This coming week sees the end of the Oxford University online Shakespeare course I have been taking. I’ve very much enjoyed it, but although when I began I thought I might continue working with them, taking a different course each term, the last ten weeks have changed my mind. Like all such courses the amount of time that it is suggested you need to give is radically underestimated. Ten hours a week is what is proposed, but if you want to be properly involved and be in a position to complete the necessary assignments then you are definitely looking at nearer twenty. When I look back at what I have read so far this year I can see just how that has eaten into my reading time and I know that if I went on and did any further study I would really begin to resent that. The pressure is particularly intense when it comes round to the time for submitting assignments. My last one went in this week and so I am now waiting judgement on it. I was explaining what I had written to a friend, a Professor of English Language, who just said, “I am really glad I don’t have to mark your work”. What is so unusual about comparing Leontes ‘journey’ through The Winter’s Tale to St Paul’s damascene moment in the Acts of the Apostles, that’s what I want to know? My only problem was trying to manage it in 1500 words. I like what I write to have a certain rhythm to it and that often makes extreme brevity difficult.
So, I have read almost nothing during the last seven days with the exception of the book I mentioned in my previous post: the one that was a complete disaster. I’m hoping things will now pick up. I’ve just started Linda Grant’s new novel, A Stranger City, which is promising well. I really enjoyed her last book, The Dark Circle, which uses the setting of a 1950s sanitorium to explore the changes in society after the Second World War, but other than that I haven’t read anything else by her. Does anyone have any favourites that I might put onto a summer reading list? I also have Olivia Kiernan’s second Frankie Sheenan novel, The Killer in Me, waiting. Too Close to Breathe was an excellent start to this series and with the new one due out at the beginning of April I must get reading quickly and post a review.