Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Classic Club 50 Questions Survey

This has been hard work! Originally I thought I'd break the survey down over two or three posts but once I got started I just kept going and have really enjoyed reliving my Classics journey. And I'm loving reading every else's too.

1. Share a link to your club list

My Classics Club list

2. When did you join The Classics Club? How many titles have you read for the club? (We are SO CHECKING UP ON YOU! Nah. We’re just asking.) :)
I joined the Classics Club on the 9th March 2012 and committed to reading 60 classics in five years. So far the total is 38/60.
3. What are you currently reading?
November is AusReading month so at present I'm reading an Australian classic - We of the Never-Never by Mrs Aeneas Gunn.
4. What did you just finish reading and what did you think of it?
I have just finished No Name by Wilkie Collins which I'll be writing a post for this coming week. I did enjoy it  but not as much as his two better known novels The Woman in White and The Moonstone.
5. What are you reading next? Why?
Next up is Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton because it was my Classics Club spin winner.
And for obvious reasons Christmas Stories by Charles Dickens.
6. Best book you’ve read so far with the club, and why?

Germinal by Emile Zola and The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot.
I never like making these choices and there are so many I could name but these two do stand out. Both of them made a big emotional impact on me and both of them I finished knowing I would be rereading some day.

7. Book you most anticipated on your club list?

Definitely Germinal - I'd been reading glowing posts about it for so long yet it still took me two years after buying a copy to finally read it. 

8. Book on your club list you’ve been avoiding, if any? Why?

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
It's big and when I think of all those confusing Russian names .....

9. First classic you ever read?

It's so long ago I don't really know - possibly Anne of Green Gables by L M Montgomery but I wouldn't have been aware that it was 'a Classic'

10. Toughest classic you ever read?

11. Classic that inspired you? or scared you? made you cry? made you angry?

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott did all of those things when I first read it - I was about 12 years old.

12. Longest classic you’ve read? Longest classic left on your club list?

The longest title left on my list is Kristin Lavransdatter  by Sigrid Undset at 1144p.

13. Oldest classic you’ve read? Oldest classic left on your club list?

Oldest I've read would be Shakespeare.

Still on my list - Beowulf.

14.  Favorite biography about a classic author you’ve read?

I love author autobiographies and biographies. Three of my favourites are
  • Thomas Hardy: The Time-Torn Man by Claire Tomalin
  • Morgan: a biography of E.M.Forster by Nicola Beauman
  • The Brontes by Juliet Barker
15. Which classic do you think EVERYONE should read? Why?
When people start telling me what I should be doing I switch off! Not for me to tell anyone what they should be reading.
16. Favorite edition of a classic you own, if any?

My very old edition of Peter Pan retold by May Byron for Little People with the gorgeous illustrations by Mabel Lucie Attwell
17. Favorite movie adaption of a classic?

Gone with the Wind
18. Classic which hasn’t been adapted yet (that you know of) which you very much wish would be adapted to film. 

Nothing I can think of!

19. Least favorite classic? Why?

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway - I had a feeling I wouldn't like this author and I didn't. 

20. Name five authors you haven’t read yet whom you cannot wait to read.

From my current list Sigrid Undset, John Galsworthy, Sir Walter Scott, Angela Thirkell, William M Thackeray.

21. Which title by one of the five you’ve listed above most excites you and why?

Kristin Lavransdattar by Sigrid Undset is a trilogy - medieval historical fiction set in Norway. I've wanted to read it for a long time but I have to buy a copy and other titles keep taking priority.

22. Have you read a classic you disliked on first read that you tried again and respected, appreciated, or even ended up loving? (This could be with the club or before it.)

I read Charles Dickens when I was young and decided he was too slow and longwinded for me but added him to my CC list and read Our Mutual Friend which I loved and then Bleak House which I also loved. Time changes many things.

23. Which classic character can’t you get out of your head?

Maggie Tulliver from The Mill on the Floss

24.Which classic character most reminds you of yourself?
25. Which classic character do you most wish you could be like?
26. Which classic character reminds you of your best friend?

Never given a thought to questions like this. I'm quite happy being me!

