Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday Ephemera #1

I thought I'd institute some sort of weekly post, something fairly simple that can be carried on even when I'm too busy for more in depth posts. Accordingly, I'm planning to post an image every Friday, something that's art or life or nature or all three, maybe paintings, maybe photos, maybe bits and pieces. Not particularly book related, really (though it might be sometimes), just fun.

For the first one, a view across the seasons--a piece of January in July. It's been lurking around 100 degrees all week (in Seattle--WHAT?), let's have some ice.I'm afraid I can't give credit for this photo; I don't know where I got it, but if anyone does please tell me.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Summer reading pile

When I was cleaning my room a couple weeks ago, I finally got around to pulling out all the books that are scattered here and there that I know are on my to-read list, and stacking them up. Most of these are books on my list for the summer; I know there are others I mean to read but they're a little further off. Seven of them I've already started (some long enough ago that I'll probably just start over); Tam Lin of course I've read several times, but I'm due for a reread. Two are library books, most I own, a surprising five are nonfiction, four are children's books. Also in the picture, my stack of Dorothy L. Sayers that I mentioned the other day. Those, really, are rather longer term than just this summer, but I'd like to get in a couple more of them. The Barack Obama book is the UW's common book for all freshmen; in theory we'll all have read it and can thus meet people by starting conversation about it. Many of these books I've talked about before, so I won't go over them in detail again, but you can expect to hear more about them in the near future.

Funny, apparently the French tilt their heads to the right instead of the left when browsing the bookshelves, because I had to turn that copy of the French translation of Harry Potter face down so you could read the spine.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ok, I lied, I do read mysteries

Having finished Bloodhound, I only now realize it's really a mystery novel, after saying I haven't read any in years. Yes, it's also young adult fantasy, and that's what Tamora Pierce is known for writing, so it doesn't immediately occur to you to look past that. But the characters are all police or criminals or ordinary people somewhere in between, and there is certainly a mystery to be solved. Of course, the mystery is not a classic murder mystery, it's not really concerned with the inner workings of the criminals, and it is very far reaching in terms of place and repercussions. It's a disguised mystery, but it is one.

Bloodhound is the sequel to Terrier, and I have to confess I barely remember what happened in that one, but this, I suspect, will be somewhat more memorable. Beka Cooper is now a first-year Dog (or member of the Provost's Guard), with many of the same friends she had in the last book, like Pounce the magical cat-sometimes-constellation (who will be a bit familiar to long-time Tamora Pierce fans), and a few new ones as well. She's grown up a bit, and I suspect the book has too. It's still written as Beka's diary, though I think I liked the style better this time. I definitely liked the detail of the police work.

I have to admit I think I may have finally gotten too old for Tamora Pierce's books. They're hardly children's books, these days, I don't recall that there used to be so much sex in them (not graphic, of course), but the standard of writing in my usual reading has gotten higher. I'm sure I'll go on reading them, though, as they're still really good stories, and one can always reading a good story without having to be too critical of it.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Summer theatre

Saturday night, surprise surprise, I went to a play. Or, rather, two plays.

Last summer I worked at Seattle Children's Theatre as a costume assistant, helping costume their Summer Season shows, which are all performed by children. It was a fabulous experience, and I had a lot of fun seeing the shows. I'm not working there this summer, but I figured I'd still go and see the shows. I missed the first two, which were Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, but I made it to the second two (though it was rather a trial, with breaking down cars and very late two trucks and parades). These plays are all one-acts, two an evening, so I saw Sideways Stories from Wayside School and A Midsummer Night's Macbeth.

I loved Sideways Stories from Wayside School the book, by Louis Sachar, when I was little, and the play was equally hilarious. I found I remembered the book surprisingly well--I must have read it multiple times. I recognized several of the actors from shows last year, and goodness, can these kids act. The actors are usually between about 9 and 16 years old, and they're always great, and very funny.

