lunabee34: (Ouida by ponders_life)
The Fine and the Wicked: the Life and Times of OuidaThe Fine and the Wicked: the Life and Times of Ouida by Monica Stirling

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Oh, man. Reading early literary criticism and biography is so frustrating because nobody cites sources in a useful way! Stirling is all, "And then Ouida said this," or "Then Henry James said this about Ouida," or "One time at band camp, Ouida . . ." without telling me where she gets any of her information. Sometimes I can go to the bibliography she has at the end and figure out that she's probably quoting from a certain text but sometimes not.

Reading Stirling is a wacky ride. I mean, she explicitly says that her mission is to defend Ouida as an important author and to reclaim her works as entertaining and worthy of reading, but she goes over the top in attributing emotions and motivations to Ouida for which she has zero evidence. She's constantly saying things like (paraphrasing here): Ouida never looked a gift horse in the mouth, and if she had, she would only have commented on the beauty of its teeth. Stirling's prose is ludicrous at times; she's so eager to defend Ouida's behavior that her defenses sometimes don't make logical sense. She also does this weird framing thing where she pits Ouida and Queen Victoria against each other throughout the biography, and it's extremely off-putting to read.

On the other hand, lots of great pictures of Ouida and the houses she lived in plus good biographical details and lots of info about the people with whom she socialized and corresponded.

Ouida just makes me so sad. She was so brilliant, and she was so admired, and she ended up alone and miserable and poor at the end of her life. She had loyal friends even up to her dying day, but she manufactured so much of her own unhappiness through her inability to save money and her anger at the social humiliations she sometimes suffered when she couldn't keep her mouth shut or reacted poorly to what she perceived as slights. I have so much sympathy for her and so much admiration for how much she was able to accomplish despite both external and internal forces that were set against her.

Note to self: I made a mistake in re-reading Ouida's biographies; published in the 1950s, Stirling's is the latest, and I really should have started with Elizabeth Lee's (the earliest at 1912) to better chart the way Ouida's story changes (or not) as time progresses. That's not something I took note of when I read these biographies fifteen years ago.

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lunabee34: (reading by tabaqui)
And Always a Detective: Chapters on the History of Detective FictionAnd Always a Detective: Chapters on the History of Detective Fiction by R.F. Stewart

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I must give this book a qualified review.

First the good: I don't care a whit about detective novels. I've never read a single Sherlock Holmes mystery, and I don't read modern thrillers or crime novels. I am completely disinterested in the subject matter, and yet Stewart's history of the genre thoroughly captivates me for two reasons. One, the history of detective fiction is indivisible from the history of the sensation novel, and like any proper Victorianist, I am mad about the sensation novel. I'd venture at least half of the book is about tracking trends in sensation novels and so is very relevant to my area of research. Two, Stewart has such a delightful authorial voice; he is funny, always making a joke or a clever allusion. He clearly loves detective fiction and is having fun writing about the genre which makes reading his work a pleasure for me.

Now for the bad: This was published in 1980, and the academy has come a long way, baby. The blatant sexism is over the top at times. Stewart takes potshots at Mary Elizabeth Braddon and Margaret Oliphant and Elaine Showalter (!), for example. He even derisively refers to his female colleagues as "academic ladies" at one point. *shudders* We've also come a long way in the past forty years in terms of the way we discuss literature that once fell (and sometimes still falls) outside the canon. Stewart is always eager to let the reader know that sensation literature is not good literature; it's second-rate, just like its writers (Braddon et al). I am so grateful that never once in my graduate work was I called on to justify why I think a critical discussion of one of the most widely read authors of the 19th century is important even though Ouida was "just" a sensation writer (okay, she wrote in more genres, but you get what I'm going for here).

So, if you're into detective fiction and can stomach a bit of sexism in your literary criticism, I think you'll have a mostly good time reading this book.

