Kate's Queen City Notes

Blundering through Cincinnati, laughing all the way


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100 Books by 40: COLD COMFORT FARM

Book: Cold Comfort Farm
Author: Stella Gibbons
Published: 1932

This is an ode to references. Stella Gibbons is poking fun at books that were popular at the time. Novels that idealized English rural life were common with quirky characters and regional dialects galore.

I purchased this as an audiobook because I was headed out of town for the weekend and wanted something to listen to in the car. Due to my lack of planning, I didn’t have time to get the audiobook from the library. I failed to grasp the implications of purchasing a “dramatized” reading. Dramatic, it is.

This dramatized reading is complete with different voice actors for each character as well as sound effects. I could live without the sound effects. I do, however enjoy the different voice actors.

This book is a little tough for me to get into. In order to fully appreciate parody, I would need to be more familiar with what is being lampooned. Imagine watching Spaceballs without seeing Star Wars. Sure, it’s still funny, but many of the jokes would fall flat. That’s my experience with this book.

I’ve read a couple of the authors that Gibbons is parodying. Via this list, I’ve read the Bronte sisters and Thomas Hardy. But I sense that my familiarity would need to be more significant than one read through can give me.

Regardless, I enjoyed the book. I’m sure many jokes sailed over my head. And I suspect some of the absurd aspects of the plot were more obvious due to the voice actors interpretation. But, if you haven’t read any of the authors that this book lampoons, I suggest you skip it.

Reading now:
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett

Finished reading:
1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
4. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
19. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone, JK Rowling
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
26. Tess Of The D’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
30. Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
39. Dune, Frank Herbert
40. Emma, Jane Austen – only 99 cents for Kindle edition
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens – have on Kindle
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy – have on Kindle
49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
53. The Stand, Stephen King
54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens *I read this when I was too young to appreciate it; I would like to read it again as an adult. I will do so if I have time.
64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
67. The Magus, John Fowles
68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding *I’ve read this twice. I will read it again if I have time.
71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind
72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
74. Matilda, Roald Dahl
75. Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding
76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
78. Ulysses, James Joyce
79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
83. Holes, Louis Sachar
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac *I’ve read this twice. I will read it again if I have time. I have the unabriged unedited version and will probably take on that if time allows.
91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel

Pending reading:
89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
95. Katherine, Anya Seton
96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez
98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
100. Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie


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100 Book by 40: FAR FROM THE MADDENING CROWD

I noticed some parallels between Far from the Maddening Crowd and The Hunger Games. Katniss Everdeen and Bathsheba Everdene share last names. Katniss is an accomplished female lead; Bathsheba breaks gender stereotypes and runs her own farm. Both Katniss and Bathsheba have multiple love interests, and a significant part of the plots of both books hang on romantic outcomes. This prompted me to investigate if Suzanne Collins has acknowledged these similarities. And as it turns out, Collins states that Far from the Maddening Crowd is one of her favorite books.

There’s one other parallel between the authors that comes from reading two of Hardy’s books. Hardy is cruel to his characters. He breaks them down. He makes them suffer. Collins does the same. I actually feel less critical of the way Collins ended her trilogy with this new perspective.

I could talk about Hardy’s sharp perception. I could talk about his wonderful way of capturing the nature of relationships. But I think I would rather let his speak for himself. I loved this book. If these quotes draw you, or you want to see what shaped Collins’ writing, Hardy is a great read.

The change at the root of this has been the recent supplanting of the class of stationary cottagers, who carried on the local traditions and humours, by a population of more or less migratory labourers, which has led to a break of continuity in local history, more fatal than any other thing to the preservation of legend, folk-lore, close inter-social relations, and eccentric individualities. For these the indispensable conditions of existence are attachment to the soil of one particular spot by generation after generation.

Hardy, Thomas (2012-05-17). Far from the Madding Crowd . . Kindle Edition.

This quote is in reference to Oak’s sheep dog, George and his pup. George’s pup triumphantly took Oak to the cliff from which his entire flock plummeted. The implication is that George’s son did such a great job of driving the sheep, that he drove them to their deaths. I love the pivot that Hardy makes to draw a larger conclusion in that this type of single-mindedness is just as undesirable in people.

George’s son had done his work so thoroughly that he was considered too good a workman to live, and was, in fact, taken and tragically shot at twelve o’clock that same day— another instance of the untoward fate which so often attends dogs and other philosophers who follow out a train of reasoning to its logical conclusion, and attempt perfectly consistent conduct in a world made up so largely of compromise.

Hardy, Thomas (2012-05-17). Far from the Madding Crowd (p. 28). . Kindle Edition.

This is a quote in reference to one of Bathsheba’s more reserved suitors. This man probably would have given everything for her happiness, but she spurns him for a foppish, handsome soldier.

