Sunday, January 28, 2018

Sanibel Sunday: January 28, 2018


Hello, friends. Zelda and I were on the beach early this morning to watch the sun rise. We may have some rain later, but I'd say the day is off to a  beautiful start!


Finished last week//

Phineas Redux by Anthony Trollope

Two thirds - we're making progress! Audrey and I have been slowly reading Trollope's Palliser series, and this is book 4 of 6. It was much more exciting than Phineas Finn (book 2), thanks in part to a murder trial, but not quite as enjoyable as Can You Forgive Her? or  The Eustace Diamonds. At this point, my preference is for the ecclesiastical Barsetshire novels. Perhaps, given the current state of affairs in the US, I'm not appreciating politics in fiction as much as I might during normal times. We'll see where the next two novels take us.

I approached Phineas Redus as a read/listen combination, as usual - listening for an hour or so on my morning walk, then reading the ebook in the evening. Simon Vance has become the voice of classic British Literature for me.  The Prime Minister  is next... maybe sometime this spring/summer?

My rating:



Set aside//


It was not an easy decision to bail on my First Book of the Year. I chose to begin 2018 with the book I most regret not  reading in 2017. The writing was wonderful and the story was instantly engaging... until it wasn't. I hadn't fully invested in Cyril, so as the narrative shifted away from Catherine, his mother, I found my interest waning. After 200 + pages, I looked to twitter for advice and my blogging friends came through. Ultimately, I would have finished a book of 'normal' length, but wasn't able to justify reading another 400 pages of this chunkster. Most readers loved The Heart's Invisible Furies  and many named it their favorite book of 2017, so I wouldn't cross it off your list based on my experience.



Current reading//


The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan

I tend to enjoy a good "man against the elements" story and this one is fascinating, in terms of both survivors' experiences and the history. The book was brought to my attention during Nonfiction November a couple of years ago. I picked up the ebook as a daily deal shortly afterward, then grabbed the audiobook (narrated by Patrick Lawlor) a couple months ago during an audible 2-for-1 sale. Hope to finish this week.


Up next//


I loved this book when I read it many years ago and was excited to hear about John Banville's new sequel - of course I would read it! As I began to think about James' novel, my recollection of plot details were fuzzy at best... should I reread it in order to really appreciate Mrs. Osmond?  My decision was made, then Bellezza posted this photo on Instagram. As other readers began commenting on her photo, a readalong was born.

As is my habit for long classics, this will be a read/listen combination. I've selected Juliet Stevenson's narration - there are so many! The audiobook is nearly 27 hours and I think the book must be over 600 pages. We plan to read at our own pace and discuss at the end of February. Would you like to join us?


Beyond the books//
It was nice all week, so I got in a beach walk or bike ride every day. Yesterday we hiked at the local wildlife refuge.

My FIL and SIL are joining us for dinner today. I'll be serving Roast Chicken Proven├žal, a family favorite from the NY Times.

The Post is still selling out daily at the small island cinema, so we haven't seen it yet. We could buy tickets a day in advance, but never seem to think about it that far ahead.

We're looking forward to Thursday when our daughters arrive for a long weekend.

How was your week? What are you reading?


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55 comments:

  1. I love that you are in the sun...walking...biking...relaxing...and reading whatever you want to read. Have a great week!

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    1. Patty - This is SO much better than the snow and cold in upstate NY!!

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  2. I finished Phineas on the bus ride home Friday night! I agree with you that the Barsetshire novels are more my cup of tea, and I never really warmed to Phineas as a character. But I did enjoy reading this with you ...and since I've only gotten to a chapter or so of Portrait I'm on board for the read-along as well!

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    1. Audrey - I liked Phineas well enough, but he doesn't have quite as much appeal as the Barsetshire crew. We'll see what happens in The Prime Minister.

      I should be ready to start Portrait sometime next week. Will finish the Dust Bowl book and another novel first. Glad you'll be reading with us!

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  3. PS Juliet Stevenson for me too!

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  4. Looks like you guys are having a great time. Hope your week is filled with fun walks, rides, and reading!

