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I haven’t gotten In as much reading as I had hoped because my whole family went to see The Desolation of Smaug!

Another quote from Agnes Grey:

“Perhaps you are too wise for them. How do you amuse yourself when alone — do you read much?”

“Reading is my favorite occupation, when I have leisure for it and books to read.”

A man after my own heart!

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ccreadathon2 Today is the Classics Club second annual read-a-thon. I will be participating, but at a bit of a lower level because I’ve got a lot to do this weekend to get ready for the first full week back to work on Monday.

The first order of business is to finish off Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which isn’t a classic, but I only have about ten pages left.

Name and Blog: I’m Christine of the Moonlight Reader!
Snacks and Beverages of Choice: Coffee. Chocolate. Weird combinations of Mexican food because I have a metric ton of seasoned ground turkey in my fridge.
Where are you reading from today? Oregon, USA!
What are your goals for the Readathon?: I have no goals. Just to enjoy a cozy winters weekend in front of the fire, with a classic novel in my hand.
What book(s) are you planning on reading?: Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte. Arabella by Georgette Heyer. Whose Body by Dorothy Sayers. Redwall by Brian Jacques. Although I could change my mind . . .
Are you excited?: Definitely! I am going to make a weekend of it! I will post periodic updates today, although I’ll take a break midday because I already promised my daughter I would take her and a friend to see The Desolation of Smaug. Good luck to you all!

agnes grey arabella whose body redwall

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back to the classics2014

As described in the preceding post, I will be participating in the Back to the Classics challenge, this year hosted by Karen at Karensbooksandchocolate. In addition to the six mandatory categories, there are five optional reads:

magnificent ambersons An American Classic. Written by Booth Tarkington, and published to great acclaim in 1918, The Magnificent Ambersons won a Pulitzer Prize.

From Goodreads:

Set in the Midwest in the early twentieth century—the dawn of the automobile age—the novel begins by introducing the richest family in town, the Ambersons. Exemplifying aristocratic excess, the Ambersons have everything money can buy—and more. But George Amberson Minafer—the spoiled grandson of the family patriarch—is unable to see that great societal changes are taking place, and that business tycoons, industrialists, and real estate developers will soon surpass him in wealth and prestige. Rather than join the new mechanical age, George prefers to remain a gentleman, believing that being things” is superior to doing things.” But as his town becomes a city, and the family palace is enveloped in a cloud of soot, George’s protectors disappear one by one, and the elegant, cloistered lifestyle of the Ambersons fades from view, and finally vanishes altogether.

A brilliant portrayal of the changing landscape of the American dream, The Magnificent Ambersons is a timeless classic that deserves a wider modern audience.

mistress of mellyn A Classic Mystery, Suspense or Thriller. The Mistress of Mellyn was published in 1960 by Eleanor Hibbert writing as Victoria Holt. Victoria Holt was a pleasure of my youth, and it’ll be fun to reread on of her classics.

From Goodreads:

Mount Mellyn stood as proud and magnificent as she had envisioned…But what bout its master–Connan TreMellyn? Was Martha Leigh’s new employer as romantic as his name sounded? As she approached the sprawling mansion towering above the cliffs of Cornwall, an odd chill of apprehension overcame her.

TreMellyn’s young daugher, Alvean, proved as spoiled and difficult as the three governesses before Martha had discovered. But it was the girl’s father whose cool, arrogant demeanor unleashed unfimiliar sensations and turmoil–even as whispers of past tragedy and present danger begin to insinuate themselves into Martha’s life.

Powerless against her growing desire for the enigmatic Connan, she is drawn deeper into family secrets–as passion overpowers reason, sending her head and heart spinning. But though evil lurks in the shadows, so does love–and the freedom to find a golden promise forever…

game of kings A Historical Fiction Classic. Published in 1961, The Game of Kings is the first of Dorothy Dunnet’s Lymond Chronicles. This has been on my TBR list for years, and I’m glad to be able to finally get it moved up into the soon to read pile!

