Thursday, 15 November 2007

Two short books

Reading is proving a bit difficult at the moment as I have conjunctivitis. So I've stuck to casual reading this last week - a *very* short little book and a book of short stories.



First up Address Unknown by Kressman Taylor. This short work of fiction was apparently written in 1938 for a magazine and then published as a book. It concerns two friends and partners in an art gallery. One is an American Jew who lives in San Francisco, the other a German who moves back to Germany in 1932. The two correspond. At first the letters are just family greetings and news. Then the American, Max, starts to ask questions about Hitler and events in Germany. He's not easy about it - he has a sister working in Vienna etc. His friend, Martin, at first reassures him but gradually the letters take a more sinister turn. I won't say any more about the plot but this little book packs a real punch and I found it very disturbing. It only took me 45 minutes to read so I would say get it from the library if the subject interests you.



I found this cheap little Wordsworth Classic paperback a few months ago and couldn't resist it as it includes several authors I've not tried before and I thought it would be a good way to see what I thought of their writing. The stories are by authors such as Dickens, Conan Doyle, Oscar Wilde, H.G. Wells, Guy de Maupassant, Mrs. Gaskell, Anton Chekov and so on.

I definitely had favourites though really they were all good. Several, like The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Judge's House by Bram Stoker and the Sherlock Holmes yarn, The Red-Headed League, I'd read before but it was nice to reacquaint myself with them.

A little about two of my favourites:

The Squire's Story by Elizabeth Gaskell. This one concerns the arrival of a certain Mr. Higgins in a small village and charts his progress as he buys a house and settles down to marry. Slowly you realise there is something not quite right about the gentleman but there is only one woman who realises it. Beautifully written and very absorbing. I own and have read a couple of short story selections by the author but not read any novels. I must put that right but can't decide whether to read Cranford *before* it comes on the TV or after...

The Journey to Panama by Anthony Trollope. Shamefully I've read nothing by Trollope so this little story was an introduction to his writing for me. The story is a simple one about a young woman who is sailing from England to the West Indies and on through the Panama Canal. She's travelling with a family she doesn't know but becomes friendly with a young man. She starts to spend a lot of time with him and confides that she is travelling to be married but is dreading it. The point of this story is that people behave very differently to normal when confined for long weeks aboard ship and Trollope illustrates the point very well with this story.

Other stories I enjoyed were, The Withered Arm by Thomas Hardy (again, never read any of his novels), The Sphinx Without a Secret by Oscar Wilde, The Kiss by Anton Chekov and Juke Judkin's Courtship by Charles Lamb. Worth every penny of the £3.97 I paid for it.

I'm now reading my first ever novel by Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth. I've read a few of her short stories but never anything longer so I'm going to take my time and enjoy it. And hope this wretched conjunctivitis goes away quickly!

10 comments:

BooksPlease said...

Sorry to hear about the conjunctivitis and hope it improves soon. The short story book sounds a good mixture of authors.

I decided to read Cranford before it comes on TV, which could be a mistake, but I couldn't wait and I'm sure with Judi Dench in it, it can't be bad??

Kay said...

Hope your eye or eyes get better soon, Cath. That is such a bother. I like the sound of the first book, Address Unknown. I'll have to put it on the list.

Take care of yourself!

DesLily said...

I can relate to eye problems and reading! Good to know eventually yours will get better, I hope it's soon.

I'm not a short story person but the Wordsworth Classic sounds like it had some really good stories

CresceNet said...
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Nan - said...

I've heard of that book. And it did sound disturbing but very interesting. Thanks for the reminder. I'll see it the library has it. As for Mr Trollope, he is going to be my 60th birthday present, well, not him exactly, :<) but I've decided that will be the year I begin reading him. First The Warden. Maybe we could read him together since neither of us has made his acquaintance (well, except for the story).

Cath said...

Booksplease: Thanks, the conjunctivitis is slowly improving. I did think it was gone but no...

I didn't realise how little time I had to read Cranford before it started, so it didn't happen. Really looking forward to seeing the series.

Kay: My eyes are slowly improving, thanks. Winter ills are such a nuisance and can really drag you down.

deslily: Our eyes don't get better as we get older do they? And us readers need good eyesight. I do abuse mine I know that by doing too much reading and computer work.

Nan: Which year is your 60th. birthday in? I was thinking of reading Trollope next year if I can fit it in and if that's the same year you plan to read him then it would be great fun to read him together. Is The Warden the first of the Barchester Chronicles?

Nan - said...

Ah, yes (she sighs) it is next year. And The Warden is the first in the B. Chronicles. I hope to start it in February.

Cath said...

Nan: I'm only five years behind you age-wise so I'll sigh too. Next February it is then for The Warden. That will be a lot of fun. :-)

Nan - said...

Yay! I'm so excited you want to do this. I wonder if anyone will read these comments and say, "me, too." I know that Elaine at http://randomjottings.typepad.com/ is a big fan, and I think she has read them all.

Cath said...

Nan: I don't think anyone else will drop by here and see these comments but we could each of us mention it in one of our future posts if you like?