Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon: Marching On

daffodilsSigns of spring here in Wales yesterday just in time for the annual celebration of St David’s Day. Some years the daffodils (our national flower) are barely in evidence on March 1 but yesterday they were out in bloom as we drove home from a celebration weekend with the family.

The year is marching ahead so fast that I completely overlooked the third anniversary of this blog two weeks ago. It should be one of the simplest things to remember since the date coincides with Valentine’s Day but clearly my little brain can’t cope with too many pieces of data simultaneously. So it’s a happy belated birthday greeting this year.

February closed with the pleasure of a experiencing one author for the first time (Diego Marani) and becoming re-aquainted with one who has delighted me in the past (Emile Zola).

Marani loves languages (he works as a senior linguist for the European Union in Brussels and has also invented a language called Europanto) and has put that love and knowledge to good use in New Finnish Grammar. Despite the title, this is not a text book but rather a contemplative, atmospheric novel about the importance of language to one’s identity. Wonderfully written, by the time I’d finished it, I just wanted to start all over again.

Zola’s Germinal is one of my all time favourite reads. I didn’t think novels could be more powerful than that story of the misery and desperation of mining families in Northern France.  L’Assommoir came close to it however.  At the heart of the novel is Gervaise, a young woman who sets up her own laundry and makes it a huge success. It’s one of those novels that you read with a sense of foreboding. So pretty soon her husband is quaffing strong drinks at L’Assommoir and squandering the profits.  Zola of course believed that our fates are governed by heredity and environment so there isn’t much hope that Gervaise,the daughter of a drunkard, would ever enjoy a happy life but still you read the book hoping that he’s wrong.

So much for February, what’s on the horizon for March?

I’ll be finishing A Room with a View by E M Forster which is part of my Classics Club list. I’m also reading Benediction by Kent Haruf. I’ve not encountered Haruf before but apparently this is his fifth novel. Written in a sparse prose form, it conjures up a strong sense of it’s location (a small community in Colorado) and of the inhabitants whose lives intersect with Dad Lewis, the owner of the local hardware store. He’s an ordinary man who learns he has just a few more months to live. He prepares to make his peace with the world and to reflect on how he made his own mark. I like the way Haruf deals with the subject of death without resorting to mawkishness and sentimentality.

After that, who knows. I don’t like planning too far ahead because I may be in a different mood when the time comes. It’s probably time I read one of the thicker Booker novels on my shelf or one of the authors from my world literature list. Or maybe I just wont be able to resist the second in the Louise Penny series……


What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

14 thoughts on “Sunday Salon: Marching On

  • You have daffodils in bloom? I waited for the bus this morning in -20C among snow piles up to my chest. I am sooo envious! Glad to hear Finnish Grammar is good. It’s on my TBR list. I read Haruf’s Plainsong many years ago and enjoyed it.

    • that sounds miserable Stefanie – my work colleagues in the Michigan area say its the harshest longest winter for many years. Wish I could send a little sunshine your way but we don’t have that much

  • I’m so looking forward to the splash of color daffodils bring, but we’re at least a month away from seeing any blooms. Germinal has been on my ‘to read’ for years… I loved Therese Raquin and really liked The Ladies’ Paradise, too. I need to get back to Zola, too.

    Congratulations on three years of blogging!

    • I’ve not read The Ladies Paradise – will look that one up though now you’ve recommended it. Thanks for that tip.

    • It gives me heart to know that the cold nights are soon to be over

  • We have snowdrops and erantis too but no croquses, daffodils or tulip blooming yet. But spring is definitely in the air – lovely. I have yet to read Zola but I keep hearing good about him and he is on my Classics Club list. I did finish the 1990 Booker winner recently (Possession) and loved it!!

    • I had to look up erantis because I’ve never heard of that plant. It seems to be like a buttercup though much bigger. Anything that looks bright in these days of grey skies is welcome for me. As for Zola, oh yes you should give him a go

  • Congratulations on your blogiversary! We have daffodils flowering too – madness, when it was April before they were out last year. But welcome madness. I’m a fan of Zola, though L’Assommoir manages to be both utterly brilliant and quite hideously depressing. I always wondered where the cliche of being left to die in a cupboard with dogs gnawing the bones came from… I might have lived happily without knowing! I also loved Nana, but that novel divides people. I also love A Room With A View. Could there be two authors more different than Zola and Forster? Answers on a postcard!

  • For the first time I’ve planted bulbs and so have snowdrops and crocuses and daffodils out in the garden and even though it is wet and miserable (again) they do make such a difference. Happy belated birthday.

  • It sounds like you’ve had an interesting month for reading! I had to look up St. David. I’m Catholic (or Catholic Lite, to be honest) and had no idea who he was but saw he is your patron saint. If it makes you feel better, several of us totally missed our blogiversaries this year already, including me. My blog turned 5 in the beginning of January which I realized like toward the end of the month. Oops.

  • I’m with you. I don’t like to plan too far ahead either. I have a couple of books lined up, but that might change between now and tomorrow.

    I’m such an ugly American. I thought you lived in England, not Wales. Some day I’ll learn where people live. Sigh. 🙂


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