Sunday, November 06, 2011

Bliss = A Good Book

When The Little Blister came to visit, back in May she came laden, as usual, with books, because we are Barbarians here and she wants to civilize us! So I piled them on top of the already groaning stack on my night table. One of them was The Elegance Of The Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. It took me a long time to get into it. At the time I was mired in other matters, and by the time I'd crawl into bed and open the book, I was too exhausted to read more than a few pages before my head slumped over and my eyes sealed shut. I expressed to her my lack of enthusiasm.

"You just have to read more of it at each sitting," she scolded me. So, like a good girl, I soldiered on.  And was glad. She recommends going back and reading it again, but, too many books, too little time.

Next I started on Ghost Light by Joseph O'Conner, a fictionalized story of a love affair between the Irish playwright, John Millington Synge, and a working class girl who acted in some of his plays. He was of the Protestant landed gentry and she a Catholic from a Dublin tenement. Not the usual recipe for great Irish romance! It starts when she is an old lady living in a London slum, freezing because she has no heat, and close to starvation because she has no money for food. Bleak sounding I know, but a story wonderfully told. She warms and nourishes herself, and us, with her memories.

Here's a taste from the last chapter......


"There are eras of every life that have a carapace about them, a scar grown out of the woundedness. We gaze back on them as though they had meaning, contained intimations of future things - the seeds of the very subsequence we are now in a position to see. It is tempting to persuade ourselves we suffered a kind of illiteracy - we could not read the runes because we were young, or green, or undiscerning, or blind to the consequence. But that is not the truth, or not the whole truth, unmediated; for we sensed, even then, that this framed time must end and that all would be changed from this out. But we were adrift in a maelstrom of human feeling; already it was too late to swim. And we must somehow have wanted it, preferring the storm to the harbour; the hurts, the shattered feelings - the hurts to others too. We are innocent of nothing we chose. All our lives we do battle in the manacles of our mothers. But even the shaken chain has its music."


There's still a tottering pile on my night table, but they can wait. I'm busy rereading Ghost Light.

Give it a try. You might love it, as I did.

Thank you Little Blister!

And thank you Mr. O'Conner for a great yarn.

11 comments:

Relatively Retiring said...

I do agree about the hedgehog book. A great read.

Pauline said...

Just ordered Ghost Light from my regional library - your fault if I don't post for a while ;)

Ali Honey said...

Thanks , those are both added to my Book recommendations List. ( which is written on the back of a long list I printed out from Thimbleanna's Book Group Books on the 7th of January I see. )I have used her list to tick off those books I have read. Luckily there are still two thirds of the books on that list I haven't read. So I will never run out of books to find and read. Not in this lifetime anyway. Happy reading!

PS. I often think reading in bed before sleep ( which I always do ) means I do not fully do the books justice.

Isabelle said...

I'm never sure about fictionalised accounts of real people's lives. I think I prefer things to be either true or not. But then, what is truth? (Discuss. Or not.)

aubirdwoman said...

Molly I read "Ghost Light" because you said so .... but I did find it hard going. If it hadn't been recommended by you I think I would have given up. But I persevered, and I am glad to say I finished but I will have to put it in the 'need to be read again' pile.

aubirdwoman said...

just to add Molly, I am giving The Elegance Of The Hedgehog a go ... but only because you said so :)

Thimbleanna said...

I've had The Elegance of the Hedgehog on my list for several years -- in spite of the fact that it's on my bookgroup list -- I didn't manage to read very many of those books that last year (the no. 2 reason why I ended up dropping out ;-) ) I have such a hard time reading anymore -- two minutes in front of a book and I fall asleep. I need to change my ways.... Thanks for the Ghost Light recommendation.

secret agent woman said...

Your the second person who's blog has mentioned the Hedgehog book. Second of the ones I read, I mean. And I could NOT read it. I tried, I really did, but the way the author wrote just irritate the bejeebers out of me and I gave up.

secret agent woman said...

*irritated

jkhenson said...

Oh so many books-so little time! :) You know my list is long and has been tottering for a while! :) Thank you for the recommendation! :) How is the family? I hope all are well!

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I enjoyed The Elegance of the Hedgehog, too. Wonderful title, by the way. I have not read Ghost Light but it sounds fascinating, so will put it on my list. Thank you and your lovely Blister, Molly.