Monkalong! — A Day Late and a Dollar Short

Hello, fellow Monk readers!   Yes, I was supposed to write this yesterday.   I did actually finish the reading yesterday, but I got distracted.   Warning to those not actually reading along:  these posts will be full of spoilers.   No carefully not telling you stuff, we chat about everything, though as this is only the first two chapters, (75 pages or so) it’s not going to spoil too much.   I read this once ages ago, though happily I don’t remember what happens so it’s like reading it for the first time.   It’s quite lively though reading a book over 200 years old always takes some concentration.

So what do we have?   A bunch of characters – the women I’m finding difficult to keep apart mentally.   First we have Antonia – timid and shy 15 year old from Murcia, she n sooner shows up in Madrid than Don Lorenzo is hot for her.  She has come to the church with her old maid aunt who believes Don Lorenzo’s friend Don Christoval is into her and not just trying to distract her from Lorenzo moving in on Antonia.   They are all there to hear the most famous monk in Madrid, Ambrosio, speak.   He is the monk because he’s all devout and resisted temptation.  He could join Lancelot in singing:

C’est moi! C’est moi! The angels have chose
To fight their battles below,
And here I stand, as pure as a pray’r,
Incredibly clean, with virtue to spare,
The godliest man I know!
C’est moi!

He’s 30 and as he’s lived in a monastery, no real temptation has beset him.   He believes his own publicity and thinks he’s all that.   This will, naturally, be his downfall.

And speaking of downfalls, Agnes, Don Lorenzo’s sister became a nun owing to some misunderstanding and now she’s hoping to escape, but the dumb bunny lets her escape plan letter fall in front of Ambrosio who gets all high and mighty and condemns her to whatever pregnant nuns are condemned to.   Probably being walled up alive.   We don’t know yet except that Ambrosio shows No Mercy.   This will, naturally, be his downfall.   She curses him but good.

And finally we have Rosario.   A young monk who has become great pals with Ambrosio, but will not show his face.   Un huh.   Sure enough, he’s really named Matilda and he/she sneaked into the monastery to be with Ambrosio.  Ambrosio, when his own interests are affected, becomes less high and mighty and tries to make her leave, but then he sees her breast and can’t do it.   It’s pretty pathetic how noble he thinks himself and then one glimpse of one breast and poof! all gone.   There’s more – gypsy curses, poisonous snakes, annoying poetry.   It’s fairly chock-a-block and I am as entertained as I remember being the first time I read it.


Apparently a surrealist movie was made out of it.   It looks like a 70s hippie version of a monastery.       I’m off to see how the others liked it, particularly Alice, who has been unable to get through it before.   Okay, it’s not The Moonstone, but it’s no Mysteries of Udolpho either.

Dog Days of Summer Readathon

So, Andi and Heather who host the Dewey 24 hour readathon wanted to have a readathon they can actually read during.   And really, who can blame them?   Dewey is great, but it’s a little intense:  prizes, snacking, tweeting, snacking, activities, snacking…  it really cuts into the readings.   So I signed up for this, mellow, no prizes, just reading more during the weekend.   Hope you’re out there reading, too!

I’ll report it all in one post as I don’t think there’ll be a heckuva lot to report.   Friday, 9/18 – Started the Monk for the Monkalong.   Maybe a little early as I’ve done half the reading and it’s not due until 10/1!   So, I can’t talk about that, you’ll have to wait.

I also read a bit of Wylder’s Hand, Le Fanu’s forgotten classic.   It was getting nicely creepy with a possible ghost who might not be a ghost when it got creepy in the men behaving disgustingly kind of way.   Rachel’s brother, skank #1 apparently tried to blackmail skank #2 who outmaneuvered him and now Rachel has to spend the weekend with skank #2.   I can’t decide which of them is worse.   Both appalling human beings whom I hope get tossed in a tarn by the end.  The book is weird in that it starts with a narrator and then switches to third person omniscient for scenes with Rachel and her brother.   Strange and not a good device.   I don’t mind changing viewpoints, but they should all be limited or not at all, I think.

