Wednesday, October 31, 2012

NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow!!

Well NaNoWriMo is almost here!! Today I thought perhaps I should have done some preplanning... hmmm.
I have a couple of ideas hopefully they are 50 000 words worth of ideas!!
One was inspired by some newspaper stories I came across on Trove. Trove is AWESOME!! Not only does it contain a database of items that are held in public libraries across Australia, but they have digitised newspapers, a database of photos and so much more!! I love it for the digitised newspapers and the wealth of family history information!

Anyhoo in a family that offshoots from my family tree by marriage is the Everingham Family. Matthew James Everingham was sentenced for transportation in 1784 and was transported to Australia in 1787 on the First Fleet. He died in 1817 when he accidentally drowned whilst on duty as a policeman. In the early 1920s there were articles appearing in the newspapers about the "missing Everingham millions" and rumours that Matthew had been from a well to do family and had been left a lot of money by his father. Only it was never claimed and subsequently was left to his descendents. The interest on that money meant that by the 1920s it would have been worth millions.

Anyway I found this story fascinating! It sounds like the plot of a novel already doesn't it? It's not my usual thing, but if I can't come up with anything else this is a good place to start.

The other idea is a bit complicated and I'm not sure how it would work out in practice, so I'm not going to share it here ... yet!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

To The Lighthouse
Virginia Woolf
Vintage, 1927, 2011

About The Book
This book revolves around the Ramsey family and their trip with friends to their holiday home in the Isle of Skye.

My Thoughts
The only other Virginia Woolf book that I've read is Orlando and that was when I was at Uni... and so long ago that all I remember is that I really enjoyed it. Or at least I enjoyed the premise of the book where the main character switched between the sexes. To The Lighthouse is the October book for the Friday night book group and I have to admit I am struggling with it.

I really don't know what this book is about. I think I've gleaned some information from what I've read... but that would be pure luck. My powers of procrastination have beaten this book and I still had 70 odd pages to go when book club started and it is only 198 pages. I felt a bit bad as the newest member of the group felt she had to finish the book, and she was the only one who did. The discussion was good nonetheless! Someone had read either her diaries or a Room of One's Own (I forget which) and was able to provide some biographical details and thoughts on To The Lighthouse, which was very helpful.

I think that talking about it helped me make sense of what was going on in the book. I would like to finish it to see if the rounding out that I think should happen actually does happen. I tried to read some the day after, but I could barely keep my eyes open while reading it and it put me in a sleepy mood for the rest of the day! 

What the book seems to be about is The Ramsey family. At first it all revolves around the beautiful Mrs Ramsey, but part two is about an intervening time between the two visits to the holiday house, during which time some of the characters have died and the first world war has happened. This is where I am up to and time is passing very slowly indeed.

This book is a hard read, which is not the writer's fault. The fault is with me, the reader. As with our modern society I don't want to have to work at my entertainment/escape and so would prefer an easy read. That being said, after the discussion I have a renewed regard for the book... even if when I get back to it I still don't really know what is going on. I'm not satisfied with knowing broadly what is happening... but that is all the book is allowing me. I spoke to a colleague today who said she really enjoyed the book and being transported back to the early 1900s. This just reinforces that the fault is with me... not the book.

I guess what really stands out to me so far is the relationship between Mr and Mrs Ramsey and the fact that there is so much for them to say to each other but there is the reluctance and hesitation in actually doing so. The  most poignant scene for me is one where they are in the bedroom and Mrs Ramsey knows that Mr Ramsey wants her to say she loves him, but for whatever reason she doesn't. This scene I actually understood and made me feel a bit sad for them.

"And what then? For she felt that he was still looking at her, but his look had changed. He wanted something - wanted the thing she always found it so difficult to give him; wanted her to tell him that she loved him. And that, no, she could not do. He found talking so much easier than she did. He could say things - she never could. So naturally it was always he that said the things, and then for some reason he would mind this suddenly, and reproach her. A heartless woman he called her; she never told him that she loved him. But it was no so - it was not so. It was only that she could never say what she felt." p 114

Monday, October 22, 2012

NANOWRIMO - November

November is (Inter)National Novel Writing Month!
A month of sitting down and doing a whole lot of writing and trying to have enough words for a novel! It doesn't have to make sense, or be very good. The idea is to try. 

This is the 3rd year that I've given it ago, and I haven't made it passed 10 000 words. Maybe this year is the year. I just need to spend more time writing than checking the word count!! 

Wish me luck!

If you're interested in what NaNoWriMo is all about you should check out the NaNoWriMo website

Monday, October 15, 2012

Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte

Agnes Grey
Anne Bronte
Penguin 1988

About the Book
Agnes Grey is a Pastor's daughter. When the family falls on hard times she decides she had to go out to work to earn money to support the family. She becomes a governess first for the Bloomfield family then for the Murray family.

My Thoughts
This was the book club book for the 1st Wednesday group for September. 

