Friday, October 8, 2010

Finally, time for a little update

I've finished reading the first six of the Poldark novels. I don't know how Winston Graham did it, but he managed to make each novel in the series, at least so far, interesting and entertaining. Sometimes a series can suffer from repetitions or become a bit stale after a while, but not the Poldark saga. Although I'm taking a break from them, I hope to get the remaining titles in the series.

In honor of it being October, the month of Halloween, I'm trying to establish a tradition of reading gothic novels this month every year, and watching a scary movie on Halloween. This year, since I didn't quite want to leave Cornwall (Poldark country), I got out my copy of Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier. She is best remembered for Rebecca, but I prefer some of her other novels, including Jamaica Inn. It's a classic gothic - young, innocent, orphaned girl goes to live at a remote inn with her aunt and uncle. The uncle is sinister and violent; the aunt, battered and afraid. The heroine, Mary Yellan, starts to hear rumors about the inn and the strange activities that take place there. It doesn't help that Jamaica Inn is situated in an isolated spot on the moors, with no neighbors for miles. But there are two eligible bachelors that Mary soon meets, a hunky and very charming horse thief, and the enigmatic Rev. Francis Davey. I guessed which one Mary ends up with, but otherwise enjoyed this book very much. I hope to watch the movie version soon.

(There was an interesting coincidence between Jamaica Inn and the Poldark books. In Jamaica Inn, there is a blacksmith in a village called Warleggan. Ross Poldark's archnemesis is the banker George Warleggan, who is the grandson of a blacksmith.)

I haven't forgotten about the Everything Austen Challenge. In fact, I managed to come up with a list of things to do:
  1. Read Sanditon
  2. Read The Watsons
  3. Reread Lady Susan
  4. Read the Marvel Comics edition of Pride & Prejudice
  5. Read Claire Tomalin's biography of Jane Austen
  6. Stitch the sampler I meant to do last year.

At this point, getting the list done by the end of the year may not be possible, but at least I've already read the first two items. Sanditon and The Watsons were both really enjoyable, if a little frustrating. They both ended leaving me wanting to know more! Does Sanditon become the next Brighton? Do Lord Edward and Clara Brereton elope? Will Charlotte Heywood end up with Sidney Parker? And does Miss Lambe find the cure for what ails her in Sanditon's fresh sea air? I love the idea that Sanditon is about real estate speculation, and is set at a beach town. As for The Watsons, just which lucky bachelor will win the hand of Emma Watson? And what about Emma's sisters? We get to see Elizabeth and Margaret, but what about Penelope? Elizabeth had nothing good to say about her. Is Penelope really all that bad?

Stitching hasn't been neglected, either. I've done a couple of counted canvas projects, and am now working on Laura J. Perin's Mallard Collage, which I'm enjoying. To be honest, part of the appeal this design has for me is that it's name makes me think of Dr. Mallard, aka Ducky, on NCIS. But I also love the colors, which are perfect for this time of year. I haven't done much with pearl cottons or with Caron threads, so this is a treat for me.

I like to work on one project at a time, but I'm also tempted to start another cross stitch piece, the Chat Noir poster by Art Stitch. Either way, I have to get busy with my camera!

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