David Copperfield

Dickens, Charles. David Copperfield. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1991.

Reason read: Dickens was born in the month of February. Read in his honor.

David Copperfield is a classic: character driven and autobiographical in nature. Dickens illustrates the varying sides of human nature; how we all have faults. His portrayal of young David as a naïve child is brilliant. I could picture the boy being unreasonably afraid of a large bird because he acted just as I had when confronted with a gigantic angry fowl; or when Copperfield was bored at church and nearly falling asleep, slipping off his pew; or when he didn’t realize the adults were openly discussing him. His innocence is at the heart of his personality. As David matures and enters adulthood he learns relationships often fail and the motive of some people are not always pure at heart. Malicious people are everywhere. In the end (and I do mean the very end) Copperfield finds true happiness.

As an aside, I heard that the audio book read by Richard Armitage is very good. I didn’t listen to it.

Author fact: I read somewhere that Dickens was born in Landport, Portsea, England. What the what? That sounds like a very interesting place.

Book trivia: David Copperfield is the eighth novel of Dickens and it is his favorite story. Maybe because it is a thinly veiled autobiography?

Nancy said: Pearl said the opening line of David Copperfield was a classic that had slipped her mind.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter “Lines that Linger, Sentences that Stick” (p 140).


Wanting

Flanagan, Richard. Wanting. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2008.

Reason read: the Tasmania Food Fest occurs in December.

Set in 1839, real-life Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin has arrived for a governor’s position for the penal colony of Van Diemen’s Land. There, he and his wife, Lady Jane, fall in love with a spunky live-wire of a native Aboriginal child they call Mathinna. To the Franklins, Methinna is a grand experiment: to see if they can “civilize” the girl through Christianity. Viewed as a savage without reason, they want to tame her into their kind of submission. Leapfrogging ahead in time, Sir John Franklin and his crew have disappeared in the Arctic. Tales of cannibalism embarrass Lady Jane enough for her to approach Charles Dickens to tell a different story.
Through both timelines the emotion of wanting is explored. Sir John Franklin wanted to tame Mathinna. Later, he wanted to tame the Northwest Passage. Lady Jane wanted Methinna as the child she could not have herself and later, when her husband disappeared, she wanted to clear his name of the rumored savagery. How ironic. Dickens, in competition with other writers of the day like Thackeray, reveled in Franklin’s story and wanted a recognition he has never had before.

Author fact: Flanagan also wrote Gould’s Book of Fish, The Sound of One Hand Clapping, The Unknown Terrorist, and Death of a River Guide among others. These four listed are on my list.

Book trivia: Wanting is a short novel, only 252 pages long.

Nancy said: the angle of Lady Jane Franklin employing Charles Dickens to tell her husband’s tale was “deftly explored” in Richard Flanagan’s Wanting (p 232).

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “To the Ends of the Earth: North and South (the Arctic)” (p 230).


August ’09 Was…

For the sake of sanity I have to recap the entire summer. Summer as we think of it in terms of the calendar, not the temperature. June. July. August.
June can only be thought of as a dark and hellish tunnel. In that case, July was the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. As a result, August was not only getting out of the dark and hellish tunnel but moving as far, far away from it as possible. August was an amazing month!

August was music (loved the Avett Brothers and had a great time at Phish). August was homehome with my best boys. August was also a group of good, good books:

  • The Moviegoer by Percy Walker ~ interesting story about a man watching life go by rather than living it.
  •  Turbulent Souls: a Catholic Son’s Return to his Jewish Family by Stephen J. Dubner ~ this was fascinating.
  • The Professor and the Madman: a Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester ~ another fascinating nonfiction with great illustrations.
  • The Mutual Friend by Frederick Busch ~ a novel about Charles Dickens that I couldn’t really get into.
  • Those Tremendous Mountains: the Story of the Lewis and Clark Expedition by David Freeman Hawke ~ another nonfiction, this time about the Lewis and Clark Expedition (like the title says).
  • Wind, Sand and Stars by Antoine de Saint-Expery ~ all about war-time aviation.

For the Early Review Program:

  • Sandman Slim: a Novel by Richard Kadrey ~ absolutely crazy good book.
  • Off the Tourist Trail: 1,000 Unexpected Travel Alternatives ~ an amazing travel book! Really beautiful!
  • Finished reading Honeymoon in Tehran by Azadeh Moaveni ~ part political, part personal, this was great.

For fun:

  • My First 100 Marathons: 2,620 Miles with an Obsessed Runner by Jeff Horowitz ~ funny and informative, too!
  • Running and Being by George Sheehan ~ funny and sarcastic and informative all at once!

Mutual Friend

Busch, Frederick. The Mutual Friend: a Novel. Boston: David R. Godine, 1983.

While this book received rave reviews from publications like The New York Times and The Village Voice I didn’t enjoy it. Maybe it was the raw violence. Or the disturbing sex scenes. I’m not sure. I found it troublesome. Probably the best part was the mastery of voice. For the most part, the entire story is told from the point of view of George Dolby, Charles Dickens’ right hand man. There is a chapter told by a maid and another by his wife…But, let me back up.

The Mutual Friend is the story of Charles Dickens at the height of his fame and the end of his life. While on his book tour Dolby is his tour manager, friend, guardian and sounding board. It’s Dolby who mostly reveals the drama in Dickens’ life. The health-draining stress of the tour, his practically nonexistent marriage, troubling health issues, oppressive poverty, and faltering ego. But, not all of The Mutual Friend is told from Dolby’s point of view. Probably the most disturbing chapter is that of Barbara, the maid. She starts out as a prostitute who prefers women. When Dickens looks for a Jewish maid, Barbara works her way into his household and seduces his son. Another chapter is told from the viewpoint of Dickens’s wife. The demise of their marriage is sad and poignant.

From Kate’s chapter: “He approached me, then, and his scented breath, the cologne he wore, the smell of the lavender sachet with which his clothing was fragrant, all came down to me as a rush of memory floods upon the heartsick widow who opens and closes her solitary cupboard to remind herself that once she was someone’s wife” (p 84).
Another disturbing line: “…and I looked at the dazzle on the surface of the river and saw what lay beneath – the bones of dogs, the limbs of babies, the sewage of civilization” (p 161).

BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called, “Frederick Busch: Too Good To Miss” (p 48).