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lunabee34: (Ouida by ponders_life)
The Forgotten Female Aesthetes: Literary Culture In Late Victorian EnglandThe Forgotten Female Aesthetes: Literary Culture In Late Victorian England by Talia Schaffer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love this book. Schaffer is such a good writer. I think it's so hard to write academic criticism well. The writer has to straddle the line between knowing her stuff/making a convincing argument and coming off like a pretentious twit who's just interested in proving how large her vocabulary is and how convoluted a sentence she can write. The longer I am in the academy, the less patience I have for dense, impenetrable academic writing. Life is too short to read someone masturbating (painfully, no less!) on the page. Schaffer's writing is not conversational, but it's not convoluted either; her writing is clear and convincing. I get a sense of who she is as a scholar and a thinker; her writing is formal, but she has not attempted to absent herself entirely from the process, a conceit I find tedious in a great deal of academic writing (as if our passions and interests and biases as scholars do not inform our work).

As a Ouida scholar, what mainly draws me to this book is Schaffer's argument that Ouida is a female Aesthete who can be credited with popularizing the witty, epigrammatic language that will later become characteristic of male Aesthetes like Wilde. She also positions Ouida and other female Aesthetes as a direct influence for Modernist writers; her comments about the way that Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own explicitly denies the lives and literary output of late Victorian women writers in order to create its argument that a female literary tradition doesn't exist are quite compelling (and even shocking) in this context. Identifying Ouida as an Aesthete also helps us to understand some of the seemingly inexplicable choices she made in her personal life (the way she dressed, her love of hothouse flowers, etc) as an attempt to live out the principles of Aestheticism.

I really enjoyed learning about female some writers I didn't know anything about (Who's going to immediately start reading Lucas Malet? This gal) and developing a greater understanding of Aestheticism itself. I was also fascinated to learn that Thomas Hardy plagiarized Jude the Obscure from a Lucas Malet novel and no one caught it at the time. Schaffer puts enough of their writing side by side that the plagiarism is undeniable.

Highly, highly recommend this as a very readable work that helps define Aestheticism, tells us about the lives and literary works of both male and female Aesthetes, and helps us understand the relationship of Modernism to the Aesthetic Movement.

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lunabee34: (heart by jjjean65)
1. We lost power for 7 hours on Monday; the temperature was great and we had awesome food lined up to eat. A tree fell down and didn't hurt any of us or the house. Other people in town just had power restored yesterday! Nothing like a little gratitude about the big stuff to get you through the car refusing to start and some necessary repairs. LOL Normally, I'd get all anxious and pissed off about that kind of thing. Not this week.

2. Tuesday, I picked up limbs for two hours solid and I have been paying for it ever since. Y'all know how physically active I am. I go to the gym every day. I'm biking like 13 miles at a time. I can run on the elliptical forever if the boredom doesn't kill me first. Picking up those limbs kicked my ass, and it surprised me. My hamstrings have been on fire ever since. I went to the gym on Wed and Thursday and they hurt so bad on Thursday night that I just didn't go on Friday. I might not go to today. It feels like such a little and stupid thing to be affecting me this way. I picked up limbs for an hour today, but I squatted to do it instead of bending at the waist like I did on Tuesday, and I think that's actually made my hamstrings feel somewhat better? IDK I'll let y'all know when I'm in agony again tonight and trying to sleep.

3. I got some new underwear! I had to go down another size, and the Bali underwear I've been buying doesn't come in a smaller size than 6/7 which is definitely WTF. But I got some Jockey ones and some Hanes ones at Target to try out.

4. Rising Strong by Brene Brown )
lunabee34: (Ouida by ponders_life)
Fallen AngelFallen Angel by Sally Mitchell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The major theme of this work is the fallen woman, how she's represented in early Victorian fiction, and how that representation differs from the fallen woman in actuality. Naturally this entails a discussion of how the Victorians defined chastity and the consequences of that definition.

In addition, Mitchell focuses on reading habits of the time period. This is a good examination of the kinds of novels being written by and for women from the 1830s-1880s. Mitchell discusses sensation novels as well as the novels and stories being published in penny periodicals.