A Midsummer Night's Macbeth had me laughing pretty much all the way through, though possibly not on its own steam--it was funny because it was all so familiar, and also through a funny coincidence. I was sitting there during intermission reading the program, and looked at the cast list for this show to realize that my boyfriend's stepsister was playing the main character. And then I looked around the audience and saw her mother. So that was funny to begin with. The show is the sequel (of sorts) to High School Hamlet, which was one of my two favourite plays last year, and it's about a high school drama program trying to put on a retelling of A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Macbeth rather intruding into the proceedings. It was mostly hilarious because a high school drama program with no money and lots of drama and the constant struggle to actually produce a play is where I've been the last four years, so I recognized all of it. Not to mention, there was a character who was the resident techie, and being a techie myself, I always like it when they're not left out of representations of theatre. The techie, of course, kept saying things like, "Wait, did that stage direction just say this character gets dismembered? Um, how are we going to do that?" and then being jealous of the rival school's fly system and floor mics and asking to see the booth and getting all excited about it. This character was pretty much an exact picture of my boyfriend. Really, exact. It was a well done play in general, but that was what made me love it.

I'm afraid my reviewing of these plays does you no good if now you want to see them, but I figure I'll plug the next two weekends of shows, as they're sure to be pretty good. Next weekend is Rent: School Edition (I know, I'm skeptical too, but we'll see), and the weekend after that is Once on this Island, Jr. and Romeo and Juliet. The week after that there's also the Young Actor Institute Showcase, which I saw the dress rehearsal of last year and am rather excited about seeing this year.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Mysterious happenings

I don't know what happened, but suddenly I'm extremely busy! Odd, for summer.

Somewhere in the midst of the business, though, I've found time to introduce myself to Dorothy L. Sayers and her lovely detective, Lord Peter Wimsey. I've meant to since I read To Say Nothing of the Dog last year, and I can hardly remember what relation that book had to Lord Peter any more but I know it did. Not to mention a couple of bloggers with a fondness for the fellow, who've helped along my interest.

My other current reading is Bloodhound, which is 500-some pages, so I rather needed a book to read on buses that wouldn't be quite so heavy. Whose Body? stepped in quite admirably, being paperback and less than half the size of Bloodhound.

I must confess I'd solved the mystery before Lord Peter did--I had it around page 113, he didn't get it until 136. The draw of the book isn't really the mystery, though, so it doesn't really matter. The characters are really the best part, especially Lord Peter who is fascinatingly varied in his interests, and human, and clever, and not a cliche at all unless because he's so classic. I'm also rather fond of his butler, Bunter. Despite my easy solution of the mystery, though, it is really nice to read a mystery. I used to be quite taken with the genre when I was about eight or nine, and essentially haven't read any since. Oh, I guess I did read an Agatha Christie a while ago, but that's it.

So now I've pulled out all my mother's old copies of Lord Peter novels and stacked them up next to my current to-read pile, making it about the same height of books again. Oh dear. Lots to read.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Cazalet clan

I finished reading The Light Years yesterday, and quite liked it, enough that I've already ordered the next book in the series from the library. I'm going to quote a bit of it, which is a lot of what I like. This paragraph comes as they are listening to Neville Chamberlain's radio address about whether there is going to be a war (we're in 1938). And it's very long, so I'm abridging it.

'He looked first at his mother: the Duchy sat absolutely straight with her eyes fixed upon the radio as though Mr. Chamberlain was in the room and speaking to her personally. "How horrible, fantastic, incredible it is that we should be digging trenches and trying on gas masks here because of a quarrel in a faraway country between people of whom we know nothing." He looked at his sister who was reclining on the sofa with Sid sitting on the arm at her feet. They seemed not to be looking at each other, but Sid suddenly handed an ash tray to Rachel to stub out her cigarette. "I would not hesitate to pay even a third visit to Germany if I thought it would do any good." He looked at Polly and Clary, side by side on the floor, arms around their knees: Polly was frowning and biting her bottom lip; Clary, his own daughter, was watching her and as he looked, she rocked her knees so that they touched Polly's. Polly looked up and a tiny smile flitted across Clary's face inhabiting it with such encouragement and love that he was struck by her beauty, felt dazzled and shut his eyes.... Zoe was sitting on the windowsill behind Angela. He blew her a kiss and her look of anxiety softened to unexpected gratitude--an expression he had only ever seen on her face when he gave her a present. He reached his father just as the broadcast came to an end.'

This has certain qualities of a film montage, it's so vivid and lovely, but it is, in a way, better than film. I love how it's this concrete piece of history, but all mixed in with these characters being very distinctly themselves, and their reactions to each other and to the history.

