I feel all my good intentions beginning to crumble. Specifically the intention of not allowing myself to start reading (more and more) new books without first finishing something already in progress. I am such a pushover, I will pick up a book (almost always something that I have wanted to read in any case, though sometimes someone else's enthusiasm for a book is enough to carry me along, too) on almost any whim. (I can be such a willing participant when it comes to books!). The whim of the moment is the VMC Book Club I just mentioned.
The choice was actually not in the least difficult as Molly Keane is an author I discovered several years ago and upon reading her wonderful novel Two Days in Aragon I decided that I needed to read all her books with the added little 'catch' that I would read them in the order she published them. I have always wanted to do that and this seemed the perfect moment to do so and with the perfect author. I amassed my pile of books by her and set out to start from the beginning. Four books in (five if you count Two Days in Aragon--read out of order that one . . .) and I stumbled. It took me ages to get through Mad Puppetstown, which when I finally finished it I liked very much but then never wrote about unfortunately. And then nothing. Not any fault of Molly's mind you. It is just a matter of too many books and too difficult to prioritize because I always want to do too many things.
But picking up one of her later books (I have read and believe it to be true) that her later work is much better than her earlier, but then, isn't that often the case? Her early books are somewhat formulaic. She wrote them to earn money. She married and had a very happy marriage but her husband died young and I think she simply shelved her writing until after his death. And then she picked up pen again and her later works (maybe this is meant to be the best of them all?) are noticeably . . . when she literally came into her own with writing.
So, Good Behavior, her third to last book published in 1981, is promising to be very good indeed. Maybe this is the jump start I need to get on with her work. And I have decided to toss out of the window the idea I need to read the books in order. Better to read whichever appeals most rather than let a book languish simply because I am not quite in the mood for it right now.
I am saving the introduction for later and have only read the first chapter, but I can already sense that Miss Aroon is going to be an interesting character. Good Behavior is about Aroon and I am not sure I am going to like her. I am not sure, though, whether she is meant to be liked. Sometimes the best characters, the most interesting characters are really very unlikable. Maybe even a little reprehensible. Aroon might fit that mold, but I won't base my opinion on a fee pages only. It's just that she insists her bedridden mother have rabbit (when she loathes rabbit and it makes her ill). So she has a bite (after Aroon tells her it's chicken mousse), and then promptly expires.
My teaser is a little interior monologue Aroon has with herself. You can get a sense of her and judge for yourself.
"All my life so far I have done everything for the best reasons and the most unselfish motives. I have lived for the people dearest to me, and I am at a loss to know why their lives have been at times so perplexingly unhappy. I have given them so much, I have given them everything, all I know how to give--Papa, Hubert, Richard, Mummie. At fifty-seven my brain is fairly bright, brighter than ever I sometimes think, and I have a cast-iron memory. If I look back beyond any shadow into the uncertainties and glories of our youth, perhaps I shall understand more about what became of us."
I am so looking forward to this. To discovering just what became of Aroon's family and all those good intentions. It feels really good to get back to Molly Keane. And now I think I need to order a copy of the biography of her by sally Phipps that was just recently released. This makes two VMCs in progress on my night table. I have a whole bookcase filled to the brim with VMCs, so I might as well indulge myself. Besides who can resist a story like this one!