Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Books I Took to the Loire Valley

Here are the eight books I took in the motor home segment of our French summer, in order of preference, least to most preferred.

Knits to Give by Debbie Bliss -  Useless. I don't know why I bothered, as I'm never willing to go out and buy the recommended yarn and I can only follow the simplest of patterns. Fortunately, Vivien's husband gave her an excellent book and she shared a simple pattern for a baby's cardigan, one even I can knit.

Someone Like You by Roald Dahl - Has everyone but me heard of Roald Dahl?  I only learned his name when Bill mentioned he was the very successful author of children's books. It came up when his daughter (Sophie) was posing nude on enormous billboards advertising Opium perfume. This is collection of short stories he wrote for adults. I read a few and then left it alone. They were creepy stories with gruesome plots and twisted endings. They seemed very much of my parents' time when everything seemed a bit hardboiled. Can't say I cared for it.  At all.

Alexander McQueen, Genius of a Generation by Kristin Knox - This was a so-so book, a bit of light reading with loads of pretty pictures. I didn't expect it to be anything else. I didn't know that McQueen had been a tailor on Saville Row before breaking into women's fashion, but there you go. His suicide - like many others - is such a terrible waste. Seems ironic to me that as fascinated as people are about fashion, fame and wealth, his death demonstrates that even being at the height of a glamorous career doesn't always make a person happy.

My Life with Martin Luther King, Jr., by Coretta Scott King. I generally avoid autobiographies but I was intrigued to read what his wife had to say about him. This was another part of my catching up on the history during my lifetime. I'd not ever appreciated some of the things he accomplished, the beauty of his writing or his ideas. I was amused to read that he encouraged Coretta to wear make up and to dress nicer than she would have otherwise done. It also occurred to me that it was a tad selfish to have four children when one led the dangerous sort of life he did. It was fascinating to read about MLK Jr's and Coretta's family backgrounds. This is no doubt a biased account of his life - how could it not be - but I definitely felt it was worth reading.

Photo by Cecil Beaton. Why does she look annoyed?
He made her stand in the loo for this picture,
because the light was best there.

Princess Margaret:  a Life Unravelled  byTim Heald. Of course this is about the Queen's sister. She's another of those people I've always heard about, but didn't know much beyond the catty rumours. It must be difficult to be the second born when being first gets the Grand Prize. Being royal back in the 50s and 60s had quite a bit against it as well as things going for it; for one, you have to marry appropriately. Then there are royal duties, exciting things like visiting paper manufacturers and opening old folks' homes. Everyone is thrilled to meet you and to tell you what they do {yawn}. Then when the heir to the throne starts having children you get pushed further away down the line of inheritance and, in that distinctly British way of assigning people to their place, ones importance diminishes measurably. Mind, don't cry too hard, she lived a marvellous life in beautiful places, she made the best of the choices allowed her and those broadened over time. In some ways I found the book more interesting because of the other people it mentioned, including Deborah, Jessica and Nancy Mitford. In all I think the book concluded that members of the royal family who are not the sovereign tend to lead trivial lives, which is pretty sad. That said, her son David Linley (David Armstrong-Jones, Viscount Linley) seems to do well for himself:  he manufactures luxurious furniture (I gather his father tinkered around with furniture in the basement) and earlier this year became Chairman of Christies. Not sad at all.

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling. Do you remember hearing about how Harry Potter - I mean Daniel Radcliffe - got a part in the play Equus?  It was mainly notable because he had to get naked, and naked he got. It always struck me that it was almost a ritual washing after so much clean living on screen; like he had to prove he could get down and dirty, though if I recall his character was a victim rather than a villian. Well, this book struck me as being Rowling's ritual roll in the mud. It's a good book, don't get me wrong. Interesting plot, believable characters, etc., but gritty and sordid.

I've saved my two favourite books for another post two posts.


Dumbwit Tellher said...

Hello Shelly!! No I have not fallen off the planet completely. Your summer looks as though it's been a great one. Can I have your life please? I for one want to read the book about Princess Margaret. If it's about the Royals, I'm glued (sad as that sounds!!). I hope all is going well this fall? Have a great rest of this week.

Cheers, Deb :)

Shelley said...

Hello Deb! I have often passed your blog on my list and wondered what happened to you... Life does that sometimes, makes you busy living; no bad thing. Yes, we did have a pretty good summer, but I am glad to be home. Now if I could just shake this cold... Taking a sewing class this fall, so best get back to my homework! Good to hear from you - thanks for stopping by!