One of the great things about summer vacation is reading novels without apology. Last week I read four books, two of which were re-reads, two of which were new to me.
#35 and #36 — After seeing the new Harry Potter movie and realizing how poorly I remembered details from the book, I decided to re-read both Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. LP laughed when she heard that I read them between Saturday morning and Monday morning. I pointed out that I was on vacation!!! But of course she remembers weekends in past summers that included this kind of possibly obsessive reading when sermons were also written and preached. This weekend just had more sleeping.
I enjoyed reading both of them. There are certainly things I would have done differently in the writing of them, but no one asked me!
#37 — I bought Where Angels Fear to Tread for my Kindle thinking it would be part of my Forster re-read, but once I started reading it I realized I knew it only from seeing the movie, as images of Helen Mirren danced in my head. In fact, I had a rather mistaken impression of the story. I loved the idea that the Englishwoman living in Italy realized she had more freedom at home. And I loved the relationship between her brother-in-law and her friend, and I loved the earthiness of the story, the details of life — the baby who needed a bath, the sweaty soprano on the train, the unpredictability of carriages and baskets and the general riskiness of simply being alive. Fools rush in…
#38 — KathyR recommended On Beauty, by Zadie Smith, as a companion to my Forster festival, since its author wrote it with Howards End in mind. The dichotomy between the two families is more about the political and religious spectrum than the jock-nerd continuum of the Wilcoxes and Schlegels, but the comparison works, and I appreciated the connections between the two plots, which were evocative and familiar rather than slavish. I highly recommend the book.
While we were away, I also started re-reading C.S. Lewis' The Last Battle. Years ago, Pure Luck read Tolkien to me, and I read Lewis to him, but we never made it through the last book. On our trip, we got started again, and we'll hope to finish before he goes away next month.