I read this book for her criticism of Ouida's novels, which is pretty spare. She only discusses Moths and Folle-Farine very briefly and Ouida's canon as a whole very generally, but her comments are important to note. Her research did point me to a couple primary sources, including contemporaneous reviews, of which I was unaware. I also appreciated the little bit of information Mitchell includes about Geraldine Jewsbury; she was a critic who reviewed several of Ouida's novels, but I didn't know anything about her personally.

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lunabee34: (Ouida by ponders_life)
Nary a teary eye! And she did so well that they were able to do one whole side of her mouth; they were initially billing this as a four or five visit operation. It will only take two! Yay! Thanks for all the encouraging comments.

Reviews of Ouida the Phenomenon and Starbridge )

Spoiler alert: And when I say other scholars, I clearly mean me. Take that, Jane Jordan.
lunabee34: (reading by thelastgoodname)
Dark Lord of Derkholm (Derkholm, #1)Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really liked this book. It was a lot of fun, and I liked the unusual cast of characters.

I did not like, however, that there is a short scene in the middle that alludes to a rape. I mean, I guess you could read it as not going that far, but I don't see how, and it seems really, really unnecessary in what is otherwise a delightful YA fantasy novel. It's literally like two paragraphs long, and the book would have been better for the pruning of it.

With that caveat, I think this was a very enjoyable read.

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Scholarship Assessed: Evaluation of the ProfessoriateScholarship Assessed: Evaluation of the Professoriate by Charles E. Glassick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This report is the follow-up to Scholarship Reconsidered which seeks to begin answering the question: if we're going to expand the definition of scholarship, how should we assess the newly defined scholarship for promotion and tenure purposes?

I didn't find anything new in this report, but I did find some useful suggestions for taking evaluation of teaching beyond student evaluations, and I think the suggestion that promotion and tenure committees (along with the administrators who will make those decisions) receive training in how to evaluate scholarship is a very good one.

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lunabee34: (reading by tabaqui)
Faint Praise: The Plight of Book Reviewing in AmericaFaint Praise: The Plight of Book Reviewing in America by Gail Pool

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was very informative about the book reviewing industry; it was also meticulously researched. I really appreciated the quotes from book reviews of yore and the look at the history of book reviewing. I think Pool offers some very good advice for people who are looking to get into book reviewing. She is also fair in her critique of the industry, admitting that she is guilty of many of the sins she highlights.

Unfortunately, the book is not a rolicking read. It's informative and the topic is interesting, but Pool's writing is pretty dry. The parts where she quotes from what other people have said about the practice of reviewing (usually pretty negative and cutting commentary) and the parts where she quotes actual reviews and the parts where she tells stories about things that happened to her or the one time this guy sued the paper because the review of his book was full of factual errors--those parts were engaging. The rest of it not so much.

Also unfortunately, the book is dated. It's ten years old and barely touches on the way the internet has changed book reviewing. Goodreads isn't even mentioned. I would be very interested to see what Pool has to say about the way the industry has changed in the last decade as well as what she thinks about the current status of self-published books.

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lunabee34: (reading by sallymn)
So, over the course of this week, the Boyer model of scholarship got brought up at two separate meetings, so I thought I'd better check it out. Over the last four years, we've consolidated and gone through two level changes, so we're now at the point where we're having to revise promotion and tenure processes yet again. Part of that is defining what we mean by scholarship and which activities will be rewarded by the institution. I think there's going to be a committee. LOL

Scholarship Reconsidered )


18/7/17 07:07
lunabee34: (reading by tabaqui)
The Liberation (The Alchemy Wars, #3)The Liberation by Ian Tregillis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is the best of the series. So many times, an otherwise excellent series ends on a faltering note; endings are really, really hard, and making the final installment worthy of what comes before is a difficult task. Tregillis hits it out of the park.

Many, many aspects of the situation are left unresolved. Years, decades, maybe even centuries of work are left to be done to figure out how the three empires will coexist, share or withhold resources and territory, and police themselves.

But the character arcs are resolved quite satisfactorily. I do not want to spoil even a mote of this wonderful conclusion, so I will just urge you all to read it. If you like artificial intelligence, steampunk, female characters (strong, flawed, stubborn, sometimes bordering on evil), tight plotting, and beautiful language, then this is the series for you!

