Reading My Own Damn Books – in March

I decided to join in the Reading My Own Books Challenge at Estella’s Revenge in the hope that it would make me concentrate on my books rather than books from the library. It sort of worked, although I did request some books from the library because other bloggers had loved them. Anyway, in March I read eleven books and of those eight were my own. They were:

1. The Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett
2. Murder of a Lady by Anthony Wynne
3. The Edge of the Cloud by K.M.Peyton
4. Crossriggs by Jane and Mary Findlater
5. Introduction to Sally by Elizabeth von Arnim
6. Wildfire at Midnight by Mary Stewart
7. Cork on the Water by McDonald Hastings
8. The Winds of Heaven by Monica Dickens

I had been aiming to read at least six of my own books so I’m very happy with eight although I didn’t manage to read Murder in Piccadilly by Charles Kingston as I had planned, that one will be carried forward to be read in April. I’m hoping to read at least six of my own books in April, I’ll definitely be reading Oblamov by Goncharov because I got that one in the Classics Club Spin.

I have a horrible feeling that I actually bought more than eight books in March though, so the TBR pile is still increasing!

Crossriggs by Jane and Mary Findlater

Crossriggs cover

Crossriggs by Jane and Mary Findlater was first published in 1908 and it’s one of those books which I’ve been meaning to get around to reading for years. I’m quite intrigued by the thought of two people writing a book, and I wonder how they actually went about it. I must admit that I had no idea that these Scottish sisters had been so famous in their day. They travelled to the US amongst other places and were friends with writers such as Robert Louis Stevenson, Walter de la Mare, Henry James, Rudyard Kipling and Virginia Woolf. The sisters were the progeny of a Scottish Free Presbyterian Church minister.They lived in Lochearnhead until their father’s death when they moved to Prestonpans, a small town close to Edinburgh.

Crossriggs is a small town which is not far from Edinburgh by train. The Hope family live there. Alexandra Hope is a young woman who runs her elderly father’s very poverty stricken household. Mr Hope is a vegetarian/fruitarian who would nowadays be described as being a vegan. He’s a peace loving man who doesn’t want to cause anything any harm, but although he is regarded as being very clever he is forever having crazy ideas about new ways of growing things and it usually ends up in failure and loss of money, which is just what they can’t afford.

When the recently widowed elder daughter Matilda comes back from Canada with her five children it falls to Alex to slave at various jobs to try to earn money to feed them all. It never seems to occur to Matilda that her young sister is taking on all of the responsibility for the family.

Alex is a great character, what we in Scotland call ‘a nippy sweetie’. She’s very ‘pass remarkable’ and often has a sarcastic but witty thing to say about her neighbours and their appearance. However one of her neighbours is a well respected academic/writer and it’s obvious that Alex is in love with him, but he is married so he’s completely off limits of course.

Alex is unwilling to just settle for what she regards as an inferior sort of man and so turns down marriage proposals, to Matilda’s disgust.

This book has lots of echoes of various books in it. It’s similar to Jane Austen’s Emma in parts. Alex is like Jo from Jo’s Boys, but this is an essentially Scottish book, moral and spiritual but not to a sickly degree.

I also found it similar to O. Douglas’s (also the daughter of a Wee Free minister) books although hers are perhaps a bit more light hearted and more preachy, or maybe just a bit less well regarded or dare I say it popular. The elements are the same though: A young woman looking after a load of children who are not her own, a lack of money, annoying neighbours and relatives and romance.

R.L. Stevenson said that there is a difference between the Scottish and English psyche. In England they ask you – What is your name?

But in Scotland they ask – What is the chief end of man?

This is the difference between Scottish and English literature anyway. It’s probably because straightforward story telling was regarded as being frivolous, but if it had a moral and a sound feeling for what was right and wrong, then it was worthwhile.

I read Crossriggs for the Read Scotland 2016 Challenge, it’s my fifth one this year, and also for the Women’s Classics Literature Event and for Reading My Own Damn Books. Three down with one stone!

I was interested to see that the book is dedicated to:

Kate Douglas Wiggin and Norah Archibald Smith
two sisters,

from two sisters,
Mary and Jane Findlater.

It’s a good read.

Forthcoming Bookish Attractions

Ten days ago I got a message from WordPress congratulating me on 7 years of blogging. I knew that the anniversary was coming up, but I had been under the impression that it had been 6 years – ah well, numbers have never been my strong point and time flies when you’re having fun! When I started ‘Pining’ I was very loath to stick my head up above the parapet on the internet and I was determined to be more or less anonymous, hence at the beginning I didn’t even put my own name on any comments, just the blog name. The photograph of me wasn’t really recognisable – I hope. But I’ve sort of got over my shyness now (probably an age thing) and I’m out there and I just don’t care! I’ve ‘met’ some lovely friends from all over the place through the blog and I just never would have met them otherwise. It has been a life enriching experience. Anyway …

I haven’t been one for joining in many challenges, in fact I’m not a big joiner of anything like clubs, but this year I hope to join a few more, certainly the Reading My Own Damn Books Challenge hosted by Estella’s Revenge – because I really have to concentrate on my books rather than reading those from the library.

To encourage me and make my reading a bit less – hmm what shall I read next … decisions decisions -ish … I’ve decided to publish a list of books I intend to read soon. So starting with March, yes amazingly it’ll be March in just over a couple of weeks, I’m going for six must reads although I know I’ll be reading more than that within the month.

Books Again

1. The Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett (I’ve had it over a year)
2. Introduction to Sally by Elizabeth von Arnim (over two years)
3. Crossriggs by Jane and Mary Findlater (around about eight years)
4. Murder in Piccadilly by Charles Kingston (a recent purchase)
5. The Winds of Heaven by Monica Dickens (fairly recent)
6. Cork on the Water by Macdonald Hastings ( I have no idea how long)

Have any of you read any of them?

If anyone wants to share their ‘forthcoming bookish attractions’ then feel free to do so via the comments. Or you might want to read one of my March books so we can compare notes when the time comes.