From Wikipedia:

Living mostly by his wits and his sword-arm in 16th-century Scotland, Francis Crawford of Lymond is a charismatic figure: polyglot scholar, soldier, musician, master of disguises, nobleman—and accused outlaw. After five years exile, Lymond has recently returned to Scotland, in defiance of Scottish charges against him for treason on behalf of the English and murder. He has assembled a private band of mercenaries and ruffians who follow his ruthless, despotic leadership. The reader only gradually learns that Lymond has returned with a single goal: to prove his innocence and restore his name, he must find the man who framed him and condemned him to two years as a French galley slave before he managed to escape.

The novel is constructed as a clockwork mystery: an intricate web of many moving parts, punctuated by set pieces of adventure, high comedy, or intense drama. The suspense is as to whether Lymond will prove himself innocent, die in the attempt, or be captured and hanged. The mystery is “who is Lymond?” Dunnett reveals only gradually, with tantalizing hints and small details, Lymond’s motives and his true relationships with the other characters. Lymond leaves no one indifferent to him: some of the key characters—such as Richard Crawford, third Baron Culter and Lymond’s older brother, and Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox—are one-time friends or intimates who become his mortal enemies. Betrayals and double-crosses, both potential and actual, abound. The pieces of the mystery only fit together late in the story as revelations at a trial.

As an established part of the minor landed aristocracy, the Crawfords cannot avoid becoming entangled in the complex politics between England and Scotland, the Anglo-Scottish wars and Scotland’s alliance with France, or in the conflicts among the residents of the Borders region between the two kingdoms.

A number of historical persons appear in the novel, many as important and well-developed characters. They include members of the Scott clan — Sir Walter Scott of Buccleuch, his wife, Janet Beaton, and his son William Scott of Kincurd, who becomes Lymond’s second-in-command in his band of outlaws; Mary of Guise, the Queen Dowager of Scotland and her young daughter, Mary, Queen of Scots; and members of the Douglas family—including Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus, his brother Sir George Douglas, his daughter Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox (niece of Henry VIII who was the brother of Margaret’s mother Margaret Tudor, widow of James IV, and mother of James V), and Margaret’s husband Matthew Stewart, 4th Earl of Lennox, a potential claimant to the Scottish throne in case of the death of the young Mary, Queen of Scots. The English military leaders responsible for prosecuting the war of The Rough Wooing, Sir William Grey and Lord Thomas Wharton, also have prominent, and often comedic, roles.

the enchanted april A Classic That’s Been Adapted Into a Movie or TV Series. The Enchanted April was made into a movie starring Joan Plowright, Alfred Molina, Jim Broadbent and a number of other fine British actors in 1991. It was originally published in 1922.

From Goodreads:

A discrete advertisement in The Times, addressed to “those who appreciate wisteria and sunshine,” is the prelude to a revelatory month for four very different women. High above a bay on the Italian Riviera stands the medieval castle San Salvatore. Beckoned to this haven are Mrs. Wilkins, Mrs. Arbuthnot, Mrs. Fisher, and Lady Caroline Dester, each quietly craving a respite. Lulled by the gentle spirit of the Mediterranean, they gradually shed their public skins, discovering a harmony each of them has longed for but none has ever known. First published in 1922, this captivating novel is imbued with the descriptive power and lighthearted irreverence for which Elizabeth von Arnim is renowned.

Extra Fun Category: Write a Review of the Movie or TV Series adapted from Optional Category #4.

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Lucky Number 14

Lucky Number 14

Fortunately, I am nearly done with David Copperfield. I guess Barnaby Rudge is my next “Daily Dickens” book.

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classicsclub5-1

I am going to participate in the Classic’s Club Spin, which can be found here:

http://theclassicsclubblog.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/the-classics-spin/

Basically, it works as follows: choose 20 books from my Classic’s Club list(s), numbered one through twenty. On Monday, The Classic’s Club will post a randomly generated number between one & twenty – that will the next classic that I will read.