He had no light and careless touches in his constitution, either for good or for evil. Stern in the outlines of action, mild in the details, he was serious throughout all . He saw no absurd sides to the follies of life, and thus, though not quite companionable in the eyes of merry men and scoffers, and those to whom all things show life as a jest, he was not intolerable to the earnest and those acquainted with grief. Being a man who read all the dramas of life seriously, if he failed to please when they were comedies, there was no frivolous treatment to reproach him for when they chanced to end tragically.

Hardy, Thomas (2012-05-17). Far from the Madding Crowd (p. 93). . Kindle Edition.

Truth.

The rarest offerings of the purest loves are but a self-indulgence, and no generosity at all.

Hardy, Thomas (2012-05-17). Far from the Madding Crowd (p. 101). . Kindle Edition.

Interesting observation about the differences between men and women and their motivation to marry.

It appears that ordinary men take wives because possession is not possible without marriage, and that ordinary women accept husbands because marriage is not possible without possession ; with totally differing aims the method is the same on both sides.

Hardy, Thomas (2012-05-17). Far from the Madding Crowd (p. 101). . Kindle Edition.

Here’s an update on my reading list.
Reading now:
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy

Finished reading:

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
4. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
19. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone, JK Rowling
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
26. Tess Of The D’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
30. Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
39. Dune, Frank Herbert
40. Emma, Jane Austen
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
53. The Stand, Stephen King
60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens *I read this when I was too young to appreciate it; I would like to read it again as an adult. I will do so if I have time.
70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding *I’ve read this twice. I will read it again if I have time.
87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac *I’ve read this twice. I will read it again if I have time. I have the unabriged unedited version and will probably take on that if time allows.

Pending reading:
55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
67. The Magus, John Fowles
68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind
72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
74. Matilda, Roald Dahl
75. Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding
76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
78. Ulysses, James Joyce
79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
83. Holes, Louis Sachar
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
95. Katherine, Anya Seton
96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez
98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
100. Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie


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100 Books by 40: EMMA

Going from Jane Austen to Thomas Hardy is disorienting. I finished Emma and started Far from the Maddening Crowd yesterday. Austen and Hardy’s works were only separated from each other by about 40 years, but that period introduced considerable changes to British culture. Plus, Austen’s witty dialog is a stark contrast to Hardy’s brooding characters and lush context descriptions. In Austen’s work the transformation engine is love, whereas Hardy’s is suffering. Dropping one book and immediately picking up the other was a challenge.

Concurrently, I have been reading The Count of Monte Cristo for four months. FOUR MONTHS. The things that I don’t appreciate about this book are legion. It was written in French, and like Crime and Punishment, I’m not appreciating all the translation choices. There is quite a bit of repetition. Like many novels from that time period, it was published serially in a periodical; Dumas might have reiterated significant plot points to remind readers. To top it off, the plot feels like a soap opera. Seriously, this book is Guiding Light set in the nineteenth century.

All that challenging reading explains why I was so pleased to pick up Goodnight, Mister Tom. Young Adult Fiction was exactly what my wearied brain needed. Anyone want to place bets that I will finish Goodnight, Mister Tom before I finish The Count of Monte Cristo? Don’t bother. Gambling implies that there is reasonable possibility of either happening. Lets be honest, there isn’t.

I haven’t said anything about Emma. It was pleasant. I found Emma and her father obnoxious. And given that I am on Jane Austen book number 3 in this list, I am chafing a bit at the bright, sunny endings that her books have. Those criticisms aside, her dialog and wit save the day. But I guess in keeping with most romance books, it didn’t tell me anything about life or relationships that I didn’t already know. It was a pleasant diversion and not much else.

I need to wrap this up and get back to The Count of Monte Cristo. I’m on renew number five with the library, and I just can’t bring myself to do another.

I just got a new camera. This means you will all suffer through my learning journey with it.

The wall under the stairs.

The wall under the stairs.

This sandstone glitters.

This sandstone glitters.

Where does the water go?

Where does the water go?

This is the prototype for the Brooklyn Bridge.

This is the prototype for the Brooklyn Bridge.

Shadow of life.

Shadow of life.

This is where the Bengals play.

This is where the Bengals play.

This area in the foreground is where the banks second wave will be built. Someday this view of the city will be obscured.

This area in the foreground is where the banks second wave will be built. Someday this view of the city will be obscured.

Fixing the side walks.

Fixing the side walks.

This building has some mega ugly 70's façade put on it. This is what was underneath.

This building has some mega ugly 70’s façade put on it. This is what was underneath.

Front view of the building. I hope they restore the original façade. It's way more awesome than the 70's mess that was there before.

Front view of the building. I hope they restore the original façade. It’s way more awesome than the 70’s mess that was there before.

Inside Rhinegiest.

Inside Rhinegiest.

Beer.

Beer.