Inspired by watching Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon mucking about in Italy (in The Trip to Italy, filmed by Michael Winterbottom), I tried this team’s entertaining adaptation of ‘The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy’, A Cock and Bull Story – a film with almost as many digressions as the original novel – and thus have embarked on Sterne’s original. I can see this taking quite some time to read, so discursive it is, so don’t expect any comments on it in the near future!
I recently finished the tetralogy of novels in Ford Madox Ford’s Parade’s End, having watched the TV series, and enjoyed Ford’s stream of consciousness narration and painterly visual sense. The fourth book is something of an anomaly, though I can see why it both ends the series and also can be seen as not part of it. I’m still not sure that Tietjens in the books is as sympathetic as in the adaptation, though he did grow on me, particularly in the scenes which conveyed his shell-shock. Also, having more interior monologue helped make Sylvia much more likeable.
I’ve been reading several books by Tanith Lee lately, enjoying the black humour of the novella Louisa the Poisoner, the moving and thought-provoking The Silver Metal Lover, celebration of female power and sisterly affection Black Unicorn, and am partway through Volkhavaar, which isn’t quite what I expected. Lee’s fantasy novels have believable female characters, interesting friendships, and celebrate the power of love (both romantic and platonic), as well as having interesting (and often slightly twisted) world-building.
I also am partway through reading Jo Walton’s Half A Crown, after enjoying the first two books in her ‘Still Life With Fascists’ trilogy, Farthing and Ha’penny (the latter with its clear nod to the Mitfords in Viola’s sisters). The world in Half A Crown just seems to be getting worse, and I’m not sure if I can bear to read any more – this is not at all a reflection on Walton’s writing, just that she makes her characters and world so realistic and believable that I feel enormous apprehension about what’s to come.
Lastly in the fiction pile, I’ve started Solar, by Ian McEwan, after rereading Atonement, and deciding that he’s a writer I should read more of. So far, Solar is quite different in tone, but engaging.
And non-fiction to be read (when I have time) is currently Tucker & Wright’s Carbonate Sedimentology, a textbook which has the worst quality of photographic reproduction that I have ever seen in a professionally-produced book. The text is good: exactly what I needed. But really, Blackwell Science, to charge £50 for a book where the many photographic illustrations look like they were poorly photocopied is outrageous. I suppose I should be grateful the book’s still in print…
UPDATED to add – I’ve just begun Alison Croggon’s Pellinor series, thanks to Calmgrove’s recommendation, and have finished The Gift, which was very enjoyable. On to The Riddle, book two in the series.