Thirdly, I picked up Hillary Mantel’s A Place of Greater Safety and read the beginning.   I should not be doing this.  I’m in the middle of 12 things and the last thing I need is to be in the middle of another 700 page book.   More news as the weekend goes by.

Meanwhile, enjoy this stolen picture of a cute doggie:


The Quick RIP Readalong

How’s your R.I.P. event going?  Mine’s off to a slow start.   I’ve barely read any of Wylder’s Hand which is both a creepy Sheridan Le Fanu novel and a forgotten classic for the BooksandChocolate classic challenge, but I’m making so little headway that it may well be rediscovered before I finish it.    So far it’s entertaining, but I’ve only read about 5 chapters and they’re very short chapters.   I was hoping to finish it before the Monkalong and before this readaalong


But unless I read a heckuva lot in the next week, that won’t happen.    Nonetheless I will join in this and we shall see if this is ‘impossible to resist.’

Also another readathon, this one low key – no prizes, no hullaballoo, just reading over a weekend.   Sounds nice.


The Monk Readalong

Reading-Rambo is hosting a readalong – which is always good, but this is especially good because it’s The Monk by Matthew “Monk” Lewis.   I read it ages ago during my misspent youth and I loved it, but I’m not sure if that’s because it’s worth loving or because it’s just sooo much better than The Mysteries of Udolpho.  (I told you I misspent my youth.)  I love readalongs in general and ones hosted by Alice especially because of the books we read and the highly amusing posts of Alice and her fellow bloggers which tend to be written with flair, charm and insouciance.   Alice says The Monk is not very good and I shall be disappointed if she is right, but I must find out.  Plus it fits in perfectly with RIP X.


I may have overloaded myself with 19th century novels, which in theory I love, but in practice tend to be very long and take up far more time than a single book ought to.   I have this year begun Trollope’s The Way We Live Now, Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend and Sheridan Le Fanu’s Wylder’s Hand.  And I think there’s one I’m forgetting.   Now it would be fabulous of me to finish all this, but I do keep seeing …   oh, squirrel!

So, you see, a readalong is just the ticket and I hope to actually finish The Monk.  Thank you, Alice!   And everyone else joining in!   I hope it is much fun!

Readers Imbibing Peril X

I think this is the third year I’ve imbibed peril along with many other readers out there.   Previously hosted by Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings, this year we have Andi and Heather of The Estella Society to thank.  I’m sure we are in good hands and that’s good because some of us may read something too scary.   Info is here: The Estella Society


Book the First complete

Once again I’m going to do my best to read at least 4 books that fit under the mystery/suspense/thriller/gothic, etc. heading.   It’s a very wide tent.   Plenty of room for all kinds of things.  We have from Sept 1 through Halloween, so join in, won’t you?   No one should do this alone.

Three Men in a Boat

Last week, before skipping town, I finished, finally, Three Men in a Boat (to say nothing of the dog) by Jerome K. Jerome a classic comic story of three friends based on Jerome himself and two of his friends who go boating/camping along the Thames for a couple of weeks.  I don’t know why it took me a while to finish this – I enjoyed it every time I opened it.   It gives a charming picture of a Victorian vacation as well as being funny.    There is no plot to speak of.   The men get together, rent a boat and it’s just a description of what happens and what they see along the way with occasional digressions.   I thought I had highlighted some passages, but Kindle Cloud Reader denies this, so here is a passage quoted in Wikipedia to give you an idea of his style.   They are making stew for dinner.  Montmorency is the dog.

I forget the other ingredients, but I know nothing was wasted; and I remember that, towards the end, Montmorency, who had evinced great interest in the proceedings throughout, strolled away with an earnest and thoughtful air, reappearing, a few minutes afterwards, with a dead water-rat in his mouth, which he evidently wished to present as his contribution to the dinner; whether in a sarcastic spirit, or with a genuine desire to assist, I cannot say.

