Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Oysters, Tipping the Velvet, Persephone Books, Gilmore Girls

My mother went to the farmer's market today and bought me some oysters. She said they were cheaper this year (ironically) so she bought me a few more than usual. I enjoy oysters very much, squeeze lemon juice on them and leave just enough salt water for it to taste great but not quite like the sea, the sea is here but more like an aftertaste. I've always enjoyed seafood and shellfish in particular. I had fresh pineapple for dessert and a blueberry yoghurt. Of course, the oysters reminded me of Tipping the Velvet (because the main protagonist, Nan, works in her parents' oyster house. If you haven't read the book yet, do yourself a favour and go buy it), one of the best books I've read this year. I was inspired to go reread some of my favourite passages and had to refrain from rereading the whole book !

Sarah Waters

When she came back home, mum handed me 4 parcels : three Persephones and a copy of Sabriel I had ordered off Amazon. I didn't expect to receive them so soon ! Sabriel will be my first read of 2009, it's a plan. Since the pound dropped significantly compared to the euro, I treated myself to three shiny Persephone books :

Round About a Pound a Week is a nonfiction book. I bought it quite simply because of its summary :
In 1909 a group of women, all of them members of the feminist, left-wing Fabian Women's Group, would regularly leave their comfortable homes in Kensington and Hampstead and call on forty-two families in Lambeth in order to interview them about their everyday life. They wrote down their findings and in 1912 these were written up as a twenty-page Fabian Tract which Maud Pember Reeves (1865-1953) and her co-author Charlotte Wilson decided to turn into the more snappily titled Round about a Pound a Week. The sixteen chapters, covering such topics as Housing, Thrift, Food and Mothers’ Days, resulted in a book of stunning interest and originality which has never really been rivalled in the nearly 100 years since first publication in 1913.
I didn't need more to get interested ! By the way, I haven't found any book about the Fabian Society, what a shame. I find it surprising. I'm still looking, though.

The Fortnight in September just sounded like a comfort read. I like the idea of going on holiday in the middle of September, thus beating the tourist rush.
The story was a simple one: a small suburban family on their annual fortnight’s holiday at Bognor: man and wife, a grown-up daughter working for a dressmaker, a son just started in a London office, and a younger boy still at school. It was a day-by-day account of their holiday from their last evening at home until the day they packed their bags for their return; how they came out of their shabby boarding house every morning and went down to the sea; how the father found hope for the future in his brief freedom from his humdrum work; how the children found romance and adventure; how the mother, scared of the sea, tried to make the others think she was enjoying it.

The Priory I bought because I loved Dorothy Whipple's short stories so much this year. I wasn't very convinced by Someone at a Distance and I hope The Priory will be a better novel. Some authors really shine in short stories, though, she might just be one of them.
The Priory is the kind of book I really enjoy,' wrote Salley Vickers in the Spectator, 'funny, acutely observed, written in clear, melodious but unostentatious prose, it deserves renewed recognition as a minor classic. Whipple is not quite Jane Austen class but she understands as well as Austen the enormous effects of apparently minor social adjustments…Christine is a true heroine: vulnerable, valient, appealing, and the portrait of her selfless maternal preoccupation, done without sentiment and utterly credible, is one of the best I have ever come across. The final triumph of love over adversity is described with a benevolent panache which left me feeling heartened about human nature... A delightful, well-written and clever book.

At the end of December, I always feel the need to go back to my roots. The Gilmore Girls are my roots, so I had lunch watching one of my favourite episodes, A Deep-Fried Korean Thanksgiving. Lane/Dave is my favourite couple, although of course Rory/Jess really comes first in my heart but only Season6!Jess (such a missed opportunity here) so it's not fair to Dave who's an excellent man throughout. In this episode, Dave kisses Lane and The Man Who Sold the World by David Bowie plays in the background. I couldn't find a good screencap of the kiss because it happens by night and the picture is really too dark, so I decided to use a later picture. This time, they're already a couple and Dave has been given a hard time by Lane's mother., but he still loves Lane. Adam Brody, I really really love you. You were the only reason the OC was my guilty pleasure. Come back !

I leave you with Rachel Portman's score composed for the 2002 adaptation of Nicholas Nickleby starring Charlie Hunnam as Nicholas, Anne Hathaway as Madeline Bray and Romola Garai as Kate Nickleby. I have never seen the adaptation but I've read good reviews. - it was nominated for a Golden Globe. At least I can say for sure that the score is flawless.