I’ve got two works of autobiography for you to read about today, both by strong and doughty women, both very much of their time, and both interesting in different ways. Then there’s a DNF that I bet you saw coming, and news of some incomers to bring the balance of the TBR very much into it customary format. So, we’d better get on, hadn’t we!
Jane Lynch – “Happy Accidents”
(13 March 2013 – Poundland)
The last of my celebrity autobiographies picked up in Poundland (and enjoyed as a gift from M but all but one going to new homes), this was one of the better half of the deal. A good autobiography of the actress made famous to me in the Christopher Guest films (“Best in Show”, etc.) and to the world as Sue Sylvester in “Glee” (duly covered), this is clearly written, fairly clearly by Jane Lynch, and with self-knowledge and humility. It takes us all the way from her childhood to her work on “Glee”, via a plethora of stage, film and TV appearances, and also concentrates on her personal development, including some self-confessed nightmare behaviour years and an issue with alcohol.
The self-knowledge and happiness she has now is shown to have been hard-won, and she makes no excuses for herself, detailing her challenging behaviours and attitudes as she moves through her life, but ultimately positive about the opportunity for change and her long-term friendships and marriage. Good reading.
Mary Elizabeth Lucy – “Mistress of Charlecote”
(17 March 2013 – from Bridget at a BookCrossing afternoon)
My friend Bridget has a habit of bringing tempting books along to the cafe of a Sunday, and I snapped up this life story of a Victorian matron, edited and commented on by the wife of her great-grandson. This starts off as a charming portrait of girlhood and family, with the requisite giggling over suitors and ‘coming out’ balls, then encompasses her marriage and creation of a formidable family of her own. Rather more domestically than nationally inclined, and very much written for her grand-daughters, this is a remarkable document. However, the life expectancy and mortality rates of the times mean that it becomes somewhat of a harrowing read at times, with her husband, siblings and children dying younger than one would hope and in often distressing circumstances, so not one to read if you’re feeling a bit delicate. Remarkable and interesting as the surviving memoir of a very different way of life.
Edith Sitwell – “English Eccentrics” (DNF)
(06 March 2013 – Dartmouth)
Oh dear – I tried, I did. It’s such a pretty book, too, but it is going to a good home with an American friend. I really wanted to love this Folio Press edition by a favourite mid-20th century figure, but it was pretty dense and oddly written, bouncing from obscure eccentric to obscure eccentric with barely a pause for breath. About half way through I was confronted with all sorts of unpleasant descriptions, with more to come, and I had to draw a line and give up!
New acquisitions time now. I went a bit over the top in The Works the other day. I was only looking for some grown-up colouring books, honest! First of all, I found the next in Debbie Macomber’s “Cedar Cove” series., “1022 Evergreen Place”. That’s (I think) the 12th book in the series following the fortunes of a number of people and families in a small town in Washington State. Each concentrates on a particular household, thus bringing in the title / address. She’s a go-to for comfort reading, and she used to be US-only but is now all over the UK.
I then found this set of three in a series, too – “The Manning Sisters”, “The Manning Brides” and “The Manning Grooms”, and thought they’d be ideal for a friend who also likes this gentle author (in fact, I bought the second two for her in error, then had to rush back to buy the first one for her … and then bought a set for myself, too).
Then, I spotted this gem – “Mapping the Railways”. I like railways, I like maps, I like history, and I still had some Bank Of Matthew money (a sum of money given for a present but left through the year for the purchase of treats and nice things all year round, there is also a version called Bank Of Liz, of course) left over from my birthday back in January, so I treated myself to this lovely looking and quite thick book.
And then, well, books know when to flock (or herd), don’t they, because no sooner did I have these lovelies ensconced in the house than I went and won a Jane Badger Books competition and this book, “The Marvellous Mongolian”, one of the only ones ever written about Przewalski horses, plopped onto the doormat. Oh well, the TBR shelf is looking pretty svelte and, well, it’s only books, isn’t it!
Currently reading – I’m currently enjoying the “Great British Sewing Bee” book, although unfortunately the main text doesn’t seem to have been copy-edited, as it’s full of errors that are making me FUME. The instructions seem OK, though, and I’m currently fooling myself into thinking I can make myself a jacket. Hm. Also about to start “The Art of Fielding” by Chad Harbach, a campus novel that’s had good reviews but does apparently have quite a lot of baseball in it …