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The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook: Revolutionary Techniques. Groundbreaking RecipesThe How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook: Revolutionary Techniques. Groundbreaking Recipes by America's Test Kitchen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an excellent cookbook--meticulously researched with a great introductory chapter that explains what gluten is and how it functions in the foods we eat as well as going through all the different types of gf flours and grains. There are even some product reviews like in the magazine (best already-made sandwich bread, etc.).

I like that this isn't just about desserts. Baked goods get more than half the cookbook and rightly so, but there's all sorts of savory dishes and salads with grains that look amazing.

This would be an excellent addition to the kitchen shelf for anyone who's eating gf.

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lunabee34: (reading by tabaqui)
The Matrimonial Trap: Eighteenth-Century Women Writers Redefine MarriageThe Matrimonial Trap: Eighteenth-Century Women Writers Redefine Marriage by Laura E Thomason

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think this book is a really interesting look at the way genteel, primarily English, 18th-century women viewed marriage. While Thomason does examine several novels, most of her source material is drawn from personal correspondence. I hadn't realized that letters at this point in history were simultaneously public and private documents. People had every expectation that their letters might be circulated beyond the intended recipients, even published without their permission. In addition, European governments had begun surveillance of correspondence, often opening and examining letters. Very fascinating the way women took advantage of that dual nature of letters to do some really neat stuff with argument and with authorial voice.

Very informative read.

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Hide and SeekHide and Seek by Wilkie Collins

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Oh, man. I have been on such a Wilkie Collins high, and I was looking forward to reading this one, but it just didn't do it for me. It was a slog, and reading it felt tedious. One of Collins's gifts is dialogue, and this novel is almost entirely descriptive exposition--lots of what everything looks like and what everyone is thinking and very little of it accomplished through dialogue. I also think that the solution to the mystery of the story isn't telegraphed at all so that it just comes out of nowhere. My edition has some notes at the end which suggest that originally Collins did include more clues but edited them out later; I wish he'd left them in because the conclusion of the story was pretty convoluted even for me, an inveterate lover of sensation novels.

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lunabee34: (Ouida by ponders_life)
Pleasure Bound: Victorian Sex Rebels and the New EroticismPleasure Bound: Victorian Sex Rebels and the New Eroticism by Deborah Lutz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this one. I knew a little bit about most of the people discussed in this book (you can't study Victorian literature without knowing bit about Richard Burton or Swinburne or the Rossettis, for example) but only the very superficial. This is a really interesting look at several loosely connected and intersecting groups of people (the pre-Raphaelites, the Cannibal Club, and the Aesthetes) and how their art and lives were focused on their sexual experiences. The book is written much more like creative non-fiction than the usual academic book, so it's incredibly readable. Every now and again, the author uses an awkward turn of phrase or says something in a confusing way or gets out her thesaurus just to remind us that we are reading the work of the erudite, but on the whole, the style is very readable and accessible and the subject matter is deeply interesting.

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Oronooko: The Royal SlaveOronooko: The Royal Slave by Aphra Behn

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not one I'll be rereading. I somehow missed reading this in college and wouldn't have read it now except that I'm teaching it. I know it's an important text, and I'm glad I've read it, but I found it very underwhelming. Also, the almost complete lack of dialogue made reading it fairly tedious.

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lunabee34: (food:  sushi color by cattyhunts)
Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary UnderbellyKitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain

I loved No Reservations and watched its entire run avidly. Anthony Bourdain is extremely charismatic, interesting, attractive, funny, and witty on that show. I also appreciated that the show took such a political turn in the last season or so. Given my love for his TV persona, I expected to really like this book, but it didn't grab me.

Kitchen Confidential is a good look at what being a chef at the end of the twentieth century was like. It's got fascinating insider info and really gets across what a grueling life the food service industry is.

