Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Summer of My English Reading

My summer has been more chaotic than I am comfortable with, so in an unconscious response, I read several books about life in the English countryside, which calmed me down, as it always has in the past. I read two of Miss Read's books, Village Diary and Storm in the Village, which transported me to the middle of the last century and a rural village called Fairacre. I chuckled along with Miss Read, teacher in the village school, about the inhabitants' foibles. They are not plot-heavy books, but there is a rhythm to them that you get used to, and a structure that pays off in the end. I enjoyed their subtlety, and I'm sure I'll read more in the series.

I also read Beverley Nichols' Down the Garden Path, another chronicle of English country life, but through the lens of a city dweller who comes to the country to create the garden of his dreams. Nichols' dry wit and sharp eye for the ridiculous made me laugh out loud at times. Nichols' satire is impressively all-encompassing--he skewers his fellow villagers, his city visitors, and himself with equal vigor.

I'm moving away from rural England to Scandinavia now, to begin The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson, to bring a little northern chill into my hot Los Angeles August. Hope it works! I hear so many good things about this book, so I'm really looking forward to starting it.

11 comments:

litlove said...

Gosh I remember reading Miss Read when I was a teenager - they are very comforting! If you liked them, you might try Sybil Marshall, or for a completely different and very funny take on English village life, E. F. Benson. I do exactly the same thing, though, and regulate my life with my reading. Here's to some more gentle, comforting trips to peaceful places of the imagination!

Gentle Reader said...

litlove--Thank you for the suggestions! I will try Sybil Marshall. I also love E.F. Benson, and should probably re-read all the Mapp and Lucia books. It's been a stressful summer because the kids' schedules have been particularly divergent, so I feel like I've been spending my life in the car! As we know, I need my wide margins, so restful reading has been helpful :)

Ti said...

It's funny how our bodies know what to gravitate towards all by themselves.

I'm sorry your summer has been a bit chaotic. The Girl Who Played with Fire came out recently but I want to read Dragon first before I read Fire. Looking forward to your review.

Rosemary said...

These sounds like great reads. I'm always looking for some books to escape the hustle and bustle of LA!

Gentle Reader said...

Ti--I want to read The Girl Who Played with Fire, too--I'll let you know how I like Dragon :)

Rosemary--Sometimes I can only find peace within the pages of a book--especially in my crazy house!

Booklogged said...

After our hectic family reunion I could use a little gentle reading, too. I haven't heard of the Miss Read books so I appreciate your mention of them.

Table Talk said...

I'm so envious of your still having the Larsson books to read. I've just finished the second one and am desperate for the third to be available.

softdrink said...

My Powell's order with this book included just arrived...I'm looking forward to it!

Gentle Reader said...

Booklogged--they're really lovely books, hope you like them!

Table Talk--I'm so enjoying the book, can't wait to read the second one!

softdrink--can't wait to hear what you think :)

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Susan said...

I just picked up Girl with the Dragon Tattoo! I'm going to get to it shortly. I'm looking forward to your review!

And sorry your summer has been so hectic. So has mine, so I've buried myself in books when i get the chance, which means I haven't been blogging as much. I like your book choices for calming yourself down, very much! I'm not sure what i turn to when it's not calm. I'll have to think about that. Interesting question, Gentle Reader!