Monday, August 08, 2005

Nuns Revisited

Well, I think I've given up on Our Lady of the Forest. I was always a little doubtful, but I tried it anyway, and I don't hate it, but I really really just don't like it. It has a few of my pet peeves, including lots of dialog without quotation marks, as well as characters who cross the line on some of my own personal hygene pet peeves. Let's preserve the family-friendly nature of this blog and leave it at that; it's sufficient to say I just am not enjoying it at all.

Surprisingly, the same is not the case for Orlando: A Biography, by Virginia Woolf. I'm not sure how she's going to pull off the things that the back cover says she'll do, but I'm enjoying the trip so far. It looks like it's going to be a magical realism--emphasis on "magical"--type of story. So far, it's just about a romantically flaky courtier. But I'm caught up, which I've never been able to say about a Virginia Woolf novel before.

The Devil in the White City is pretty enjoyable, too. I don't necessarily feel that the two stories--the mass murderer and the architect--really fit together, and I have my suspicions that they might never really come together. But the juxtaposition isn't hurting either of them. My one hope is that all the architectural problems they've been teasing me with get wrapped up. I suspect that they present these specific issues more as background color, and that they're not going to resolve them to my satisfaction. For example, the level of Lake Michigan changes by as much as 4 feet over the course of the year. How can the landscape architect manage the flora so that there is neither a bare 4 feet of ground, nor a bunch of drowned plants?

And finally, I've started re-reading In This House of Brede, by Rumer Godden. I asked for and got this for Christmas, after reading it at the library last year. It's just such a good book. I think one of the reasons I like behind the scenes nun stories is that I just like behind the scenes stories. Just the day-to-day that you would never have guessed. Kitchen Confidential was good like that, though I prefer nuns to trash-talking ex-cons. But rarely do you get books in which not much happens that don't come out boring. In This House of Brede is right up there with The Nun's Story, and I rather wish there were more.

I'm on vacation for the second half of this week, so it will be next week before I'm back. In case, you know, anyone's reading this.

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