The urge to blog is definitely on the rise – as is the urge to play with lists and books. A rifling through the shelves, another list, another couple of hours idled away. But idled with much enjoyment.
Margaret at Books Please has been writing a series of posts: her A – Z of TBRs. She hopes it will inspire her to read as many as possible of the books she has awaiting their turn on her shelves. I’m wondering if it might work for me too. I make no promises about when the books on my lists might be read but I am enjoying filling up the alphabet with books I own that are languishing unread on the shelves. I am enjoying it so much that I’ve made a second list – of books that have yet to make it onto the shelves but I would really like to read. The plan is to hopefully post through the alphabet, alternating each list. No challenges involved here: I have quite enough of those, all of which are moving much too slowly. Of course, some titles on these new lists might help some of those on the stalled challenges…
A is for Angel by Elizabeth Taylor
I’ve read a lot about this author – including some great reviews from dedicated book bloggers. But until today I’d yet to read a word that has been actually written by her. The majority (if not all) of her works have been republished as Virago Modern Classics, a series that I like to collect. I have several of hers under this banner, including this one – her seventh and most widely-known novel. (Which I have in the original green. I’ve never really forgiven Virago for moving away from those elegant green spines and the beautiful paintings on the covers.) A critically acclaimed yet underrated author, in 1984 Angel was selected by the Book Marketing Council as one of the “Best Novels of Our Time”. So I have absolutely no excuse for not reading it. Odd, isn’t it, how books just sit there for year after year until eventually they simply become a part of the furniture.
Hermione’s tortoiseshell cat was lying on its cushion by the fire, and Angel now put her coffee-cup on the tray, filled the saucer with cream and took it across to the cat, which blinked in surprise before she began to drink.
Hermione stopped playing. “I am afraid she will be sick if she has that,” she said in a clear, high voice of vexation. “She has been fed already. In the kitchen.”
“Oh, it will do him good,” said Angel. “I love cats.”
Hermione dropped her hands in her lap and began to turn the rings on her fingers: a danger-sign, Theo knew. “Do play some more,” he coaxed her. Angel, kneeling by the cat, said: “He loves it, you see. He has nearly finished it.”
“She,” said Hermione, distantly.
“Just one more little thing,” urged Theo. “Some Scarlatti.”
“No,” said Hermione. She closed the music-book and stood up. “If Miss Deverell will excuse me for a moment, I must just go and feed my canaries.”
“I don’t care for birds,” Angel said.
Just as well, thought Hermione, for there wasn’t a canary in the house.
B is for Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
Is this a re-read? I honestly don’t know. I feel that I must have read it as a child; I read through a great many horsey books despite being terrified of the beasts. Yet I don’t specifically recall reading this one. I do remember the tv series – the theme tune is now on a loop in my head – but of course that was a somewhat sanitised version of the book. Possibly the only connection between the two is that book and tv show each featured a black horse. The book is on my classics club list so I picked up this Puffin Classics copy in a charity shop late last year. I’m looking forward to reading this – and getting to cross it off two lists!
Day by day, hole by hole, our bearing reins were shortened, and instead of looking forward with pleasure to having my harness put on as I used to do, I began to dread it. Ginger too seemed restless, though she said very little. At last I thought the worst was over; for several days there was no more shortening, and I determined to make the best of it and do my duty, though it was a constant harass instead of a pleasure; but the worst was not come.
C is for A Cat in the Window by Derek Tangye
The second in the series by the former journalist who left the rat race with his wife Jeannie in the early fifties, and created a new life in the far west of Cornwall. I decided I’d like to own first editions of this series; they seemed very reasonably priced and easily available. But I forgot about editions and impressions. This one is a sixth impression of the first edition, printed some 12 years after the initial print run so not a first edition at all. Not that it matters really. As the title suggests, it is a book devoted to the Tangyes’ cat, Monty, who travelled with them to their new lives. I shall savour everything about this book.
Monty’s transition into a country cat was a gradual affair. An urban gentleman does not become a country gentleman simply by changing his clothes. He must learn to adopt a new code of manners and a new approach to the outdoors; to be less suave and to show more bluster, to accept the countryside as a jungle which has to be mastered by skill and experience. Monty, as an urban cat, therefore had a lot to learn.
My enthusiasm is running high now, for all three books. All three are relatively short too, which will be a welcome change as I seem to have been on a run of doorstoppers for some while. The quotes were selected by opening pages at random and each has whet my appetite. And how fortuitous that cats appeared twice.
Jackson has assisted in showing off the letter ‘C’ to its best advantage. He has grown a tad since his introductory photo in August. And he’s acquired a friend.
So in the interest of fairness – and especially as the book clearly revolves around cats – here is Jemima posing with book ‘A’.
I feel a feline-related post coming on …