The book begins in the summer of 1937, switches between the numerous members of the Cazalet family, three generations, not to mention their servants and friends. The heads of the family, fondly called the Duchy and the Brig, have a house in Sussex called Home Place, where all their children and grandchildren spend their summer holidays. We see 1937, then skip to the summer of 1938, when everyone returns to Home Place. The cast of characters is enormous, yet every one of them is extremely well defined, and their relationships to each other fascinating.

The melodrama I mentioned earlier as being rather present in the miniseries was not at all in the book. Unlike The Camomile Lawn, another World War II book and miniseries, it definitely feels worth it to both read it and see it. In that book it felt like a novelization of a movie, almost, in that the fact of its being written down didn't really make it more interesting or better. It wasn't poorly written, it just wasn't interestingly written, either. Elizabeth Jane Howard, however, is a lovely writer, with the above quoted paragraph being one of my favourite examples of this.

I'm very much looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Summer books (though not, funnily enough, The Summer Book)

I have a funny relationship to summer. Sometimes I love it, sometimes I hate it, but no matter what the books I read during summer become indelibly associated with this season. The Count of Monte Cristo is definitely one such book. I read it years ago, in seventh or maybe eighth grade, and I still associate it with summer. It's a fabulous book. For being a solid 1200 pages (please don't read an abridged copy), it is enormously readable and easily followed, despite the multiple simultaneous pieces of plot. And it has just about everything in it, romance and mystery and everything else. My favourite part was always where Edmond Dantes is in prison with the fellow whose name I can't remember, digging their way out and also learning all sorts of interesting things. Actually, my only specific memory of the time I was reading this book is that it was kind of grey and rainy the day I checked it out of the library, but nevertheless I associate it with summer. It's also, by being so big but also so little work, great for long summer afternoons.

Havemercy is also one of my summer books, I think, though I only read it last summer so who knows whether it will remain so. It's a fantasy novel involving giant metal dragons that have personalities despite being machines, and four different main characters who in various ways are all, or will be all somehow related. In my head the fantasy world of this book is all enormous blue skies and sandstone buildings, though I think this is not actually its setting. I read this on my way to and from working at Seattle Children's Theatre last year, waiting for the bus on the edge of a park in the sun, and in the back of the bus on hot afternoons.

I'm not sure why summer is so much more particularly associated with certain books than other seasons. It may have to do with Seattle's weather, which is pretty uniformly sunny and hot in the summer (at least in one's memory, not so much in actuality), but is entirely variable the rest of the year. The association is definitely with the sun and the distinct blue of the sky, and not with any other quality of summer.

For a few years I hardly read during summer (I can't for the life of me figure out what I did instead), but the past couple I've read a lot more, and this summer I'm especially devouring the books. It's nice to have time to read.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Something fun to read

I thought I'd direct your attention here. It's the Guardian's series of portraits (both photographic and written) of the spaces in which writers write. Most of the recent ones are writers I've never heard of, though going back further (there are several pages of these), we have Sebastian Barry (who I've heard of, but not read), Sebastian Faulks (who I've tried to read but not got around to actually reading), Elizabeth Jane Howard (reading her right now), Seamus Heaney, Claire Tomalin, JG Ballard, and lots of others. There's also a few of people such as Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, and Virginia Woolf, not, obviously, written by their subjects, as the others are. It's fascinating to have the writers' rooms explained, why they are as they are, the significance of various objects, what books they have, and they're all good writers, so they describe these things well. I often find myself lusting after such rooms as these. It would be lovely to have a place specially reserved for writing, although mine would definitely not involve a desk. Probably just a nice squashy sofa.

I would post a picture of where I'm currently writing, but it's rather a mess, clothes everywhere.

Monday, July 13, 2009

I am sorry this is not a very coherent review

And here we are, finally talking about The Dud Avocado. By Elaine Dundy, it's the story of an American girl of about twenty, called Sally Jay Gorce, who descends upon Paris looking to enjoy herself. Predictably, she gets more than she bargained for in her search for a bit of life.

The book has a very interesting style. It's written in first person, in three parts, the second of which is a diary. It's got a very informal feeling, rather like she's just writing a letter to someone she knows well, but you never feel like you're on the outside reading someone else's letter, it's like it's a letter to you. Sally Jay changes her mind about things, spends time looking for the best way to describe a thing, and she has fun with her story. It's an odd book. It masquerades as chick lit, and it would be entirely possible to read it as nothing more, but it definitely does say something about life. It's just that the narrator doesn't quite realize that's what she's doing. One actually wonders whether it's not just the narrator, but the author too, who doesn't realize she's writing more than what her words appear to be. From reading the Introduction and the author's Afterword, it definitely seems that this is a pretty autobiographical book.

