Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sunday Salon: Reader's Diary


Meh.  I had big plans to read this weekend, but got hijacked by children's activities, including a sports banquet, two birthday parties, a playdate and helping my middle-schooler study for finals. The only reading I got done was late Saturday night and early Sunday morning, but at least it was something!

I finished Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's first novel, Purple Hibiscus, last week.  As much as I enjoyed it, I think I liked her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun better, because of the greater scope of the book.  Purple Hibiscus is a more intimate story, with an adolescent main character; Half of a Yellow Sun is concerned with a whole family, and has more points of view. And though Purple Hibiscus is set against the backdrop of political unrest in Nigeria, it is less a part of the story than in Half of a Yellow Sun.  Anyway--I enjoyed both books.

Now I'm in the middle of reading Somerset Maugham's The Painted Veil.  I read Maugham's semi-autobiographical Of Human Bondage last year around this time, which lit a fire in me to read more Maugham.  Well, a year later I've finally gotten around to the next of his novels on my list.  I also saw the recent movie version of The Painted Veil, starring Edward Norton and Naomi Watts.  I don't usually do that--see the movie before reading the book--but I happened upon the movie on cable, and I got drawn in by the scenery, and then kept watching because the story intrigued me.  The novel has a great set-up, and I'm enjoying Maugham's writing again this time.  I'm also intrigued by the idea, that I read in several reviews, that this is a feminist novel.  I suppose it's thought to be feminist because Maugham's main character is a woman who goes through immense changes--goes on a spiritual journey, really--and comes through it a changed woman.  I'm enjoying the transformation so far, but I'm only half way through the book.  I'll let you know what I think when I'm finished.  Maybe by next Sunday...

7 comments:

J.Danger said...

Kids! Geesh! My get in the way of my reading schedule all the time too!
Sounds like you had a busy weekend!

Let me know what you think of Maugham.

Gentle Reader said...

J. Danger--I sound like a mommy-grinch, don't I? Those darn kids! They get in the way of my "me" time! Feels like every weekend is a busy weekend these days, but I'm getting used to it :)

litlove said...

I didn't get as much reading done this weekend as I wanted to, either. But I don't have such good reasons as you! I love Somerset Maugham, who I found as a teenager. I remember reading his short stories with great enjoyment at a time when I didn't like short stories at all. I loved Cakes and Ale, and The Moon and Sixpence, and also The Razor's Edge. Oh and Up At the Villa is delightful and curious and very short. I haven't read The Painted Veil (or seen the film), so I'll be interested to know what you think.

Leah said...

I really liked The Painted Veil film so I am looking forward to reading what you think of the film. My reading has fallen off the edge for now too, it is such a mad busy time of the year!

Jeane said...

I've never read any Maugham, but I do have Of Human Bondage on my shelf. Someday.

Matt said...

Hope you enjoy The Painted Veil, one of my all-time favorite books. Maugham is a keen observer of the human condition. He captures the best of the tension through what is not said.

Gentle Reader said...

Litlove--well, I finished The Painted Veil last night (stayed up far too late, really, but couldn't put it down) and I liked it very much. I'll try to write something up soon. I have Up at the Villa on my shelf, so maybe that's next...

Leah--I liked the film, too, but it is different than the movie. I'll go into that when I write about it. That might have bothered me had I read the book first, but since I enjoyed the movie before the book, I guess I'm not judging the movie as harshly. Let that be a lesson to me! Maybe that's the better way to do it--most of the time, if it's adapted from a book I like, the movie is usually a disappointment.

Jeane--I liked Of Human Bondage very much. It was one of those books that had the power to make me angry, which is always fun :)

Matt--I finished The Painted Veil late last night--couldn't put it down. You're absolutely right that there's power in what is not said--very English, that! I agree that Maugham is a keen observer of humanity, too.