Last summer, I read a series of books by Frank Yerby. Since I read at night before I go to sleep, I read about a book a month, unless they are shorter, then I may get through two. My reading list for the last several months in order since September is:
The Passions of the Mind, a biographical novel of Sigmund Freud, by Irving Stone (840+pgs)
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Possession by A. S. Byatt
Rule Britannia by Daphne du Maurier
Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham
Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt (362 pgs)
A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley
Fifty Russian Winters, an American woman’s life in the Soviet Union, by Margaret Wettlin
Chaucer and the Legend of Good Women, a medieval murder mystery by Philippa Morgan
I will only talk briefly about three of these books beginning with what I'm currently reading The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer (504 pgs).
This is my second attempt at reading The Canterbury Tales. When I first started reading it a year ago, I could not get into his style of writing and didn’t get past a few pages. The entire book is in rhyme. Now I love reading and writing poetry at times, but reading an entire book of it….I couldn’t get into it. However, during the last few weeks I am now half way through it. The Canterbury Tales is a group of stories told to a host of an inn by a motley crowd of pilgrims as they journey for five days from Southwark to Canterbury. This group of pilgrims come from all walks of life, from knight to nun, miller to monk. The setting is during medieval times, which is a favorite timeframe of mine. I think I would love to have met Chaucer too. He was a knight, very smart and well liked. I might add, the movie A Knight’s Tale comes from this book.
Following is just a small part from The Summoner's Tale from the book. On the left is the original medieval English and next to is the translation to modern English just to show the difference. I wish I could have copied and pasted the whole thing but I tried it and it all ran together rather than in two columns.
This frere bosteth that he knoweth helle —–This friar boasts that he knows hell,
And God it woot, that it is litel wonder; —–And God knows that it is little wonder;
Freres and feendes been but lyte asonder. —–Friars and fiends are seldom far asunder.
Reading about Sigmund Freud was fascinating. He was a very smart, curious and dedicated man. I would love to have met him and would also love to go to Austria and walk the places he walked. Visiting Austria is on my Bucket List. He was a very kind husband to his wife and a nurturing father to his six children. I like the author, Irving Stone’s style of writing. I have read another book by him, The Agony and the Ecstasy about the life of Michelangelo. I would also like to read his book about Vincent Van Gogh. These are all fictionalized novels and by that I mean, the research for facts are extensive and true but the dialogue, the conversations between the characters in the novel, is made up.
Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt was a very compelling book based on the life of the Author. It tells about the extreme poverty in the slums of Limerick, Ireland, the deaths of his younger siblings due to hunger and disease, the alcoholism of his father and the extreme depression of his mother because of the loss of her children and an alcoholic husband. The author was born in Brooklyn, NY to Irish immigrants during the depression. The family soon moved back to Ireland because there was no work in NY but there was little work in Limerick either. What work his father found in Limerick, he drank away instead of bringing food home to the family forcing the mother and children to beg. Mr. McCourt received much criticism about his depiction of the people, the churches and schools in Limerick and the rampant alcoholism with the critics saying he was exaggerating. This was a very sad book but I could not put it down.