However, I kinda bounced off the persona Bourdain creates for this book. He, and pretty much everyone else around him, are so off-puttingly drunk and high and worthless for so much of the book that I got pretty bored with the degeneracy fairly early on. I also bounced off the casual sexism and homophobia that permeates the kitchens of the restaurants Bourdain writes about. I believe him 100% that this is an accurate depiction; I also believe him when he says he's not sexist or homophobic. But his attitude of "it is how it is with the sexism and homophobia" rubs me the wrong way. I also got my hackles up at (I must admit the relatively few; it's either just one or two) small comments he makes about people with dietary restrictions. Yes, Anthony Bourdain, I have celiac because it's inconvenient for YOU! *sigh* I realize this was written quite some time ago, but knowing that chefs at restaurants are full of contempt for those of us who would like to eat at restaurants sometimes (and sometimes even NEED to) but who have allergies or other dietary restrictions is so maddening. I believe a lot of this has changed; the book now includes an afterword where Bourdain talks about women getting into the boy's club, and I think attitudes toward gluten free menu items has definitely changed because so many places are offering gluten free now.

Tl;dr: Interesting book in which I did not care for the protagonist much.

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lunabee34: (reading by thelastgoodname)
A Room of One's OwnA Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm teaching an excerpt from A Room of One's Own this semester and thought I should read the whole book. Now that I have, I do not like the way The Norton Anthology of Literature by woman excerpts this piece; it contains most of the third chapter but leaves a few pages from the end of the chapter out and then tacks on the last couple pages from the end of the book without any indication where the break happens. The whole book is so short, I don't understand why they don't include the whole of it (especially since so many of the other selections in the book like Rich's "When We Dead Awaken" deal specifically with parts of A Room of One's Own not included in the anthology).

I can see why this book became so important to feminist scholars and writers. It articulates clearly the obstacles that women who want to write have faced over the centuries and offers some solutions. However, I didn't expect Woolf's criticisms of Charlotte Bronte and George Eliot; I was really put off by her assertion that gender ought to be invisible in writing and that when Jane Eyre decries the lot of women or chafes at the role she's been given that Charlotte Bronte is committing some kind of hideous effrontery against writing for having her female character talk/think about issues that real women in the 19th century were dealing with. I'm glad that the women writers who followed her did not feel the same way (and did Woolf even follow this advice in her own writing? It's been almost twenty years since I read Mrs. Dalloway, but I remember it containing some ruminations on the role of women in the early twentieth century). Woolf also thinks that anger has no place in women's writing, a thought her literary descendants thankfully do not share.

Very interesting commentary on education for women and opportunity for women from the time of Shakespeare to the early twentieth century.

I'm teaching this in conjunction with Rich's "When We Dead Awaken" and Walker's "In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens;" I would highly recommend reading these together. Rich and Walker acknowledge the debt women's writing owes to Woolf while also criticizing her argument (for example, the way in which A Room of One's Own is entirely bereft of a discussion of race).

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Also read this week: all five introductions to the different time periods represented in the two-volume Norton Anthology of Literature by Women, "When We Dead Awaken," and "In Search of Our Mother's Gardens."

Up next: some Bradstreet and Atwood poems and six academic articles (all of which must be read by end of business Monday); for pleasure, Wilkie Collins's Man and Wife.
lunabee34: (reading by tabaqui)
The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four MealsThe Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book. I was first introduced to Pollan's writing in The Botany of Desire, and I liked that book so well that I looked for other books he's written.

The Omnivore's Dilemma raises fascinating and often disturbing questions about how we grow our food, about the way agriculture as an industry is harming our planet, and about the potential ways we might go about solving these problems. As Pollan says over and over again in the book, learning about the way we raise and slaughter meat on a mass scale in the U.S. is guaranteed to ruin the appetite. And yet, Pollan asserts that some of the ways people have tried to circumvent this problem (going vegetarian, only eating organic food, buying meat that comes from animals that were treated well before slaughter) come with their own sets of problems (like the large carbon footprint incurred by shipping organic fruits and vegetables all over the country/world, for example).

This book was very informative, but my favorite parts were the moments of introspection. I particularly enjoyed the part where Pollan turns up his nose at what he sees as off-putting machismo in "hunter porn" and then has to admit to his chagrin later that he can kinda see where those writers are coming from when they write about how hunting engages them on a primal level even while acknowledging how profoundly uncomfortable that realization makes him.