And I suppose I don't really know what to say about it. If it were chick lit, it would be easy to see laid out the events of the book and what significance they all have to it, but this is much more blurry than that. I'm not even sure whether it has a happy ending to it. It's not a bad ending. I'm not sure what it is.

I would definitely recommend reading it, though. The book, above all, has an extremely distinctive voice, and it's a very appealing one. I seem to recall a blurb somewhere about the book, which calls Sally Jay a forerunner to Bridget Jones. While dissimilar in a lot of ways, Sally Jay is definitely similarly likeable.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A bit more theatre.

The second day of Seattle Outdoor Theatre Festival now over, for me at least. Unfortunately the weather has taken a turn for the worst, rain and thunderstorms predicted, and yes, we have had both. Lovely timing, dear Seattle weather, this is the first it's rained in three weeks. I saw Twelfth Night this morning, and happily they decided to move the whole business off the stage and under some trees, to keep everybody a little bit dryer. The trees unfortunately blocked sightlines a little bit, but it wasn't too much of a problem and it was certainly fair pay for being out of the rain.

Twelfth Night is my best-known Shakespeare play. I have seen it four times, plus the film, and been part of one production of it. If you give me a couple of lines, I can probably tell you what the next one is. It's certainly not my favourite play (I'm betting that's Hamlet), but I know it pretty much back to front, and as such I definitely have a certain fondness for it.

I liked this production of Twelfth Night (put on by Young Shakespeare Workshop) better than the two professional productions I've seen, which is a bit funny. Nearly all the actors were fabulous (Feste, I'm sad to say, was a bit boring, and I thought Maria could have had more fun with it). I especially liked Viola and Sebastian, who were both played by girls and who, I'm told, switch off twins between shows. I also particularly liked Malvolio, and I'm biased about Olivia, who is a good friend of mine (and isn't it funny how this play always in some way mirrors life but gets it a little bit wrong--Olivia and Malvolio in real life are a couple). The costumes were all absolutely gorgeous (I've never yet, in four viewings, seen this play in Elizabethan costume), rather Victorian.

I didn't manage to see the other two plays I meant to see today, it was too cold to sit on the ground for large amounts of time, and I missed the beginning of King John and I hate seeing only bits of things. That's all right. I'll see Comedy of Errors and King John next weekend, and Taming of the Shrew the weekend after that.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A little bit of theatre

Day one of the Seattle Outdoor Theatre Festival! There are nine different plays being put on in Volunteer Park over the course of the weekend, seven of which are Shakespeare (well, there are two different productions of Taming of the Shrew), and I've been to see the beginning of them today. I saw The Merry Wives of Windsor and Richard III. Also playing today were Taming of the Shrew (the same production I saw a couple of weeks ago on the Fremont Troll), The Sorcerer's Apprentice, and this evening The Comedy of Errors. I decided not to stay for Comedy of Errors, since I want to see Twelfth Night at 11 o'clock tomorrow morning because I have friends in it and I know I won't get up that early if I get home that late.

Merry Wives of Windsor was good fun, if rather silly. Some of the various random people/servants/etc wore signs around their necks saying who they were (Servant, Another Servant, Taller Servant, Not Actually French, Ford In Disguise, and so on), which they switched out to play different characters. I'm not entirely sure what the justification behind that was, although it was certainly funny.

I think I've seen enough Shakespeare now to be able to say with reasonable certainty that I like the tragedies/histories better than the comedies. The comedies can certainly be done very well (I liked Taming of the Shrew on the troll a lot), but the acting in the tragedies usually seems to be more interesting. Richard III was great. You may remember how in January I took a little tour of Richard III, and read/watched several things related to him. I was definitely very keen to finally see the play on a stage (or in some grass, rather), and was definitely not disappointed. Richard was played by George Mount, who was very good, and who I must say I hoped was playing Richard when I saw all the actors getting ready before the play. I also really liked the Queen (Elizabeth, the one who was mother of the Prince of Wales), I liked her acting (I don't have the program to tell you who the actress was). Everyone in this play, in fact, acted very well.

