Thursday, April 3, 2014

Chain Reading



Last week, when I talked about the books I'd been reading, Deana mentioned that she'd just finished The Uncommon Reader -- a novellas about Queen Elizabeth II becoming a voracious reader.  As a life long fan of Her Majesty (I was ten when she was crowned and successfully cajoled my grandparents into buying a television so that we could watch the coronation,)  and as a life long reading addict, I immediately checked out the sample on Amazon. The novella opens with HM interrogating the French ambassador about Jean Genet, the homosexual/jailbird/writer.

Done. I downloaded the book and read it pretty much in one gulp. It was charming, watching The Queen go from a non reader to an addicted one -- somewhat to the chagrin of those around her ( she figures out how to read while in a car or coach and waving at the populace).

I didn't want it to be over. So I read it again. Then I noticed a note at the end of the Kindle edition If you enjoyed this book... and they suggested another novel about The Queen. It was equally delightful and almost a seamless segue from one book to the other -- though in Mrs. Queen, HM is not a reader. In fact, she references the The Uncommon Reader and snorts, "Fancy making me out to be a reader. There's imagination for you. "

I re-read this one immediately too. 
 . 
Mrs. Queen Takes the Train review HERE


Finally having gotten my fill of Elizabeth II, I picked up a book a friend lent me months ago. Written by John Berendt, the author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, The City of Falling Angels is a fascinating look at the non-tourist side of Venice -- the intrigues, the politics, the families, the history, the gossip.  . .

I've been to Venice twice -- never for long and never with the sort of money it would take to see the things Berendt describes. But even as the lowliest of tourists, I was mesmerized by the charm and magic of this amazing city. 


And as I read, Berendt mentioned that Henry James had set a short novel (The Aspern Papers) in Venice and immediately I flashed on the Queen Elizabeth of The Uncommon Reader -- "It was Henry James she was reading one tea-time when she said out loud, 'Oh, do get on.'"

Exactly the way I have felt at times about James. But, as she reads more, HM begins to appreciate his work. So, finding the The Aspern Papers was a free download for the Kindle . . .


What a pleasant surprise! The Aspern Papers is a delicious little read -- James's fictionalized account of a writer trying to obtain of the love letters of a famous (and deceased) poet to his mistress. The writer attempts to ingratiate himself with the aged mistress and her niece and discovers he may have to give more than he is willing to for a look at the papers. 

Where will it all end? The Stones of Venice is one of those books I've heard about forever and never read. It's a three volume history of the art and architecture of Venice. It was extremely influential in Victorian England and I've seen many references to it without ever actually reading it.  But s. Amazon tempted me with another free download. I doubt I'll read it word for word but now I can get some idea of what all the fuss was about.


11 comments:

Ms. A said...

I haven't taken the time to read a book in a long time... and you eat them! I don't know how you find the time, with everything else you do.

katy gilmore said...

Oh boy oh boy - what a great post. I just want to curl up with the whole bunch!

Brian Miller said...

ha. dont you love it when a thought grabs you and then the next book falls in line and the next....col journey

B. Rogers, Living in Black Mountain said...

Sweet journey through books...I'll be looking for some of these soon!

Annalyn Reed said...

I too share a love for reading :)

Jim Egerton said...

The City of Falling Angels is my fancy. Thanks for the post.

Frances said...

Vicki, thank you for all the book tips. I've read and very much enjoyed The Uncommon Reader and am a great fan of Mr. Bennett.

I haven't read the other books, though have read some books by some of the authors. Right now I am having to choose between reading and knitting for my "eye" time. Both are fun. I'm re-reading Cold Comfort Farm and have just finished Apple Tree Yard, two very different books!

Now, you've also got me remembering the beauty of Venice....

xo

NCmountainwoman said...

You sound just like me in flitting from book to book. I'll have to look for the "The Uncommon Reader." Wonder if it will take me in the same direction it took you...

Inger said...

Thank you so much for this list. I now have wifi and a kindle and I'm enjoying this different reading and particularly buying experience. Someone told me amazon's kindle store had many classics and I found a lot.

jennyfreckles said...

I love chain reading and chain blog-hopping. I shall never be bored when I retire!

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