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Sunday Salon: the Invalid Post

September 28, 2008

The Sunday Salon.comA lot of this week I spent in bed with heating pads. Unfortunately, it’s often difficult to physically read a book when my neck and shoulder muscles hurt, and when my arms are too weak to hold the book up. So, since I was sick and feeling in the need of some comfort-read, I downloaded the audio version of Agatha Christie’s A Murder is Announced by my library’s e-branch. It’s one of my favourite Miss Marples, so it was fun to revisit. Of course, Miss Marple takes awhile to make her appearance, but the solution to the murder is so clever it blows me away. :) I shall have to make a list one of these days about my favourite Agatha Christies!

On Thursday, I felt a bit better, so I decided to go to the library and get a card (I tried doing this online, but the card never came in). While my local branch doesn’t have any of the books I listed in my R.I.P. pool (I have to put them on hold and wait for them to arrive from other branches), I did find Rebecca du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn. It’s a historical thriller, set in nineteenth century England on the moors, and it was a fun escape. The young heroine, Mary, goes to live with her aunt and uncle, who is the proprieter of Jamaica Inn, in accordance with her dying mother’s last wish. Once there, she quickly realises that things are not good, and it will take all of her wits and courage to survive. I don’t want to say more than that, but while du Maurier did succeed in creating a tense atmosphere, this wasn’t on par with, say, Rebecca.

On Friday, I felt awful again. But I had a workshop this weekend (my school offers one-credit classes taught my visiting outside practioners that last a single weekend: Friday night, all day Saturday, and most of Sunday), so I decided to just rest up during the day so I’d be ready at night. In between napping, I got through one of the Georgette Heyer books I’ve received to review: The Reluctant Widow. This was a kind of farcical romp through Regency England: Elinor, the heroine, accidently takes the wrong carriage and ends up being convinced to marry a wealthy young man on his deathbed. Once she becomes a widow, his cousin (who convinced her to do this), asks her to stay on at the estate to get things in working order. But events quickly lead her to believe her late husband might have been mixed up with Bonapartists! This was laugh-out-loud funny at points, and a very sweet and entertaining plot. That being said, while I’ve certainly become a fan of Heyer, I can’t help but see her books like cotton candy. And thus she can’t compare to Austen.

Today, I’ve reached for some heartier fare with Andrei Makine’s Dreams of My Russian Summers. I’m not sure how he ended up on my Russian Reading Challenge list, but I’m glad he’s there, because the book is wonderful so far! It really brings alive both turn-of-the-century Paris and Stalinist Russia. Makine was born in the Soviet Union and learned French as a boy; when he was thirty, he went to France on a teacher exchange, received political asylum and began his career as a writer. While he lives in Paris, and writes in French, almost all of his novels deal with Russia and the Soviet Union. I’m excited that I might end up loving him, since he has quite a few other books that all sound wonderful!

All week, I’ve also been reading A Little History of the World by E.M. Gombrich. It was an impulse buy at Border’s (which I visited before the library). In the 1930s, Gombrich was asked to translate a British children’s world history into German. He instead told the publisher he could write a better one, and wrote this book in six weeks. It was very popular, but the English translation was a long time coming. Gombrich himself worked on it with an assistant until his death, when his assistant carried out other changes he had intended. Anyway, it begins with “Once upon a time,” so how could I resist? ;) I haven’t regretted it so far; the tone is charming, and I think it’ll help me on the Foreign Service written exam. That being said, and I mention in the sidebar, I wish it was less Euro-centric and pro-Christianity. It has talked about non-Western civilisations, but they’re not the focus. And so far, it seems that Christianity can do no wrong (he just finished discussing Charlemagne); there’s a chapter on the crusades that will, for me, cement whether Gombrich decided to airbrush Christianity’s history. We’ll see!

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28 Comments leave one →
  1. September 28, 2008 6:36 pm

    I’d never thought of looking for audio Agatha Christie, but I love the idea! It’s now firmly planted in my mind. I’ll have to give it a go as soon as I finish my current audiobooks.

  2. September 28, 2008 6:47 pm

    Hope your feeling better. You got a lot of reading done though.