It's rather nice now to have seen enough plays to recognize actors all the time. The fellow who played Irwin in History Boys was Earl Rivers, and Laertes from last year's much-loved Hamlet was Catesby. No doubt there will be more familiar actors in tomorrow's plays, Twelfth Night, King John, and Taming of the Shrew. I'll talk about those plays in the next couple days. And yes, at some point, I will finally get around to reviewing The Dud Avocado.

Friday, July 10, 2009

I get way too excited about school sometimes, huh....

I registered for my first quarter of classes at UW today! I can still go back and change them if I want to, and who knows what bright idea I'll suddenly have about something I want to take, but for the moment I think I know what I'm doing.

I'm taking Sex, Gender, and Representation in Greek and Roman Literature; German 101; and Writing in Comparative Literature. Every semester/quarter, I do this thing where I angst about my schedule and what classes I should take, and then once I pick them I get ridiculously pleased over it. I'm looking forward to all of these classes enormously. The first two most of all. The first one is an Honors class, and discussion-based, I believe, and involves Ovid's Metamorphoses, the Odyssey, and some Euripides, among other things, if the textbook list is to be believed. I'm terribly excited to have that excuse to read Greek literature that I've been wanting, and I think it'll be a really interesting class in general.

German I'm looking forward to just because I always look forward to taking new languages. I chose German largely because I know I'm going to like it (some languages I find boring and/or aesthetically displeasing, and it would be annoying to realize this once I was already committed to finishing out the class). Also, I have a disproportionate number of German friends. I would be taking French 201 (either in place of German or in addition to it), but the class was full.

Writing in Comparative Literature mostly just fulfills an English Composition requirement, but it sounds interesting because the readings one is comparing are in translation and there's an option to read them in the original, if possible.

No doubt I'll be doing much less random fun reading this fall, what with all this, but it's sure to be interesting.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

So many books

New books to read! Oh, it's so exciting.

I went to the library yesterday and came back with two books I've very much been looking forward to--The Light Years, by Elizabeth Jane Howard, first book of The Cazalet Chronicle, and Bloodhound, by Tamora Pierce. I watched the miniseries The Cazalets quite some time ago, and have been meaning to read the books since. It's one of those "sprawling family dramas" and starts in 1937 and goes, I think, through the war. I quite liked the miniseries, though it was occasionally a tad melodramatic (I don't know whether because of the story, which would be still true of the book, or something about the production). Anyway, it's always nice to have another World War II novel to read, especially after reading The Mitfords, which of course spanned the entire 20th century but World War II does always seem to be a focal point. Some day I suppose I ought to read one that's actually about the war, and not just the people at home during it.

Bloodhound is the sequel to Terrier (and second in a supposed trilogy), and written in journal format with, says a blurb on the back, "homage to the police procedural genre." It's set in Tamora Pierce's by now very well-developed world of Tortall, and like 200 years before the first books she ever wrote about that world. It's always kind of interesting to compare those books with these, because her writing has improved vastly. It is still, of course, young adult fiction (and fantasy to boot), which is certainly not great literature but inevitably very satisfying.

I would be tempted to put off The Dud Avocado again and start in one of these (oh no, more choices as to which one), but I am determined not to, and so now I have motivation to whizz through that and get it finished so I can read these. Nothing against The Dud Avocado, mind you, I'm actually really liking it and might have made the great push to finish it anyway.

It's been such a long time since I checked out any books from the library. Before these I didn't have anything checked out at all, even movies or cds. I really quite missed it; I used to love the library, I still do though I don't make it there quite so often.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Penelope Fitzgeraldish musings

And to end the suspense about which book I chose to read... it was The Bookshop. Though The Dud Avocado was close on its heels, The Bookshop being a very short 123 pages.

I find I'm of two minds about Penelope Fitzgerald. I like her and always pick up her books expecting to love them, but somehow I find myself ultimately unsatisfied. I like her writing style, and I always very much like her premises or her settings--a bookshop in a tiny seaside town, a tiny college of Oxford, both show lots of promise for my enjoying them. I often like her characters, too. I think it's just what she does with the characters and the settings that I find unsatisfying. These books are rather too short to have exactly what I'd call a plot, it's more an extended premise or even a series of (relatively mundane) events. It's not the lack of plot I mind, I suppose, just the outcomes. I think the settings of her books give me an expectation of what the book is going to be like, and that's never what it is, so I am unsatisfied because what I expect is exactly what I want. In a way, I guess, Penelope Fitzgerald's eluding of my expectations is a point for her skills as a writer. Her books are never what it says on the tin. They're very good, and I will probably keep reading them, even though on some level I find them disappointing.

