Good morning! It is another hot summer day here in Houston, perfect for staying inside to read - but then most days are, for one reason or another. We're supposed to top 95 degrees today, with no break in sight for a while, but at least the tropics are quiet. We've had enough storms to last us!
I am still working my way through Richard III. With Shakespeare I often end up reading scenes aloud, which helps me follow the language. That means that I generally only read Shakespeare at home! Yesterday evening I finished re-reading Dorothy Dunnett's The Game of Kings, the first of the Lymond Chronicles. Usually as I turn the last page I am already reaching for the second, Queens' Play, but I put it off for a while to read some other things. I pulled this book off the TBR shelves, only to realize how it connects my recent reading.
Princess Alice was born Alice Christabel Montagu Douglas Scott, the granddaughter of the Duke of Buccleuch. The Douglases and the Scotts are major characters in the Lymond Chronicles, particularly Wat Scott of Buccleuch and his son Will Scott of Kincurd in The Game of Kings. This book is filled with late Victorian and early Edwardian photos of the Scott family, and homes that I associate from the Chronicles with the Douglases, like Drumlanrig and Dalkeith. In fact, I bought this at Half Price Books many years ago primarily for the pictures, and the Scott connection. I had never made the connection with Richard III's title of Duke of Gloucester, however. I don't know much yet about this Duke and Duchess, but I'm sure they were happier than Shakespeare's Richard and Anne. I've only read a few pages of the book, the first chapters of which describe a charming Edwardian childhood in a close-knit family, growing up between London and Scotland (Princess Alice was born in 1901). It's funny (and sad) that I've had this book unread for so many years, but it does fit my theory that books unread "ripen" on the shelves until the right time. And while I have been toying with the idea of a trip to Ireland next year, after following Somerville and Ross around Connemara, now I'm thinking of the Highlands and the Hebrides.
I don't follow Lois McMaster Bujold on social media, but I belong to an on-line reading group focused on her books. For some time I've heard via the group that she has had a serious case of writer's block, with nothing published since the latest in the Vorkosigan saga, Captain Vorpatril's Alliance, in late 2012. Then came the exciting news of a new Vorkosigan book to be published next year - and focused on Cordelia, mother of the manic Miles and one of my favorite heroines. The news of a novella set in her Five Gods series was a complete and happy surprise. The three books of this series are set in an AU late-medieval Europe, with a Holy Family of Five Gods that frequently intervene in human events. I love this series almost as much as the Vorkosigan books, and I have long been hoping for more. The first, The Curse of Chalion, focused on the Daughter of Spring, and the third, The Hallowed Hunt, on her brother, The Son of Autumn. The second book belongs to the Bastard, son of the Mother of Sumner, who also plays a big part in the other stories. I was hoping for a book on the Mother, as well as the Father of Winter, but from this title of this novella, I knew we would be seeing more of the Bastard.
The Bastard, lord of demons and of untimely events, is such fun to read about, and I imagine to write about! He does tend to take over the story a bit, when he appears, much like DEATH in Terry Pratchett's Discworld. This novella is only available as an e-book, so I have made just my third purchase, and all novellas (I generally download free older books from Gutenberg and Google Books). It's lovely to be back in this world, and I can already feel the pull to return to Chalion as well.
With so many good books to read, it feels churlish to whine about books that I can't have (yet). But Hayley's review of one of the new British Library Crime Classics, Alan Melville's Quick Curtain, gave me that "I want to read this right now" feeling. Unfortunately, there is a delay with their U.S. release. I will be good and wait, but it does remind me again how spoiled I have become, with books so easily available.
And finally, our JASNA Houston group met yesterday, to watch Amy Heckerling's "Clueless," which some of our members had never seen. I did, when it was first released, and I still remember when it burst upon me in the theater that I was watching a very clever adaptation of Emma. Not having seen it in several years, I enjoyed seeing it again very much. It certainly has some dated elements, like the massive cell phones the characters carry around, but overall we agreed the story itself doesn't feel too dated. We were talking afterwards about how the bones of the story are there, even if the details don't always match up. Christian won't end up with a Jane Fairfax, but he turns out to be a much better friend to Cher than Frank to Emma. And Cher has the kind of friend in Dionne that Emma herself lacks. We may watch the Bollywood "Bride and Prejudice" another time. This was the first film viewing that I've been to, since I boycott the actual adaptations!
I hope that everyone has a lovely week!