Together in Spirit

An online reading group ('TIS a reading group!) to bring together friends, and friends of friends, who aren't able to be in a conventional reading group due to constraints of time or geography.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Can any mother help me?

Well, I hope you all enjoy this as much as I did, though I wonder if it may be a generational thing. Takes a while to suck you in I found but then is compulsive reading. An excellent editing job to make satisfying stories and themes from what was obviously very disconnected material, with so much not available. I was very confused by the margin notations – if the magazine was passed on a contributor would only know what those earlier in the chain had said, and wouldn’t get to read comments from those she passed it on to. But then, right at the end in the notes, it said that contributions were often returned to the author, so I guess she’d find out then. Pleased to have that explained.

This is the third excellent outcome from the Mass Observation material that I’ve come across (Victoria Wood’s Housewife 49 and a book by Jane Mace called Playing with time about illiterate Mothers with literate daughters), although this is not strictly speaking from MO. Interesting note at the end that there were over 200 known magazines of this type. Did they provide more than the obvious social benefits of friendship – I was struck by the great age of many contributors and a quick calculation gave an average age of 84 – surely well over the national average. Could this be statistically significant?

I don’t know if any of you can figure out who some of the women are – I recognised Elaine Morgan (Angharad) as I’ve read her book The Descent of Woman. She also wrote an excellent TV series, many years ago about Lloyd George – Valerie may remember. Looking at the photos of the women in old age made me realise how, despite my very best intentions, I still do assume that elderly people didn’t have exciting, risqué, dramatic lives. It is chastening to be disabused of that notion and to remember that youngsters may be looking at me in the same way.

My current literaray preoccupation is reading (all) the Virago Classics that I haven't read and am finding some fantastic books, eg Edith Wharton The house of mirth and now Vita Sackville West All passion spent. Makes a change from Booker winners (though I read all those as well).

Thursday, May 08, 2008

The Sea

I was pleased that Val said she enjoyed The Sea. I really enjoyed it and thought it a beautifully written book, which made the reader empathise with the main character. Sadly, I have forgotten much of the detail, but would be happy to re-read it. I could not understand how anyone thought it difficult. I was almost discouraged from reading it.