Out-of-print and unavailable? Not any more for the lovely selection of titles reissued by Bloomsbury with its new digital imprint ‘designed to resurrect out-of-print titles’ by British writers.
Monthly Archives: February 2012
If you want to read about love – the good bits, the bad and the ugly – then Jane Austen is a perfect choice. The plots and themes of her novels are built on relationships and love. Will Elizabeth Bennet marry Mr Darcy? Will Fanny Price win her cousin Edmund’s heart? And will Emma ever realize that she loves Mr Knightley?
I spent a week in Melbourne this month, at the biennial VALA library and technology conference. I heard about Drupal and Joomla!, research data management and digitized archives, mobile technology and Twitter. It was fascinating, but by the end of the conference, I couldn’t wait to get hold of a book – I was really looking forward to relaxing with the soothing weight of a paperback novel in my hands.
This delicious novel – it includes recipes for dishes like Quail in Rose Petal Sauce – is perfect to read in February (as close to Valentine’s Day as possible!) Published in English in 1992, Laura Esquivel’s book is romantic with a bizarre twist of magic realism. The heroine, Tita, is forbidden to marry the man she loves because she is the youngest daughter in the family (the book is set in Mexico at the turn of the twentieth century.) In order to stay near Tita, Pedro agrees to marry her older sister, Rosauro. The novel describes the mayhem that ensues, as Tita pours her frustrated passion into her cooking and her other sister, Gertrudis, elopes with a revolutionary soldier after eating the quail with rose-petal sauce.
Delightful, entertaining and a pleasure to read: a different kind of romance. The film was very popular and successful and an online book group called ‘Cook the Books’ went to the trouble of cooking and critiquing all of the novel’s recipes, from the turkey mole to the cream fritters and chocolate with ‘Three Kings’ Day Bread.’
Some of the best modern fiction that I have read has been about ‘Love Gone Wrong’. Think, for example, of Richard Yates’ 1961 novel, Revolutionary Road. When it was first published in America, the book competed for awards with titles like Catch-22 and Yates was acclaimed as one of the finest of America’s post-war novelists and short-story writers. Revolutionary Road is about a young married couple, Frank and April Wheeler, who live in the suburbs with their two children – and slowly, inexorably tear each other apart. Continue reading
- Go to one of Britsh actor Miriam Margoyles‘ brilliant performances of ‘Dickens Women’ (in Adelaide, 15 – 18th Feb). For a preview, watch 4 mins worth here.
- Have a look at some of the wonderful original illustrations for Dickens’ novels: I love the ones for Bleak House – very dark and sinister – the ones for Pickwick Papers are fun.
- Read Claire Tomalin’s new biography of Dickens. I’d also recommend her book The Invisible Woman : the story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens (1990).
- Charles Dickens wrote stories, articles and travel writing as well as his famous novels: try something different here. Continue reading
The 2012 Dickens Bicentenary is bigger than Ben Hur, with so many events, exhibitions, publications, films, TV programmes, conferences, concerts, dinners and breakfasts that it’s hard to imagine how anyone will get time to sit down and read one of his 600-plus page books!
If you’re already a Dickens fan, begin by working out which is your favourite novel and go from there. We have copies of all of them here in the Barr Smith Library, on the shelves and online. Pickwick Papers was incredibly popular when it first came out, accompanied by marketing merchandise such as special Pickwick cigars, china figurines, song books and Sam Weller joke books. Many people love Great Expectations and Dickens himself preferred The Personal History of David Copperfield, probably for autobiographical reasons. In April this year, the whole of London will apparently be reading Oliver Twist in “London’s first ever pan-London community reading festival“
First book off the shelf this month will almost certainly be a novel by Charles Dickens: February 7th 2012 opens the official celebrations for his 200th ‘birthday’, the blockbuster Dickens Bicentenary. There are many reasons to read (or re-read) one or more of his famous novels, and we’ll look at those reasons soon.
February is also associated with romantic love. Valentine’s Day falls in the middle of the month, and the extra day of the Leap Year is February 29th, the time that women can supposedly break with tradition and propose marriage to men (!) While Love is certainly one of the great themes of literature – from Ovid to Twilight – it’s equally valid (and much more dramatic and interesting ) to consider its opposite: Love Gone Wrong. Think of Romeo and Juliet, Anthony and Cleopatra, Oedipus and Jocasta, Giovanni and Annabella… Let’s see if we can make this month’s National Year of Reading a celebration worthy of Anti-Valentine’s Day!