I know I just recently came back from a long weekend away, but I am still ready for the upcoming three-day weekend! It's too bad it is also going to be a hot, muggy one. Of course, maybe I am looking at it the wrong way? This is my chance to soak up sunshine and warmth (yes, that feeling of being swaddled in a fuzzy, ultra warm blanket from head to foot) and save it for those really nasty cold days in January when it is dark and grey and my fingers and toes are frozen. Sure. That's what I'm telling myself.
I have lots of good reads to keep my mind off the weather however. I am making slow but steady progress in The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James. I was hugely enthusiastic when I first started reading, but my reaction has tempered a bit in the interim. I am feeling ambivalent towards the heroine Isabel Archer, and I am not sure why. She was so steadfast at first in her decision to turn down any suitors. And now she has fallen for and agreed to marry an American expatriate living in Florence. He has no money and an adolescent daughter. I won't call him dissolute, as that's not entirely accurate, but he is certainly seemingly unambitious, definitely an aesthete. But I question his motives and those of his friend (is or was she something more to him?) Madame Merle.
Had I, as the reader, not been privy to a few of their conversations--both are older and jaded and Isabel is a fresh young thing and maybe a little too naive for her own good, even though she would probably argue that point, I might like and believe him. The thing is Madame Merle seems to be serving our young heiress (she has come into a substantial amount of money) up on a platter to Gilbert Osmond and in my mind I am shaking my head and thinking--no, don't do it, you are surely going to regret it. But then I have met up with other of James's heroines in similar circumstances, so I wonder . . . So, my hesitation is not with James's telling of the story, only of how he is (or, how she is herself) setting herself up for much unhappiness if things don't go well. I try and read a chapter or so a day and will hopefully spend a little extra time with the book this weekend.
Of course, I have my short story reading to do, and I think I have a 'ghost story' or the equivalent RIP read lined up for Sunday. I found one by Daphne du Maurier that I have not yet read that might do nicely. I will share the stack of books--story collections and anthologies that I hope to draw from for the next couple of months. I am going to try and draw entirely from my own books this year as I have enough with many unread stories--I would like to branch out and read outside my comfort zone as there are many good authors I simply have not dared try yet.
Did I tell you I have been reading Carolyn Hart's The Devereaux Legacy as my first RIP choice. It is along the lines of a novel by Mary Stewart or Elizabeth Peters--romantic suspense, and in this case it is set in South Carolina and concerns a ghost--the Whispering Lady. Her appearance portends a death in the family! Good fun and a short and easy (and gentle) read. I might even finish it this weekend, though that is probably a bit too optimistic. I have been scanning my shelves for other potential reads--books off the beaten track that you might not ordinarily pick for 'scary' reading but that would work in quirky ways, but more about those later, too.
I have been trying hard to continue to whittle down my reading pile (maybe I will share a photo of it soon--a before and after, if you will) before starting any new books, but I must say it is getting hard as I look at potential reads and feel the draw of something new more and more. I might finish another book along with the Hart which would mean potentially two new reads. Finishing one book is such a nice incentive for choosing something new. Maybe I am getting into a new habit after all?
If I am not actually starting new books, I am certainly thinking about them and some interesting reading opportunities are coming in the next couple of months. The Omaha Reads book selection this year is local author, Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor & Park, which I bought last fall at a literary event (this year's litfest is in October) where Rainbow was speaking, so my copy is signed. Surely more time has passed than should have and it is time to pick up the book and start reading, so it is waiting in the wings.
I have decided to subscribe to the upcoming Opera Omaha season. I received such a good deal on tickets (half price) it was a shame not to get tickets to all three operas. The first is in October and is Rossini's The Barber of Seville. I will try and read Pierre de Beaumarchais's The Barber of Seville & the Marriage of Figaro beforehand so I am familiar with the story. I'm really looking forward to it. The other two operas are next year.
And one more temptation for you--did you know that (all?) Elizabeth Jane Howard's novels are being reissued by Pan Macmillan? I can only say, wonderful, but dangerous. Now I am going to have to fill in the gaps as I have a number of her books but not all of them. Now the problem is not wanting to buy all of them with their gorgeous new book jackets.
Have a great weekend everyone--happy reading!