Friday, March 15, 2019

Mucho Reading on the Ides of March! What Would Brutus Say?

Might Julius Ceasar have avoided his fate if he had stayed at home reading? Or if Brutus had?

Today, Friday, I read a great deal, as I have the other days of this week. I finished reading Tessa Hadley's The London Train, which I started on Tuesday, I believe. It's on my list for the 2019 TBR Challenge that Alex at Roof Beam Reader is hosting. (His blog is listed in the sidebar.) This weekend, I must write the review for it. I liked it, but there is much, much more to say about a book by Tessa Hadley than "I liked it" or "I didn't like it." 

Daily this week I've been reading chapters of The Radetsky  March by Joseph Roth, the 1932 Austrian novel, following members of the Von Trotta Family from the late 18th century to the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the empire of the Hapsburgs, in World War I.
I am  finding this one to be powerful and extraordinarily well-handled. There is so much that I could say about it, but I will wait until the 3-part, 3-week-long roundup of the book takes place in April. I'm so grateful to have been made aware of this classic, thanks to Lizzy and Caroline of Beauty is a Sleeping Cat. (See sidebar).

Today I devoured a children's novel (ages 10-14) by one of my favorite children's authors, Ruth M. Arthur, entitled My Daughter, Nicola. Most of Arthur's books are set in  remote locations of England and Wales, but this one is set in the Swiss Alps, probably sometime in the early 20th century.  Arthur wrote most of her books from the early 1960s through the late 1970s. During her adult, married  life she lived in Surrey, England, but evidently she once attended school in Scotland.  A number of her books have somewhat supernatural elements in them, related to ancient times in Briton. It can be hard to find her books now, but I've been collecting them for the past 30 years or so, one by one, from used book sellers and rare book dealers. They captivate me in the way few books do. The young heroines almost never have a full set of normal parents. They live with a kind aunt, or an uncle, or a grandparent, leaving them a bit untethered and able to interact with the universe a bit more freely. I simply adore them because the questing of these heroines speak to me, as well as their vulnerabilities.


  1. I think thaf had Ceasar stayed home, the conspiracy against him might havre fallen apart or been found out. He may have survived.

    I hand heard such good things about t The Radetsky March. I read Caroline’s commentary among others. I look forward to reading your thoughts on it. I might give it a try myself sometime.

    1. Hi Brian,
      I think so too. But he was so duty-bound and so mindful of his stature and of what other men thought of him that staying home would never have been an option for him, unless maybe, if he had been mildly poisoned and temporarily incapacitated.
      Now that I'm into The Radetsky March, I would recommend it to everyone--and I will explain why in coming weeks. It has stature as a masterpiece in central Europe. But I'd like to see it become more widely recognized in the Western Hemisphere, and the UK.

  2. What ambition reading today. I had not heard of My Daughter, Nicola but it sounds like I would like it. Actually I have not heard of any of these books and I am eager to hear about The London Train.

    1. Hi Tracy,
      I think I'm a bit off on the age range for My Daughter, Nicola. I would say it's 9-12, though the vocabulary would tax the average 9-year-old. Ruth Arthur's other books are about young teens, with a few 16 year olds. They are really her best.
      Just a word about The London Train and Tessa Hadley, which I am repeating and have repeated. Hadley is so skilled at creating scenes in intimate, private spaces in homes, in the landscapes surrounding the characters' homes, quite striking. More later.

  3. I'll definitely have to give Ruth M. Arthur a go - amazingly I've never heard of her and I know I'll enjoy her books from your description.

  4. Katrina,
    I just hope you can find some books by Arthur. They're now hard to find, unless via the used booksellers online, at least that's the way it is here.
    I hope you find some! They are so good.