  3. September 28, 2008 6:51 pm

    A Murder is Announced was an excellent story!!!

  4. September 28, 2008 7:48 pm

    Agatha Christie was amazing. I started reading her back in junior high. Maybe I should go back.

    Also, did you know that Maureen O’Sullivan made her debut in Jamacia Inn? She was so young!

    cjh

  5. September 28, 2008 8:34 pm

    Somehow I have never like Agatha Cristie. I have tried many times to read her books, but have always failed.they just don’t interest me.

    But surprisingly I love the movies based on her books. Isn’t that wierd?

    I have watched quite a few on the history channel.

  6. September 28, 2008 11:17 pm

    CJHill, you beat me to the punch!

    Laughton was awesome in the movie and it had the right kind of creepiness to it. Despite some cheese moments I enjoyed it, especially Maureen Sullivan who I first saw in “The Parent Trap”. The original one, not that remade drivel of a movie.

  7. September 29, 2008 2:59 am

    Are you interested in joining my Agatha Christie Reading Challenge? See the block on the right hand side of my blog page
    http://paradise-mysteries.blogspot.com/

  8. September 29, 2008 9:26 am

    Hope you feel better soon. It’s so frustrating to be stuck in bed with an illness that interferes with reading- I find sometimes it’s nice to be bedridden with books but with me, headaches get in the way.

  9. September 29, 2008 10:59 am

    I’m sorry you’ve been under the weather. It’s such a drag that someone as young and vital as you must suffer from a form of “the rheumatiz.” These types of inflammatory diseases are supposed to be for old people, like me!

    I’m still experiencing knee pain, but it’s better. It comes and goes like the tides.

    The last Christie book I read was “And Then There Were None” in high school. Maybe I should try a few more!

    Luv ya…

  10. September 29, 2008 12:07 pm

    Hope you are back up to par soon.

    My bookclub read Dreams of a Russian Summer several years ago. We had a mixed to positive reaction to it.

    I’m betting Gombrich is too pro-West for you. But it does sound like a fun read. Makes me think of Jane Austens history of the British kings and queens that she wrote for her father when she was a teen. Well worth looking for.

  11. September 29, 2008 1:16 pm

    A Murder was Announced is also on my list. I didn’t get to read it last year for my Agatha-a-thon because I couldn’t find a copy.

    I’m sorry for your neck and shoulder pain. I can totally relate because I have been afflicted as well. Actually I went to the acupuncturist on Friday and now I feel better.

    I’m spreading good karma to start off the work week. Someone pats me on the shoulder on an award. Now I have to pass on the love. I have given you an award. :)

  12. September 29, 2008 3:15 pm

    Hope you’re back to feeling better soon! You have the right idea, reading some mental cotton candy to relax. :)
    I have the same Makine at bedside right now, too; I’ve only read about 6 pages so far but am looking forward to it.

  13. Sarah permalink
    September 29, 2008 3:26 pm

    Sorry to hear you haven’t been well Eva.

    I’ve just started on a long-term plan to re-read all my Christie books and am relieved to say she is as good as I remember. I’m not keen on audio books, but otherwise she is perfect sick bed reading.

    Heyer=Austen=heresy! Heyer is fun but she’s not Jane!

    I haven’t read any du Maurier or Makine, so am interested to hear your thoughts.

  14. September 29, 2008 5:23 pm

    Aw yuck, that’s no fun. I can sympathize, I was sick all last week and this weekend although I know when its chronic its a lot worse. Hopefully you’ll start feeling better soon!

    Audiobooks are a lifesaver, thank god for them!

  15. September 29, 2008 5:55 pm

    Hugs to you! The Gombrich History book looks fun. I haven’t read that DuMaurier but she is often listed in my fave authors list when asked.

  16. September 29, 2008 8:44 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear about your neck and shoulders. I hope that you start feeling better very soon! I love DuMaurier, but I’ve not read that novel. I’ll be on the look out for it.

  17. September 29, 2008 10:05 pm

    Hey – hopefully you’ll get a kick out of this…

    Every time I see the title of this post I think In valid, as in not valid; not invalid as in not feeling well. I find myself confused for a few seconds…

    And I sure hope you’re feeling better!

    cjh

  18. musingsfromthesofa permalink
    September 30, 2008 6:52 am

    I do hope you are feeling better.