27.If a sudden announcement was made that 500 more pages had been discovered after the original “THE END” on a classic title you read and loved, which title would you most want to keep reading? Or, would you avoid the augmented manuscript in favor of the original? Why?

I think I would let sleeping dogs lie unless the original ending had left me completely dissatisfied.

28. Favorite children’s classic?

Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A.Milne

29. Who recommended your first classic?

They appeared every year in my Christmas loot so I guess I can say Santa did!

30. Whose advice do you always take when it comes to literature. (Recommends the right editions, suggests great titles, etc.)

Fellow bloggers.

31. Favorite memory with a classic?

My father reading The Wind in the Willows to us - he did wonderful voices and really made the story come alive.

32. Classic author you’ve read the most works by?

I'm not sure - probably Charles Dickens or Thomas Hardy

33. Classic author who has the most works on your club list?

I tried not to have too many of any authors but Thomas Hardy, Elizabeth Gaskell, Anthony Trollope and Emile Zola all have three.

34. Classic author you own the most books by?

E.F.Benson - I picked up a set of 7 of his books at the Book Fair in 2013.

35. Classic title(s) that didn’t make it to your club list that you wish you’d included? (Or, since many people edit their lists as they go, which titles have you added since initially posting your club list?)

I can't answer this one - my list is in a constant state of change and I've added far too many to list.......even if I could remember which ones they are.

36. If you could explore one author’s literary career from first publication to last — meaning you have never read this author and want to explore him or her by reading what s/he wrote in order of publication — who would you explore? Obviously this should be an author you haven’t yet read, since you can’t do this experiment on an author you’re already familiar with. :) Or, which author’s work you are familiar with might it have been fun to approach this way?

This isn't something I would decide to do without having read something by the author and liking him/her enough to want to attempt it. I would far rather do as I plan with Emile Zola - having read Nana and Germinal I am going to start at the beginning of the The Rougon-Marquart series and read them in the recommended order.

37. How many rereads are on your club list? If none, why? If some, which are you most looking forward to, or did you most enjoy?

I was never much of a rereader before the Classics Club and only added two to my original list. Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre I read as a teenager and thought I might appreciate them more now. I read WH last year and it was nothing I remembered it and I'm seeing the value of rereading more now and will definitely be having more on my second list.

38.  Has there been a classic title you simply could not finish?

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez - I loathed it. Too many people with the same name and so boring!

39. Has there been a classic title you expected to dislike and ended up loving?
  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  • Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
40. Five things you’re looking forward to next year in classic literature?
  • Finishing my first CC list of 60
  • Joining the readalong of The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy .
  • I haven't committed myself yet but I'm seriously considering taking up Fanda's Literary Movement Challenge
  • Beginning The Rougon-Marquart series by Emile Zola
  • Generally just enjoying all the events held by the Classics Club and by its members.
41. Classic you are DEFINITELY GOING TO MAKE HAPPEN next year?

The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy

42. Classic you are NOT GOING TO MAKE HAPPEN next year?

I don't have anything that I feel that strongly about.

43. Favorite thing about being a member of the Classics Club?

Being part of a community - it inspires and motivates and keeps my enthusiasm high.

44. List five fellow clubbers whose blogs you frequent.

Jane @ Fleur in her World
JoAnn @ Lakeside Musing

I never like singling out a few from the many I read and enjoy. :-(  

45. Favorite post you’ve read by a fellow clubber?

No one particular post but a blogger who writes wonderful posts that are always a pleasure to read and I wish I was capable of writing myself - o @ Behold the Stars

46. If you’ve ever participated in a readalong on a classic, tell about the experience? If you’ve participated in more than one, what’s the very best experience? the best title you’ve completed? a fond memory? a good friend made?

I've participated in several readalongs and prefer the longer ones which are an excellent way to read the chunksters that keep getting pushed to the bottom of the TBR. The two best experiences have been Musashi in 2010 and Clarissa in 2012. Both very long books that aren't easy reading but sharing the experience was very motivating and kept me going when I longed to give up.

47. If you could appeal for a readalong with others for any classic title, which title would you name? Why?

The Brothers Karamazov - I'm avoiding it!

