Sunday, August 9, 2009

Inappropriate Blog Material

Someone just looked over my shoulder and asked why anyone in the world of Blogville would care a jot (give a damn, actually ) about my opinion on some random book by some random novelist ?
They forget that I am not writing a ruddy novel and trying to entertain a discerning readership- read the summarised profile folks! These are merely :
random ramblings let loose on an unsuspecting web !
Not high art, entertainment or even attempts at witty banter. If I accidentally drop in some witty observation, it's a happy accident rather than a contrived attempt to impress or entertain the three people who read this.
The main purpose of The Blog is for Charlotte and Rebecca's benefit, so they can see what their Mum was like way back when.
(but he's right, I did spell Haworth incorrectly, oh the shame )

Reader, I married him

I love Gothic novels.
Since Horace Walpole wrote The Castle of Otranto in 1764, other writers have been emulating a version of this romantic terror from behind heavy castle doors a million miles from the normal world. A parallel world where Byronic heroes, madwomen in attics, monsters, angels, sirens and vampires replace stock characters of the realist novel. I remember visiting the Bronte Parsonage, in the quaint village of Haworth, many many times. And walking the same moors which provided the setting for Emily's 'Wuthering Heights' and wondering how Charlotte coped alone after the death of her brother and sisters. I remember walking around the tiny rooms, with their collections of original garments worn by Charlotte, the rooms where they sat and wrote Jane Eyre, the Tenant of Wildfell Hall and Wuthering Heights, and wondering where that genius comes from. The Bronte women rarely left the Parsonage in rural Haworth, so the vast majority of their work came from their imagination alone. Jane Eyre is one of my favourite novels. I read it (again) whilst I was pregnant with my eldest daughter and decided that, if she was a girl, she would be a Charlotte. And I found a beautiful edition of Jane Eyre when Charlotte was a baby, which I tucked away in a keepsake box for her.
I'm in a book club and we are reading 'The Thirteenth Tale' which was suggested by one of the women.
Who also just happens to be the sister of the Author, Diane Setterfield.
I didn't really enjoy the last novel we read ( Miss.Garnett's Angel ) which was unnecessarily confusing( I don't mind wordy prose and clever plot devices, but logic and clarity is appreciated) and had a silly, silly ending.
But this novel was really very satisfying, in the Gothic tradition. I loved it. The only criticism I might level towards it is that there was really no need to remind us that the inspiration came from the Bronte sisters. Most of us are familiar with Jane Eyre and would have spotted the association almost immediately. Words never die.
Thank goodness I loved this novel.
I would have been forced, by conscience and sheer bloody mindedness, to confess my dislike for the novel had I hated it, and then probably offended the writers lovely sister. But no need, because it's wonderful. Biographer Margaret Lea goes to a remote house on the Yorkshire moors to meet the elderly writer Vida Winter ( the novel has some other wonderfully named characters such as Aurelius Love ) and write the story of her incredible life..... what she discovers is a tale of Gothic tragedy, secrets, ghosts and self discovery. It's beautifully written. At one point, I wondered if the writer was about to parody the Gothic genre, in the style of Jane Austen in Northanger Abbey, but no. And I've been long overdue a thumping good story ( I normally select novels which are beautiful character studies of people and families ) so this went down a treat.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

That golden childhood I was harping on about

I have a tendency towards rose tinted day dreaming.
I guess you could say that I'm romantic and idealistic at times when a more pragmatic, realistic approach would work much much better.
I've always viewed the school summer break with a mixture of delight
( lie-ins, soft focus walks with the puppy in the park ) and white knuckled horror (summer holiday cabin fever)
Whilst I try to avoid turning C and R into children-who-demand-constant-entertainment-round-the-clock, I attempt what I refer to as 'laundry days' from time to time. These entail me playing catch up on the more mundane aspects of domestic slavery whilst chucking comics, paper, felt tips and arty crafty items at the girls with the instruction to
'go forth and be creative, preferably with the volume down or on mute for a while'
Today made me realize that the best way to promote compliance in kids is to wear them out thoroughly to the point of near exhaustion.
Wear them out with 3 mile walks, noisy sessions in the local swimming pool and energetic playtimes in the airless hell of KidsWorld, a soft play area near us which serves bland food in a gloomy windowless room which children absolutely adore.
Today, I scrubbed the karndean floors, polished the glass and wood, worked through a depressing pile of laundry, hung two lots of washing out, all to the grating tune of 'she called me stupid idiot' and 'why can't we go to Legoland' and 'my friends have all got one' etc. etc. ad infinitum.
I might continue this blog later, when I've fed the girls and closed this Cafe ( where are my sodding tips, then? ) for the evening.
Ah, the simple joys of a golden childhood;
those halycon days where home cooked food and endless trips to feed the swans are all the blessed chidlets need to appreciate your efforts. If it were that easy !