I do want to have an online social life–sort of!
This is Virago month. I belong to several online groups, but I neglect them. Fortunately bloggers announced that the Virago group at Library Thing is sponsoring a Virago all-the-time reading month. I dutifully have begun ONE Virago, F. M. Mayor’s The Squire’s Daughter (1929). It is not quite as elegantly-written as The Rector’s Daughter, her masterpiece, but it intelligently dissects the interwar issues facing the aristocrats who enjoyed the Edwardian age and their children, the Lost Generation.
The Squire’s Daughter begins at the turn of the century, a Golden Age for the the aristocracy. Fast forward 30 years, and Carne, the DeLaceys’ Jacobean mansion, is too expensive, the servant problem is shocking, and the Squire is faced with selling it. His two daughters gad about London, and his son is a dilettante who socializes with arty types. But then there is their golden cousin, Rex, a brilliant, strong, attractive, athletic man (like Jamie in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander book–Jamie, Jamie!–I must try to finish Volume 1!). If only Rex were the heir! Sir Geoffrey thinks.
All right, I’m enjoying this, but I do find the restless, “boyish” heroine, Ron, annoying. She hangs out with the wrong set in London and alienates her parents’ friends and serfs (sorry, villagers and inferiors) with her sharp tongue at home. She is reckless, gads about with the chauffeur, and hates herself after he kisses her and then resigns because she rebuked him. Will she be a spinster like Aunt Violet, whom I quite like? Actually, I know whom she’ll marry if she marries. Could it be the 40ish v-i-c-a-r from a neighboring town? Oh, I’m probably wrong. More on this later (since I don’t know now).
I must mock the servant problem. In many interwar books, there is so much grief over this. (Our empire came later.) On the farm my grandmother rose at dawn to make breakfast for the hired hands, did all the housework with the help of my mother, cooked two more meals, chauffeured her children to Catholic school in town, and played Bridge at night. Eventually they moved into town. My grandmother and mother vowed never to go outdoors again. They hated nature!
But how do people do it?
I mean the servant problem!
No! Keep up with their online groups.
I’m sitting in the back yard listening to the cicadas. The sky is overcast and purple, getting dark. Everything is green, green, green. There has been too much rain. The trees we planted a few years ago are growing, and I feel proud, because we never planted trees before. There are no mosquitoes at the moment, because we’ve had a few days without rain.
This time of year I sit in the back yard and drink iced tea (“Want some iced tea?” I ask my cousin who is on the wagon).
And then there is the Broch project. In May 2010 I vowed to read Hermann Broch’s The Death of Virgil. Yes, it is hilarious that I am still reading it. I read 50 pages in 2010. Then I started over in 2011. Then I started over in 2012. Then I started over…
This year I have made it through 100 pages. And then I collapsed. “That is probably the farthest anyone has ever read in that book,” everyone says.
But I must continue.
It is a difficult modernist novel. It’s all stream-of-consciousness, the beautiful sentences go on for pages, Virgil is dying, he still has an eye for the boys (one accompanies him from the ship to Augustus’s palace), he wrote the poem The Aeneid and regrets it isn’t finished, sometimes it is clear, sometimes it is unclear, and starting around page 100 it seems to be arranged in verse.
No, I’m not enjoying it.
I should go back to Virgil. I mean the real Virgil, not the novel.
The Latin is much more fun than this novel translated from the German.
As someone said at Goodreads, “So, I finished. What I want to know is, where is my prize?”
That’s how I’m feeling at the moment. But I must finish.
Are your summer reading projects going well?