I belong to two book clubs, one is held in Waterstone;s book shop, and the other is a group of friends who meet monthly, in each other’s houses and talk about lots of other things,drink wine,eat snacks, laugh a great deal, and mumble a few sentences about the book we are supposed to have read. I say supposed to because recently, well over quite a few months, well maybe years, I have really struggled over the books we have chosen.
We have a consensus of choice for the next books, but somehow, they often seem to be books I really struggle with… maybe I’m not a good reader any more… maybe I do so much writing I can’t concentrate on reading what others have written… except I know that’s not true; recently I have read Anne Brontë, John le Carré, books about Elizabethan spies, 1864 a book about the war between Denmark and Germany over Shleswig and Holstein, Wilkie Collins, and many other long books, as well as a lot of crime novels!
So what is the latest book I am struggling with? The Light Years by Elizabeth Jane Howard… In an effort to try and grasp what I was missing I read some reviews, and one described it as a cross between Mrs Dalloway and Downton Abbey… I am not a fan or either – in fact I find it quite tortuous to read Virginia Woolf, and period drama is completely not my preferred television. So, the Light Years, I have no interest in what people are wearing, or the vacuous and empty lives of the rich – the women who don’t work and just drift around buying more clothes, the children who don’t go to school but have someone come to teach them every morning from Wimbledon… actually it may not have been Wimbledon, but the children were so snobbish about their teacher…
I confess, I have given up; I can not bear to read any more! I have no empathy with any of the people, and worse than that I quite dislike them! Give me stories about ordinary people with ordinary lives who do extraordinary things; give me plots which intrigue and puzzle me, give me the unexpected, the witty, the subtle, the vivid, the exciting!
Sorry Elizabeth Jane Howard, I can take no more of the Cazalets… especially as I keep wanting to call them the Cassoulets… The Cassoulets appeal to me much more – “rich, slow-cooked casseroles originating in the south of France, containing meat, pork skin and white beans. The dish is named after its traditional cooking vessel, the cassole, a deep, round, earthenware pot with slanting sides…”