Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Mrs Underhilll Book Club meeting # 2

Alrighty then, let’s get this show on the road.

As mentioned on the 18th of Jan, we had delays in getting the book club up and running. Now let’s try and get the ball rolling with some discussion of the book, taking a ‘suck it and see’ approach to how and if this online dialogue will work or not. I’m going to kick off with a few points here and maybe that will prompt other members to comment on these topics too and then add their own:

I suppose the first thing to comment on is if we liked this book in a general sense?

Liked it or not, what were the things that swayed us one way or the other?

Across the board, what special themes or incidents would one like to discuss.

I am going to run an experiment by posting my feedback to these three points in the COMMENTS section of this blog in the hope that fellow members will ‘comment’ back. If you have any trouble accessing it, let me know or just email the answers to me direct if you have my details.

* A few notes on language and terminology:

I loved reading for bookclub because I was more scholarly in my approach. Hence, in Chapter one of book one I saw a reference to “men walked and spoke as they had done in Newman’s Day” (page 23 of my Penguin version). Newman, I discovered, was a vicar in Oxford who headed up a movement to bring the Church of England back to its Catholic roots.

In that same section is a reference to Oxford’s “Eight Weeks”. This, apparently, is a major annual rowing event.

I have to draw our attention to an observation on this book from TIME magazine that I found amusing: "Some of the writing matches Waugh's best (and there is little better); some of it is equal to his worst (sample: ". . . at sunset I took formal possession of her as her lover. ... On the rough water ... I was made free of her narrow loins.").

I did not discover what “Hogarthian page boy” refers to … does anyone know?

* * Before I sign off, on the 18th I ran some ‘biding time’ questions which I stole from elsewhere and Miss L P answered them thusly:

Q. A plot structure question: why is Lord Marchmain's death the novel's finale? Isn't he a minor character? Who cares if he dies?
A. Even he comes back to the Church on his deathbed. Julia can't deny her faith any longer - leaves CharlesQ. What shifts do you see - in theme, tone, style, plot structure, or anything else - between Book One and Book Two of Brideshead Revisited?
A. B1 – carefree, partic. Oxford days. B2 - sense of foreboding, era coming to an end.
Q. Besides Charles, whose side are you on as a reader, and which characters just aren't likeable? What do you think of Lady Marchmain, for example? Julia? Brideshead? Lord Marchmain?
A. Bridey, Charles father is a hoot and Anthony Blanche - he reminds me of a friend of mine!

Finally ... Ms L P suggested this for next Mrs U Bookclub read. "Can I vote for a book called Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides? Sounds amazing."
Votes please!

Additional Waugh reading might be enjoyed by some. He has an autobiography, A Little Learning.