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    1. Kay - I'm so happy to be here... after all those years of snow and cold, this seems too good to be true!

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  5. I love Phineas the character, but I'd vote for the Barsetshire books over the Pallisers. And I struggled with The Prime Minister.

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    1. Lisa - My preference for Barsetshire is pretty well cemented now. Sorry to hear about your experience with The Prime Minister, but I appreciate the warning.

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  6. Gorgeous sunrise.

    It is a rare chunkster that engages me these days, so I probably won't be picking up The Heart's Invisible Furies any time soon.

    Enjoy your week, and thanks for visiting my blog.

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    1. Laurel-Rain Snow - I don't know what I was thinking starting out the year with so many chunksters... my number are abysmal this month! Guess that's why I decided to skip the goodreads challenge ;-)

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  7. What a beautiful photo of the beach. Your dog is so cute! It rained this evening where I live in Florida, for about 4 hours, and our electricity went off for a while too.

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    1. Vicki - We got quite a bit of rain yesterday evening and overnight, but needed it. Didn't lose power though. Hope you have a good week :)

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  8. Beautiful photos! I'm sorry your 1st book didn't work out. It sounds like you are having a great time in Fla. I'm going to add The Post to my Netflix list. Have a great week!

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    1. Pat - We are so happy to be here this winter... think we're going to stay until Memorial Day!

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  9. Gorgeous sunrise! I'm so envious of you walking on a beach this time of year.

    Sorry that THIF didn't work for you, but we all connect to books in different ways and that's exactly what keeps the book talk interesting. The Worst Hard Time brings I Will Send Rain by Rae Meadows to mind. Did you read it? If not, I highly recommend it. (About an OK family, each in their own way trying to survive one summer during the Dust Bowl.) Happy reading!

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    1. Susie - Morning beach walks are definitely my favorite part of the day! Hadn't heard about I Will Send Rain, but it sounds like a great follow-up to The Worst Hard Time... will check the library.

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  10. Lovely sunrise! Interesting assortment of books on your stack too. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

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  11. I'm so glad you bailed on THIF; life it too short (and there are so many books!) and now you've found something that is working out for you - hooray! I am currently reading The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah and, so far, I'm very intrigued by this family! I hope you have a lovely time with your daughters this weekend!

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    1. Tara - Thank you, we'll be celebrating my oldest daughter's birthday. Hard to believe she'll be turning 28! I'll look forward to your thoughts on The Great Alone.

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  12. Good for you for bailing on HIF (even though I adored it). All books don't work for everyone and I've been on the other side of the raves for a number of popular books. If it doesn't work for you, it doesn't work for you.

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    1. Sarah - I hated bailing on HIF, but it wasn't exactly pulling me forward. Even harder to quit when everyone else seems to love it, but that's how it goes sometime...

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  13. Mmm Roast Chicken Proven├žal sounds delicious! This week I have new recipes for Super Leek & Potato soup and Wild Mushroom soup, both were yummy. Also this week I finished reading dark historical fiction The Plague Charmer by Karen Maitland and now I am reading A Monstrous Regiment of Women by Laurie R. King.

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    1. Jessica - Both soups sound delicious... I usually make soup once a week and am always trying new recipes. Hope you're enjoying Laurie R. King's book, I'd like to try one of her novels.

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  14. Sounds like you've had a lovely week! Too bad about your 1st book but setting aside a book you're not loving is a good way to start the year! I have Portrait of a Lady coming up on my classics list and I'm really looking forward to it. Have a great week!

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    1. Katherine - It's been a beautiful week here! Hope I have enough brain power to concentrate on The Portrait of a Lady again... maybe the audio will help pull me through ;-)

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  15. Hi JoAnn: I like Timothy Egan, mostly because I enjoyed his nonfiction book The Good Rain back in the 1990s. Hope his Dust Bowl book is good too. Sorry to hear about the Boyle book but I'm not going near it b/c we think alike so I plan to stay away from it: too much else to read. Good luck with seeing the Post. I haven't seen it yet either, but soon perhaps!

