I’ve decided to try to keep a list of all my finished–ah, there’s
the rub–reading for 2005. Of course, it’s mid-February, and I’m only
now getting started, so it’s not going to be a complete list. But I’m
going to give it a whirl, along with all the other things I’m trying to
keep up with this year (short daily journal entry, for one). Still in an
Anglophilic phase, as will become obvious.
The Private Lives of Winston Churchill, by John Pearson. Chatty and gossipy, but I enjoyed the inside scoop, however unreliable, on My Man and his wacky family.
17 February 2005
Autobiography of Lady Diana Cooper. A glimpse of the last
gasp of the British Empire. What a life–I mean, of the titled,
aristocratic sort. Diana’s father was a duke, and she lived a life of
extraordinary privilege. For more, see entry above!
21 February 2005
Truth and Beauty, by Ann Patchett. Ann Patchett is the author of the glorious Bel Canto. This book is about her friendship with the author, Lucy Grealy, of another stunning book, Autobiography of a Face.
Grealy wrote about her long struggle with facial disfigurement, and the
30-some-odd surgeries she had to reconstruct her face after being
treated as a child for Ewing’s sarcoma. Patchett’s book charts the
friendship between the two, the one solid, steady, and workmanlike
(Patchett herself), the other flighty, dramatic, and tortured, a kind of
supernova that roared to life and came quickly to a crashing end.
Beautiful and sad, a very compelling story.
22 February 2005
The Man in the Flying Lawn Chair, by George Plimpton. If
you’ve ever wondered whether you could actually fly by attaching a bunch
of large balloons to an ordinary lawn chair, this book has the answer
for you. Plimpton was the legendary editor of the Paris Review, the inventor of “participatory journalism,” and a real character. These essays are quick fun.
1 March 2005
Leaves of the Tulip Tree, by Juliette Huxley. Wife of
Julian, the botanist/naturalist/biologist/first Director-General of
UNESCO. Nanny to the daughter of Ottoline Morrell, flitted in, around,
and about the Bloomsbury Group. I didn’t get much of a sense of her life
from this autobiography, but suspected much of her married life was a
trial–he with his affairs and nervous breakdowns, and she with her
affairs, only ever so lightly touched upon here. Still, it helps round
out my understanding of the literary/intellectual/privileged lives of
the English in the first half of the 20th century.