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.

Monday, February 28, 2011


In response to Val's last post, I have some trouble linking Faraday to be the instigator of the activites of the poltergeist/spirit activities. If The House on the Strand is Time Travel, that implies to me that the events in that book are of past people shown being enacted before death. Spirit activities are then after death. That precludes Faraday from having anything to do with activating the poltergeist etc. Or have I missed the point?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

More Stranger

I keep meaning to respond to the interesting questions you all posed about The Little Stranger. The big one first: who/what was the ghost? Waters does indeed imply in her article that you can see the good doctor as the ghostly presence, though in a way that ducks the issue, if you want a clear answer, as Emily does. Because he was never there when the events took place, he’d need some other agency to achieve the effects. Valerie, did you think Faraday was projecting his feelings through Betty? Waters was thinking of poltergeists as the force, but I know very little about them and how they are (rationally) explained. The dictionary definition is that they are spirits that manifest themselves by acts of mischief so I presume it is the troubled spirit of Faraday enacting the disturbances. The ‘how’ is where science and belief will collide and what makes this a ghost story. Does that take anyone any further forward?

As Emily and Valerie know, I adore the House on the Strand (D Du Maurier) and have read it many times, but I’d never seen it as a ghost story, rather as time-travel (not a genre I readily read). I guess time-travel raises similar conflicts between science and belief (small b), but I wouldn’t call it a ghost story.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Two Books!

Yes, I do. to answer Emily's last question. Though only as my initial response. It was an effective method of bringing a human scale to it, second to actually reading diairies of the time. After all only half the population of St Petersburg died, so there were a few happy endings! This was my second read of this book. Therefore this time it had lost a little of the grip and horror of the first. However I still find it hard believe that members of the highly civilised, and educated Germany and Austria, home to Mozart, Bach, Beethoven and Schubert could behave as they did there and elsewhere and it is good to be reminded that they did and it might happen again somewhere. (Beethoven wasn't too nice now I come to think of it, and showed a complete disregard of others' feelings.) I am inclined to try and read a factual account sometime. I know a well regarded history was published a few years ago but cannot remember the author. Does anyone know it?

I am hoping that the follow up will tell us how the city recovered under Stalin and the psychological effects of principles lost in the fight to survive, affected the consciences of those that did survive. Also living under another monster's rule, if they were then aware that that was what he was. I agree that it was very well written. I continue to have visions of the glazed corpses in the unheated rooms. I have just found a letter from Latvia received last year where the temperature in Daugaspils, Latvia was minus 33. How do they manage!

The other book was Kate Grenville's The Lieutenant, recommended by Val. I loved her Idea of Perfection, read a long time ago, but was rather disappointed in this. She tells us at the end the known facts of William Dawes (Daniel Rooke) and his journeys which Daniel's story follows quite faithfully. I felt that the story lacked depth and power to make me really care for the characters. One began to be hopeful that it would improve when there was some relationship developing between him and the aboriginal girl and her tribe. This fizzled out so quickly that I was left disappointed and the short author's notes would have done on their own.

I think I am still in thrall to the Raj Quartet and Staying On and other books haven't yet managed to measure up.