slemslempike: (books: slemslempike)
[personal profile] slemslempike
Shadow of a Sun- AS Byatt
What Maisie Knew - Henry James
Going Into Hospital - Althea
The Housewife Baby Book - Anne Cuthbert
The Moon's a Balloon - David Niven
Shakespeare and Co - Stanley Wells

This is a shorter list than usual because I am wading my way through Nicholas Nickleby. I am not not enjoying it, exactly, it's just that when I'm not reading it I don't miss the characters or really want to know what happens next.

The back of my copy of Shadow of a Sun says (in all caps, which I shall spare you) "far more engaging than anything Sagan has yet written on the subject" - is this Francoise Sagan? Or another Sagan? And what precise subject is this? SoaS doesn't really have a huge plot thing going on. In any case, I thought it was very good. I found Anna very believable, and Oliver quietly horrendous. My mother wouldn't let me read What Maisie Knew when I was a child, and since then I have always meant to read it to find out what it was that Maisie Knew that was so depraved. It turns out that Maisie Knows far too much, but in a very gentle and non-explicit way. I was a little bit disappointed.

I love Althea books. Althea is Althea Braithwaite, who wrote Desmond the Dinosaur and lots of other books from when I was little. (I note with horror that Desmond has been reissued with new illustrations. Barbarism.) Going Into Hospital is for children who are going into hospital, and tells them in a comforting way all about what they might expect when they are there. Her vision seems rather clean and optimistic. The Housewife Baby Book is brilliant. It's from 1948, and loads of the advice says "well, we'll have to see what happens with schools" and "of course, the Health Service will change the way we do this". For older boys, one must approach a future career with the question "what will bring him the most satisfaction", while with girls one must always remember that she'd be better off married. Although it had quite sensible advice on children turning into teenagers, which was "ignore them".

The Moon's a Balloon was an easy reread after I couldn't face any more Dickens. I don't think I've ever seen a David Niven film, but he seems very lovely indeed. And wonderfully British. Shakespeare and Co I've been reading in drabs. I don't know enough about the other writers of the period, but this didn't make me feel stupid for that at all. I did enjoy matching up the bits I knew already from The Player's Boy and The Players and the Rebels, and the book was not above quoting from Shakespeare in Love.

Date: 2007-10-01 02:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Every charity shop I've ever been in has had a copy of The Moon's A Balloon, also his other one, Bring On The Empty Horses. David Niven always seems lovely so perhaps I should buy one.

I have Althea's Big Book of the Countryside (I think) with wonderful, simple pictures of wildlife. I had no idea who she was, though.

Date: 2007-10-01 02:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Definitely buy the next copy of The Moon's A Balloon that you see. Lovely, lovely.

I don't think I've ever seen her Big Book of the Countryside. I think I might be about to start buying old Althea-illustrated books. This could mean rearranging the books again.

Date: 2007-10-01 02:14 pm (UTC)
ext_6283: Brush the wandering hedgehog by the fire (Default)
From: [identity profile]
I think there was probably a period during which any novel which might conceivably be considered as being about younger woman/older man got tagged with 'Sagan' (yes, Francoise of that ilk).

For Niven on film, I recommend the Powell/Pressburger A Matter of Life and Death, just on general principles.

Date: 2007-10-01 02:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh God yes. *melts*

Date: 2007-10-01 02:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Aha, I will look out for that. And it has lovely Richard Attenborough too, I see.

I have not read any Sagan, so perhaps I should do that.

Date: 2007-10-01 03:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, Roger Livesey is the boy in that film. Also see him in my favourite I Know Where I'm Going.

Date: 2007-10-01 08:33 pm (UTC)
ext_6283: Brush the wandering hedgehog by the fire (Default)
From: [identity profile]
And an incredibly camp Marius Goring!

Date: 2007-10-01 02:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I discovered The Moon's a Balloon in my great-aunt's house when I was about 13 and absolutely loved it. And I adored Althea! I can still visualise that hippie-ish picture of her on the back. My three sisters all had severa asthma (I'm the only one of us who doesn't have it) and spent a lot of time in hospital when they were wee, so we had her Hospital book from an early age.

Date: 2007-10-01 02:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think that I once met Althea at a book event my organised when I was very little. If so, she looked very much like her hippy picture. I love her illustrations. (I was reading it because my mummy was in hospital, but I don't think her experience was at all like that.)

The Moon's a Balloon is brilliant, just the right mixture of famous people and hilarious or hair-raising adventures. I have the sequel too, somewhere, which is less good but I still enjoyed it.

Date: 2007-10-01 03:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Althea books! *waves of nostalgia*, although thinking about it I don't seem to have clear memories of any of the books - it's just the name that seems to have stuck.

"Shakespeare and Co I've been reading in drabs"

'Drabs' as in Ditch-delivered by a...?

Date: 2007-10-01 03:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Hee! The "dribs and" variety.

I know! When I saw the book the name rang bells first, and then the cosy pictures.


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