    I listened to the audio version of ‘Jamaica Inn’ earlier this year and it was thoroughly enjoyable. And I agree with you re Heyer – for Regency romances, they are the top of the pile, but there is no comparison with Austen.

  19. September 30, 2008 7:41 am

    I hope you are feeling much better Eva!

    I just discovered Georgette Heyer’s books last year! What I’ve read so far, I’ve really liked. They seem to me a bit like comfort books. I’m making note of the Agatha Christie book… I just finished Hallowe’en Party which I enjoyed but I don’t think it’s one of my favorites of her.

  20. September 30, 2008 1:09 pm

    Hope you are feeling better soon! I suffer from inflammatory joint problems too. It is horrible when holding a book hurts. All the best!

    As to Heyer. I love her books but she is Austen-light certainly. However The Reluctant Widow is one of her very lightest. A Civil Contract or Frederica or The Grandy Sophy or An Infamous Army are weighter in either plot or characterization.

  21. September 30, 2008 6:17 pm

    Good Lord, woman. I wish I could read that much when I’m dying! I mostly slept.

    Hope you’re feeling better. Isn’t Jamaica Inn great?

  22. October 1, 2008 7:47 pm

    Memory, mystery audio books are my favourite! Hope you enjoy them. :)

    Confuzzled, thanks!

    Bluestocking, isn’t it? Just so clever!

    CJ, she’s definitely amazing. I didn’t even know Jamaica Inn was a movie, and I don’t know who Maureen O’Sullivan is, but I shall google her. ;)

    Violet, well I think the movies have more fleshed-out characters, so I can understand that! She’s one of the few authors who I can enjoy movie adaptations of.

    TheDuckThief, oh: is that who Maureen Sullivan is? Now I want to see the movie!

    Kerrie, thanks for the invite: I’ll look into it. :)

    Jeane, boo to headaches. :( Migraines in high school are what brought on my fibro, but thank god I haven’t had a migraine in six years.

    Chartroose, sometimes I worry about what will happen as I age…but usually I just don’t think about it! ;) Thanks for the well wishes; maybe you can try some Christie short stories. I really love the Miss Marple collection called Thirteen Problems (or The Tuesday Murder Club).

    CB, thanks! I wish I had a cool book club that read such interesting books. :)

    Matt, I hope you find a copy of it: it’s so good! I’m sorry that you have pain as well. :( I really want to look into acupuncture when I have a job (and money…and maybe even good insurance).

    Melanie, thanks! That’s soneat we’re reading the Makine at the same time. :D

    Sarah, I know-it’s such a heresy! And I think it does Heyer a disservice, because my eyebrow was totally raised at her for awhile due to the Austen comparisons. I’ve enjoyed the du Maurier I’ve read: Rebecca is just incredible!

    Kim, I’m sorry you were sick. :(

    Care, thanks! What other books by her have you read? I’ve only read this and Rebecca.

    Literatre Housewife, thank you!

    CJ, that’s really funny actually! hehe

    Musings, thank you: I bet the audio version of Jamaica Inn would be great. :D

    Iliana, thanks! I definitely think Heyer=comfort. I don’t think I’ve heard of Hallowe’en Party.

    Juxtabook, thanks! I’m sorry you have problems. :( Good to know about Heyer: I think I’ll try out The Conquerer next.

    Nancy, hehe: I bet you were a lot sicker than me! I was just in pain, rather than all the icky things that usually come with being sick.

  23. October 2, 2008 8:19 am

    I’ve read DuMaurier’s The House on the Strand. Fascinating TRIPPY book.

  24. October 4, 2008 12:40 am

    Care, I loved that-I read it either early this year or last year!!

  25. November 2, 2008 7:34 pm

    Feel better soon! I’ll probably start reading Christie next year. What book would you recommend for me to start with?

Trackbacks

  1. Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier « Coffee Stained Pages
  2. Review: Jamaica Inn « If you can read this
  3. In the company of wreckers (Jamaica Inn : Daphne Du Maurier) « Bibliojunkie

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