Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Casseroles and floor wax

At the New York Observer, Diane Johnson on Jessica Mitford's letters. I do rather want to read these--hmm...--oh, and I am happy to see that Mitford's autobiography Hons and Rebels is available in the always-excellent New York Review of Books reprint series (with an introduction by Christopher Hitchens!), that's another book I loved as a child.


  1. Oh, go ahead. Drop the "rather." As Michael Dirda wrote in Sunday's Washington Post, "[J]ust start reading this terrific collection of letters and hang on for the ride."

    And by the way, it wasn't only casseroles and floor wax. Here's a quote from one of Mitford's letters in the book:

    "Here, we are very much occupied with the new house. ... I am heard these days saying quite naturally things like 'watersoluble
    paint' and 'vinyl is more durable than linoleum.'"

    -- Peter Y. Sussman (the editor of "Decca: The Letters of Jessica Mitford"; directed here by a google alert)

  2. The "rather" was not a reflection on their desirability, just resulting from the fact that I have at least 60 desirable new books awaiting reading time & hitherto uncracked! However I have taken steps to obtain a copy, and will definitely look forward to reading at least bits of it sooner rather than later...

  3. I understand. I didn't take it as a comment on the letters' desirability. I was just hoping to push you over the edge -- by pushing your diction over the edge. But it sounds like you've already done that. Enjoy!

  4. Hi Jenny,

    Just looking at your blog for the first time and enjoying it. Became aware of it after The Voice selected you as their top pick.

    Will be looking into some of your recommendations. I also confess to a fondness for early Dick Francis novels. They were just so cozy and neat and decent.

    What I've read lately that I've really enjoyed:

    Ended up watching Sense and Sensibility which led me to reread some Austen. From there I went to the precursor to S & S, La Nouvelle Heloise by Rousseau (in English) which I really enjoyed. Have to read more Rousseau.

    Just finished "The Good Soldier" written in 1913 by Ford Maddox Ford which I really liked as well. If you haven't read it,it may not appeal. I understand you are a fan of the happy ending and this is a very dark book. There is a sort of Wuthering Heights quality to the way the tale is told. Ford writes:
    I don't know best how to put this thing down--whether it would be better to try and tell the story from the beginning as if it were a story...

    So I shall just imagine myself for a fortnight or so at one side of the fireside of a country cottage, with a sympathetic soul opposite me. And I shall go on talking, in a low voice while the sea sounds in the distance and overhead the great black flood of wind polishes the stars. From time to time we shall get up and go to the door and look out at the great moon...

    Ford is also very funny, sardonic and erudite. Like Austen he is a clever and spot on social critic.

    Another recent fave was Arthur and George. Did you ever get around to reading that? Well worth it...sounds like you might especially enjoy the spiritualism aspect.

    Also noted that you decided to skip Suite Francaise after reading the review. Perhaps you might want to take a peek at it. It really is something special in my opinion. The detachment with which Nemirovsky presents these flawed characters is a marvel.

    I have just started some
    Brockden Brown and have Clarissa at home to tackle at some point. Have noted your Richardson picks.

    Glad to have found you.

    Warm regards,
    Laura H.

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