Daily Archives: March 29, 2009

Sunday Salon – March 29, 2009

Sunday Salon

March 29, 2009

11:30 AM

I am getting a late start on my Salon post today – blame it on the puppy and her persistent harassment of the cats. Or sleep deprivation. Or just plain laziness.  It is a beautiful, very cold day here in the Northern California mountains – a nice day for a walk in the woods and then some down time with a book (if Raven will nap!).

This past week I finished reading the wonderful family saga Galway Bay by Mary Pat Kelly (read my review) and gave away a hard cover edition. I really love historical fiction and the chunkier the book, the better.

Next I blew through Penelope Fitzgerald’s Booker Prize winning novel Offshore (read my review). I had some mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, Fitzgerald writes stunning prose and great characters; on the other hand, the story ended abruptly and felt unfinished. Have any of you read this book or others by Fitzgerald? I would like to read another novel by her – any suggestions?

I am currently reading an outstanding collection of short stories by Catherine Brady. The Mechanics of Falling and Other Stories is short story writing at its best. I was thrilled to get a hard cover edition of this book for TLC Book Tours. I’ll be touring the book on April 6th – so come back then to read my review and also a guest post by the author which I promise you will love! To see a full schedule of the tour, visit this post.

Next up in my stacks will be:

  • Netherland, by Joseph O’Neill
  • Follow Me, by Joanna Scott
  • Buffalo Lockjaw, by Greg Ames (watch for a giveaway of the ARC in early April!)

The other day I managed to snag 30 minutes of uninterrupted time and browsed though my TBR mountain – I have so many great books there and every time I go through the stacks I find myself wishing I had an extra 3 days in every week just to read! How about you? What are you looking forward to reading next?

I hope you are all enjoying your Sunday and finding time in your day to relax with a good book. Have a great week!

Offshore – Book Review

offshore The barge-dwellers, creatures neither of firm land nor water, would have liked to be more respectable than they were. They aspired towards the Chelsea shore, where, in the early 1960’s, many thousands lived with sensible occupations and adequate amounts of money. But a certain failure, distressing to themselves, to be like other people, caused them to sink back, with so much else that drifted or was washed up, into the mud moorings of the great tideway. – from Offshore, page 10 –

Penelope Fitzgerald’s Booker Prize winning novel Offshore is set in the 1960’s along the Thames and introduces a cast of eccentric and unique characters whose lives criss-cross and intersect as they go about their days on the worn out barges of the area. There is Richard, a retired navy man whose desire for organization unites the others, and Maurice who receives stolen goods, and Willis whose boat Dreadnought is fated for tragedy. But, it is perhaps Nenna who is the most interesting – a woman who has been abandoned by her husband and is trying to raise two precocious, young girls. Tilly, the youngest daughter, loves barge life and her courageous and lively spirit is infectious.

Tilda cared nothing for the future, and had, as a result, a great capacity for happiness. – from Offshore, page 27 –

Tilda, in spite of her lucid gray eyes, showing clarity beneath clarity, which challenged the nuns not to risk scandalising the innocent, had often been in disfavour. She was known to be one of the little ones who had filled in their colouring books irreverently, making our Lord’s beard purple, or even green, largely, to be sure, because she never bothered to get hold of the best crayons first. – from Offshore, page 41 –

As Fitzgerald’s novella progresses, it is Nenna’s domestic unhappiness which unites the characters, and it is Tilly’s innocent optimism which creates the irony in the story.

Fitzgerald’s story is full of a black humor and her writing is clear and descriptive. Offshore feels much like a character study or a long short story, and its ending is both unexpected and unresolved.

This was my first Fitzgerald novel, and I appreciated her wonderful use of language and development of the characters. But when I turned the last page I felt oddly disconnected and disappointed. I wanted more, yet there was no more to be had. Offshore is strongly literary in style and it is a quick read. It whet my appetite for more of Penelope Fitzgerald’s work.

Interesting side note: people are still living on the antique barges on the Thames.


Cats + Puppy = Conflict

**All photos are clickable to enjoy a larger view.

Happy cats:


Not so happy cats:



This is BY FAR the most difficult lesson Raven must learn – LEAVE IT! She is about 50% successful with this command. We say “leave it” when she approaches the cats, and half the time she does. The other half the time she either barks and leaps, or takes chase. This morning Gizmo smacked her on the nose…but it did not seem to deter my little one. We’ll keep trying!