Friday, 27 April 2012

Not reading...

Well, I seem to have solved my problem by going back to the old interface. Which I had no idea you could do, but of course this is only a temporary solution. When Blogger switch permanently to the new one, I may be up the creek without a paddle... although I have downloaded Live Writer at Deslily's suggestion. Honestly. Why the heck can't things be left as they are?

Anyway. The title of this post is not quite correct. I have been reading - just not
at my normal speed. We're close to the end of yet another month and I have two books to show for it. I'd like to say it bothers me but actually it doesn't. Partly, the month has been a busy one - family staying at Easter, which somehow it seemed to take me longer to return to normal from than would usually be the case. Then we set about decorating one of the bedrooms and that's still ongoing, a long job because we're replacing the wallpaper and my husband is the sort that likes to do a thorough job with the painting etc. So, less time to read, and in the evening I haven't always felt that I wanted to pick up a book. Sometimes you just want to crash out in front of the TV - which can be a bit difficult at this time of year as the TV schedules are not what you might call 'wonderful'.

So, spurred on by our enjoyment of the Victorian paintings at Cardiff museum, I bought some dvds from 2009:

The Victorians - Their story in pictures, presented by Jeremy Paxman. For people outside the UK, Jeremy Paxman is most well known here as rather an abrasive TV journalist and interviewer, who never lets politicians off the hook. Oddly, his documentary style is rather different. Paxo (as he's commonly referred to in this country... it's a brand of stuffing used for stuffing poultry... LOL) is clearly smitten with his subject in this series. The use of paintings to illustrate Victorian life was totally inspired and Paxman's direct and humorous delivery of facts and opinions, not sparing any blushes when it came to embarrassing or difficult subjects, was just perfect. Everything was covered, from the Industrial Revolution, to home-life, sexual mores, the Victorian obsession with death, the after-life, fairies and so on, to Queen Victoria herself and touching on The Empire. I thought the whole series was stunning, the best £6.50 I've ever spent, and was incredibly sorry when we'd watched the last one, last night. It felt a bit odd because we'd also just finished watching Paxo's new 'Empire' series for the BBC, on the TV. The two series tie in so nicely together, they can be watched back to back... which what we did. I can only hope he has something new on the go and that we won't have too long to wait. For this do I happily pay my TV license.

So that's what I've been watching. Now books. Well, I've just finished this:

A Crown of Lights by Phil Rickamn. Which tied in very nicely with the
book I'm reading slowly with Susan from You Can never have too Many Books which is The Morville Hours by Katherine Swift:

You wouldn't think there was much of a similarity but there you would be wrong. Both books take place in the border areas between England and Wales. In the first it's the counties of Herefordshire, where the Rev. Merrily Watkins is the diocesan deliverance consultant, and Radnorshire in Wales. In the second it's the county of Shropshire, to the north of Herefordshire, where Katherine Swift was transforming the garden of Morville House in a secluded valley. I'm guessing there might be all of twenty miles between where one book is set and the other was actually happening. Both authors have the timeless, mysterious atmosphere of that entire region spot on.

Merrily has to deal with a charismatic vicar in a small secluded valley in
A Crown of Lights. Two satanists buy an old farmhouse with a
decommissioned church on the land, and plan to return the site to its pagan
roots. The local vicar is a man who believes in hardcore Christianity, a man
who exorcises demons from the local people in some indescribable ways... The
scene is set for a clash in an area where all kinds of worship go back
thousands of years. And it is this which also preoccupies Katherine Swift in
The Morville. Her valley is likewise timeless, a place where things
have been the same for countless years and probably will never change.

I came to Morville and found a home. I'm digging in. I travel in time now
rather than space, my expeditions only as far as the end of the garden.
Distance has nothing to do with remoteness. I am obsessed by roads, but
never go anywhere. I pour over maps but am rooted to the spot. I dream of
distant lands, but found one here, bounded by my own garden wall.

Connecting the two books is a very real sense of the supernatural, enhanced
and firmly rooted in the past. Again from The Morville Hours:

In winter, on the inside of one of the panes - always the same one - the
mist of condensation clears and then mists over again, every few seconds,
over and over - always in the same place, slightly below the middle, a
little towards the bottom - at about head-height: a regular pulse, starting
from the centre and spreading outwards, as if an exhalation of breath had
momentarily warmed the cold pane - as if someone were standing at the
window, as if all that remained of them were that warm breath and that
lingering gaze, looking out into the garden.

