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About Justine

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  1. Muriel Spark "The Finishing School", which is wonderful and magical and admirably concise!
  2. Just a quick note to let you know that I thought last night,"I'll read the first page of Educating Peter before I go to sleep", and finally had to put it down at page 193 -well into the World Service, which means way past my bedtime when I have teenagers to lever out of bed at 7 a.m. So, as far as readability is concerned, this gets 10/10! I am trying to get my thoughts in order, to write something cogent and coherent about the book, but really, really want to go to sleep now! It really brought me back to the time when I was 16 or so (early 80's) and everything revolved around music. One of my male friends was obsessive about music and educated me in the realms of obscure punk and new wave bands - most of whom I fervently hope NEVER to hear again in my life. Now it is my sons who are music obsessed, which is quite poignant. Your book is making me feel -not exactly old -but worldly-wise compared to them. It's also helping me remember what I got up to at my boys' age, and is making me long to wrap them up in cotton wool and keep them safe from the Big Bad World. When another of The Ramones died a few months ago, I mentioned to my 17 year old that I had seen them at Glasgow Barrowlands when I was about his age. The look he threw me mingled utter disbelief with a horrible realisation that, once-upon-a-time, I wasn't his mother and might have had a life not that far removed from his at the moment. Right -I am now going to try to finish your book while simultaneously keeping my toddler busy.
  3. "have taken a distinct dislike to B. Charles he is SO self centered". Yes - and obsessed by sex!
  4. Thanks to Megustaleer for directing me here. I have nearly finished this, and wish there was much more to go. I had no idea of the privations after the war, and this book certainly shows the great resentment against The Powers That Be. A real divide between "Them" and "Us" is revealed. All of the diarists fear that a 3rd World War is imminent, and that Russia has an itinery of her own (which proves to be quite correct). In fact, I was impressed at the political knowledge and awareness of all of the participants; much more than a random sample of people today, I would think. I agree with Megustaleer; these were not "ordinary" people. They most definitely have something to say, and feel that their voices are not being heard by the government. I'd probably denote them all as middle class; reasonably well-educated -certainly opinionated! They would like their opinions recorded because they feel that they are the Right, the reasonable , people: overlooked and overtaken as a class by post war expediency. And none of them have any children; none of them have seen active service. Both of the women give up work after the war, one having independent means and one being supported by her husband. I would have been interested to hear the views of people who were less well-off; perhaps those from the working class, or those who had seen active service (I suspect they would not have been able to find the time to write regularly). However, all of the diarests were interesting in their own way, though I confess to a fondness for Herbert Brush. I hope I have such zest for life when I'm in my 70's! ( I may even take to writing bad poetry).
  5. I really, really want to like this book - but I just can't seem to get into it. I'm about a third of the way through, but the characters don't engage me at all, and I'm not that interested in the skullduggery either. However, seldom has my attention to a book been so disrupted, so perhaps I should try to read a large chunk of it un-interrupted and see how I get on.
  6. Like Megustaleer, I think I've nearly got all of her books, and have read her autobiography and a couple of biographies too. This sounds so intriguing that I'm probably going to have to splash out. As far as I remember, the autobiography was pretty vague about these events, and the biographies not much better. It feels a bit invasive to want to find out more, though, especially as she was such a private person.
  7. There's a Patricia Highsmith book (whose title I can't recall) whose final chapter I pretended I hadn't read, because the murderer is found out in this chapter, and I loathed his wife so much that I wished he'd got away with it. In my version of the book he does!
  8. I've just re-read "Greenmantle" by John Buchan, which is one of my favourites of his. However, even though the story is action packed and thoroughly enjoyable, the words and attitudes used to describe those non-white and / or not English or Scottish really shocked me. I try to take the attitude of "well, that was then", but nevertheless can feel quite uncomfortable. I've also almost finished "Our Hidden Lives", which is based on 5 of the Mass Observation diaries kept after the 2nd World War. I couldn't put it down, and it is easy to read while also keeping an eye on a 3 year old in the mood for mud and destruction. (Actually, not an over close eye, which is why he's had to have an early bath!).
  9. I am so heartened to see that many of your To Be Read piles are bigger than mine! Well, that's the books I actually have, as opposed to the books I want -those run into the thousands........ I am going to read "Educating Peter" first Then I should choose anything from The Pile - "My Heart is My Own" John Guy "Aiding and Abetting" Muriel Spark "The Winter Queen" Boris Akunin "The Victorian House" Judith Flanders "The Symposium" Plato "Democracy and Classical Greece" J.K. Davies However, having just read John Buchan's "Greenmantle" again, I have a hankering for more tales of derring-do....And I must ignore The Pile under The Pile on the bedside table, or I'll just get myself all confused! This is a kind of illness, isn't it?
  10. Thanks very much to Bill and Top Cat and those concerned at Transworld! I got my copy a few days ago, but have not been able to get near it -or indeed this forum - because of my very own teenage would-be musicians (and their toddler brother). Oh, for a little peace and quiet.......!
  11. I agree - I quite enjoyed Pompeii, which I had expected to love, because I have a great interest in this period, but I didn't find it gripping at all. However, it got me reading Pliny, which is far more interesting!
  12. As far as I remember, this biography was slated when it came out, primarily because the author states that Olwyn Hughes (Ted's sister) had been such a help that she had almost written the book - I am paraphrasing wildly, but I'm pretty sure that was the gist of it. Anne Stevenson - who is a poet herself- came under fire from all quarters, and I think the poor woman said that the whole experience had made her ill. From what I remember of the biography, "help" from the Hughes family had rendered the book a little too representative of the Hughes side in the story. However, I don't think that Ted Hughes had much to do with the book; in fact, in reply to Stevenson's assertion that Hughes had never forgiven Plath for tearing up his Shakespeare, Hughes wrote to her that his forgiveness was never in question, and when you save a fox from the hounds, and it bites you - you know why it is biting you. (Sorry if this sounds garbled; my 3 year old is nagging me to go into the garden to dig holes with his new spade!) I thought this was an interesting biography, which revealed as much about the factionalism in who controls "a life" as much as the life itself. I feel it was an attempt to set the record straight pro Ted, which backfired because Stevenson had too much integrity to write a straight hagiography of Hughes in relation to his marriage with Plath.
  13. I have met them at close of day Coming with vivid faces From counter or desk among grey Eighteenth centuy houses. I have passed with a nod of the head Or polite meaningless words, Or have lingered awhile and said Polite meaningless words, And thought before I had done Of a mocking tale or a gibe To please a companion Around the fire at the club, Being certain that they and I But lived where motley is worn: All changed, changed utterly: A terrible beauty is born. (Rather appropriately "Easter 1916" W.B.Yeats).
  14. "The Moon and the Yew Tree" is one of my favourites too, Trish. The others that spring to mind are "The Rival", "Crossing the Water", "Elm", "Lesbos" - and I'm very fond of some of the more off-beat ones, such as "The Applicant", "The Tour", and "Kindness". I taped the Memorial Service from the radio; when Ted Hughes voice rang out, I got goosebumps. Some of the biographies really are questionable....! No more than gossip and innuendo, which served neither writer well. There was an interesting book written by Janet Malcolm -at least, I think that was her name; my husband very kindly (!) re-arranged my books for me, and now I can't find any!
  15. Since my two oldest sons have aspirations towards Rock God-dom, this is a book I need to read! Please count me in; I'll send my address.
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