A Bookish Spring

     It’s been a very, very long time since my last reading list! But a recent flurry of books in the post gives me an excuse to draw up a reading programme for the remainder of March…

1. Dracula, by Bram Stoker (1897).  I have shied away from the black-clad, pointed-toothed villain for as long as I can remember, for horror stories are more likely to give me nightmares than delicious thrills, but the graduate course I am teaching this semester focuses on monsters in literature (c.f. my previous post) so at last I have succumbed. I must say, from what I have read so far, I am a little disappointed in the writing.


2. A Sea-Grape Tree, by Rosamond Lehmann (1976). I am re-reading Lehmann’s final novel for a new article I am writing. Set in the 1930s on an island in the West Indies, A Sea-Grape Tree takes up the story of Rebecca Landon several years after it left off in Lehmann’s earlier novel, The Ballad and the Source. Bruised by the failure of a love affair, Rebecca has come to the island in search of rest and forgetfulness. She did not bargain on meeting an eccentric cast of British expatriates, the ghost of a former friend, and Johnny, a handsome and mysterious casualty of the Great War who now lives in a shell-encrusted hut on the beach, in the shade of a sea-grape tree…

3.  The Fountain Overflows, by Rebecca West (1957). I haven’t had occasion to read any Rebecca West so far, but as soon as I heard about this on Cornflower Books I knew I had to have it. A large and eccentric family, bohemianism, and music lend it an appeal I simply cannot resist! The beautiful mauve Virago jacket clinched the deal.


4. Madame Pamplemousse and her Incredible Edibles, by Rupert Kingfisher (2008). Last week, I met up with a friend for a late-afternoon tea and a stroll. Well, it was raining too hard to stroll in comfort, so – inevitably – we sought refuge in a bookshop, where my friend started hunting around for storybooks for her god-children. That was when I came across this slim novel and was instantly enchanted by Madame Pamplemousse, her cat Camembert, and her tiny Parisian shop, which is filled with strange and magical things to eat. There was no question of reading it in anything but the original English, however, so I jotted down the title and waited till later that evening to order it online.

5. Songs of Blue and Gold, by Deborah Lawrenson (2008). This, too, I discovered on Cornflower Books (which is turning into a veritable goldmine of good ideas!). Based on the life of Lawrence Durrell, the novel takes us from England to Corfu, as a young woman delves into her mother’s past and her connection with the writer Julian Adie. I started Songs of Blue and Gold this afternoon: the weather was so exceptionally fine that I took a chair out onto my small terrace to read. Below me, in the courtyard, Aria (my beagle harrier) and Dale (my neighbours’ golden retriever) lay basking in the sun. It was such a warm, golden afternoon that it was easy to imagine myself on the Corfiote coast, with the waves lapping at my feet and cicadas whirring in the cypresses, high up on the hills.

     May the rest of March be even half as delightful!

© Florence Berlioz 2012

About Miss Darcy's Library

I love books - buying books, reading books, discussing books, and generally admiring them from all angles (except the e-book). I also love tea, roses, and my dogs, and seldom pass up an opportunity to slip them into the conversation.
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10 Responses to A Bookish Spring

  1. A delightful plan, indeed! I too have never read Dracula but I’m not particularly drawn to it so I doubt I ever will. Horror stories are just not something I enjoy. I have The Fountain Overflows waiting on my shelves and I cannot wait to get to it!

    • No, horror stories are really not my thing either! Agood mystery, yes – but downright nightmarish stuff can stay locked firmly in the metaphorical closet, as far as I’m concerned!
      I’m also looking forward to The Fountain Overflows – I like stories of big families…

  2. limr says:

    The Madame Pamplemousse book reminds me of one of my favorite books from when I was a little girl: Miss Jaster’s Garden. http://www.amazon.com/Miss-Jasters-Garden-N-Bodecker/dp/0307411818
    I just loved that book and it had gorgeous illustrations. I hope I still have the copy somewhere.

    Have fun reading! The books sound so interesting. I’m just starting Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and am looking forward to it. In summer, I’ll once again tackle War and Peace. I managed to get about halfway. I don’t know if I have the heart to re-read, but I might have to.

    Looking forward to hearing what you think of some of the books on your list.

    • Miss Jaster’s Garden looks lovely! I’m putting together a collection of story-books for my (as yet unborn) god-daughter and this definitely sounds like something I should get her – I love the idea of a hedgehog sprouting flowers… thanks for telling me about it!

  3. Anbolyn says:

    You have a wonderful stash of books to see you through spring! I like the Dracula myth and the original folk tales that inspired it. I, however, didn’t care for the book as much as I thought I would, though I do love the Francis Ford Coppola film.
    Doesn’t Cornflower recommend the most fantastic books? I’ve added quite a few of her favorites to my tbr list!

  4. It’s funny, I love folk tales and legends and yet I’ve never been interested in vampires – I’m really reading Dracula because I don’t have a choice (and because it’s a classic I think I ought to know about)… But maybe I’ll end up loving it!

    I’m still in the process of discovering Cornflower but am very impressed with the quality of her writing. Plus, it’s a fun blog, what with the recipes, etc!

  5. FleurFisher says:

    You have some wonderful books lined up. My copy of The fountain Overflows is on my bedside table, waiting for the right moment, and it does look particularly lovely. And I think I may have to investigate Madame Pamplemousse too.

    • Well, it looks like we’re all going to be reading The Fountain Overflows this month! We’ll have to trade impressions… I can hardly wait to start Madame Pamplemousse: I’m sure she’s going to be wonderful! Have a good week at your new job!

  6. Sarah Lee says:

    Dracula is actually quite an enjoyable read! It was on one of my MA modules last year. I didn’t have high expectations but was pleasantly surprised. The first bit does drag on I admit, but it gets more and more engaging as action unrolls! I recommended it to one of my friends who’s a Sherlock Holmes fan as I found the plot and excitement level fairly similar. I hope you’ll enjoy reading it too!

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