As someone who never ate a tomato from the store until I was an adult and who mostly ate protein as a child that was fished or shot by my dad, I appreciate stories that are about people eliminating the middle man between them and the food they eat.

Very highly recommended.

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lunabee34: (are those men kissing? by animekittysama)
The Style Checklist: The Ultimate Wardrobe Essentials for YouThe Style Checklist: The Ultimate Wardrobe Essentials for You by Lloyd Boston

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I think this is a very solid book centered on building a wardrobe. Although most of the clothing and accessories featured are what I would expect to see in this sort of book, Boston includes several wardrobe elements that wouldn't have occurred to me otherwise. The photography is beautifully done as well. I would have appreciated more concrete information on which brands to choose (the only brands Boston really mentions are Chanel and Tiffany which need no recommendation), what to look for in terms of fit for different body types, what to request in tailoring for garments based on body type, and how to care for and store the garments.

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This is one of the books [personal profile] executrix gave me for Christmas. She has single-handedly kept me reading for the last couple of years.
lunabee34: (reading by thelastgoodname)
1. I've been thinking about writing an essay about why I think evangelical Christians are so willing to vote for Trump. I was raised in that tradition (Southern Baptist), and it makes no sense on the surface why people who not only say they are Christian but who claim to make every decision in their lives based on that Christianity would support Trump, but having been a part of that culture for the first 18 years of my life, I have some ideas about why they're doing so. But I've also been thinking that plenty of other people have written about this, and I don't know that I have anything new to say or offer about the subject, so. IDK

2. We finished our rewatch of Treme. One half of the couple we watched it with used to live in Louisiana and is an accomplished musician who often played gigs in NOLA. So that added an extra layer of fun to the rewatch; they'd often comment about places featured, or he'd have stories about the musicians in the episodes. SPOILERS )

3. We are almost done with Downton Abbey season two. We finished all the regular episodes and only have the Christmas Special left to watch.


I can't wait to see where the story goes. I am actually sad that Walking Dead is resuming because it means no more Downton Abbey for awhile.

4. [personal profile] executrix sent me a biography of Jane Austen (Jane Austen: A Life by Claire Tomalin) which was really interesting. I knew nothing about her life, so everything was pretty much new to me. This is a very thorough, heavily researched book which I would recommend to anyone interested in her. I have to admit that from time to time I got a little confused because the cast of characters, so to speak, is so large and so many people in her family and life shared names; I just wanted to read it for entertainment and not take notes or anything, but reading it that way did mean that I was a little bit lost from time to time.

I have two main takeaways from the book. First, how horrible that so many of her letters and documents were destroyed. I wonder if they were truly scandalous (I doubt it), or if that notion of privacy (that regardless of their content, the public at large shouldn't be able to read her letters and that wanting to do so was born of prurient interest) which was beginning already to erode with the explosion of celebrity culture and mass media was largely responsible.

Second, I wonder if she was happy to stay single or if she considered her life tragic. The book posits that her first, truncated romance with Tom Lefroy was very dear to her and that she was very hung up on him and hurt when he was essentially forbidden to see her. Tomalin offers some evidence that Austen was thinking about him three years after that romance had ended. It also mentions that she initially accepted and then turned down a proposal from a man she was friends with but had no romantic feelings for. My take on it is that she'd watched all the women around her have ungodly amounts of children and a number of them die in childbirth and maybe she was grateful to escape that horror. IDK I mean, it can certainly be both. What do y'all think (about anything relating to her life)?
lunabee34: (heart by jjjean65)
1. I wore the necklace and bracelet that [ profile] shaddyr made me yesterday and felt so pretty.

2. Josh's mom is doing well. Turns out that she didn't have any sort of cardiac event but it was something GI-related, so she's following up with a gastroenterologist, and it's not a big deal. Dad is doing well; he finished one complete round of chemo, and his only side effect has been fatigue. Excellent news on both fronts.

