Pardon My French

Je suis bloody well fed up! For one thing it has been raining all day and it feels more like November than June, so we’ve been stuck in the house. I wonder which is worse, being stuck indoors because it’s cold and miserable or not being able to go out because it’s inhumanely hot? I’m not likely to find out anyway.

Apart from that the book that I started yesterday has turned out to be one of the very few that I’ve given up on. I usually struggle on with books and sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised at the end of them. Other times I just harrumph all the way through and at the end turn it around to look at the front cover, I think I probably have a sort of I’ll know you next time and you’ll never darken my door again look on my face.

Anyway, what with the weather and everything I can’t be doing with that sort of book so I’m ‘shelving’ Margaret Forster’s Diary of an Ordinary Woman at the moment. I’ll go back to it if someone can tell me that it’s worthwhile ploughing on with it. I bought it at the last library book sale.

When I read the introduction I really didn’t like the idea of it at all because it’s a fictional diary purporting to be a real one which was written by a woman who was born in 1901 and she is now 98 years old. Forster even has the fictional woman telling her that she told no lies in her diary – but it’s fiction.

I reached page 87 and so far the whole thing just seems implausible to me. Firstly the diary writer, Millicent is one of a family of seven children, she is the third one and we are supposed to believe that she was allowed to go to teacher training college after leaving school. Considering that the family is not a very wealthy one, the father has some sort of furniture making/selling business which isn’t doing all that well because of the Great War, I seriously doubt if any daughter would even have been allowed to stay on at school past the age of 14. She would have been expected to help with the family budget and would almost certainly have had to work in her father’s shop for pocket money only.

There is an even more unlikely happening involving the mother of the family later on and I can’t suspend my disbelief any more. I also think that it’s the sort of book which could be written by just about anybody who has read a few books and is interested in writing. They’d probably make a better job of it too.

Anyway, grump over.

I’m just starting Patrick Hamilton’s The Slaves of Solitude. I have high hopes.

10 thoughts on “Pardon My French

  1. Errrr…sorry about the weather. You could be here with sunny, clear skies and 100 F. It’s not humid, though, so it is bearable! It sounds like Margaret Forster was not planning on running into an intelligent, knowledgeable reader. I can’t read books that assume I will swallow the story whole.
    I’m looking forward to your thoughts on The Slaves of Solitude. With all the great reviews going around the blogosphere I ordered my own copy and should have it soon.

    • Anbolyn,
      Gosh, I suppose you’re used to it but I think at 100F I would be spending my time sitting in a cold bath trying to stay cool – or does that just make the water heat up? This morning the sun is shining. We’re going to rush out before it starts to rain again!
      I haven’t read anything by Patrick Hamilton but I enjoyed the TV serialisation of Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky. So far so good with ‘Solitude’ – luckily I got it from my library.

  2. I loved Slaves of Solitude. The characters are not always sympathetic but the writing is just great.

    And I have to say I’m jealous of your cool weather. It’s nearly 100 every day and we haven’t had rain in months, we’re practically at stage 3 water restrictions and it’s only the beginning of June! I have at least 3 or 4 more months of sweltering weather. I am sick of the south.

    • Karen K,

      I ran to the library on Friday after I read Books and Choc. and snatched it from the shelf, I started last night and I’m only at page 57 but I’m enjoying it. I’ll have to look out for his others.

      I suppose you can get fed up with blue skies too, I certainly couldn’t stand your heat. A lot of places in England are very low on water and are going to be having water restrictions, the farmers aren’t happy as the ground is parched. In Scotland the weather has been very different with a lot of rain and wind in May and only one warm day so far – that could have been our summer!

  3. I have to admit that I was fooled by Diary of an Ordinary Woman -even though it clearly states on the front cover that it’s a novel – but then I don’t look at covers very carefully! So I started reading it thinking it was a real diary – fooled by the introduction where the narrator explained how she had come across the diaries and was intrigued enough by them to ‘make something of them’ and how she had met Millicent just before her death.

    But as I read on I began to think this woman had had the most remarkable life. They say that truth is stranger than fiction, so I read on. All I can say is that if you don’t like what you’ve read so far you won’t like it further on – it just gets more unbelievable.

    • Margaret,
      Thanks for the comment. I read the introduction, quite often I skip them because I hate it if they tell you details of the story, but I realised it must be from the author as it wasn’t signed by anyone else. Then I looked to see who the book was dedicated to – Susan Morris – not Millicent or even Joanna King. I used to work in libraries so I wondered what its Dewey number was. Of course it didn’t have one because it’s fiction!

      Thanks for the info about the rest of the book. I’m just going to pass it on to a charity shop now. I don’t know about you but I feel sort of ‘conned’.

    • Margaret,

      I had just been thinking that thankfully I had only paid 50p for it. I got it at my local library book sale. I think I would have wanted my money back if I’d paid full price!

  4. Having experienced the cold/miserable (Canada) as well as inhumanely hot(India), I think I prefer cold/miserable. You can still wear winter/rain gear and head out, and while it’s not fun, it is doable. The heat has no solution, not till someone designs a wearable icepack…

    • Niranjana,
      Yes the one good thing about the cold is that you can always wrap up against it. When you have rain coming at you horizontally and you’re battling against the wind it’s a real pain mind you. I’ve been known to get sunburn at 60F so I would find hot weather absolutely hellish!

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