23 June 2012

Bits and Bobs

Reading T. Tembarom

Mapp and Lucia on Facebook
Until this week I didn't realize there was a Mapp and Lucia group on Facebook. And the folks there are so friendly. With about 600 members it is a cozy little subculture chatting about all things Benson. I certainly haven't read all of Benson's work but my recent return to Rye has re-kindled my interest and now I have a hankering to start the Lucia series from the beginning.

Frances Hodgson Burnett flirts with Wilkie Collins
I bought Frances Hodgson Burnett's novel T. Tembarom without knowing a thing about it. I wasn't sure what to make of the title but I love FHB in general so I thought it was a good gamble. Turns out it was a pretty good gamble. Orphaned at an early age, T. Tembarom is slowly making his way in the world, working his way from a newsie to a beat reporter in Harlem. That is until he finds out that he is the only surviving heir of a great estate in Lancashire. Next thing you know it he is on a boat headed to England and his future--and not knowing a thing about either. But then the fantastic rags to riches story turns into a bit of a Wilkie Collins type mystery. You can kind of see it coming for miles but that doesn't mean its not interesting. I definitely think FHB could have used a more judicious editor. There were some passages that could have used some cutting and the novel would not have suffered one bit. Still, for FHB fans, this one is worth a read. And the good news is, it is available on Project Gutenburg so this probably out of print 1913 bestseller need not elude you.

Janet Frame may not get a second chance
There are two things I know about Janet Frame, the 1990 bio-pic Angel at My Table and the first 40 pages of her novel Daughter Buffalo. And I must say I don't really like either of them. I haven't seen the film since it first came out, but all I remember is a very depressed person and electric shock therapy. Until now, I had never read any of her novels. I don't know if Daughter Buffalo is representative of her work, but it was a rather depressing treatise on death. That, in itself, would not necessarily make dislike a book, but when the main character, a medical student, practices operating on his pet dog--something that is eventually fatal to the dog--I drew the line and tossed the book aside. And unless someone can recommend a Frame novel that doesn't require mood altering chemicals, I don't think I am going to try anymore of her work.

The Ladies of Lyndon is unputdownable
Although I regularly enjoy most of what I read, it is always nice to come across a book that makes one want to forget about everything else and just read. T. Tembarom did that, but I was really entranced by Margaret Kennedy's The Ladies of Lyndon. Ostensibly about the various wives, sisters, mothers who kind of orbit around an Edwardian estate (Lyndon), I think the real breakout star is the protagonist's brother-in-law James a wannabe artist who is portrayed as developmentally disabled. In reality he turns out to be a real artist whose main problem is that he speaks his mind regardless of consequences. Such an enjoyable book.

Gratuitous Photos
After all of those photos of English gardens, I thought I would share some of John's garden. And couldn't resist throwing in a few of Lucy.


  1. Lovely garden :)
    I haven't read any of Frame's novels, but I enjoyed the short stories I read... but can't remember anything about them. Or even what the book was called.

  2. I seriously had no idea that Frances Hodgson Burnett wrote anything other than her two famous children's books I love- Little Princess and Secret Garden. I'd like to read more of her work.

  3. Please could John come here and sort out my garden? You and Lucy would be more than welcome too, of course.
    Off to look up The Ladies of Lyndon now.

  4. Oh, I LOVE The Ladies of Lyndon! I'm hot and cold on Margaret Kennedy, but I definitely warmed to that one. I actually like it better than The Constant Nymph - at least, I did when I first read both of them; a second reading may change my mind.

  5. Agree your remarks Janet Frame film and book. Garden photos beautiful and Lady Lucy is a gorgeous girl. Will look up Frances Hodgson Burnett as not familiar with her.

  6. Love that photo of Lyddon and I think Lucy is adorable!

  7. A new Mapp and Lucia novel was published in 2008. It was called Major Benjy and I reviewed it here. It’s a very rare book that has me smiling while I read any of it let alone from start to finish.

  8. In one of those crazy coincidences, I am just beginning with Ladies of Lyndon. I had carried my Virago edition (identical to yours) to the lake cottage along with some Trollope II plan to inhabit Barsetshre for much of the summer). I started LoL yesterday at the cottage before leaving, couldn't bear to abandon it. So it returned home with me to the pond house! I've never bothered with The Constant Nymph but the introduction to LoL says it's better.

    I was inhabiting Riseholme (Broadway, in Gloucestershire--perhaps you were there as well?)and Tilling over the winter. I return every few years or so. Such fun.

    Great garden & Lucy photos, as usual.

  9. PS Zadok the Scone my be one of my fave blogpost titles ever!

  10. The Ladies of Lyndon sounds fantastic! Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  11. I had no idea you were such a gardener -what a beautiful backyard!

  12. The garden looks fab. Lucy looks really content and I hope she realizes how lucky she is/was to have been chosen by you (and you by her)... Ladies of Lyndon sounds right up my alley so thanks for the tip.

    And your England photos made me rather homesick. Still, Jaffa Cakes are on the way. :-)

  13. I wrote a pro-Lucy reaction here. :)

  14. Simon: Maybe I should try those if I make another attempt.

    Jeane: Oh yes! Persephone publish at least two of her adult novels, The Making of a Marchioness (which I loved) and The Shuttle which I am saving for a rainy day.

    Karen: John would love that.

    Leticia: I am certainly interested in checking out her other work. I probably even have more down in the library.

    Pam: You must read The Secret Garden (perhaps you already have). Although a young person's book I didn't read it until I was in my 30s (along with Heidi) and loved it.

    Mystica: Thanks.

    Jim: I think he has written one or two since that one as well.

    Margaret: THANK YOU. I thought Zadok the Scone was so funny and clever. But you are the only one to say anything. I didn't know that Broadway was Riseholme. And yes we did go there. We had tea there during a downpour.

    Aarti: It has a nice edge to it.

    Stefan: John is the gardener and deserves all the credit.

    Raving Reader: Lucy loves the garden. She can stay out there for hours.

    Julia: I came across your post even before I saw your comment here. Funny your reaction to the Bits and Bobs. I was feeling like I hadn't written hardly anything about books for some time and didn't want to lose my status as a "book blogger".

  15. Hey, I love to read about books. But your darlin' seems to trump them. :)

  16. What a beautiful garden! I would love to see more, and of Miss Lucy, of course.

  17. Love your garden and the pooch seems so happy outdoors as well:)


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