Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Virginia Woolf, tricoteuses, plague

So, I went to Vashon Island to visit my grandparents and watch the fireworks for 4th of July, and naturally, went and bought more books. I have acquired The Letters of Virginia Woolf, volume 2--1912 - 1922, and a book on fairies and similar creatures which is a reprint of a 19th century book. I can't remember the title or author and am too lazy to look it up, but it's got fairies by country, which is pretty interesting. I read the Introduction to the Letters on the bus home from Vashon, and started reading some of the letters today. They are extremely pleasant to read. I should really get around to reading the rest of Mrs. Dalloway. I like how very frank she is about things that are usually skirted over in the time (or now). Things like sex--she counts the number of books she has read since she lost her virginity, which is just amusing. Anyway, I'm looking forward to reading more.

While on Vashon, I finished reading Kathryn Davis's Versailles. It paints (and this is very much the best word for it) a very representative portrait of the place, and if, like a portrait, it doesn't give you all the details just by looking at it, maybe those details aren't so important anyway. The chapters go back and forth between ones narrated by Marie Antoinette herself, ones that outline the architecture of Versaille, and ones that are little playlets featuring the characters. It's a lovely book, and like always, I find myself morbidly fascinated by all the mentions of the French Revolution--the tricoteuses, tiny toy guillotines. I suppose lovely isn't quite the right word.

I am now in the middle of Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis. I've previously read To Say Nothing of the Dog, which is utterly fabulous, and while this one isn't quite as enchanting it is nevertheless drawing me in very well, and managing to be almost equally fascinating in the different storylines in 2054 and 1320.

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