I hope everyone is having a good weekend -- a holiday weekend for those who celebrate Easter.
Even though my posting has been quite sparse lately, I have been reading and keeping up with your blogs. I've recently finished Darling Jim, an arc from Library Thing and The Mrs. Dalloway Reader. I'm also finishing up A Lesson Before Dying for a book club on Tuesday. Hopefully, I won't wait so long to post my thoughts on that one.
First up, Darling Jim by Christian Moerk, which as I said is an arc from Library Thing. I purposely didn't read any of the reviews posted at LT. I'll go check them out after I get my thoughts down here. I'm always afraid I'll be influenced, even subconsciously, by reading reviews so close to finishing a book. I really enjoyed this one. For me, it started with a great cover, which looks like a torn piece of paper containing one of the diary entries of Fiona Walsh, one of the three Walsh sisters who live in modern day Dublin. They're all grown and lead relatively normal, happy lives even though they've had their fair share of past tragedy. Their parents died in an explosion, which left the sisters to the care of their aunt, Moira Hegarty. Moira is unstable but seemingly harmless, at least in the beginning. The sisters tolerate her quirks and continue to visit her weekly mostly out of a sense of obligation.
It's funny how one seemingly small event can drastically change the course of one's life. This is exactly what happens for the Walsh sisters and their aunt when a young, charismatic, itinerant storyteller finds his way to their village. Jim seems to be able to seduce virtually any woman of any age by telling them what they want to hear. He is a professional storyteller after all.
I enjoyed the mood and the atmosphere the author creates in this book. I also really liked the sections in which Jim tells his stories. I knew there was some type of connection between the story he was telling and his life, but I didn't figure it out right away. There were a couple of times in the book that I questioned the actions of one or more of the sisters. I just didn't believe anyone would react that way to the circumstances. I won't go into detail because it will spoil the story. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it.
Now, The Mrs. Dalloway Reader couldn't be more different from the previous book. It contains the full text of the final version of Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf along with critical essays, some of her short stories, an introduction by Francine Prose and Virginia Woolf's introduction to Mrs. Dalloway, as well as some of Woolf's correspondence. This is the first fiction I've read by Virginia Woolf. I recently read A Room of One's Own and fell in love with her nonfiction, which reads like fiction by the way. Any discussion I've ever heard about Woolf and her writing is pretty decisive. People seem to either love her or hate her. It's very difficult to come up with a concise way to describe this book because there really is no plot in the conventional sense of the word. The Mrs. Dalloway of the title is throwing a party and is on her way to buy flowers for the party as the book opens. We learn most everything about her and everyone else for that matter from interior dialogue. There is very little conventional dialogue. Rather, we learn what everyone is thinking and how they all relate to each other. Another note about her writing style -- she writes very long, complex sentences. It's not the kind of book that you can read without giving it the proper attention it requires. However, once I got into the flow of it, I found it quite easy to read. I know from this description, it sounds like a book in which nothing much happens, and that is true to a point. However, we learn a great deal about not only Mrs. Dalloway, but about her husband, her former suitor, childhood friend, as well as other people who she doesn't even know. Semptimus Warren Smith is a WWI veteran with shell shock who lives in London. I'm not sure how she does it, but Woolf interweaves his story into the world of Mrs. Dalloway. A friend of a friend mentions this young man at her party and it upsets Mrs. Dalloway that such a disturbing subject is broached at her party. I guess it is this seemingly simple premise, that once you actually look at it, makes you realize the extent of Woolf's literary talent.
I've heard several others say that To the Lighthouse is their favorite Virginia Woolf book, so that is probably the next book of hers that I'll read. If you haven't gotten around to reading Woolf or been somewhat intimidated by her (like I was), please give her a try. I think her writing is beautiful.
Enjoy the rest of the weekend and Happy Easter!!