Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Sunday Salon: February Reads

The Sunday

February Books Read:

Frost in May by Antonia White (221 pages)
Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor (178 pages)
Villette by Charlotte Bronte (590 pages)
Mouseguard:  Fall 1152 by David Peterson (192 pages)
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (343 pages)

My February reading total was 5 books and 1,524 pages.  Added to my January reading that's 10 books and 2,888 pages. This means I have 60 books and/or 17, 112 pages left. 

With the exception of Mouseguard, all the books I read in February seemed to nicely go together.  In fact, even one of the books I gave up on went nicely with all the others.  Seredipitously, all the novels (Frost in May, Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont, Villette, I Capture the Castle) centered on women dealing with loneliness.  First an overview:
  1. Frost in May by Antoinia White:  This novel follows a young girl -- Nanda Grey -- in a Catholic boarding school.  Her protestant background and her family's recent conversion alienates her as does her quiet independence.  
  2. Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor:  Laura Palfrey has been discarded by her daughter and grandson and lives a lonely life until she meets a young man.  
  3. Villette by Charlotte Bronte:  Lucy Snowe is alone in the world; she travels to Villette to teach in a school and falls in love with a professor.
  4. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith:  Cassandra Mortmain lives in a castle with her eccentric family.  When a wealthy family arrives in the village and her older sister, Rose, becomes engaged to the weathly Simon, Cassandra must deal with heart break and disappointment.
All of these women have active imaginations and an appreciation for the written word:  Nanda writes short stories, Mrs. Palfrey loves poetry, Lucy observes the minute details for those around her, and Cassandra fills her journal.  Each woman is very much alone in the world.  The endings are never happy, the most achieved is a bittersweet closure.  These novels impacted me so that I've had trouble settling down to read something else.  I attempted Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett -- Emily Fox-Seton was too bland a heroine.  I think this is a book I will like more at a later date, it wasn't a good idea to attempt this after Villette. Emily Fox-Seton is in a similar position to Lucy Snowe but is stupidly blind to people using her and she lacks vitality and spark.

I wonder if March will bring the same sort of thematic reading.  Interesting how what one thinks is random ends up not being random at all.  I'm still pondering what I'd like to read in March.  I have several things in mind, but I feel as if a trip to the library is in order!


readerbuzz said...

I love to read in themes. I haven't done that in a long time. I must get back to it.

Miss Moppet said...

I've read all these but would never have thought to connect them like this, but yes, you're right, there is a theme! On the 'cheerful to depressing' scale I'd rank Mrs Palfrey as the grimmest (appreciated it but wouldn't read it again), then Villette, then Frost in May and most cheery is definitely I Capture the Castle!

Thomas at My Porch said...

Amanda: We were up in Philly this weekend and I went to one of my favorite used bookstores and came across three Antonia White novels including Frost in May. I didn't know anything about her but they were all Virago Modern Classics so I bought them hoping for the best. Looks like I made the right decision.