Stunning. I've never come across writing like it to be honest. And Merrily
Watkins continues to enthrall. My daughter told me that the books get better
and better and she was so right.

So, what to read next. Weirdly, I've a mind to read something completely different. I came across a review for a Katie Fforde book on The Book Jotter - Living Dangerously. I can't explain it but sometimes you read about a book and know that you have to read it *now*. So I nabbed it for my Kindle and that will probably be my next read... along with The Morville Hours of course.

Happy reading, whether you're whizzing through books, or like me, not getting through very many at all but loving what you are reading regardless.


Jo said...

I hope you enjoy the Katie Fforde book. Always a bit frightened when I see others picking up a book after reading my blog. But also great that people are reading my blog as well and sharing books which it is what it is all about!

Cath said...

Jo: It most certainly is what it's all about but I can understand your nervousness. You have no need to worry though. I've read several Katie Ffordes and enjoyed them all and have no reason to suppose I won't love this one too. Was thrilled you posted about it as a matter of fact, as it's exactly what I'm in the mood for at the moment, something romantic that isn't about twenty years olds...

Val + the Girls- BK +CK said...

Living Dangerously is a lovely fun read and you've made the two books you talk of sound fascinating and added to my list again are incorrigible ....I love it :0)

Chris said...

You've done a whole lot better than me Cath! I've read a whole ONE book this month and it was a short poetry book, lol. May be my worst reading month ever :p At least you seem to enjoy your books that you did read though!!

DesLily said...

I have been on this one book so long I could have written it! sheesh! I think the ONLY reason I haven't set it aside for another is that I have no idea what I want to read next! pathetic.
I am glad you've enjoyed the books you read though :o). and I hope live writer works out for you I've hear more than a "normal amount" of people who are seriously thinking of quitting blogger now.. it sounds a bit like that's what blogger hopes so they can close down...because you just don't make drastic changes and figure most everyone will love them.

Cath said...

Val: Pleased to hear Living Dangerously is good, I plan to start it this affternoon. You're not the only who's heavily influenced by other people's reading on book blogs. LOL.

Chris: Yes, I loved what I did read and that's fine. I'm coming to accept the peaks and troughs of my reading... some months I'll not stop and get through 10 books, others I struggle to read 2. Crazy, but that's just how it is.

I was just thinking... if Pat's my sister... does that make me your aunty? LOLOLOLOLOLOL!!!

Hey Pat! God, I absolutely hate it when I'm so bogged down in a book like that. I won't be reading that one anytime soon...

I hadn't thought that Blogger might be doing this on purpose. You could be right. I have several options... use Live Writer, move my blog to Wordpress but I'm guessing they mess about with their formats just like Blogger so I wonder if I would gain anything by that? The other thing is I wondered about changing my page theme to a new one. The one we both use is an old one and I just wondered if it was no longer supported and I needed to change. Just a thought. Honestly... I have NO clue.

LizF said...

You make the Morville Hours sound wonderful and I want to read it NOW! I know I have one of the Morville books, unread, on one of my shelves so I will just have to hope it is that one!

I do love Phil Rickman's Merrily Watkins books and your daughter is right - they do get better (read the most recent about a month or so ago, and very gripping it was too!)
Only just getting back into anything like my usual reading mode having had a couple of months when it was hard going and I could only cope with something that was REALLY readable (the Phil Rickman and the most recent Graham Hurley)
Admittedly things have been in turmoil but it does rattle me when I can't even read!

Cath said...

LizF: I can honestly say that The Morville hours is one of the most beautiful books I've ever read.

I hope things have settled down properly for you, now. I know about turmoil having had just that last autumn, until around about Feb. Awful when you can't, or don't feel like, reading at all.

Susan said...

I missed this post! I don't believe it....because it's lovely, what you wrote about MOrville Hours and Crown of LIghts. I was taken by the similarity between the two, also, and how close they are to one another in Hereford country. Makes me really want to go there one day, and I already did want to go! lol

At least you read these two books, and loved them. That's what really counts, you know. I've got so many books on the go right now, and I cant' settle down to them for long, I keep getting distracted.

I agree with Phil Rickman, the series is getting better! I have to review the last one, I think....I'm so bad with reviews this year.

I'll email you about TMH :-)

Cath said...

Susan: It is odd how close these two books are in location. And the atmosphere in both is very similar. They worked together really well.

My daughter is farther along in the Merrily Watkins series than me and confirms that it just gets better and better. I can see I'm going to be reading a lot in this series this year, and probably the Charlie Parker series too... and more Rizzoli and Isles.