Tuesday, 20 April 2010

read this book...

The last few months I've mostly been reading children's books, especially E Nesbit. I particularly like The House of Arden and The Treasure Seekers. I hadn't realised quite how many books she's written, sadly many are out of print or hard to get hold of now. I really recommend reading them if you haven't already. A really well-written book will always be a really well-written book.

I've also read Flora Thompson's Lark Rise to Candleford trilogy. I'd just discovered the television programme, and caught up with all three series through youtube and BBC iplayer in a series of very late nights. I know it's not perfect, and I had my doubts when I saw the trailers, but in the end I loved it. The book on the otherhand is very very different. It's a documentary in a book really, with characters who rarely make an appearance and almost never 'speak' in the narrative, just occasionally illustrating a particular incident or anecdote. The main character in the tv series, dorcas lane, only appears in the final book, and thomas is a (brilliant) invention of the screen-writers. But then a great deal of the episodes draw on the book for plot. The book tells more of Flora Thompson's childhood, but the bulk of the text focuses on the country customs, traditions, seasons, and (what I enjoyed the most) the details of day-to-day life of the hamlet folk. I found this the most fascinating, such as what the weekly wage was spent on, what the main componants of the diet were, the sleeping arrangements of a large family with two bedrooms, etc. The tone is different too, it's sleepy and serene in comparison with the tv series, which then seems lively and buzzing. It works wonderfully. I really recommend it.

And I just discovered The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgeson Burnett. Part 1 is a fairytale quite unlike anything I've ever read before, Part 2 is an equally curious melodrama. You will love the heroine, who can help it? I'm so glad I accidentally came across it, it's a little bit like reading elizabeth gaskell with a touch of nancy mitford. Read it, read it!


Felted House said...

Thanks for these recommendations, I take books away on holiday to read so can keep an eye out for these at the library! xx

Amelia said...

I'm so pleased to see that you took my E. Nesbit recommendation - I love Burnett's children's books but hadn't heard of this novel so will definitely be checking it out!