I haven't read anything else by Anne Bronte, but I did watch some of the TV series of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte is one of my favourite books and so sets a high standard for books by the other Bronte sisters.

I quite liked Agnes Grey. Although, I was a bit annoyed at her naivety at the start of the book. Did she really think she could just start governing children like that? There was something else that annoyed me about her,  but it's been a while since I started the book that I don't remember what it was. 

Agnes Grey draws on Anne's experience as a governess and the plans of the sisters to set up a school of their own.

I think what I really enjoyed about this book is the subtle romance of the novel. We don't really get to know any of the other characters, which could be because we only see them from Agnes' point of view. I'm not sure that we get to know Agnes' true feelings about things either. However, we do get to know her feelings for Mr Weston and the awkwardness she feels when ever she sees him. I think what I like is that unlike modern romances told in the first person, such as Twilight, she doesn't over analyse Mr Weston's actions. In fact, she seems oblivious to his regard for her! 

The bulk of the story though is about her experiences as a governess. I'm not sure that she really had the disposition to be a teacher. She couldn't control her students, and in fact ended up doing some of the work she had assigned her students herself!! The parents in the families she worked for took advantage of her, and set her impossible limits when dealing with the children. Such as not discipling them. 

I am glad to have finished it, even if that was a month after we discussed it. The other members of the group really enjoyed it.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Superstars & Supergroups

Last night I went to a show at South's Juniors League Club with a friend. She had free tickets from her parents who weren't able to attend. Neither of us knew anything about the show, and I was a little worried that it might be a bit cheesy.

It turned out the show was The Williams Brothers doing songs they sang growing up. And ok, there was a little bit of cheese when one of the brothers sang Tom Jones and Elvis songs and he did some weird moves (I think they were supposed to be sexy moves) hehe. 

But overall it was a fun night!! It's funny how many of the songs they sang have been covered by different artists for the soundtrack of some of my favourite movies! The ones I can remember are:

I'm A Beliver  from Shrek
Twist & Shout from Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Unchained Melody from Ghost (This actually isn't one of my favourite movies)
How Do You Mend A Broken Heart from Notting Hill (This is my favourite soundtrack!)

I think there was another one, but I forget it now. Just after I told my friend that I'm not a Bee Gees fan, they sang How Do You Mend A Broken Heart as part of their Bee Gees set. *Sigh* who knew!!

Oh I remember another one
Mrs Robinson from The Graduate (I haven't actually seen this movie)

Between The Assassinations by Aravind Adiga

Between The Assassination
Aravind Adiga
Free Press, 2008

1st Wednesday book for October 2012

About the book
This is a collection of short stories tied together by the location Kittur a fictional city in India. The book is set out like a travel guide for Kittur with information about the city's highlights followed by a story set near it.

My Thoughts
I started this book before I went on holidays and was making good progress when I thought I should stop reading it because I didn't want to finish it too quickly. I didn't read it while I was away and so with 2 days until book club I had 250 pages to go. EEK!

Luckily, the book was quite easy to read and even with my excellent skills at procrastination I only had 10 pages to go at book club!! I think the fact that none of us knew much about the book had an effect on how the bookclubbers responded to the book.

I liked it... well I liked the concept of it. To have each story set around the "touristy" landmarks of a fictional city in India. It was like we were on a guided tour of the city, and then got up close with the locals... and isn't that what the best thing about travelling is? It was like the book was about the city rather than the characters.

I liked some of the stories, but over all I felt like everyone was in a hopeless situation. It may well be like that but surely there is always some hope that a situation can be improved. In some of the stories, such as the mosquito sprayer, he lost his hope through his own actions, but... surely not everyone is discontent? Although I guess the book does show how easily the good things gained can be lost, such as the story of the man who wanted to be a conductor on the buses. He achieved his goal, but is injured and can no longer work. I think that's what I really didn't like about the book, was that there was no happiness... or even a glimmer of a happy ending. Is life really like that for people?

I guess I am talking from an extremely privileged point of view. I have a good job, a roof over my head, food to eat and a wonderful group of friends. Sure I'm not married and I would like to be, but being single means that I am freer to catch up with people more often than married people might be. I admit I do get a bit frustrated when people I know focus on what they don't have instead of being thankful for all the good things they do have. When I compare my life to the lives of the characters in Between the Assassinations, I feel amazingly blessed. It was an accident that I was born in such a lucky country. The characters in this book have don't always have a place to sleep or food to eat. I can see why they would long for something more. 

I think this differs a lot from the other Indian literature I've read - namely Q & A (aka Slumdog Millionaire) by Vikas Swarup and Family Matters and A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry is that there is hope that the characters will be able to get things that will make their lives easier. In A Fine Balance, there are two characters that suffer horribly but they continue to persevere in the hope that things will get better, while the more well of character can't take it as well. Now that was an amazing book, I highly recommend it.