|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.
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.