Feb. 1st, 2015

Books 4-6

Feb. 1st, 2015 07:44 pm
lizzardgirl: (books)
Book 4: Bluestockings, by Jane Robinson

Caroline lent me this book, about women in British academia 1869-1939, and it was really fascinating. The author meticulously dug through all sorts of experience reports, from interviewing old students in those cases where they were still alive, to diaries, letters, etc. A beautiful picture of so many women dedicated to learning and self-fulfillment. My problem with this book was that it got too anecdotal at times. Robinson recounted what she'd learnt with great passion, but I think there might have been more coherence in the way she ordered things - for one thing, it's all divided up in chapters, but I couldn't always make out what one chapter's point was supposed to be compared to the previous. Also, sometimes she bundles things together too much and seems to forget, over the common theme of studying women, that there is actually a pretty great difference in external circumstances between 1869 and 1939 and that people's experiences can't just generalised over seventy years. But still, a very enjoyable read.

Book 5: Busman's Honeymoon, by Dorothy L. Sayers

Okay, so, uhm, obviously I love this book. I love how we know see Peter's and Harriet's love for each other play out, see them painfully and tenderly navigate a relationship and all that and I'm absolutely grateful we got to see those scenes. But, it's just not Gaudy Night-like. It's top-notch and all that, but Gaudy Night just is its own league. What I love very much about this book is that you get a real sense of the scenes and fast-paced dialogue and such, from the theatre play it was originally (and boy would I love to see that play) but that also means that some of the epilogue bits feel a bit ... tacked on (and conversely, some of the dialogue scenes earlier on feel almost too-fast paced for a novel, and a bit to much like fishing for a punchline)? Also I get that it's a real break-through for them in the end that Peter manages to ask Harriet for help, and those scenes are really wonderfully touching, but it's a bit depressing that they bond over an execution ... But I don't want it to sound as if I'm not liking this book, I am, I'm loving it in fact, just ... I would have loved to have read Gaudy Night Pt II.

Book 6: The Shooting Party, by Isabel Colegate

That's the book that I was ranting about earlier this week. It got better, it was quite an okay read in the end. There were a few bits that I really liked, like how the author managed to describe what I'd call consensual adultery - i.e. sort of like an Edwardian open marriage - with having the partners have respect for each other. I also thought that the climax of the story was fairly neat and sort of just put well together. I just didn't think it was more than just a good read - and quite apart from the egregious error that I mentioned earlier (that, in the end, had no influence whatsoever on the plot, so yeah, whatever) it was fairly obvious that the book was written in the 1980s and trying too much to pretend it was written in 1913.

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