Monday, August 10, 2015

See You in September

... See you when the summer's through

Remember that old song? I'm pretty sure it was in American Graffiti.

Anyway, I've decided to take a blogging break for the rest of the summer. That may sound strange because I know summer is ending now for many of you. But while you and your kids are returning to school, Twin A has just come home. She finished an internship at L'Oréal and will be with us for three weeks before beginning her final semester of college.

There will be plenty of boating, kayaking, grilling, and hanging out by the lake. Probably a little shopping and reading, too.

I'll catch up with you next month. Enjoy the rest of your summer!

Friday, August 7, 2015

#6Barsets: Doctor Thorne and Framley Parsonage

Our #6Barsets Project is proving to be the most enjoyable reading experience I've had in years. Not only have I discovered a new favorite author, I love chatting about books with friends as we read. And I've even managed to stay on schedule through the first four novels! Unfortunately, I have been less conscientious when it comes to following through with blog posts.

Before reading Trollope, I had a vague notion that he was comparable to Dickens. After reading Doctor Thorne and Framley Parsonage, I believe his stories and writing style are actually closer to Jane Austen.

** There are no spoilers for either novel in this post. **

Doctor Thorne can be summed up in a single sentence, a quote which appears repeatedly throughout the novel:
He must marry money!
Money and blood. Blood and money. Nothing is more important in measuring social status and worth during this time period - especially to the family of young Frank Gresham as they struggle financially to maintain their estate and standing in the community.

Problems arise when Frank falls in love with Mary Thorne - penniless, of questionable parentage, and being raised by her uncle, our hero, Doctor Thorne.

I won't say more, but this is a a plot truly worthy of Jane Austen herself.

Doctor Thorne gets a solid 5 star rating from me and will appear on my year-end list of favorites. In fact, I've added it to my list of all-time favorites, too.

On July 1, I moved on to Book 4 of The Barsetshire Chronicles...

In Framley Parsonage, Trollope returns once again to ecclesiastical matters... with a healthy dose of love and marriage, money and status, and, of course, social convention. This was enough to cement my view that Trollope is much more like Austen than Dickens

Framley Parsonage  tells the story of Mark Robarts,  "a young clergyman with ambitions beyond his small country parish of Framley. In a naive attempt to mix in influential circles, he makes a financial deal with the disreputable local Member of Parliament, but is instead brought to the brink of shame and ruin."

Politics plays a more prominent role here than in the previous novels and I got bogged down with the details a couple of times. Perhaps this does not bode well for the Palliser series, as I understand it is more focused on government and less on the church.

As a result, my rating "plummeted" to 4 stars. However, it is still among the best books I've read this year.

Both novels were read/listen combinations. I listen in the car and on my walks, then switch to an ebook to read in the evening. I love this approach to long classics and refer to it as total immersion. Simon Vance is my narrator of choice for British Literature and his performance in these novels was, as always, outstanding.

Up next for September and October is  The Small House at Allington, a novel former Prime Minister John Major declared to be his favorite book of all time. I can't wait to get started.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Mount Rushmore

I'll be sharing photos from our Great Western Adventure for the next few weeks.
If you follow me on Instagram,you may have seen some of them already.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Tuesday Intro: The Oregon Trail

I had known long before I rode a covered wagon to Oregon that naiveté was the mother of adventure. I just didn't understand how much of that I really had. Nicholas and I realized before we left Missouri with the mules that we would be the first wagon travelers in more than a century to make an authentic crossing of the Oregon Trail. But that was never the point for us. We pushed mules more than two thousand miles to learn something more important. Even more beautiful than the land that we passed, or the months spent camping on the plains, was learning to live with uncertainty.
The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey
by Rinker Buck

I purchased this book just before we left on our Great Western Adventure and now that we're back home, I'm even more interested in reading it. We passed through parts of the route and I have a better idea of the landscape and conditions the original travelers must have faced.

Here is a portion of the goodreads summary:
In the bestselling tradition of Bill Bryson and Tony Horwitz, Rinker Buck's "The Oregon Trail" is a major work of participatory history: an epic account of traveling the 2,000-mile length of the Oregon Trail the old-fashioned way, in a covered wagon with a team of mules--which hasn't been done in a century--that also tells the rich history of the trail, the people who made the migration, and its significance to the country. 
What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.


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