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    1. Susan - This is my first Timothy Egan book, but already know I'd be willing to try another. So disappointing to set Boyle's book aside... was loving it initially, but as the focus shifted from mother to son it lost me. Too much crude teenage sexual humor and I just didn't care about the character, Another blogging friend is now having the same experience. We'll see if she can convince me to pick it up again.

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  16. Beautiful sunrise! I think you did the right thing and put the book aside. You can always go back to it another time if you want to but now to move on to other reads! I'm joining on Bellezza's readalong as well! Hope you have a great week!

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    1. Iliana - I'm so glad you'll be reading with us! It was a tough decision to put the book aside, but it really wasn't working for me.

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  17. I love the beach photos! The dog is so cute. Have a great week!

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

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    1. AJ - Thanks, we love the beach and Zelda does, too!

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  18. Ahhh, the beach pictures give such serenity. Too bad the book didn't hold your attention. My mom saw The Post and said it was excellent. Have a great week.

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    1. Nise' - The beach is definitely my happy place. We drove by this afternoon and The Post was already sold out again... think we'll have to go over to the mainland. Glad you mom liked it.

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  19. So funny, I abandoned The Heart's Invisible Furies as well despite the fact I started out loving it. Just lost interest after 150 or so pages.

    Enjoy your happy place JoAnn.

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    1. Diane - It makes me feel better to know I'm not the only one! My SIL is 100 pages in now and loves it... we'll see what happens ;-)

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  20. I can't believe I don't have a Henry James novel on my list of books. Recently I found an old list from a poll listing the 100 best British books. What is cool is they did not poll any British folks, just to see "an outsider’s perspective on the best in British literature."
    This will take me years but I was inspired by your classics list too.

    Love the photo of Zelda, she is a beauty. Currently I am finishing up White Teeth by Zadie Smith. It's ok, no Henry James but it's ok. :-)

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    1. Tina - I love Henry James, but her can sometimes be a chore to read. His earlier novels, like Daisy Miller, are much more approachable.

      Funny story about White Teeth - it's the only book in the 20+ year history of our book club that was universally panned!

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  21. I just wrote a comment and it disappeared, so I'm writing it again. Apologies if I end up double posting.
    That's so disappointing when a book is good in the beginning and goes downhill. I've been going back and forth lately on how long I should stick with a book I'm not enjoying before giving up on it. There are so many good books in the world that I don't want to waste time on one I don't like.
    I just finished reading Three Wishes by Liana Moriary (which was odd but pretty good. It wasn't fantastic, but it was enjoyable.) and now I'm reading Prairie Fires by Carolina Fraser (I'm only 10 pages in, but I really like it so far.)

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    1. Angela - That's been happening to me with several blogger blogs lately, too. I get more frustrated with them every day... thanks for taking the time to try again!

      I tend to give books at least 50-75 pages before deciding to give up. This time it was harder to quite because so many readers love THIF... sigh.

      Prairie Fires is getting some great reviews, Will be curious to hear what you think!

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  22. I could say a dozen things relating to your post, but I'll try hard to narrow it down.
    First, Zelda's bright eyes convey how much she has enjoyed the good weather and your walks. It's so wonderful to have a canine companion on these tramps.
    Second, yesterday I made a note to look up John Boyne's This House is Haunted, a tribute to 19th century gothic, I believe. I can't live without a gothic shot every few months, so I'll read it soon.
    Portrait of a Lady--wonderful! Then it dawned on me that I haven't read it since my senior year of college and my total enslavement to the joy of a course "The English Novel." So this means I definitely need to do a re-read. And how interesting about an author doing a follow-up.

    And Trollope: I keep thinking I'll latch on to his books, but I find I keep getting swept up in other books, and on and on.

    How I enjoy your challenging reads and comments. Thanks!
    Judith

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    1. Judith - Zelda definitely loves Sanibel as much as the rest of us. I have a beautiful picture of her with a sunrise in the background that may appear in my next post.

      Still disappointed I had to quite Boyne's book. My SIL is reading it now and says it good, but has convinced me not to go back to it. Hope you like his gothic tale.

