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10th-Oct-2007 09:12 pm - Book reviews
221. Sarah Webb, It Had to Be You. This is a Cambourne library chick-lit find and enormously enjoyable. It centres around Ireland's only specialised romantic bookshop and three friends connected to it. Molly works as shop manager but harbours secret ambitions to have her writing published; Molly's best friend Paige is combining her campaign to be elected Deputy for the region with life as wife and mother; Molly's housemate Kate has returned from a few years in America and is hiding her secret sadness behind her successful business advising hapless men on dating. The course of a few months sees life change for the three women. It's not exactly a challenging or unpredictable read but if your mind would like a relaxing treat, I'd definitely recommend this. I'll probably be checking out some of Sarah Webb's other novels from the library soon!
9th-Oct-2007 10:40 am - Book review
220. Wendy K. Harris, The Sorrow of Sisters. I enjoyed this book and the unfolding of the inevitable truth about Jane/Virginia's origins. The evocation of Isle of Wight landscape is lovely.
My main caveat was the portrayal of Marguerite. I was uneasy about the way that her (dis)abilities are depicted and the way that she is cast into a Cassandra-type role by virtue of her inability to communicate in a conventional way. The synaesthetic elements didn't quite ring true to me, and one sentence that literally made me laugh out loud was when Jane tries to discover how Marguerite has been sheltered from conventional medicine all her life and Emm replies 'We've always treated her with herbal and homeopathic remedies. She's very healthy.' It was a definite sublime to the ridiculous moment - if you are dealing with the wondrous in a narrative, trying to explain it in terms of the world seems somehow to defeat the point of it all.
However, Wendy K. Harris very successfully interweaves her two narratives of past and present and unites them into a very satisfying conclusion.
8th-Oct-2007 08:29 pm - whoops
I think I broke the Wishlist site. One minute it was there, then I tried to search for my NSS partner's list so I can go shopping for his/her gift, and the whole site disappeared...

Update: I did manage to get back into the site, and to copy down the whole of x's wishlist. Shopping time soon!
8th-Oct-2007 10:38 am - Book review
219. Nigel Williams, Hatchett and Lycett. How to describe this book? Hmmmm, think homage to the Golden Age of crime, plus comic novel, plus historical novel of the second world war, plus romance. It's an intoxicating and wonderful mixture. Set in Croydon in 1921 and 1939-40, it follows the friendship of 8 year olds Dennis Hatchett and Alec Lycett at one crucial moment of childhood and then as they face the outbreak of war with Norma, the woman they both love. The humour is hugely irreverant and the writing clever and astute. Read it!
7th-Oct-2007 08:55 pm - Book review
218. Eamon Duffy, The Stripping of the Altars. As an undergrad, I read this as preparation for my supervisions on Part 1, Paper 3. That was before Michaelmas term 2002, so it is definitely time for a refresher, especially since I was reading then to broaden my knowledge of Early Modern religion in England (Part 1, Paper 3 is the Renaissance paper) and now my focus is the pre-1530 part of the book. I had learnt that the book has been revised but I still managed to borrow the original (1992) text from the library rather than the 2005 edition. Ruth had told me that the 1992 was the new one but that's not actually the case as a quick glance at Amazon indicates. Oh well - I'll look for the new one in the libraries this week. I think the main difference is that Duffy considers Lollardy in slightly more detail in the new edition. I'm pretty sure he won't mention in much because he doesn't *really* believe that it existed as a movement. Since I'm not writing on Lollardy, it's not massively important. Anyway, this book is an important examination of late medieval piety, using architechture, wills and other documents, manuscripts (of e.g. primers and books of hours as well as devotional literature) and a variety of other evidence to show the way that Catholicism was a truly popular religion (i.e. of *all* people, not split into poor and rich, or clergy and lay) before the English Reformation. The later half of the book is the more controversial since it poses the idea that the iconoclasm and new practices associated with the split from Rome failed to reach deep into the population. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that Duffy's theory has merit, especially in areas such as East Anglia. This is definitely an important book.
4th-Oct-2007 01:07 pm - Book reviews
216. Gail McMurray Gibson, The Theater of Devotion: East Anglian Drama and Society in the Late Middle Ages. The first chapter on Fifteenth-century culture and the Incarnational Aesthetic is probably the most interesting, although the concluding one on Marian devotion in East Anglia is also fascinating. I was a bit disappointed by the middle chapters, which failed in my view to live up to the promise of the introduction.

217. Cathy Kelly, Best of Friends. Another chunky Maeve Binchy style book, showing how a friend's experience with cancer unites three women who are facing crucial moments in their lives.
4th-Oct-2007 10:38 am - Poem
Jo suggested that we post a poem for National Poetry Day. I thought I'd share one of my favourite short poems of Chaucer:
Chaucers wordes unto Adam, his owne scriveyn
Adam scriveyn, if ever it thee bifalle
Boece or Troylus for to wryten newe,
Under thy long lokkes thou most have the scalle,
But after my makyng thow wryte more trewe;
So ofte adaye I mot thy werk renewe,
It to correcte and eke to rubbe and scrape,
And al is thorugh thy negligence and rape.
4th-Oct-2007 10:34 am(no subject)

Which Disney Princess Are You?

You are part Ariel. You are beautiful but impaired. At times you are naïve. Still, your innocence and good heart make you sought after and loved.
You are part Belle. You are strong, deep, and you are not a slave to petty superficial things. You are independent and allow yourself to see inner beauty without sacrificing your values. You are almost too good of a person.
Find Your Character @
2nd-Oct-2007 09:03 pm - Book review
215. Three Middle English Sermons from the Worcester Chapter Manuscript F.10, ed. by D.M. Grisdale (Kendal: Titus Wilson for University of Leeds, 1939). A collection of sermons written by a scribe from the West Midlands but taken apparently from Northern preachers.
2nd-Oct-2007 01:19 pm - Book review
214. Pat McIntosh, The Nicholas Feast. This is the second in a series (I haven't read the first yet) of medieval mysteries. It's set in Glasgow in the last decade of the fifteenth century and is a very engaging read. I was a little unsure of the amount of paper discussed; I'm not sure that paper was really that readily available by 1490 despite the advent of early printed books in the fifteenth century. However this won't put me off reading more novels starring notary Gil Cunningham. Especially interesting is the incorporation of clan rivalry - a subject of which I know nothing.
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