48. How long have you been reading classic literature?

All my life on and off  but it's only been in the last six years that I've taken it as something more than just reading. There is purpose and appreciation, the search for understanding - I read so much slower these days which is definitely a good thing.

49. Share up to five posts you’ve written that tell a bit about your reading story. Reviews, journal entries, posts on novels you loved or didn’t love, lists, etc.

The First Classics Club Monthly Meme
Clayhanger by Arnold Bennett - a review
A Classics Challenge Prompt - musing on The House of Mirth
Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K.Jerome - say it with pictures
Classics Club - I'm Halfway!

50. Question you wish was on this questionnaire? (Ask and answer it!) Pass!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tuesday Intros: The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt

The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt by Tracy Farr

" All of us are old at this hour, on this beach; the heads in the water are all grey, including mine. Mostly we move gently, we older, early-rising swimmers, the water buoying us in our slow choreography. But if we're all old and stale, still the water smells fresh - somehow like water melon, and salt. It's glorious, the water in the morning, when it's calm like this, when you can just bob on the surface, like a seal, watching. How well it makes me feel, how calm; how light and how heavy at the same time: like heroin - a little bit like heroin."

This is the story of Lena Gaunt: musician, octogenarian, junkie.

A childhood in Malacca and lonely boarding school days in Perth. A fabulous affair in Sydney with the artist Beatrix Carmichael. A glittering career in post-war Europe.

Lena Gaunt's life will be made and broken by those she loves.

Through it all her relationship with music endures.

What did you think of the opening paragraph? Would you keep reading?


Tuesday Intros is a meme hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea which bloggers can join in with by posting the first paragraph (or two) from a book of their choice. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Diaries of Ethel Turner & Seven Little Australians

Ethel Turner has charmed generations of readers with her delightful children's books, including Seven Little Australians, Miss Bobbie and Family at Misrule.

For 62 years she also kept a diary and in this book her granddaughter, Philippa Poole, has selected the most interesting passages which, together with her commentary on each chapter and the inclusion of wonderful photographs of the time give a fascinating peek into the life of an Edwardian young woman.

Ethel's diary entries which begin in 1889 when she is 17 are really only a simple record of each day ......of shopping, tennis and picnics, garden parties and balls....

"This morning I made myself a black lace hat. Idled in  afternoon. At night went to Articled Clerks dance and wore my white liberty again, this time with crimson flowers and snowdrops. M.Backhouse asked me for a dance and then did not account for it. I shall never notice him again. He was a bit intoxicated last night, I think, it is pity, he might be a very nice boy. I'm awfully sorry for him."

If the endless round of social gaiety was enough for most girls Ethel and her sister Lilian had other ideas. Having gained experience editing their school magazine, in 1889 they launched their own monthly publication called the Parthenon which would have considerable success during the next three years. Her love of literature and writing becomes more noticeable in the diary entries as she records the books she buys and reads...

" I read the loveliest book or part of it after 11pm last night Not All In Vain by Ada Cambridge - I think I like better than any book I have read.'

 She began writing stories, poems and articles for a Sydney newspaper,  recognising that she had a talent that could earn her money and help her gain independence.

In 1894 Seven Little Australians was accepted for publication.

'Here is the Miss Louisa Alcott of Australia - here is one of the strongest, simplest, sweetest, sanest and most beautiful child-stories that I have read for years.'

Set in Sydney in the 1880's it tells the story of the seven children of a very authoritarian father and a flighty stepmother. By informing her young readers at the beginning that they are about to hear the tale of 'very naughty children' Ethel Turner immediately grasps their interest. 
She was also ahead of her time with her writing by capturing a warm relationship between parents and children and by going against the 'happy ever after' ending. This is a story of fun, adventure and and a tear-jerking tragedy and it was this that most probably prompted the Louisa Alcott comment.

Despite warnings that marriage would mean the end of her writing career , in 1896 Ethel married her long-time suitor Herbert Curlewis and bore two children, Jean and Adrian early in the new century.
She continued to write prolifically - more than 40 novels, short stories and poems for children.