      I've listened to several chapters of Portrait of a Lady. Juliet Stevenson's narration is excellent... and she makes Henry seem a little less long-winded ;-)

      Hope you've had a good week and are able to enjoy some of the winter weather.

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    2. JoAnn, I'll definitely enjoy the special photo of Zelda when you're able to post it
      I actually was heartened to hear that you did not force yourself to read a book past the point where you wanted to do so, especially after my experience reading The Immortalists, which I did make myself finish because I kept hearing from people who almost stopped reading it midway, and who were glad they finished it.

      I'm so glad you're enjoying Juliet Stevenson's reading of A Portrait of a Lady.

      Do you ever listen to the NYT podcast, "Inside the New York Times Book Review Podcast?" It is my favorite podcast. The week that Trumpocracy was featured, with an interview with the author (one or two weeks ago), the foursome of reviewers included one reviewer who discussed his/her reading of A Portrait of a Lady. This foursome reviews books at the end of the podcast. I so admire Pamela Paul, the NYTBR editor and the person who manages the podcast.

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    3. Thank you, Judith. I've just added a new podcast to my list!

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  23. I really enjoy your Sanibel posts. I just finished The Book That Matters Most for my book club. I have to tell you, I didn't want to read it. I thought it would be a romance novel. Nope. It was really good. I feel silly now because it wasn't anything like I thought it was. I just picked up Nomadland for my other club. Non fiction doesn't give me the happys but I shall power through.

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    1. Ti - Glad you like these posts... this seems to be the best way for me to blog at the moment. The Book That Matters Most wasn't a book I'd even considered until I saw a couple of good reviews, including yours. Might have to give it a try. Hope you like Nomadland. I thought it was fascinating. Still thinking about it now as I have a friend who is doing the camp-host thing in Arizona this winter. Will look forward to your thoughts.

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  24. That view! I'd say it was definitely a fine start to the day with a view like that!

    That makes me sad that you didn't continue The Heart's Invisible Furies. Eventually, Catherine comes back into the picture but how we get to that point is beyond beautiful. I think you would have really enjoyed the rest of it if you had stuck it out a little bit longer, but I say that because it was my favorite book last year.

    I hope you have better luck on your next reads!

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    1. Michelle - It's tough to have a bad day when the morning starts like that! My SIL is still reading Boyne's book and has shared some of the major plot points. She says I should go back to it, but the developments are fascinating. Never say never, I guess. On the plus side, I've started Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller... loving the story and structure.

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  25. Such a beautiful sunrise! We haven't seen very many pretty sunsets these days since we've had a lot of rain and overcast skies. I'm hoping that will change pretty soon!

    I'm still reading The Hearts Invisible Furies and am now on page 260. Not even at the halfway mark! It's due back at the library this weekend, so I'm going to have to return it before I finish. Maybe I'll download the audio and listen to the second half. Sigh.

    Good luck with The Portrait of a Lady. I gave up after 52 pages (which probably equals about 5 sentences! Ha!). HJ is not for me!

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    1. Les - Sunrises like that always get the day off to a great start. Hope clear skies return to your area soon.

      I'll be curious to see what you decide to do with Boyne's book. My SIL has shared some plot points as she's reading and they do sound interesting, but she's not recommending that I go back to it... yet.

      I'm on chapter 8 of Portrait of a Lady now and enjoying Juliet Stevenson's narration very much. Somehow she makes the sentences seem a little shorter ;-)

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  26. I've made quite a bit of progress with Boyne's book (I'm on page 344) and I'm really enjoying it now. I've renewed it a second time and plan to finish before the two weeks are up. Ask your SIL about all the coincidental meetings with Cyril and earlier characters... a little contrived, but I can't wait to see how it all unfolds!

    Glad you're enjoying Portrait of a Lady. Maybe I'll give it a listen one of these days. :)

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    1. Les - I left a comment on your blog this morning about my SIL's reaction... she did mention all of those coincidences. Still not sure I want to try again.

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Thank you for taking the time to comment. These conversations are my favorite part of blogging. Please check back, I almost always respond to comments!

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