My Latest Crop of Books Good and Bad

I read an interesting book recently called Looking for Anne : How Lucy Maud Montgomery Dreamed Up a Literary Classic by Irene Gammel, which is about the writing Anne of Green Gables as well as some biographical bits about Montgomery. Apparently Maud had clipped a picture from a magazine of an early pose by model Evelyn Nesbit (the notorious under-age mistress of architect Stanford White, whose husband shot and killed White.) If you look on the Wikipedia article down the page is the picture of her with a flower wreath headband–that’s the picture Maud Montgomery pinned to her wall while she was writing Anne of Green Gables! They mention this fact at the end of the Wiki article.


I also read a book called The Secret of Lost Things by Sheridan Hay which takes place in a bookshop in New York and also deals with Herman Melville, antiquarian books and dealers and a lost manuscript hinted at by Melville in letters to Nathaniel Hawthorne. It sounded good and the characters were good but the author lost control. It went on an on, I thought nothing would ever happen and when it did it was silly. The ending ruined what could have been a good book.


I got my inter-library loan of A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh, the book that was mentioned in a book I read called Wild Coast by John Gimlette. It started out fine, but got silly in the last third. This is supposed to be Waugh’s best book, and was chosen by TIME magazine for its one hundred best English-language novels from 1923 to present, but it was nonsense toward the end. The author provided an alternate ending which was just as bad. Someone said to me not to judge Waugh on this book but to read Brideshead Revisited. I saw the television series of that and for me he is an awful writer with mildly interesting characters. I can’t believe how popular he is.


I have eventually come to read the third book in Eduardo Galeano’s Memory of Fire trilogy. Century of the Wind relates episodes from the 20th century, but it is just as relentlessly horrifying as the first two books. It’s amazing the terrible things that humans do in the world. I’ll be reading this one for a while, but I hope to read something a bit lighter along with it.


We have had a lot of stress lately with some home repairs and family events and illness, so I bought myself a bit of eye candy, a lovely Dorling Kindersley publication of a general overview of fashion called Smithsonian Fashion: The Definitive History of Costume and Style.

It was a hardcover that had been marked down, and it’s not the greatest book for information but I like the colourful pages because they show snippets from artwork, statuary, historical books, illuminated manuscripts, and illustrations so you can directly compare bits of clothing and styles.


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