Wednesday, September 3, 2008

On the way to work this morning, I saw a handwritten sign outside a small store on main street. When I saw what they were selling, I had to screech the car to a halt, jump out, and record it for posterity. It had never before occurred to me that the words "close" and "clothes" sound alike and might cause confusion. Let this be a lesson to all of us: Sharpies don't come with spell (or grammar) check (although I don't think either would have helped in this situation anyway). I am somewhat "spelling challenged" myself, but somehow I can spot the mistakes of others a mile off. I still remember when a fellow student became upset that I laughed at his article for the school radio station which stated, "The fire started in a trash shoot."

My own personal homophonic bugaboo is "flour" and "flower." I know the difference, but for some reason when I'm writing, my mind goes on autopilot and I always write one when I mean the other.

Before I left for the sweepstakes convention last week, I had been enjoying the audio book The Reading Group by Elizabeth Noble. It is the story of 5 women who get together once a month to discuss a book chosen by a member of the group. Throughout the year, events happen in their lives which draw most of the women closer together. There are 3 women in their 30s, and 2 in their 40s. Three have unhappy marriages, one is happily married, and one is engaged. I managed to get about 3/4 of the way through before I had to pause for my trip. I was really enjoying the story up to that point, and hated to leave it. Today I finally finished it, and it was a major disappointment. All of the characters and the conflicts started out quite strong and I was really anxious to find out what happened to everyone. Suffice it to say that by the end, everything was tied up neatly in a treacly, sickly-sweet ribbon. Every conflict was resolved with hardly any fuss, as the person causing the problem simply seemed to "come to their senses" and behave correctly. People who had, according to the author, had one personality for their entire lives, suddenly and without explanation decided to become entirely different people. The ending was a huge let-down, for a book that started out so promisingly.

The books the women in the group discussed were mostly new to me, and I am going to try to read some of them in the future. The books the group read were:

Heartburn by Nora Ephron
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Atonement by Ian McEwan
The Woman who Walked into Doors by Roddy Doyle
Guppies for Tea by Marika Cobbold
My Antonia by Willa Cather
The Memory Box by Margaret Forster
Eden Close by Anita Shreve
An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears
Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier
The Alchemist by Paul Coelho
Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

The only ones I'd read were Rebecca and Girl with a Pearl Earring. Can't say I was too enamored of either of those. Ditto for Atonement, which I don't need to read because the film wasn't all that great. Still, several of the others will likely show up on my reading list in the near future.

After finishing that audio book, I was anxious to start on Portuguese Irregular Verbs by Alexander McCall Smith. I adore Mma Ramotswe, and I was looking forward to meeting a new cast of characters he created. Well, I was sadly disappointed. I had to give it up in the second chapter. Life is just too short to suffer through interminably boring books. The characters in this latest frolic were all German academics with ridiculous names. Presumably, we were supposed to find the names so amusing and charming that we would overlook the fact that the characters were dumb and the plot was non-existent. I have several other audio books from different series by the same author, so I hope they will be better. Then again, even if they turn out to be drivel, I will still wait anxiously for the next adventures of the lady detective from Botswana.

Final Verdict for The Reading Group: Two Gherkins, for starting off strong, and giving me a few new items for my reading list
Final Verdict for Portuguese Irregular Verbs: One Gherkin, because even though the story was a mess, I still have warm fuzzies for the author!


Gail Is This Mutton? said...

Hi Lisanne you will certainly love I Captured The Castle. A very enchanting read.

Lisanne624 said...

Thanks for the recommendation Gail! I think some of the other books on that list were about things like spousal abuse and Alzheimer's disease, so I might have to give the depressing ones a miss!

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I'm a librarian who is interested in all things British. I try to visit London as often as possible, and am always planning my next trip. I lived in Sweden for a few years with my Swedish husband, so the occasional Swedish reference may occur . . .

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