There are some sentimental and historical passages which are a bit tedious, but fortunately, not many and not too long.


Don’t look at the map too closely as it does contain spoilers.   Not that there’s much to spoil, so maybe you won’t mind.

Years ago I read the Connie Willis novel which references this, To Say Nothing of the Dog, and enjoyed it a lot.   Maybe worth a reread now.

I wondered about his name as who in their right mind would name a child Jerome Jerome?  Surely, it’s a pen name, I hoped.   It turns out his father was named Jerome Clapp and renamed himself Jerome Clapp Jerome and named his son after his new name with the difference being his middle name is Klapka after an exiled Hungarian general.

I intend to read more Jerome books at some point and I’m using this as my Comic Classic for Books and Chocolate‘s classics challenge.

Stats, or What’s Up With That?

I realized over the past couple months that my post The Sadness that is the End of the Minithon was getting views on a regular basis.   Far more than whatever my most recent post was.  34 in July and August.   That’s one every other day for a post that should not have interested anyone but the 6 or 7 people who participated in the Minithon in May.  I chat about The Wimbledon Poisoner – a book I never finished – and peanut butter pretzel nuggets.   Hard to believe anyone’s searching on those things.  I therefore come to the conclusion that people are drawn to the picture of the sad bunny which I stole off the internet.   I further conclude that the road to fame and fortune, or at least more visits, is pictures of cute animals.   The posts may go unread, but the traffic will be excellent.


I wonder when I see stories of people who apparently make a living being a Youtube sensation or a blogger, how much traffic is that?   When someone’s year long project is parlayed into a book and maybe even a movie a la Julie and Julia, what level of interest did it have to reach to jump the divide to real-world book or movie?   And then if you look for Julie now you can find she did another blog for a bit and wrote a book about carving meat, but that didn’t have the same success.   What do you do when your personal internet bubble bursts?


I’ve started reading Tolstoy and the Purple Chair despite the fact that I know it’s more grief memoir than a book about reading.  Definitely a few dozen of us who would’ve preferred a book about the reading, but then we’re demented.  I am somewhat obsessed with the idea of reading a book a day, even though I know I couldn’t do it.   Or maybe because I know I couldn’t do it.   I started it yesterday and have gotten through about 70 pages.   But even if I didn’t have a job, I don’t think I could do it.   I couldn’t manage 100 pages a day last December when I was trying to finish off 10 or 11 books for various challenges.   Even if I stuck to short books, (and really, they couldn’t be too short or it wouldn’t count) I’m still too slow a reader.   She did read some darned short books, but she also read The Elegance of the Hedgehog and Watership Down, each in a day.  So even if for some reason I no longer had to work, I’m pretty sure I would get tired of it and want to do anything other than read after a while.  Whether that while would be 3 days or 3 months I’m not sure.  And I am so easily bored that finding 365 books that I could read straight through would be a miracle.

I was hoping that reading the book itself would cure me of thinking about it.  But so far, it has not.   Maybe because I want to be reading not about her family during WWII or her sister, which was the whole reason she did this in the first place, but more about what it’s like to read a book each day.   And how it is at the end of a month.   Do you remember them?  Is it just a sea of muddled prose in your mind?  Do one or two stand out and the rest is grey?   There’s also a frustrating vagueness much of the time as to what prevents her reading, what caused her to wind up with 200 pages to go at 10 pm?   I would be sunk right there.   But also I couldn’t deal with a midnight deadline.   I’d have to go noon to noon or something like that.   Reading at night in bed is one of my favorite things.  And she and I are just not much alike, so instead of identifying with or even empathizing, I just wish she’d tell me more about other stuff.  And why am I even thinking about this?  Unless an eccentric millionaire pays me to take a leave of absence to read books for a year (I’d like to do it at the beach, dear eccentric millionaire), it’s not a possibility.   Usually I’m fairly good at accepting that things are impossible and dealing in the realm of the possible, but this, keeps bugging me,

Phinnea's Book Blog List

Idle thoughts on books and movies. Some new, but mostly old.


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