3. I finished Cheese and Culture: A History of Cheese and Its Place in Western Civilization, a book that [personal profile] executrix sent me. The topic is interesting, and I enjoyed learning about milestones in cheese history, but boy is this book a slog to read. So dry. So boring. I wonder if this guy's college lectures are as tedious. LOL However, I have started another book that [personal profile] executrix sent me that is wonderful and a joy to read, a biography of Jane Austen.

4. Coming up tonight: a perfume review and swaps post

5. Coming up tomorrow: Letter Writing Challenge Assignments go out!
lunabee34: (reading by thelastgoodname)
I just finished rereading volume one of Saga and reading volume two for the first time. I know what I want for Christmas. :) I really like how funny and irreverent these comics are and how strongly they tug at my heartstrings. No spoilers for future volumes, please, but I'd love to talk about the first two volumes with those of you who have read (second volume ends with SPOILERS )).

I also finished reading a book [personal profile] executrix sent me called What We Wore: An Offbeat Social History of Women's Clothing, 1950-1980. It consists of four chapters--one each on the fifties, sixties, and seventies--followed by a very short chapter about the role of magazines like Mademoiselle in disseminating fashion. The book is very focused on what young people were wearing, mostly focusing on high school and college-aged women along with what young women would have been wearing as they started their careers. The longest and most comprehensive chapter is on the fifties, but each chapter contains lots of photographs and ends with snippets of interviews with women about what they wore during each era. Some of the women are celebrities whose names I recognize, but I think most of them are just regular people. I can see this book being an invaluable resource for people who want to write about young women in those decades. Anybody can google images of clothes from each era (and I suggest you read this book with google images handy because the author talks about a lot of styles and people that aren't pictured), but what What We Wore contextualizes the clothes: why were they worn that way, what inspired them, how did people who couldn't afford certain clothes go about imitating the style, what physical or other consequences wearing certain garments entailed, and the little quirks of dress that no series of google images could impart (like how many petticoats girls were wearing under their skirts in the fifties and how they cut up their legs or what wearing certain pins meant, etc). I think the book ended abruptly; I read the last sentence and then turned the page to find that it had ended. Other than that, I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in fashion from those time periods.
lunabee34: (Ouida by ponders_life)
1. We watched Solaris on [personal profile] tamoline's recommendation that it was very reminiscent of Jeff Vandermeer's Southern Reach trilogy. I also suspect that whoever wrote Event Horizon was familiar with one of the first two versions of the film that precede the Clooney version we watched. SPOILERS )

2. We also watched Lucy a couple of days ago. Man, Scarlett Johansson is a good actor. I have loved her in every single thing I've seen her in, and she was exceptionally good in this movie, too. I must admit, though, that I enjoyed the first and second acts of the movie far more than the third. SPOILERS )

3. I finished How to be a Victorian by Ruth Goodman, a fascinating book that is structured around what Victorians from different classes and parts of the country would be doing throughout the day from getting up in the morning and washing and dressing to work and school and meals all the way to bedtime. What makes this a truly engaging read is that the author isn't just a historian; she's someone who tries out most of the activities she discusses in the book. So for instance, many Victorians did not bathe with water. They bathed using a combination of dry brushing the body and applying ammonia or vinegar to armpits and other potentially malodorous areas. Goodman went for four months without bathing with water and was happy to report that she didn't stink even once. She made many of the recipes for household goods like toothpaste or lotion or shampoo and tried them out herself. She frequently wears Victorian clothes and sews them herself in the Victorian manner using Victorian patterns, etc. I also found an answer to my previous question about exercise; Victorian men were being heavily encouraged throughout the entire period to exercise in a variety of ways. Women were discouraged from exercising at the beginning of the period because of the whole wandering uterus theory; scientists and doctors were genuinely concerned that vigorous exercise would damage a woman's ability to have children. However, as the period progressed, the benefits of exercise for women became more apparent and walking (which women had always been doing a lot of), some sports like archery, and calisthenics became popular for all classes of women.

4. Penny Dreadful, OMG, what are you doing? I love it! SPOILERS )


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