In 1928 her beloved daughter was diagnosed with tuberculosis and after a prolonged illness died in 1930. Ethel was heartbroken and never wrote again.

Ethel Turner died in 1958.

The diary entries were a delightful piece of history and I loved rereading the Seven Little Australians.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Spin Winner!

The Classics Club has spun the wheel and the winning number is - 13.

Unlucky for some, maybe, but not for me. The spin fairy has been kind and granted my wish for something small and manageable and I shall be reading.....

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

I downloaded this from Girlebooks quite some time ago but as with so many others it has had to sit there patiently waiting to be read. It's been a while since I read Edith Wharton so I'm looking forward to it.

Hope the spin was kind to you too!

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane

" was this noise, followed by louder sniffing, that confirmed the intruder as a tiger. Ruth had seen one eating at a German zoo, and it sounded just like this: loud and wet, with a low guttural breathing hum punctuated by little cautionary yelps, as if it might roar at any moment except that it was occupied by food."

Ruth is quite sure she is not dreaming and the sounds she can hear in her living room are made by a tiger.

Ruth is 75, a widow who, with her two grown sons living overseas , lives alone in an isolated beach house. Ruth values her independence but struggles to maintain it against severe back pain and growing mental confusion.

Later in the day a stranger knocks at her door and announces she has been sent by the authorities to be Ruth's carer. Frida is capable and efficient and in no time takes control of Ruth's life. Ruth likes her company, thinks she looks Fijian and is drawn back into the childhood she spent in Fiji.

While The Night Guest has a strong element of suspense that makes it read like a thriller at times it is actually a story about aging. A story of loss and the need to be loved, of fear, confusion and trust. It confronts questions concerning the care of our elderly and on whose shoulders the responsibilities should fall.

The writing is stunning and I was amazed that someone as young as Fiona McFarlane was able to have such insight and understanding of dementia. I've since learned that both her grandmothers suffered and she wanted ' to write respectfully and unsentimentally about this.'

The Night Guest had a huge emotional impact on me. My heart ached with an awful sense of foreboding all the way through - I was sad, I was angry and I was reminded of my mother's last years.

It was disturbing and unsettling but.....I loved it! 

Interview with Fiona McFarlane

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Classics Club Spin #8

Time for another game of chance from the The Classics Club to make a list of twenty unread titles from our list and on Monday 10th November one number will be chosen. The challenge is to read the book that corresponds to the number by Jan 5th, 2015.

My Spin List

Five I really want to read

1. The Fortune of the Rougons by Emile Zola
2. Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
3. The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy
4. The Vet's Daughter by Barbara Comyns
5. Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte

Five that have been on the shelf too long 

6. The Odd Women by George Gissing
7. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
8. Possession by A S Byatt
9. The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
10. Vanity Fair by William M Thackeray

Five  about the Boys

11. Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
12. Adam Bede by George Eliot
13. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
14. Maurice by E M Forster
15. Dr Thorne by Anthony Trollope

Five by authors I haven't read before

16. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
17. High Rising by Angela Thirkell
18. The Good Companions by J.B.Priestley
19. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
20. Red Pottage by Mary Cholmondeley

As this spin happens during the very busy holiday season I am keeping my fingers crossed that it will be kind and not give me a complex chunkster to read - no Dostoevsky, please!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Tuesday Intros: The Home-Maker

The Home-Maker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher

" She was scrubbing furiously at a line of grease spots which led from the stove towards the door to the dining-room. That was where Henry had held the platter tilted as he carried the steak in yesterday. And yet if she had warned him once about that, she had a thousand times! Warned him, and begged of him, and implored him to be careful. The children simply paid no attention to what she said. None. She might as well talk to the wind. Hot grease too! That soaked into the wood so. She would never get it clean. "


First published in 1924 The Home-Maker was considered radical at the time - ' stunningly thought-provoking in its challenging of gender roles. '

After seeing this title on so many favourites posts of other bloggers I've been longing to read it and thanks to Persephone's half price offer now I can.

What did you think of the opening paragraph? Would you choose to keep reading?


Tuesday Intros is a meme hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea which bloggers can join in with by posting the first paragraph (or two) from a book of their choice.