself as a person. I also remember learning so much from her father in that section about him. It's in "Betsy and Joe", isn't it? She's observing how her father makes everyone feel comfortable and how he listens, really listens, to other people, how he's at home with all kinds of folks. I didn't realize the great wisdom in that passage till I was about 21 years old and had met my future father-in-law. I remember realizing that although he was an uneducated man, he was a very wise one who invariably was loved by all kinds of folks. And I thought he was probably much like Betsy's father.

Another passage that's come back to me over and over again in life occurs in "Betsy's Wedding" where Betsy is struggling with her feelings about Joe's Aunt Ruth coming to live with them. She's feeling resentful and guilty all at the same time. She wished her husband had refused his aunt. But all of a sudden she realizes that if he did that, he wouldn't be the person she loves. And that's what makes her finally find peace with the decision. I've felt that way sometimes with my own husband whom I've sometimes thought of as generous to a fault. I woudn't have him any other way.

Later in the same book, I think it's after Joe starts to work a night shift, either he or Betsy comments about how sometimes you have to fight like Jacob and the Archangel, wrestling and working and shaping a situation till it's right for you, that it doesn't just come to you easily but you have to make it your own. I almost wrote something like that to you, Funny Face, in your thread on Cross Talk. When I found out I had a chronic disease, I remembered those lines. They've often inspired me to take what I've got and make it something better.

I would've loved to have been able to attend that gathering.

#35 Funny Face

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Posted 28 September 2003 - 04:39 PM

I'm glad you brought up the passage about Aunt Ruth. I just didn't want to blab on and on there. But it's an important passage. Again, even in that passage, you get an idea of the romantic nature of Betsy and Joe's marriage, as she fears she will miss the "tender intimacies" she and Joe used to be able to share in any room of the house when it was just the two of them.

And how ashamed she feels when after telling Joe that it's okay to have Aunt Ruth come to stay with them, he humbly thanks Betsy.

We all loved that little first apartment, as many young couples have, but then didn't we all fall even more in love with the little house they found as a result of needing more space for Aunt Ruth? And, if you've ever lived in Minnesota, as I have, you really get a sense of place. You know how the air smells and how homey that street probably was, with its sturdy small houses and big apple trees.

And -- I just loved the social life those two had that first year or two. The ways that all those couples could entertain themselves with writing groups or potluck dinners, or rolling back the rugs and dancing, rowing on the lake, etc. I think we ought to mobilize to start a renewal of these traditions, as opposed to all the things people do outside of their homes instead.

#36 K8smom

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Posted 29 September 2003 - 11:35 AM

Wonderful comments, vagansmom and Funny Face! I am amazed by the level of detail in these books. The author must have written down EVERYTHING in her journal when she got home from school, a party, whatever. Conversations, what everyone was wearing...it's interesting that although almost of the characters were based on friends from high school, she didn't actually meet her husband until she was older. So the early stories of Joe were completely made up, as I understand it (unless I missed something in the Companion).

Also, I think in "Betsy's Wedding", there is a painting on the wall of their home of the "Isle of Delos" - I love Delos, which of course was Maud's husband's name. So sweet...

I was so pleased when the other three books were published again - Carney's House Party is particularly fun.

#37 aspirant

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Posted 29 September 2003 - 12:28 PM

I have just finished "Dancer" by Colum McCann which is a fictional rendition of Nureyev's life. It is quite sensational (meaning that there are a good number of 'eye popper' passages) and written with the expectation that you've got some ballet/general art history under your belt. All in all, I found it to be a very interesting way of making someone come alive again.

#38 kfw

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Posted 29 September 2003 - 03:35 PM

I'm rereading The Brothers Karamazov, this time in a 1990, award-winning translation, and I'm also dipping into several histories of the Christian church.

#39 glebb

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Posted 29 September 2003 - 03:39 PM

Can't wait to start "Six Wives, The Queens of Henry VIII" by David Starkey tonight.

#40 vagansmom

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Posted 29 September 2003 - 05:08 PM

kfw, I loved "The Brothers Karamazov". I read the book in the 1970's. What do you think of the translated version you're reading? Can you compare it to the older version for me?

#41 K8smom

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Posted 29 September 2003 - 08:38 PM

Just got back from the bookstore with Emma, Pride and Prejudice, and Life of Pi. Thanks for the suggestions, everyone!

#42 TutuMaker

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Posted 08 October 2003 - 08:33 AM

I have recently read The Eyre Affair and Lost in a Good Book. Since I am in the middle of a divorce, I thought I should read Revenge of the Middle Aged Woman. I greatly enjoyed all three, and my 14 year old daughter wanted to read Revenge. We have never discussed the reasons for the divorce, but since she wasnts to read this book, I get the impression that she knows why! Next I am going to read two of the latest in the Sharpe's Rifles Series. Has anyone ever read those? I saw an episode on Masterpiece Theater many years ago and got hooked. All these books are quick, mostly mindless reads, which is just what I need right now! :rolleyes:

Edited by TutuMaker, 08 October 2003 - 08:35 AM.


#43 GWTW

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Posted 08 October 2003 - 10:00 AM

I am slowly reading Joseph Campbell's "The Hero with a Thousand Faces". It's very dated as according to Campbell, Freud has the answer to every problem, but comparative mythology is very interesting, especially as it reminds you of all the myths you know already and informs you on those you don't - in my case, the African and Native American myths.

#44 kfw

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Posted 08 October 2003 - 05:51 PM

vagansmom, I just now noticed your question. I love this translation.

In the introduction to it one of the translators writes that "the manner of the Brothers Karamazov, as opposed to its matter, is essentially comic, and its humor erupts at the most unexpected moments. . . Previous transaltors of The Brothers Karamazov into English have revised, 'corrected,' or smoothed over his idiosyncratic prose, removing much of the humor and distinctive voicing of the novel. We have made this new translation in the belief that a truer rendering of Dostoevsky's style would restore missing dimensions to the book.

That's what convinced me to buy this copy (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1990), and I haven't been disappointed!

#45 vagansmom

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Posted 09 October 2003 - 08:56 PM

Oh yes, now you make me want to read this translation as well! I don't remember anything very funny about the "The Brothers K". To my memory, (which could be faulty since I read it in my early 20s), it was a very dark fiction.

Do you know if the same folks have translated any of his other works?

On another note, I'm reading "The Nanny Diaries" although I'd vowed not to :shrug: It's nice and light, which is just what I need right now during a very hectic week. Because I work primarily with children of wealthy NYC transplants, I didn't want to see them in a cynical light. But then I walked into the staff room at school and there it was, just begging to be read, on the Staff Book Exchange shelf.


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