Monday, January 17, 2011

A Novel Distraction...


So the rain has stopped for the moment and today is supposed to be 30 degrees Celsius (86f), but it feels much hotter and very humid, probably due to all the water around still after the floods. At least this heat will help the water that is left evaporate, but I am sure it must be hindering those who are cleaning up after the damage caused by the waters. It's too hot to concentrate! I shouldn't complain, I am sitting in the lounge room of our two bedroom cottage with two fans on. This little place, due to its age (1873) is very cute and very hot, it has no insulation or ceiling fans and not all of the windows open (they have been painted shut). There is no heating either of course, of any description, so I am wondering if in winter it traps the cold like it traps the heat?

I have been working on ideas for my thesis and chasing down books, authors and papers that were mentioned at the conference in Sydney last week. But I wanted to share with you another distraction, besides the heat, I started reading last night A.S Byatt's The Children's Book. As I said, I had seen this book mentioned on a few blogs and read an excerpt that made me want to read more. I read up to that excerpt last night, and I want to share it with you, if you haven't read it already. Chapter three begins like this:

This was the Wellwoods' third Midsummer Party. Their guests were socialists, anarchists, Quakers, Fabians, artists, editors, freethinkers and writers, who lived, either all of the time, or at the weekends and on holidays in converted cottages and old farmhouses, Arts and Craft homes and working-men's terraces, in the villages, woods and meadows around the Kentish Weald and the North and South Downs.

I want to be at that party, or hold one like that. But I don't have any Fabian friends, would Labor Party members count? Then again, I don't know any Quakers either. The books is set in 1895 and whist the idealistic and attempted Utopian lifestyle of the Wellwoods and their friends is immediately apparent, there is something sinister underneath. The blurb on the cover tells me that the children, "grow up in the golden summers of Edwardian times, but as the sons rebel against their parents and the girls dream of independent futures, they are unaware that in the darkness ahead they will be betrayed unintentionally by the adults who love them".

How intriguing and compelling. I wonder what my midsummer party would look like? Probably teachers, poets, uni students, free thinkers and writers that live in cheap rentals without air conditioning and a few sympathetic corporate hacks who help fund our artistic endeavors, or at least feed us. Hmmm... then again, we don't celebrate midsummer in Australia and summer solstice has been and gone... maybe a winter solstice party, then it won't be so hot!

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