Do you hear that rustling noise in the background? Shh. If you listen closely you'll hear books shifting. That would be the sound of my current reads pile being shuffled about. It tends to lean and groan and threaten to topple over, because being a reader who gives in to whim, I pick up and put down books like crazy. Sometimes it just happens so very quietly in the background that no one (well, except myself) even notices. And sometimes they make a huge racket. They are being quiet at the moment, but I notice them! I have really noisy books, don't I?
Being such an 'at whim' reader I tend to book graze depending on whatever I am in the mood for on a given day. If a book sits too long and starts to languish it's time to decide whether to keep going or choose something better suited to what I am 'hungry for'. So, this year I really do want to try and read more Viragos and (hopefully, though so far I have not yet reached for one) Persephones. No need to go into the shifting that has been going on this past weekend, but a little teaser for a story that I think will click better than what had been sitting too long on my pile. I have lots and lots of Viragos and if I want to try and make any sort of a dent in my collection, it's best to pick up a story I am excited about. (And not just chose one and 'mean to' pick it up soon).
There is a Virago group in Library Thing and Buried in Print and I were chatting about it and their upcoming selections. Elizabeth von Arnim's The Enchanted April is this month's choice but as I have already read (and loved and will happily reread again someday) it, we decided to pick one we both own and have not read. I wasn't trying to select the chunkiest books, but there was just something really appealing about her 1919 novel Christopher and Columbus. Size aside, the print is actually large and the story charming-sounding so I won't be defeated by so many pages. The premise:
"As the First World War looms, Anna-Rose and Anna-Felicitas, seventeen-year-old orphan twins, are thrust upon relatives. But Uncle Arthur, a blustering patriot, is a reluctant guardian: the twins are half-German and, who knows, they could be spying from the nursery window... Packed off to America, they meet Mr Twist, a wealthy engineer with a tendency to motherliness, who befriends them on the voyage. However, he has failed to consider the pitfalls of taking such young and beautiful women under his wing, especially two who will continue to require this protection long after the ship has docked, and who are incapable of behaving with tact. Many adventures ensue (and befall them) in this sparklingly witty, romantic novel in which Elizabeth von Armin explores the suspicions cast upon the two Annas and Mr Twist in a country poised for war."
I'm all for sparklingly witty and romantic sounds good. A little teaser now . . . I've just barely started reading but I think it is going to be a fun read. Why Christopher and Columbus you ask?
"It was Anna-Rosa who suggested their being Christopher and Columbus. She was the elder by twenty minutes. Both had had their seventeenth birthday—and what a birthday: no cake, no candles, no kisses and wreaths and home-made poems; but then, as Anna-Felicitas pointed out, to comfort Anna-Rose who was taking it hard, you can't get blood out of an aunt—only a month before. Both were very German outside and very English inside. Both had fair hair, and the sorts of chins Germans have, and eyes the colour of the sky in August along the shores of the Baltic. Their noses were brief, and had been objected to in Germany, where, if you are a Junker's daughter, you are expected to show it in your nose. Anna-Rose had a tight little body, inclined to the round. Anna-Felicitas, in spite of being a twin, seemed to have made the most of her twenty extra minutes to grow more in; anyhow she was tall and thin, and she drooped; and having perhaps grown quicker made her eyes more dreamy, and her thoughts more slow. And both held their heads up with a great air of calm whenever anybody on the ship looked at them, as who should say serenely, 'We're thoroughly happy, and having the time of our lives'."
The twins are orphans now essentially. Their father German and their mother British and they seem to have a foot in each country/culture but feel part of neither really. Perhaps just as well to embark for America and a totally fresh start and clean slate. We shall see anyway!
In case you are curious about the book, you can access an ebook version for free on both Project Gutenberg and Girlebooks. Now I really must do something about that pile of Persephones that are waiting patiently, too.