In my hot little hands I hold at this moment my copy of Frances Burney's Camilla. For as many pages as it has, it is a reasonably compact book (trade size). I'm going to read the Oxford World's Classics edition, but as was mentioned in yesterday's comments this book is also available free online and can be downloaded to an eReader from either Girlebooks or Project Gutenberg. I'm so glad a few of you have decided to read along and look forward to having some conversations about the book in the weeks to come. I'm all for keeping things easy and laid back, so I'll plan on posting my progress here on Mondays and everyone can feel free to drop by and share how you're progressing with the story as well, or (if you're not reading) seeing how things fare with Camilla and her sisters. It's always fun tackling a long or challenging book in a small group as it keeps me motivated. I'm hoping to try and read between 50-100 pages a week--depending on how the story is going and what other demands life makes. I'm all set to start reading over the long weekend. Long sprawling stories seem to appeal during the winter months for some reason. And if this goes well, maybe Clarissa can be next in line.
I'm not going to be spending all my extra reading time (and I do hope this long weekend does mean lots of extra reading time) in the 18th century, however. Once again the month has flown by and a look at my reading pile makes me a little anxious as I try and finish a few books that need either to go back to the library, be dropped in the mail (my most recent postal reading group book) or that I'm just so close to finishing that I don't want to put the book down.
I'm hoping to read the last few pages of Laurie King's A Letter of Mary tonight. I've really enjoyed it and think Mary Russell is going on my list of favorite characters. There's so much to like about these books but especially the fact that they're smart, intellectual stories. I'll share more about it later. And I think I need to pick up the next book in the series sooner than later.
If you like good crime stories, have you heard of (or maybe you've already read) Peter May's The Blackhouse? It's been a while since I've picked up a book where right from the first page I've been so completely sucked into the story. That's the case so far with the book. Just as well since it needs to go back to the library on Saturday. The setting is the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, where Fin McCleod has returned home to help solve the murder of a local man. It's filled with excellent description of life on this bleak island. I believe it's the first in a trilogy. Interestingly May was a scriptwriter and has worked in TV, which perhaps explains why the dialogue and pacing is so good.
I've got three books going still for the German Literature month that I'm hoping to wrap up by the end of November. One is yet another crime novel, Ingrid Noll's The Pharmacist, which is moving along nicely. I need to concentrate on Gert Ledig's The Stalin Front, which I've been neglecting in favor of lighter/easier reads. And I've only one more story left to read in my Romantic Fairy Tales. I should probably focus on the latter two books, but I did pull Peter Handke's A Sorrow Beyond Dreams from my shelves in a moment of optimism. It's a very slight book about the author's mother who committed suicide.
Last month I had a very strong finish at the end in wrapping things up, so I hope that'll be the case this month as well. I've already decided that Peter Straub's Ghost Story will have to carry over into December as will happen with a few other books (ahem). And I've already started making a few mental plans for next month's reading, which I now think is going to consist of lots of cleaning up of reading piles and finishing a few books that have lingered far too long on my nightstand. I do plan on starting a couple of new books, one of which I just brought home from the library. I requested a biography of Rose Macaulay, Rose Macaulay: A Writer's Life by Jane Emery, which I am really looking forward to reading. Let me leave you with a little teaser.
"With admirable consideration and dignity, Rose Macaulay, at the age of 77, died quickly of a heart attack in her own bed in the early hours of 30 October 1958. Struck by pain, characteristically stoic, not wishing to trouble her doctor, she had telephoned, asking him to order her an analgesic from the chemist's. Instead, he came at once. But shortly after she died."
"On Thursday morning, when the news spread, her many friends could not believe or accept the reality of a still and silent Rose."
"Two months earlier would have found her voyaging back from Trebizond as an acclaimed but unofficial jester for an aristocratic party on an educational cruise, tracing the route of the Argonauts in their quest for the Golden Fleece. Two nights earlier would have found her in London at this Hellenic cruise's reunion, still amusing her shipboard comrades. Victor Gollancz called Rose Macaulay 'one of the best party-goers in London'. She even appears unexpectedly in the middle of Christopher Isherwood's novel, The World in the Evening, at a lunch party in Carcassone. Nothing slowed her brisk pace. At 48, warned of her 'low-grade heart' by a cardiologist, she had written to her sister Jean, 'I shall take this as a pretext for not doing things that tire me, except when I want to. Doctors have their uses'."
As you can see I'm going to have plenty of reading materials at my fingertips over this long weekend and will be prioritizing but allowing myself to read at whim, too.