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I know that there will be people on the f-list who are familiar with this, but in a second hand bookshop on Friday I found a cheap copy of E M Delafield's DIARY OF A PROVINCIAL LADY. I've not read this before, although my mother has a copy.

It was written in 1930 and serialised - a kind of between-the-wars Bridget Jones, only funnier (BJ annoyed me, it must be said). The PL, who is not named, lives in Devon, is married with 2 kids and a non-communicative husband, has several disastrous animals and keeps getting overdraft statements from the bank, which means that she has to sneak out and pawn things. She's also an aspiring writer and gets to go up to London occasionally and attend literary bashes, which are pretty similar to the sort of things we have now. At one, she meets a serious young man in horn-rimmed spectacles who has written a modern novel. Afterwards, her hostess takes her aside and hisses 'DID you manage to talk to him about perversion? He's really terribly amusing about it.' Alas, all anyone talks to the PL about is stag-hunting, since she lives in the country.

It reads almost exactly like someone's LJ - the contemporary equivalent, I suppose. There are obvious differences- the PL has servants, like most people of her class at the time, but the kind of maids who react with smouldering disapproval if asked to do something unusual, like bring tea for late guests, and who flounce off the next morning. The PL's small daughter, meanwhile, specialises in learning swear words.

It's written in a very dry, wry and sometimes frankly acid manner. Highly recommended.
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It's one of those dark, rain-filled days. I'm sitting in the shop and have just finished some anthology revisions. Also got mugged by a short story idea thanks to a book I mentioned a while back: Stephen Smith's UNDERGROUND LONDON, which as well as being informative is also acidly funny (his account of going round the sewers in the company of a man who can kill rats with his hard hat - 'London Water's answer to Oddjob' - is priceless).

This, however, is a Boudicea short story idea, which uses the same main character as the antho story. I like it when a plan comes together, etc etc.

Reading plans for this evening incorporate a Sunday roast, some Merlot, the Observer food monthly and this week's Radio Times, which features one of those explanatory articles about TORCHWOOD. We don't have any of your fancy technology in this 'ousehold*, TV runs off t'mangle like it's allus done, so I will have to wait until Wednesday for this particular viewing pleasure - if it is. Until then, it's the fingers-in-ears, not-listening, not-listening approach to any spoilers.

I caught about 5 minutes of ROBIN HOOD last night, which is not long enough to judge anything, but it reminded me a bit of that Clive Owen Mockney version of King Arthur which I really liked but no one else seems to have done. But the jury remains out with regard to this version of RH. One rather cruel reviewer pointed out that it posits the invention of the hoodie several hundred years early, and, indeed, the sweatshirt. Robin the Hoodie?? Dave Cameron might be down with the young things, but I bet the idea of a modern fay outlaw gives Blair some sleepless nights.

Marion seems a bit of a feisty, saucy minx. Yawn. I don't read enough fantasy to know if this has been done - I bet it has - but one day I'm going to write a fantasy story about a heroine who is actually good at spinning etc and likes it, who isn't a tomboy and who doesn't see the point of swords. I like swords myself, but not exclusively. And it's not strictly necessary to go around killing people, whereas it is necessary (in this sodding climate, anyway), to wear clothes. So which is more useful?

*Actually, I'm lying, as usual. We have the Racing Channel.

Edited: Curse of the Typos strikes again. I meant 'modern DAY outlaw.' But actually...


Aug. 22nd, 2006 09:53 am
lizwilliams: (Default)
I have joined the Folklore Society and 2 copies of its back journals have just arrived. Cryptozoology in the late Medieval period! The reliability of 17th century ghost accounts! Great stuff.

My mother picked up a copy of Laurie King's Justice Hall, which I borrowed and am now enjoying - more than the first two, as the heroine has got over herself a bit and is no longer quite so obnoxious. My mother, however, preferred the first ones, as Holmes is a rather shadowy figure in this novel and she's more interested in him than in Russell.

Also reading Parson Woodforde's Diary - of interest, as some of his parishes were local to here and he was born in Somerset. His accounts of 18th c life in Oxford centre mainly on going out on the lash, falling down the stairs, waking up naked where he shouldn't be and being bollocked by his tutors. No change there, then.


Mar. 12th, 2006 11:59 am
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Having finished THE KITCHEN DIARIES, I have now just read Nigel Slater's autobiography, TOAST, which is about growing up in Wolverhampton in the 1960s and some truly gruesome meals. Also some fairly grim stuff, which Slater recalls with a faint sense of pained indignity rather than any real sense of victimhood or trauma.

Also, he has an enviable knack of conveying major pieces of information with a very deft economy - it is clear, for instance, that his father is having an affair from two sentences, in which his dad rushes into the house with a box of (expensive) All Gold chocolates and a box of (cheaper) Quality Street, takes the QS upstairs to Slater's ill mother, then puts the All Gold back in the glove compartment of the car. This is never explained, but it's obvious what's going on.

A quote on the back refers to Slater as the Proust of the Nesquick era, which I thought was amusing, but also true -he has a hallucinogenic recall of food that I'd completely forgotten (those 3 colour Neapolitan bars, for example).

I've now started the second of Laurie King's novels - reliably entertaining, but I still think that her heroine needs a good slap.


Sep. 18th, 2005 05:10 pm
lizwilliams: (Default)
Recent reading includes:

Our Grandmothers' Drums: I bought this remaindered, but it's an interesting account of a year spent in a small village in the Gambia, during a famine. Despite the title, and the fact that the book focuses on the women of the village, it remains somewhat male-oriented and the writer has already irritated me by a rather dubious view on female circumcision (he's appalled by it, but it's clear that he's fascinated, and he seems surprised when the (female) staff of the local hospital inform him sharply that there have been at least 2 cases of near-fatal blood poisoning as a result).

The Beekeeper's Apprentice - a recent post by [profile] kradical prompted me to look up this series, which I've been meaning to catch up with for some time, as a lifelong Holmes fan. So far, it's a lot of fun, although I keep hoping that the rather obnoxious heroine will get into somewhere like Girton and get over herself. Or even better, Sayer's mythical Shrewsbury, where I can't see them putting up with that attitude for more than 10 minutes. But then, I suppose Holmes himself is the ultimate male Mary Sue - and King's novel is more than somewhat tongue in cheek.

Next on the list will be China M's LOOKING FOR JAKE - I've wanted to read this ever since last Monday, when CM rather bravely re-enacted the comic strip story in this collection. It worked, too.


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