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