Sunday, February 09, 2014


My mother was commiserating with me on the telephone about my self-proclaimed lack of time this semester for light reading, but I had to allow as how I'd read a few books over the weekend (this was last week), which made her laugh and observe that really if the day comes that I do not have time for light reading, it is only because I am dead! Have spent spare moments and late nights over the past week devouring volumes one through four of Elizabeth Jane Howard's Cazalet Chronicle. Have just bought the final volume for Kindle (the first four I had to gather through BorrowDirect and library - it is a pity they are not available as an electronic bundle).

Tessa Hadley's LRB piece seems to me right, but perhaps understates the pure enjoyable readability of the novels taken as a sequence: I would compare them slightly unfavorably on the one hand to Sybille Bedford and Rebecca West, and on the other to series-novel geniuses like Susan Howatch (the Church of England books, not the earlier ones which are much less interesting to me) or Dorothy Dunnett, and yet this is really not fair insofar as they are really providing one of the most immersive and enjoyable reading experiences I have had for years.

Good cultural bits: heard a very lovely recital by pianist Simon Mulligan the other day at the Morgan Library (it is not my canon, but I forgot how beautiful the shimmery bits of Ravel are when played really well, and the Schumann fantasies are perfect - capped, enjoyably, by Speckled Hen at the Shakespeare); and my friend Toni Schlesinger's captivating Mystery of Pearl Street at Dixon Place (dinner after with G. - steak frites, deliciously - at Jacques).

Very busy week of work upcoming, but I am thoroughly enjoying this semester: the reading and thinking for my big committee are stimulating (the other demanding committee I'm on, attempting to reconceive the basic science requirement in Columbia's Core, also very interesting), and my solitary seminar is super-fun (Robinson Crusoe last week, Gulliver's Travels this Thursday).

Having a hard time fitting in quite enough exercise, but hoping to do better as the days get warmer and longer (saw asthma doc last week and he is pretty clear, which really I know intuitively, that if you have exercise-induced asthma it is a bad idea to exercise outdoors in temperatures below freezing - I am hoping to have a bit of a run on the indoor track at Chelsea Piers tomorrow afternoon).

1 comment:

  1. I've only recently come across the Cazalet sequence having heard parts of them read on Radio 4 over the last year or so. They haven't yet embarked on the final novel. If I had just seen them in a bookshop I would probably have passed them by but having been give, albeit a brief, insight into Howard's writing I've now put them on the list for the summer when I ought to be able to give them more time.