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Sonntag, März 25, 2007

What I read last year (a long list!)

Books I read in 2006(not necessarily in this order):

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Kate Douglas Wiggin. I loved Rebecca, she was such a ray of sunshine in other people’s lives, indeed! Generally the story reminds me of Anne Shirley’s quite a lot
Persuasion, Jane Austen (reread). Self-explanatory!
Where Rainbows End, Cecelia Ahern. Not much of a book. The fun was that it consist of emails and instant messages exchanged by the characters and I gathered a couple of computer terms and other English phrases through it
Записки гимназистки - Лидия Чарская (In Russian) , quite a sentimental book about an orphan girl sent to live with her uncle’s family and trying to get on with unfeeling relatives.
Соперницы - Лидия Чарская, another “book for girls”, this time about boarding school life in St. Petersburg, late 19th c
Lady and the Unicorn - Tracy Chevalier. A fictional account on a middle-age group of tapestries. Page-turner as all other Tracy Chevalier’s books, but leaves a bit of a disturbing taste – again as all T.Ch books – probably they always have a woman trapped in them.
Shadow of Pomegranate - Jean Plaidy, a fictional account of Katherine’s of Aragon’s live as wife of Henry VII. Quite atmospheric and absorbing and also refreshing for the history of England knowledge
Anne of Green Gables – reread. I could not choose a better time for it – it was spring! Fell in love with it all over again! Weeks and weeks I was under its spell and could do nothing but read further Anne books and dream about that beautiful world (see the next two items)
Anne of Avonlea
Anne of the Island
О гномах и сиротке Марысе
, Мария Конопницка, - a Polish story about dwarfs and an orphan girl. It’s so lovely how the author weaved her own beautiful and poetic story out of various folk tales and legends.
Славянские сказки –a collection of Slavonic Tales, a reread of a childhood book. Always thought the glass castle where the golden-haired Princess lived fascinating, Fancied myself to be a golden-haired Princess when I was seven and now even used Glass Castle as a part of my blog name
Little House in Big Woods, Laura Ingalls Wilder. Will read the Little House series further as soon as find other books. Love reading about childhood experiences. Interesting that L. I. W. is writing about herself in the 3d person.
Diamond Girls, Jacqueline Wilson. Mostly with a humorous touch, but there are quite serious issues underneath, so I think the book was not silly, though there were a couple of exaggerations I thought. А mother and four girls, each from a different father and expecting the 5th baby. Martine is interested only in her boyfriend, Jude reads fantasy novels and fights boys, Rochelle is just a spoilt brat (though probably the prettiest). The story is told by little Dixie, the youngest and the most sensitive girl, who wants her family to be happy.
Tulip Touch, forget the author. A children’s book focusing on Natalie, a who is under the influence of Tulip, her friend, who has something dark about her
Три сказки и еще одна, В. Каверин – 4 tales combining real and fantastic elements, I like this kind of books!
Бритт Мари изливает душу - Britt Mari opens her Heart (Confidences of Britt-Mari), Astrid Lindgren. Astrid Lindgren was truly wonderful. I love how she describes a child’s or a young girl’s feelings, how cosy and warm the world of her books is! Also by A.L.:
Черстин и я - Kerstin and I
Мадикен - Mischievous Meg/Mardie's Adventures, Mardie to the Rescue
Мы на острове Сальткрокка – Seacrow Island
Дети из Буллербю – Children of the noisy Village, Happy Times in Noisy Village
Дети с улицы Бузотеров - The Children on Troublemaker Street
Мио, мой Мио – Mio, my Son
Братья Львиное Сердце – The Brothers Lionheart
Рони, дочь разбойника – Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter

Chronicles of Avonlea
, L.M. Montgomery. Also 1 or 2 stories from Further Chronicles of Avonlea Translated Little Brown book of Miss Emily into Russian (enjoyed doing that work!). Favourite Chronicles of Avonlea story – Quarantine at Alexander Abraham’s, that was such fun! Die Zeit der schlafenden Hunden, Miriam Pressler. Deals with quite serious issues, but again I like the author being honest and objective and also psychologically insightful
The Blue Castle, L.M. Montgomery – of course! It was lovely, even though like a tale for grown-ups, the happy end with coincidences does not spoil it at all. Current Dream – to translate it into Russian as it hasn’t been yet and probably illustrate it as well.
Аленький цветочек (approximate title translation is The Scarlet Flower), probably my favourite fairy-tale ever. It’s a Russian analogue of The Beauty and the Beast. I was so much impressed when I first read it being 6 years old.
Домовенок Кузька, Татьяна Александрова. A tale about a House Spirit. I like fairy-tales, the cartoon-film of my childhood was also great.
Ballet Shoes, Noel Streatfield, but in Russian translation. Impressed at how grown-up children about 10 years old may be.
Урок смеха, Л. Каминский - a collection of fun school stories which I read long ago in the 1st form, so actually a reread. It’s more fascinating for young kids, but it still had a couple of laughing-out-loud moments.
Bethe Maurisot, a biography. I love Impressionism and this art album with a long biography was a lovely birthday present. She had an unhappy love story in her life – she fell in love with E. Degas and he seemed to return her feelings but alas he was already married so she eventually married Dega’s brother and devoted herself to her only daughter Julie and painting. E. Dega’s portraits of Bertha are brilliant and have some tragic touch about them.

