Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Bookish Day

Becca and Mary V enjoying soup

My friend Mary V is visiting from the south (i.e., Oregon), and is getting lots of reading done.  This is the crucial trait of an excellent house guest – reading, and letting me read.  It’s even better that our literary tastes are almost exactly the same! Her first week here, she went on an 18th Century spree with Daniel Defoe and Tobias Smollett  (after whom my little kitty is named,) and is now in the 19th century with Wilkie Collins and The Moonstone.  Sigh!  I was jealous when she started The Moonstone, as it is one of my all time favorites, and I haven’t read it for years. Years! She pointed out that I have two copies and we could both be reading it.  But…… I am deep in the midst of Daniel Deronda, and he is pretty compelling too.  Everyone’s troubles are getting more and more complex, poor Gwendolyn is getting more and more fearful and depressed as her husband’s evil nature becomes more and more evident, and Daniel Deronda is becoming more and more determined to discover the parentages of all the novel’s orphans – himself included.  It’s all pretty exciting!  I gave serious consideration to a Deronda hiatus, but decided I couldn’t do it.

When I was in college, one of my professors told me that Cranford was the greatest novel ever written, and I was, of course skeptical.  I admitted that it is pretty wonderful, but the greatest?  A few years later, my friend Mary V said the exact same thing.  This gave me pause.  Could it be? Two totally disparate folk with the same bizarre opinion about the greatest novel ever written?  Absurd!  All my greatest novel candidates are literary giants – Our Mutual Friend, or Middlemarch, for example. But the last time I read Cranford, I had to wonder.  It really is a little gem – just perfection in a humble, everyday cloak.  Could Mary V be on to a subtle truth that I had totally missed?

 Mary V and Becca enjoying salad

Another time, she called me up to tell me that she had finally found a novel  which she had been years searching for.  And now that she had found it, it was a terrible disappointment.  Not thrilling at all!  I told her how odd that was, because I was having the exact same experience!  Years of searching (no internet with e-texts in those days! You had to find an actual paper copy if you wanted to read it!,) and then – tedium! “What’s the book you found?” I asked her.  “Shirley,” she said.  “Well, amazing! so is mine!” I gasped. “What an astonishing coincidence!”  Just once again proving Mary’s and my affinity in the reading realm.  

We also love the same sort of trashy novels - mysteries, especially, so it is not all 19th century for us, but that is where we mainly live in our book world. 


Marta said...

Reading trashy novels is like taking a break from difficult work.
Sometimes the best reading is a little strenuous and you need an easy read every so often.

Lorette said...

Oh dear. How did I get through a liberal arts education without reading Daniel Deronda? I adored Middlemarch, though it's been years since I read it. The lovely thing is that all of these are pretty much free for Kindle!

Laura said...

I've been wondering what that wonderful book you couldn't bear to stop reading was!!