Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Ladies of Grace Adieu


Title: The Ladies of Grace Adieu
Author: Susanna Clarke
What?: Short story collection

I confess, I didn't manage to get through Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell. It was too long and didn't quite get anywhere. Strangely, though, I didn't get rid of the book when finished as I usually do with books out of favour. It's still in my book case - waiting...

And, now when I have read some of Susanna Clarke's short story collection, I will probably return sooner rather than later to its heftier big brohter. The stories are set in Jane Austen's, more mystical, backyard, and as I like that period, the setting gives the stories a twist that appeals to me.

One gem: "The Duke of Wellington Misplaces His Horse" is a lot of fun. The proud warrior gets on the wrong side of some village people, and his great charger, Copenhagen, is whisked away into Faerie. Naturally, Wellington is a resourceful man, but when in pursuit of his horsey, he manages to fiddle about with his own fate! The title story "The Ladies of Grace Adieu" presents sweet regency type ladies who are really quite murderous when it comes to protecting their wards and their freedom.

I look forward to finishing this collection, and if the rest of the stories should fall short of my expectations, I still the recommend the two I mention here. The short stories work on the A- as well as the B-course in English.

12 comments:

Daniel Granér said...

Exciting to read your thoughts about Suzanna Clarke. I was not quite aware of her other works beside "Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell". She is currently working on the sequel to that novel, which is to set in the London slum, and it´s probably going to be a more Dickensian type of tale.
I agree that the company of "Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell" can be quite tedious sometimes. It´s one of those books that take some effort, (and maybe that someone locks you up in a cell with the book sometimes) but I think it´s really worthwile. The ending, where all the loose ends gets solved, is remarkable.

Camilla said...

Your remark on the ending (as well as "The ladies of...")has got me interested again! I think I'll re-attack this humdinger of a novel this summer while roaming the hills of beautiful Lake District. I think the setting will get me in a proper mood and the book, placed in a nice backpack) will also serve as a weight exercise!

Daniel Granér said...

That´s sounds like a good idea (don´t break your back though!). So you will return to the Lake District this year also? Then it must have been a good trip last year!

I think that the end of a story is sometimes what makes the book worth the effort. I was surprised by this fact yesterday when i finished Edgar Allan Poes "The Narrative Of Arthur Gordon Pym Of Nantucket". I was at first dissapointed by this book and its seamingly non-stop discriptions of ordeals at sea, one worse than the other. But the end was really spooky and it puzzled me a lot. It also got me in contact with strange pseudo-scientific theories about Earths shape, but it also awakened interresting thoughts about intertextuality. And that was a reward I didn´t suspect when I stoically dragged myself along the more dull parts of the book. Sometimes one can´t make his och her mind up until after the journeys end!

Camilla said...

Well, an ending will have to be really good to make up for a boring read. If it can... I don't think I'm quite as patient as you are. I gave up literary stoicism a few years ago when I realized that there are so many truly fantastic books out there, that it would be downright stupid to torture myself with something less than wonderful. I do admit though, I may miss things, but if a novel doesn't show its mojo in the first hundred pages - I give up.

Daniel Granér said...

I can totaly understand that, and I have also turned down books that didn´t got under my skin. For example I have, twice, set out to read "The tale of two cities" by Charles Dickens but always stopped reading because there was something more interesting to do or read.

I think I´m more stubborn than patient about finishing books. Stubbornness was what got me through "Ulysses" for example. I also agree about the first hundred pages, that´s when the ice breaks.
But I have several times found myself changing my mind after half the book or so, and sometimes that is after more than the first hundred. It´s rewarding, sometimes, to hang in there 'til the end. Same thing with films, by the way. A litterary work can be fully valued first after viewing it in its whole.

One thing that is good about having to read the same novels as the students is that one is forced to pick up books that you wouldn´t have chosen for yourself. Do you recognize this?

Camilla said...

Well, I only got through the first half og "Ulysses" before skipping to the juice parts in Molly Blooms dialogue. You're right in what you say - books do frequently turn out better than you thought they would. I think I've become more restless though.

Several of the books on the blog are books that I've read with and because of students. "The Ice Road" and "Katarina Blum" for example, so I absolutely recognize that. I think you would love "Jag skall dundra". It seems like a book that would appeal to you beacuse it has so many levels and you discover new things every time you return to it. Also, the students loved it and that's a definite bonus!

Daniel Granér said...

Thanks for the tip! I´ll put it on my to-read-list along with some others. I am afraid however, that there is an awful lot of titles on that list... But I am always looking for good novels which are suitable for reading in class.

I am currently reading part three in Robin Hobbs "The Farseer trilogy", and it´s the best fantasy I´ve got my hands on in a long time.

Camilla said...

Well, fanstasy is, as you know, not always my thing, nut it is definitely a genre that I feel deserves more of my attention.

By the way, I have been looking for email-addresses for our "project" wink, wink, and the proper name, even started with a "z", is not available on any emailservices. So, we must come up with alternative names, a few, so that I can keep trying in the near future.

Anonymous said...

In that case, we should have a meeting again soon. Soon after easter, perhaps? Or during the holidays?

Daniel Granér said...

Oh, pardon, that was me just now posting, forgetting to write my name.

Camilla said...

Det är som vanligt öl med Mattias den 16/4 på Pickwick...du kanske kan dyka upp? Anders brukar också komma. Så kan vi fortsätta smida våra ränker!

Daniel Granér said...

Jolly good!