Not finished:
Alias Grace, Margaret Atwood. M. A. brilliant as ever, I can't even remember whay I have it up being almost half-through
Vilette, Charlotte Bronte. My first Ch. B. book, read only part 1 so far. To be frank, I think Charlotte a bit sentimental and wordy and prefer Anne, but I shall certainly finish the book.
Sense and Sensibility, reread. I’ve been rereading it each June for years, and it’s the first time I fail to complete it (graduation and later first full-time job and then the year was over, but new June is coming soon!)
Fingersmith, Sarah Waters (read up to the end in 2007). A mystery with quite unexpected twists. Generally not in my line, but good for a change, very well written and well researched. Involves two young girls one of whom was brought up among thieves and another in a gloomy mansion by her uncle. Set in 1862 London and is said to be very Dickensian. Now I know how this story with a dark setting ends!
All of My Sisters, Judith Lennox. A story of 4 sisters from North England at the beginning of the 20th c. Generally not bad for a lighter read. May finish it when through Bridget Jones’s Diary I’m currently reading on commutes. Commutes require something not too complex!
Lost Father, Marina Warner. The author teaches literary-translation-related courses at the University of Essex. I’m craving to take that course (but alas I do not have &9000 and will hardly ever save such a sum!) and I just wanted to learn about the lecturer closer through her books. The book itself seems to be a family story of several generations beginning in 1930, set first in Italy and later in England/ alas, I did not have time to finish it before I had to return it to the library, I only read a little over 30 pp out of about 300
Novemberkatzen, Miriam Pressler, in German. A quite depressing story about Ilse, a girl whom no one seems to love. On the other hand I like the book being psychological and focusing earnestly on a child’s thoughts and feelings. Had to return it to the University study room library when graduating in June. I would not be given my diploma if I had debts to any of Uni libraries!
“Six Wives of Henry VII” by Antonia Fraser - was interested in the period after reading «The Shadow of Pomegranate”, completed the 1st chapter about Katherine of Aragon, and then had to return it to the library!
The Devil Wears Prada, Lauren Weisberger. There was something in that book appealing to me – a young girl after college starting her first job and being disillusioned with it. Similar to my post-University experiences, not to such a great extent probably though

Finished (started in 2005):
Antonias Wille, Petra-Durst Benning, in German, originally individual reading for 2005 winter semester. It was not a chore at all; I always choose what I would like for individual reading. The descriptions of early 20th c. live in Schwarzwald were fascinating; the author certainly did a good research. I wish I bought a couple other books by this author when in Germany
Bernsteinamulett, Peter Prange (Hauslektuere - Home reading for German class), a family saga, from WWII till the fall of Berlin Wall in 1990s, it was not bad, but the ending did not leave up to the beginning being quite melodramatic.
The Winter of our Discontent, J. Steinbeck (home reading for English class), not a bad book, but after analyzing the text with our so-super-clever-that -he-seemed-crazy teacher hate Steinbeck ever since
Loads of do-it-yourself and how-to and cookbooks (e.g. Weight Watchers and cookbook by Delia Smith), in English and in Russian, analyzing them on the subject of modality for graduation paper. Ever since when I see a cookbook, I first check the modality of the text and then think about recipes themselves!

