Give me books, fruit, french wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors. --John Keats

Thursday, December 22, 2016

"The Turnip Princess" by Franz Xaver von Schoenwerth

I was excited when I came across this book of all-new-to-me fairy tales (despite the not-quite-appealing artwork). I was slightly less excited after reading the first story, and I put the book down and read several others before picking this one up again.

My initial assessment held throughout the book. I found most of these stories to lack the familiar rhythm of traditional fairy tales. The plots seemed disjointed, often without logical progression. Many were distracting hodgepodges of elements from well-known tales. One story alone might include bits from Snow White, Cinderella, and The Six Swans.

I was left with the feeling that so much more could have been made of this collection of stories--they could have been so much more involved and charming if they were written with more detail and elaboration, and an eye for avoiding irrational leaps. I do understand that the translator's aim was to make the stories available in English in a form as close to the original as possible, so the failure is not with the translation but with the original stories. I am actually semi-inspired to rewrite a selection of these stories (though, truth be told, that will probably never happen) to make them more appealing.

That's not to say I didn't enjoy reading this book. I even had a favorite: "The Scorned Princess," which had more logical progression, more details, and an ending that took me by surprise. 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

"The Swedish Cavalier" by Leo Perutz

This book was such an enjoyable relief after so many weeks spent reading (or avoiding) Tinkers. Yes, I really do love to read! And the confirmation of this fact was sweet.

Now that I'm finished reading, though, I don't find myself especially interested in pontificating about the book. So apparently this is going to be a really brief post. One-sentence plot description: A thief steals the identity of a whiny young nobleman and becomes the Swedish Cavalier. The style is part adventure, part fairy tale; the plot is a little bit Mr Ripley (though with a less psychopathic main character). I would read it again--not so much because I think it has further depths I've left unplumbed, but because it was such a pleasurable reading experience.

I think this would make a great movie. From what I can find online, it was supposedly slated for filming less than 10 years ago, but I haven't had any luck discovering whether it was actually made.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Amazing and The Disappointing

Though by far my favorite genre is fiction, I occasionally enjoy dabbling in what I will call Home Books even though I know there is probably a more accurate and widely-recognized name for the category but I am both too lazy and too post-Saturday-afternoon-nap-brain-foggy to either look it up or to try to recall it under my own power. And obviously the same state is preventing me from avoiding babble and run-on sentences. Anyway, in case you don't know what I mean by Home Books, I mean the sort that gives decor advice, and maybe a little about cleaning and organizing too, with lots of pretty pictures of what my house will never look like.

Last year for Christmas my wonderful husband gave me this wonderful book: The Inspired Room by Melissa Michaels. I have literally read it through twice since then (and, the second time around, I was kind of amazed at the number of her suggestions I'd implemented in our house, either without quite realizing or without quite remembering the book was the source of the ideas). 

So when I came across Good Housekeeping's Simple Household Wisdom book while Christmas shopping this year, I felt sure it might be the new Inspired Room

I was wrong. 

Why, oh why didn't I listen to these Amazon reviewers? They're spot on. I did not come away from this book with a single idea of what I'd like to do in my house (unless you count getting an emergency generator so that next time our power goes out we still have water . . . not that that's either pretty or affordable). I didn't even really like most of the pictures.