What I Read on my Summer Vaca-

I mean, for the 20 Books of Summer which ended Monday the 5th.   How did I do?  Not well.   For a start, and I knew this, never put Our Mutual Friend on a list of books you want to get through fast.   I also had 2 biographies.   One was Hermione Lee’s Virginia Woolf which I was supposed to read anyway for #Woolfalong, but then I was keen, at the time, to read about Gertrude Bell after seeing the movie about her, Queen of the Desert.   That impulse faded and I never touched that one at all.   But let’s talk about what I did, rather than what I didn’t.   I read eight books, some of which were even on the list I made, and started 4 others.  I finished:

On list –

At Bertram’s Hotel

Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont

The Magicians

Murder Must Advertise

Off list –

Third Girl

Hanged for a Sheep

Destination Unknown

The Devereaux Legacy

Started –


Lee’s Virginia Woolf

Our Mutual Friend

Dead Wake

I’m still working on Dead Wake which is about the sinking of the Lusitania.   It’s very good so far and since it’s during World War I, that’s good because I wanted to read more about WWI and so far haven’t succeeded.   Can’t seem to get anywhere in The Zimmerman Telegram.   Keep reading the same three pages over and over again.   Woolf bio is also good, just tremendously long and in print, so huge I can’t lug it around so that’s still in play.   I was enjoying Kim and Our Mutual Friend, too, but not enough to avoid distraction.   The finished ones have all been talked about elsewhere in the blog.

Oh, and I believe I just passed my third blogiversary a week ago.  Despite my poor showing on the 10 books of summer, this blog and my fellow bloggers have been very good for my reading.   I’ve read more classics and more generally than I had in a long while before that so thanks, fellow bloggers for being out there and writing reviews and proposing challenges which even if I flunk ’em, I think do me good.

So, now, there’s R.I.P. going on (join us!)  and Woolfalong continues with essays or diaries.  I’m going with diary.   I read the first volumes in college many centuries ago, but not knowing where I left off, I will read Volume 1 again, 1915-1919.   And it is interesting already.   In the first page of the introduction, Quentin Bell quotes Clive Bell warning future readers of Woolf’s ‘airy imagination’ when reading her letters and diaries.   I could see telling stories in letters to friends you wish to entertain, but I fail to understand making stuff up for your own diary.   The passage quoted cites an evening of Leonard Woolf reading passages from the diary to a group of friends and stopping, saying “I shall skip the next few pages because there’s not a word of truth in them.”   At this distance, how am I, the reader, supposed to have any idea when she’s making stuff up?    Perhaps this is a factor in why I have difficulty with Woolf.   I tend to think telling the truth is pretty important.  Life’s difficult enough to navigate without adding blatant fabrications to it and if you want to tell stories, write fiction.   Which she did.   But apparently, she needed to tell stories to us, her future readers.   Maybe re-reading it will make it more clear what and where she was making up and why she would need to do that.






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