Sunday Retrospective ~ February 17th 2019

It’s been a busy week!  It started with a visit to the dentist, never a good move.  In this case even less of a good move than usual as we ended up planning an intensive programme of further visits over the next six months or so.  There’s a passage in one of Helene Hanff’s books where she tells how she has been intending to visit London only to discover that she is going to have to spend her savings on dental treatment instead. I know just how she must have felt.  As I watched the projected costs mounting I could hear Jolyon Bear (he who keeps hold of the purse strings) in my head telling me that it is going to be the library for me for the next year or two.

Then I had my first assignment to write for my Shakespeare course – only 500 words, but that actually made it all the more difficult.  I just about managed it (518) in as much as I answered the question, but there was no room for eloquence and I always feel that anything you write should take account of the “music” of the words as well as the content.  This felt more like a simple check list of the points I needed to make than anything else.  Submitting it electronically was fun too as the instructions provided bore very little resemblance to what actually happened when I tried to download it onto the University site.  In the end one of the other students (a software engineer) and I found a way to get round the problem but IT support and I are going to have words tomorrow morning.  A Russell Group University should not be making mistakes like that.

So, all in all there has been very little time for reading or blogging this week.  I have just finished Mari Hannah’s latest Oliver and Stone novel, The Scandal, which comes out at the beginning of March so I will leave a review until nearer the publication date. I like Hannah’s work very much and for the most part this was no exception.  My one quibble was that she stood on a particular soapbox and thumped a particular drum rather too loudly and obviously and weakened her argument as a result, but more later.

I am also halfway through Diane Setterfield’s second novel, Bellman and Black which is next week’s Book Group choice.  I was one of the few people who didn’t like The Thirteenth Tale.  I was getting along fine with it until about three quarters of the way through and then the plot lost credibility for me and I felt cheated.  I was getting along fine with this book too until yesterday when it suddenly took a turn that left me feeling a bit grubby for reading it, so I’m not certain how I’m going to respond to what I still have left to read.  Still, at least there will be something to talk about next Wednesday. One of the things that I am most interested in is how unusual a choice it is for the person whose turn it was to select the book.  I’m also interested in the fact that I feel that way.  Perhaps we stereotype each other as particular categories of readers too easily.  It’s a lazy way of thinking.

17 thoughts on “Sunday Retrospective ~ February 17th 2019

  1. Annabel (AnnaBookBel) February 17, 2019 / 11:15 am

    500 words on Shakespeare sounds very difficult! Are you going to see (or have you been to see) All is True? I very much enjoyed it to my surprise – I’d been prepared to be disappointed. The ‘sonnet-off’ scene between Branagh and McKellen was particularly wonderful, but the whole film was well done, even if the script takes plausible liberties when filling in gaps of Shakespeare’s life. I was disappointed with the first Setterfield in excactly the same way as you, so I’ve not bothered since.


    • Café Society February 17, 2019 / 1:52 pm

      It hasn’t come to our local cinema yet, Annabel, but I will definitely be going to see it. I’m told McKellen reading the sonnet is worth the price of entry on its own. To be fair, the assignment is really checking our ability to close read a text, so we only had to discuss a very short scene, but even so!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A Life in Books February 17, 2019 / 11:30 am

    My partner is an academic at a Russell Group university. Having sat at the supper table exchanging work gripes (and achievements) your comment about IT provoked a wry smile.


    • Café Society February 17, 2019 / 1:54 pm

      I can believe it, Susan. I wish this was the first time I was having to take issue but having been in the sector for over three decades it has become all too common.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Margaret February 17, 2019 / 4:17 pm

    Dental treatment over the next six months or so doesn’t sound much fun! I sympathise as I’ve had problems with my teeth too. I’ll be interested to see your final thoughts on Bellman and Black -what you’ve found so far isn’t inspiring me to read it!


    • Café Society February 17, 2019 / 5:46 pm

      I got into Bellman & Black again this afternoon, Margaret and then just as I was about to put it down it took another distasteful twist. I’m not sure I would be finishing it if it wasn’t for the Book Group. I’ll try and post about it during the week.


  4. kaggsysbookishramblings February 17, 2019 / 5:32 pm

    Oh dear, I do empathise with the dentistry…. I’m going tomorrow and I fear root canal at the least…. =:o


    • Café Society February 17, 2019 / 5:41 pm

      Sympathies from a fellow sufferer. I have to go for a CT scan first for them to decide what needs doing so my day of reckoning is a little further away – all the more time to worry about it!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Lisa February 17, 2019 / 6:10 pm

    The bill for my last dental work *doubled* just as the procedure was getting started, but before the anaesthetic took full effect, which might have eased the pain of it, so I feel your pain as well. It also apparently used up all of the dental benefits to which I’m entitled this year, so none of the follow-up work will be covered. I see more bills in my future!


    • Café Society February 17, 2019 / 6:15 pm

      You make me think that I should ask for a written statement of what costs I am going to face, Lisa. I suppose though that there is always the possibility that something else will be discovered once they start. I do hope not. I am looking at four figures as it is and the the first of those definitely won’t be a 1 and may not even be a 2 either!


  6. Kat February 17, 2019 / 6:44 pm

    Dental problems are a nightmare! And it IS exasperating to write something and then be unable to submit it. Some websites are almost as nightmarish as dental work. I’ll be interested to hear about Setterfield’s second book. I know the third is getting a lot of attention.


    • Café Society February 17, 2019 / 6:46 pm

      Yes, Kat, everyone keeps telling me that I should put aside my feelings for the first Setterfield and read the new one, but I can’t see it happening at the moment.


  7. Liz February 18, 2019 / 1:59 pm

    I am really enjoying these weekly digests! But of course you have all my sympathies re the dentistry – poor you.


    • Café Society February 20, 2019 / 9:03 am

      Thanks Liz, the waiting for the scans to be done is really wearing. I’d just like to get on with it now.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Liz February 20, 2019 / 1:48 pm

        Yes, I can completely see why xxx


  8. Jeanne February 18, 2019 / 6:40 pm

    Sympathies on the dentistry. I’ve gone through several spates of years where my teeth needed lots of work, and remember one Christmas when my biggest present was a crown, which sounds way more fun than it is.
    I enjoyed reading the first half of The Thirteenth Tale and maybe the first third of Bellman and Black, but also experienced a sinking feeling that ended up coloring my view of each book. I thought I had reviewed Bellman and Black at one point, but must have decided it was not worth my while to write about it.


    • Café Society February 20, 2019 / 9:06 am

      I just have the last twenty five pages to read now before tonight’s discusssion, Jeanne and I’m still uncertain how I feel about it. I think what I am coming up with, given that I had problems with The Thirteenth Tale as well, is that I simply don’t think in the same way as the author does. I don’t understand why you would write a novel like this.


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