The beautiful thing about a week at the cottage is the time it affords me to read.
On Tuesday, I read To Defy A King, a historical novel by Elizabeth Chadwick about the daughter of one of my favourite all time knights....William Marshall. I know so much about Marshall, about his contribution to the reign of Henry II and his sons, including the Lionheart and King John, but did not even know he had a daughter until I picked up this book of my mother-in-laws that was lying around the cottage.
It makes me think...so many of the historical novels I read are about the women, the women about whom we really know so little. Their fathers and husbands, brothers and sovereigns, we know plenty about them. But with the exception of great queens, the women of the centuries are harder to find. And yet, and yet...they make the stories richer, they give depth to the past, and they add a real solid dimension to history. I admire writers such as Chadwick who bring these forgotten women so marvellously, so richly to life.
On Wednesday I read Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy and The Castle of Adventure, an old children's favourite of mine by Enid Blyton that Anna had brought with her this week. A serious book club classic and a light lakeside read. I so loved Enid Blyton as a kid, and even now, when I see the similarities in all the plots and the rather old fashioned style of them, I enjoy them, probably harking back to my old memories of time curled up on a battered couch or in a tent by flashlight. I've always enjoyed the classics too, but it has been so long since I read Jude that the ending took me by surprise and I hated it, perhaps because of my own three children happily sleeping next door as I got to that bit. But the themes I thought were of interest. Hardy's views of marriage though causing apoplectic uproar at the time seem quaintly familiar today, but it was the themes of recurring patterns and the value of education that intrigued me most this reading.
And today, I read another Agatha Christie. Murder in the Vicarage. Another oldie but goodie. And have started reading Persuasion by Jane Austen, another book not on my summer list, but conveniently on my kobo.
I was supposed to be reading The Great Gastby this week, but rushing out of the house on Monday morning, do you think I could find it? Not a chance.