So, with four categories of five books, here are my 20 selections:

Five books that were not originally written in English:

1. War and Peace by Tolstoy
2. The Three Musketeers by Dumas
3. The Count of Monte Cristo by Dumas
4. Pere Goriot by Balzac
5. Journey to the Center of the Earth by Verne

Five books that were written between 1920 and 1940

6. Whose Body by Dorothy Sayers
7. To Let by John Galsworthy
8. Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck
9. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
10. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

Five books that were written by Charles Dickens

11. Martin Chuzzlewit
12. Bleak House
13. A Tale of Two Cities
14. Barnaby Rudge
15. Hard Times

Five books written by women writers

16. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte
17. North and South by Gaskell
18. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy
19. Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim
20. The Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton Porter

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classics-club-readathon-january-2013

I am very sad that I am unable to participate in the inaugural Classics Club read-a-thon! Unfortunately, my job is kicking my ass right now, so I will be spending most of my waking hours this weekend working instead of reading. Sometimes life gets in the way of literary fun! It will be fun to spend some of my relaxing time keeping up with the reading that other people are doing!

I have two significant semi-long term classics projects going right now: the Moby-Dick Big Read and my Daily Dickens Project.

Moby-Dick Big Read icon

I started this project on January 1, and have listened to – now – four chapters! I wasn’t able to start the Big Read in September, but all of the chapter are still available on iTunes. There are a few fellow-readers in one of my GR groups who are listening along with me. I am hoping that this will be a great way to get this classic under my belt and I am actually planning on picking up a print copy of the book as well. There have been a number of moments so far that I want to annotate, and listening doesn’t give me any place to jot down my thoughts.

David Copperfield

My Daily Dickens book is David Copperfield. I initially intended to read all of the Dickens in order of publication, but I abandoned this after deciding that I really didn’t want to read Oliver Twist right now. I am on Chapter XIV of David Copperfield and am enjoying it much more than The Pickwick Papers. I liked the Pickwick Papers, but it was really more of a series of vignettes, and I prefer my narratives to be plot-based.

I also feel very guilty, because I have been neglecting Les Miserables, but I’m just not feeling the Victor Hugo mood right now. Soon.

I also have a few new books heading my way from Amazon that will get me started on my “neglected women writers” reading resolution. Monica Dickens, Dorothy Whipple, Muriel Spark and Angela Thirkell are all new writers to me. I can’t wait!

Wild StrawberriesMariana3069345Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

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November Classics Club Meme Question:

What piece of classic literature most intimidates you, and why?

This is a great question! My initial impulse was to go with War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. But I’ve been reading Anna Karenina, and I’ve read other works of classic Russian literature, so, in spite of the Russian naming conventions that make those books somewhat of a challenge, the piece of classic literature that most intimidates me was not written by Tolstoy. Nor was it written by Eliot, Dickens, or any of the other Victorians. And, no, not Hugo, either, since I am very much enjoying Les Miserables, another long book that much intimidated me before I started reading it.

No, the classic that most intimidates me is James Joyce’s Ulysses. As for why, I have three words: Stream. Of. Consciousness.

I struggle with this particular narrative form. Faulkner makes me nuts. Thomas Pynchon, in spite of his – probably – deserved reputation as a master of modern language makes me want to, erm, do violence to myself. I tried reading Gravity’s Rainbow several times. I think I remember something about a banana plant growing under a sink that occurred early in the book. I’m not sure I ever got beyond page 25.

In spite of this struggle, as someone who likes to consider herself rather well-versed in modern literature, I felt like I should read Gravity’s Rainbow. I hauled it from pillar to post, through no less then ten moves, before I finally acknowledged that there was no chance I was ever going to read it and I sold it back to a used paperback store. Last time I was in that store, my copy was still sitting on it’s shelves after approximately seven years. It seems that people do not go to used bookstores for the purpose of buying semi-impenetrable, post-modern tomes.

So, yes, Ulysses. That’s the one that most intimidates me. It might take me a couple of years to work up the energy to give it a go.

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