Last night I finished reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel -- an historical novel set in Henry VIII's kingdom in the 16th century.
Mantel casts Thomas Cromwell as the main character, giving us a chance to view the king, his wives and his courtiers from a perspective that is unique. Cromwell is lowborn, but rises to the second highest position in England -- an outsider, surely, but with a view to the inside. The characters are accessible -- including the king who appears as a mere mortal despite his position and power.
I must admit, I had a difficult time getting into the book -- the style is a bit different and without any knowledge of British history from this time period, I was lost. Gradually I was sucked into the lives of the characters and I read the last half of the book in a fraction of the time that it took me to read the first chapters.
This book has won the 2009 Man Booker Prize and I believe it is well deserved. If you like historical fiction, give this book a read -- just prepare to give it some time, as it might take you a while to adjust to Mantel's unique writing style.
It was time for a change. I'm so glad I did it, but I was a nervous wreck between yesterday when I made the appointment and this afternoon when I was in the chair. I love Trisha at VIP Salon -- she did a great job!
It's been a busy week, but I'm not sure I have much to show for it here. One thing I've been doing is eating Easter candy (and then trying to work it off playing Wii Fit!) So go check it out at the Chocolate Blog!
A couple weeks ago I finished reading The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, which I was prompted to read by my niece who recently read and loved it. Actually, I read this book about 15 years ago and had almost entirely forgotten it, but my Atwood binge near the end of last year has me turning to some of her older stuff once again.
What can I say? If you read and loved her more recent novels such as The Year of the Flood and Oryx and Crake, which I most certainly did, you'll thoroughly enjoy this book. It's a look at a dystopian near future in which religion is used to take over the US and women are made subservient. In fact, as I was reading this prescient book, I saw a lot of crazy things that reminded me of the state of the US today.
There is so much more I could say about her ideas put forth in this book -- they struck a chord with me -- but I suggest that you give it a read. It's very much worth your time.
Next up was Fools of Fortune by William Trevor, another author I have recently read. This book came to me via Pete, who always reads Irish writers in March and has become a fan of William Trevor. While I loved Love and Summer which I read a few months ago, I was not as impressed with this novel. While I found the characters and story intriguing, there were some oddities of plot that pulled me out of the universe he created, thus lessening my enjoyment. I will be reading more Trevor in the future, most likely starting with The Story of Lucy Gault.
Right now I'm reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel which has won both the Man Booker and National Book Critics Circle awards. I had a hard time getting into the action (perhaps due to my lack of knowledge in the area of British history) but things are moving along now and I'm starting to enjoy it quite a bit.
The Room-a-Month Challenge is not dead! (Are you still working on your rooms?) In fact, over the weekend I removed our old kitchen faucet and installed a new one. Me! (With some help from my reluctant assistant, Pete.)
Paralyzed with indecision, I put off calling the plumber for weeks -- mostly because I wanted to tackle the install myself, but was afraid to do it. I had visions of water flooding the kitchen -- nightmares, really. In the end, there was some water, and a few problems, but it all worked out in the end and we didn't even have to make a trip to the hardware store. They really do make these newer faucets simple to install.
Lately I've been trying to challenge myself to do things I haven't done before, and completing this task successfully has encouraged me. Who knows what I'll do next?
I mentioned yesterday that I was loving Gwen Marston's new book -- Liberated Quiltmaking II -- and here's proof! I took out the scrap bag and just started playing. It's fun and seems to work best when you stop thinking too much. My only issue is having the iron and sewing machine in two different rooms, which slowed down progress considerably.
Oh, and the Pfaff is having serious tension issues. Any suggestions on a fix? I was going to Google it today in an attempt to accomplish a home repair, but I'm afraid this means a trip to the sewing machine repairman. Boo.
I finished Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger -- you know, the woman who wrote The Time Traveler's Wife -- and I loved it. Sure it's a bit creepy, after all, it is a ghost story. And wouldn't you expect a tale of the supernatural from the woman whose previous novel concerned time travel?
Obsession and love are theme here, reflected (literally and figuratively) in the mirror image twins Julia and Valentina. But the compulsions to control, posses and break free are embodied in many of the characters. And while these characters all have some serious flaws, I found something to like in each of them.
I could not put this book down as I was pulled deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole that is the lives of these characters. I highly recommend this book.