Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Sunday Salon

This is my first post for the Sunday Salon and I feel very much “the new girl”. I’m the 99th member so there are many experienced members and I’m feeling quite shy. I’ve read the notes on what to do so here goes.

This morning I read a few pages of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love. I’m not terrible impressed with it so far and I don’t think I’ll finish it as it’s a library book and someone else has reserved it and I have to return it next by Wednesday. I’m still in the “eating” part, which is in Italy. The first few chapters explain the background to Elizabeth Gilbert’s reasons for travelling and it is her depression and despair that I found hard going. Now she is in Italy it’s beginning to grab my attention and this morning I read her account of going to watch a football match between Lazio and Roma. Apparently Italian men go to a bakery after their team has lost a match and cheer themselves up by standing about leaning on their motorcycles, “talking about the game, looking macho as anything, and eating cream puffs.” I must remember to suggest this to my husband and son the next time their team, Manchester United, loses. Fortunately that’s not today because they beat Aston Villa 4 –0 yesterday. I hope the Italians will be eating cream puffs (and there will be no violence) on Tuesday when Manchester United are playing Roma in Rome.

What else am I reading? Yesterday I started to read Penelope Lively’s Consequences. I’ve yet to read one of her books and be disappointed and so far this is living up to my expectations. It starts in 1935 when two young people, Lorna and Matt meet quite by chance in St James’s Park in London. They come from very different backgrounds but are instantly attracted to each other and despite opposition from Lorna’s parents they get married. As the title indicates the predominant theme of this book is how events follow on from chance meetings and how our lives are changed because of the decisions we make. For some time now I’ve been interested in the Second World War period and from my reading of this book so far it sets the scene and captures the atmosphere of the pre-war and early war years. There is a nostalgic feel to the settings, looking back to how things were and how the war inevitably changed people’s lives and expectations.

This morning I’ve read some more. Lorna and Matt have had a daughter, Molly, the war began and Matt was called up. I won’t say too much as I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read it. This book is just so good, I can’t praise it enough. It’s full of such quotable extracts, such as this in defining happiness Lorna realises that it is “another condition, of a different quality, a state of being that lifts you above ordinary existence, that pervades every moment, that confers immunity.”

Later in my reading this morning I came to the section when Molly having gone through university, takes a job as a librarian “because someone had left a copy of the Evening Standard in the tube” advertising the job and she thought why not? Thus setting in motion another train of events. But the bits that I particularly like in this section are the descriptions of the library and of books (I used to be a librarian). Here are just a few examples:

“Fiction is one strident lie – or rather, many competing lies; history is a long narrative of argument and reassessment; travel shouts of self-promotion; biography is just pushing a product. As for autobiography …”

“That is the function of books: they offer a point of view, they offer many conflicting points of view, they provoke thought, they provoke irritation and admiration and speculation. They take you out of yourself and put you down somewhere else from whence you never entirely return.”

“The surface repose of a library is a cynical deception.”

That’s all for now. More thoughts later on today.

19 comments:

maxine said...

Very nice post, and welcome to Sunday Salon!
(from Maxine at Petrona, http://petrona.typepad.com)

Clare D said...

Welcome to Sunday Salon from me too - our 99th member! That's wonderful. I've never been disappointed by a Penelope Lively book either and this book sounds like a great read to me. She chooses such good themes - I think Moon Tiger was about memory - chance meetings sounds like it will be just as fruitful.

Table Talk said...

I'm so glad you've come over to join us. I've been in the Salon since day one and now find that I can't do without my Sunday fix. It will be even better with you on board. (I think there's a mixed metaphor there, but you know what I mean!) I loved everything about 'Consequences' but especially the relationships set in the big old house in London (trying not to give too much away here). I hope you go on loving it. I also hope all is well on Tuesday evening. We don't want a repeat of what happened before in Rome. And this is a Liverpool supporter speaking.

Irish said...

Just wanted to add my welcome to the others who came before me. I'm new to the Sunday Salon as well (this is my 2nd week) and I've found it to be a wonderful group so far. =)

Consequences sounds like an interesting read I'm going to have to look more into that one I think.

~G

Terri said...

Welcome to TSS Margaret! I'm pretty new here myself and already think it's a great Sunday activity.

I read Moon Tiger recently and really enjoyed it. I'll be looking for more Lively books in the future.

Have a great week, #99 (you should have a jersey with your number on it).

gautami tripathy said...

Since I joined The Sunday Salon, I do make an effort to read a book or write about whatever I am reading along with my thoughts.

I love it.
Welcome to The Sunday Salon!

Mrs S said...

Welcome to the Sunday Salon! I look forward to reading with you on a Sunday :)

Wendy said...

Welcome to the Salon! Don't be nervous, just pretend you are sitting around with a bunch of friends, nibbling on cookies and drinking tea and coffee while discussing books :)

It's nice to read something positive about Consequences - I've read some mixed reviews on it!

Julie said...

Welcome! This is only my 2nd week, and so far I've been enjoying it very much. I'm interested in WWII also, and I will definitely put Consequences on my list. :)

BooksPlease said...

Thanks for all your welcoming words. I'll be visiting as many blogs as I can to see what you're all reading.

Debra Hamel said...

There's certainly no need to be nervous! We're a bunch of friendly folk, I think.

I had this feeling that I'd read something by Penelope Lively, but I can't find any record of having done so. Strange.

Pour of Tor said...

I also wrote my first Sunday Salon post this week, so I am in the same boat (delighted but shy) that you are!

litlove said...

I have loved everything by Penelope Lively and am just waiting for this new one to come out in paperback (May I think). So glad to know you are enjoying it!

Megan said...

I perpetually feel like the new girl in life. I love Sunday Salon and am fairly new at posting with it. Love that you joined us, since I loved your blog before hand!

I want to read Eat, Pray, Love but am interested to know that you aren't loving it. I don't usually get books from the library but this one might be worth taking a peak at, a sort of try before you buy.

Seems like you have gotten a lovely response. Happy reading.

Literary Feline said...

Welcome to the Sunday Salon. It's great to have you with us.

I haven't yet read Eat, Pray, Love, but it's on my list to get to this year. A friend of mine read it recently and hated it, but another loved it. It's always interesting to see how different people perceive the same book.

I hope you have a wonderful week!

Danielle said...

I would love to join the Sunday Salon, but I don't tend to get in much reading time on sundays. Maybe it would give me inspiration (if only someone else would do the laundry--LOL!). I just ordered this Penelope Lively--I found a cheap remaindered copy!

Lisa said...

I've heard so many wonderful things about this book from other bloggers. But, you've convinced me that I must read it because one of the characters applies to be a librarian. Being a librarian, I always love to read books with librarians as characters or who play a role in the plot somehow. I didn't know you used to be a librarian. I knew I liked you for some reason. :)

Les said...

I just finished Eat, Pray, Love on Friday and posted my review here, if you're interested. It started out a bit slow for me, too, but I wound up loving it (albeit, with a few quibbles).

I hope you wind up enjoying Consequences better than I did. I loved the first part of the book, but didn't care for the way it wound up. Again, my review is here if you're interested once you've finished the book. Can you recommend a favorite Lively book?

BooksPlease said...

Les, Penelope Lively has written a lot of books. The last one that I read before consequences was The Photograph. I loved the first part of the book, and now I'm wondering what happened that you didn't like so much. I'll read both your reviews when I've finished the books.

Lisa, I worked as a librarian for only 4 years, but I've always loved libraries and can't imagine not using one.