Nov. 17th, 2010

zeborah: Zebra against a barcode background, walking on the word READ (read)
5 of the 7 books I ordered from the Huia booksale arrived. I'm going to wait a couple of days before enquiring about the other 2.

I haven't read any of these yet. Instead I finished reading The Mysteries of Udolpho on my iPod, which let me remind you, o my friends, is not an iPod touch or anything so fancy, but an iPod Nano. Which is okay for reading when you're waiting for a couple of minutes at the busstop, but not actually ideal to reading a whole novel in an armchair, nor terribly good at remembering that you're up to page 365 and not page 14. There was a period where it'd remember the page number that I began at last session, but I worked out how to cure it of that, and that's when page 14 began turning up. I've no idea where it got page 14 from.

Anyway, Udolpho can fairly be summarised thusly (for which purposes I'll leave out the epic gay love affair buried in the subtext in the first few chapters. It was epic, okay? Even if technically it was all a figment of how social conventions required a heroine to be way less enthusiastic about her admirer than her father is. <sigh>) --

So. Our Heroine falls in love, admires pretty scenery, gets orphaned, admires pretty scenery, is dragged around by evil relations, admires pretty scenery, is terrorised by terrible terrors and also the whole world wants to marry her. She sustains her fortitude by admiring pretty scenery, then escapes to safety, admires pretty scenery, discovers her boyfriend has turned to <gasp> gambling and so tearfully jilts him, admires pretty scenery, discovers that the Awful Truth about her birth isn't actually that awful and also she's now a super-rich heiress, admires pretty scenery, discovers that her boyfriend's misdemeanours weren't as terrible as she'd heard so marries him, and admires pretty scenery.

Also, every second time she admired the pretty scenery, she either recollected or wrote some poetry about it, which the author saw fit to inflict on the reader in full. I swear they were called things like "Meditation on a bat".

Normally I'm not one for abridged versions of books, but I think Udolpho wouldn't be much harmed by a little pruning.

However, it was great fun to get some idea of what Northanger Abbey was all reacting to. And a tad ironic that there was that, "Seriously, girl, life's way more prosaic than your gothic horror stories" theme going in Northanger since actually Udolpho had the whole, "Yeah, there's a mundane explanation for all those ghost stories, I promise" thing going too. If Lost in Austen had been based on Northanger instead of P&P, that would have just been gloriously meta.

I also read a book I got at the library sale, The Tiger by the River by Ravi Shankar Etteth, in which Swati returns with his wife's ashes to his childhood home, where (though British colonialism has made the title more or less meaningless) he and his ancestors were kings. There he learns of the existence of a cousin he never knew about, and more.

The book mingles his journey and memories and the mythology and history of the kingdom in a way that reminds me a little of Isabel Allende's House of the Spirits (though chronology isn't quite so... liquid here as in that book). Part 2 dragged a bit for me (partly the point of view change, partly that I wasn't interested in that setting) but it all came together in part 3.

(Warnings for possible triggers: skip) Contains descriptions of violence, including description of sexual violence.)

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