I'm not getting as much reading done as I would like at the moment, so I have decided to do some lists by theme. (Themes of course, mean I can play with cheesy "stage sets" too, so indulge me, the frustrated stylist.) This week, wives, the missus, her indoors.
Now I realise this is by no means an exhaustive selection. Noted by their absence are Mrs Dalloway, Mrs Pettigrew, Mrs Beeton and Mrs Pepperpot, all somewhere about the house but pleading alternative engagements.
Starting from the top we have
Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell. One of the books I was force fed at O'level and therefore completely lost any interest for me, only to return some years later and discover she has the same eye for detail and dry wit you would expect of Austen. Yes, there are a lot of words but each and every one is right. Enjoying Gaskell ? I must be a grown up.
Mrs Shakespeare by Robert Nye. A charming, slim book that wears its skill lightly. An acerbic yet entertaining view of life as the wife of the bard (Marilyn had it easy with Arthur by comparison), which yet again, like so much good fiction, educates as it entertains.
An Unequal Marriage by Emma Tennant. Pride and Prejudice the sequel. Suspect a purchase made when needing a little undemanding writing. It did the job, but a bit like Carnation and cream, which serve the same purpose but are totally different, it left me wanting a good helping of Austen.
The Journal of Mrs Pepys by Sara George. A lovely book. Although writing about life in the 17C she does it in way that makes you think of your own relationships and of the way things have changed for women. It is by no means a feminist polemic, but it certainly helps enhance an awareness of our good fortune being intelligent and independant women in the 20C.
The Kitchen God's Wife by Amy Tan. Story telling at its best, you are hauled into the lives of women, who although from the same culture have widely differing views of life. The way they resolve these differences and achieve an acceptance if not understanding is wonderfully described. Tan writes so sympathetically you actually care about all the protagonists, irrespective of their beliefs and choices.
The Pilots Wife by Anita Shreve. Read this so long ago that I barely remember the plot line, I know I enjoyed it and found it rather sad. More than that I cannot say. This is not in any way a criticism, more a reflection on my own goldfish brain.
The Bondage of Love by Molly Lefebure A study of the life of Mary Shelley. I know nothing about it, I own it, I may read it one day, otherwise I shall have to hope the facts slink in while I'm sleeping.
But the title seemed perfect for the list, whichever way you look at it, marriage has ties
Notes from a train journey in Middle England
7 hours ago