Malory Towers by Enid Blyton, ВВС dramatization, about girls in a boarding school and their daily adventures, simple and fun
Friends, Lovers, Chocolate, Alexander McCall Smith. Focuses on a middle-aged lecturer in Edinborough, her thoughts and experiences with people around, also interesting for the reader’s Scottish accent
A Story Girl, L.M. Montgomery, downloaded from Librivox.org. Wonderful! LMM’s books are all so full of colour! And the childhood experiences of the characters described were really sweet. But most of all I loved the setting and the way she connected past, present and future through the Story Girl’s stories.
Marina Tsvetayeva: Selected prose and stories. Excellent literature excellently read – what else can I say? I bought a book of her prose and a book on her last Friday. Been interested in her ever since did a project on her at school when we studied the Silver Age Poetry.
Selected Tales by The Grimm Brothers (in German!!!) Of course, Dornroeschen was right there!
Audiobooks I did not finish:
Stranger House, Reginald Hill. It’s a detective story and I have to say I had a most awful nightmare after it, so I finally gave up
The Story of Dr Doolitle, Hugh Lofting. I just felt I prefer the Russian version of this story which I know ever since early childhood. Although it was fun comparing the two books. I might finish it sometime.
Katherine Mansfield: Short Stories. The 2 I listened to are in tone a great deal like those from Letting Down the Side collection we did in the 3d year at the Uni.
How to Be Good, Nick Hornby. A book on a middle-age crisis was not particularly involving for me and the readuing style made me somewhat sleepy. I diligently listened almost to a half of it though

Books from which I read bits and pieces at random:
Eats, Shoots and Leaves, Lynn Truss. An entertaining book on English punctuation
Слово живое и мертвое, Нора Галь. It’s a brilliant book on use of language and translation. I believe I could here the author’s voice when translating texts for my diploma, esp. the chapter from The Blind Assassin by M. Atwood.
Друзья Зимние, друзья летние, Татьяна Александрова. A book of childhood reminiscences, very endearing.
Сказки, Татьяна Александрова. Tales by the same author as the book above
Воспоминания, А. Цветаева. A book of Memoirs written by A. Tsvetayeva, sister of Marina Tsvetayeva, the poet.
Rebecca Notebook, Daphne DuMaurier. The book included short autobiographic prose and it turns out Daphne Du Maurier was a cousin to the Llevlyn-Davises, the family who inspired James M. Barry to write
Peter Pan
Books on Russian balls and Russian culture of Pushkin’s times
Probably something else I forget at the moment

Emily Dickinson (she loved Shakespeare and it’s no wonder – Shakespeare’s way of expressing human feelings through descriptions of material object was close to her I think and can be often found in her own poems), Rainer Maria Rilke, K. Balmont, M, Tsvetayeva (Russian Silver age poetry) etc.

Defies Categorization:
Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte, reread of the 2nd half. Love this little novel. There’s something in that book I can identify so well with. I love the quiet happy end which is not in and-they-lived happily-ever-after style.

Photo: one of my bookshelves (modern English books and some German books and freshly received Lucy Maud Montgomery order which was never to be placed because the bookcase was already stuffed full!

Sorry if it was too long!

Mittwoch, März 14, 2007

Happy Birthday, Annest of Annes!

Today is Birthday of Megan Follows, who starred as Anne in the Anne of Green Gables series. I have never sen the film, but judging from film stills I think she did a good job and matches my image of Anne quite well. I also find it interesting that the Birthday of the book heroine and the actress in the adaptaition are on the same day. Therefore I thought I might celebrate Anne's Birthday today. And I did with the drawing (I love being on sick leave when already feeling better and reading and drawing as much as I please!)

In the drawing she's looking in the mirror wearing Jem's (false) pearls. I spoilt her face a little when outlining with ink :( On the whole I wanted her to be half dreaming, half smiling warmly at Jem's present which she really treasured. I don't know if I managed that...I really think I spoilt her face when outlining, it was more expessive in the pencil sketch :((
Anne Shirley is such a special person you really want to do something for her on her Birthday, so this is my tribute to Anne, just as it is (even if the portrait is a bit lopsided)!

Montag, März 12, 2007

Early spring

It was early spring--probably the ugliest time of the year. Not even the sunset could redeem the dead, sodden landscape ...
From Anne's House of Dreams
I also do not like this time of the year, the landscape is bare and unattractive, I feel sorry to see snow so ugly after its white winter glory, and - the worst of it - I think human soul is most vulnerable at this time, I feel it on myself at least...
Watercolour: a piece of unattractive view from my study window (as of yesterday)

Samstag, März 10, 2007

Two Watercolours

Still on sick leave (since last Sunday, again!). Therefore playing around with watercolours!

No, this is not the Four Winds light, it's the light from a Moomintroll Story, "Moomin-papa and the sea" , if I translate correctly. I recently finished the Anne books (I already miss reading them, and I'll be returning to them often, for sure!) and now switched to the only Moomin story I haven't read yet.

And this is a typical scene for me: a fairy, flowers and insects.A reading fairy this time!