Short books fascinate me, in a way. They're longer than a short story, quite long enough to get to know the characters, but too short to have a really involved plot. In a way, this makes them sort of like a slice of the life of a person you know really well, except that it's not someone you know so you've got a fresh view. And of course, there's always the joy of being able to finish them quickly so you can get on to something new.

Now I am on to The Dud Avocado. I started it ages ago and got distracted, but now I'm back to it and more into it that I was before, so hopefully I will finish it this time.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Bookish indecision

I finished reading The Mitford Girls yesterday as expected, and now I'm experiencing my usual inability to chose a new book after finishing such a good one. We've rented a car for 4th of July weekend and drove around to various shops today, so I wound up with I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith, which I've already read, and The Bookshop, by Penelope Fitzgerald, which I haven't. I did read another book by Penelope Fitzgerald, The Gate of Angels, which I talked about here.

So now I'm torn between reading The Bookshop, The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy, or Lyddie, by Katherine Paterson. Or maybe even a reread of I Capture the Castle, which I loved a great deal when I read it a few years ago. Decisions, decisions, I think I just need to pick one and sit down with it.

Happy 4th of July, to those in the right country for it!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Marvelous Mitfords

I've had the most splendid day, doing absolutely nothing but sitting in my back yard in the sun and reading, and getting very tan. My book of choice is The Mitford Girls, by Mary S. Lovell, which I talked about vaguely here, back when I bought it in December. I am absolutely loving it. I started it Saturday night or maybe Sunday, the thing is 529 pages, and I expect to finish it tomorrow. It's lovely having time to read, but if I were reading a different book I doubt I'd have gotten through so much of it. I always forget how much I like reading biography.

For the few readers of book blogs who have not yet heard, the Mitfords were (and are, I suppose) a family of British aristocrats made famous mostly by Nancy Mitford's semi-autobiographical novels The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate. They were at the height of their notoriety (I think I can pretty safely call it that) in the 1930s and '40s. Lord and Lady Redesdale, David and Sydney Mitford had six daughters and a son, born between 1902 and 1920. Each of them is a fascinating and often strikingly different person in their own right, and on top of this they lived in one of the most interesting times in history. Not only that but they were also a notable part of this history. The book suggests, for example, that it is possible that Diana Mitford (third eldest daughter) was the only person to be personally well-acquainted with both Churchill and Hitler.

I enjoyed the stories of their childhood and their early adulthood, especially the various eccentricities of the family, and also the various associations they had--suddenly reading a name of some close acquaintance or other and realizing that it was some famous person. Evelyn Waugh, for example, based his novel Vile Bodies off Diana Mitford and her first husband and their friends. Nancy Mitford especially knew numerous famous members of England's literary world.

What I've found most fascinating about this book, though, is the politics, and the family's place within political history. Diana and Unity Mitford were both devoted Fascists, while Decca Mitford was a Communist, and David and Sydney Mitford's inability to agree on Hitler, Fascism, and the war fractured their marriage. The family was related to Winston Churchill. Diana's second husband, Oswald Mosley, was leader of the British Fascist party. Unity spent most of the 1930s living in Germany, and for quite a long time sat in restaurants she knew Hitler frequented, waiting to see him. Eventually, he noticed her. They got to know each other very well; he gave her presents, found her apartments, paid medical bills, got her tickets to the opera. She was so torn between Britain and Germany that she decided she would have to commit suicide if they went to war with each other.

The story of Unity Mitford's relationship with Hitler and Germany is, I think, the most interesting part of this book for me. I've never read anything about Germany in the years before World War II, and it's especially interesting to do so now, having innocently read The Pursuit of Love a year ago, and now being able to connect its author to such a subject.

I definitely recommend this book, whether you already know anything about the Mitfords or not. The writing is very fluid, and I think does a good job of capturing the world these people lived in, and their extremely unique and forceful personalities.


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