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, October 08, 2008

Caravans and other matters

I have managed to grab some quality computer time (husband abroad, both children ill and in bed. Such are the lengths...) and will endeavour to catch up on the last few months of postings.

To return to Two Caravans, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Whilst I agree with most of the criticisms I found it a light but engaging read which tackled some weighty issues in an amusing but not simplistic way (with the exclusion of the chicken factory which I thought was very heavy handed and at times began to read like an animal rights tract). I liked the simple humour and gentle in-jokes which did, on occasion, make me chuckle out loud. It was too long and the section set in the nursing home could have easily been omitted, as it duplicated so much of Tractors. However, I liked the romp through the British countryside and the exploration of the dichotomy of freedom and vulnerability. As I read it on a return train trip to Sheffield I was particularly aware of its sense of place.

I did enjoy the characters. I liked the 'family group' that the strawberry pickers became and was saddened by that not continuing. I particularly enjoyed the character of Marta and the fascinating description of her, and so many other people's, approach to cooking, which is so alien to the way I go about it. I also liked the progression of the relationship between Irina and Andriy and the irony that, although they spoke the same language they had to learn to communicate. However, I did get bored by the literary devices she employed with Dog and Emanuel and thought she could have cut down their repetition. Overall, an enjoyable read and, I thought, better than Tractors.

To other reads...
I'm afraid I too will be skipping AK as I feel that I have read it 'in proxy' as it is one of my husband's favourite books (he has a penchant for Russian novels about adultery). Emily/Val I would be very happy to lend you the ch4 TV adaptation as it was excellent, if you would like to compare it at a later stage. I'm afraid I'll also be skipping any non-fiction at the moment (although the Bryson does sound very interesting) as I do not feel I have the spare grey cells necessary at the moment although am mentally storing away titles for a later time.

I will endeavour to get started on The Tenderness of Wolves and post on that in due course. As another suggestion to throw into the melting pot, I wondered if anyone would be interested in reading Joan Didion's A Year of Magical Thinking? They have just done a stage adaptation of it and I wondered if there was any mileage in a discussion on the adaptation of books for stage as opposed to screen. Just a thought...