Byatt’s The Children’s Book. There is much to say. I can’t, yet. I finished it on Saturday and I couldn’t even look at another book on Sunday. Yesterday I picked up something I’ve already read: Delderfield’s To Serve Them All My Days. It begins at the end of World War I (which is where the Byatt ends) with a shell-shocked Welsh soldier taking a teaching post at a remote school for boys in North Devon. I think I felt a little shell-shocked myself after Byatt’s dark epic and, like David Powlett-Jones, needed a dose of bracing upland air and boyish pranks to pull me out of my head.
There’s a lesson for me here, and it’s that making reading lists, while a deeply satisfying activity, has, for me, practically nothing to do with the actual reading of books. Much of the time, perhaps most of the time, the book I have just finished reading selects its successor.
Between The Children’s Book (which begins in 1895, in the last creaky years of Victoria’s reign) and The Diamond Age, which I flipped through the other day, looking for (and not finding) a particularly iPad-ish quote for Friday’s little post (because is it just me, or is the iPad a device within spitting distance of the Young Lady’s Primer?), I have found myself hankering after a biography of Queen Victoria. Serendipitously, today Colleen teases a novel (not bio) called, deliciously, Prisoners in the Palace: A Novel of Intrigue and Romance about How Princess Victoria Became Queen with the Help of a Maid, a Newspaperman, and a Scoundrel. According to the blurb at Powell’s, it was “meticulously based on newly discovered information” by historian Michaela Maccoll. Sounds promising, no?
Best Worst Fictional Family
“For them all is done.”
Tuesday Morning Booknotes
Happy Birthday, Bill!
Things we did on a Monday morning in September