dec-2016-tbrAfter that brief foray into tourism in my own city, it’s back to the normal run of book reviews. I’ve finally managed to grab some reading time as work diminishes for Christmas so be prepared for a few reviews over the  next few days (might skip Sunday …). I’ve also updated my Century of Reading list with books I’ve bought recently – I now only have 31 years to find (I’ll be doing an update on that and all other challenges on January 1). Let’s start with a classic …

George Eliot – “Silas Marner”

(11 July 2016, charity shop, Bridlington)

I really have gone from a book acquired at Christmas 2015 to one picked up in July, but only because I picked this one off the shelf to go in my handbag for some bus journeys (I’m also reading a slim volume about Dorothy Richardson but that wasn’t brought out of the handbag quite so readily …)

Now, the thing I thought I knew about this book, along with everyone else, is that it’s about a crotchety old man who’s redeemed by adopting a small child. Well, actually, it’s about an awful lot more than that, and said child doesn’t even appear until two-thirds of the way through the book!

The hero, the weaver, Silas, is battered down by the conservatism of religion, shunned by his own chapel community after being betrayed by a friend and then a loner in his new community partly because he’s not a churchgoer. The aristocracy doesn’t come out well, either, with the local squire half-cut most of the time and producing sons who are either weak or bad. Goodness seems to be embodied in both people who are true to themselves, honest and look out for their fellow villagers, like good-hearted Dolly Winthrop, and in the web of rural society itself.

The theme of consequences is handled very cleverly. When you think Eppie is going to be spoiled by Silas not being able to bring himself to punish her, she’s clearly not, villains have an undignified rather than evil end and when lies are found out and discussion had about what would have happened if the lies hadn’t been told, all is not as the liar or the lied-to assume.

One point that really amused me was a character being compared to a guinea pig. Now, this book was published in 1861 and I have no real view on when guinea pigs were introduced as pets in the UK, but I’d somehow assumed later than this. But …

Mrs Crackenthorp – a small blinking woman who fidgeted incessantly with her lace, ribbons and gold chain, turning her head about and making subdued noises, very much like a guinea-pig, that twitches its nose and soliloquises in all company indiscriminately – now blinked and fidgeted towards the Squire

Isn’t that marvellous. Another great read from Eliot, and I am so enjoying gradually making my way through her works. I only have Scenes from Clerical Life, Romola and Felix Holt to go now.

I’ve also finished Mollie Panter-Downes’ “London War Notes” and hope to review that tomorrow. I’m working steadily through “Yeah Yeah Yeah” – which is marvellous, a real treat and sure to be one of my top ten books of the year if I can finish it in time – and I think it’s time for “The Waves” for my upstairs read. I do have some Kindle books to get on with, as those that I won on NetGalley are coming up for publication time now (I’m obeying the review embargoes even though some reviewers have posted reviews already). And I need to read a Reykjavik Murder Mystery soon, as I have been acquiring Ragnar Jónasson’s “Snowblind” series on Kindle, too. What are you reading at the tail-end of the year?