Saturday, January 12, 2013

Gigi and the Cat

As I am sure you can tell I am a huge Colette fan and picked up Gigi and the Cat while I was on holiday in Texas.

Gigi is one of Colette's best known pieces, what with that movie that won 9 Oscars and all. I haven't seen the movie but I clearly I need to. Gigi is a beautiful short story of a young woman (emphasis on young) who is brought up by her two aunts to be a woman of the world. She learns how to become a desirable mistress to a rich man. But Gigi decides to play by her own rules when it comes to the dashing Gaston Lachaille.

The Cat had my full attention in a way that Gigi did not. The title character in this piece is Saha, a Russian Blue cat that has a creepy soul-connection with her own Alain. Alain's new wife has grown jealous over the cat, while Alain wonders who his heart really belongs to. All three are living in a 9th floor apartment while their new home in renovated and the close quarters lead to dramatic outbursts.

"But at the age when he might have coveted a car, a journey abroad, a rare binding, a pair of skis, Alain nevertheless remained the young-man-who-has-bought-a-little-cat."

I think what detached me from Gigi was the lack of insight into Gigi's motives. Colette is at her best when she is in a character's mind, which she does well with Alain in the Cat. But all and all this book was lovely read that finished off my 2012 year of reading.

Other Colette works I have blogged about:
The Pure and the Impure
The Innocent Libertine

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


From what I can tell, Caitlin Moran is the loudest feminist from the UK writing at the moment. She writes for The Times and tweets constantly. Her first book, How to be a Woman, was a New York Times Bestseller. It was also much loved by me, as seen here.

So for Christmas I was thrilled to open Moranthology up. A collection of Moran's articles from The Times about all sorts of things, from the importance of libraries, the awkwardness of growing up poor, the absence of women writers featured in the news media, and two pieces about Downton Abbey. Hitting all of my buttons there, Moran.

I tore through the book in less than twenty-four hours. The pieces are all short and pithy and very often made me almost pee from laughing. I think this would be a great book for anyone to read. It's very current in that I  feel weird reading a book uses the word Tumblr and discusses events like Micheal Jackson's funeral and the latest royal wedding.

Moran is the kind of woman I want to be. She's funny, smart, stupid, dorky, and has great hair. And, because I too was a chunky poor kid who spent a lot of time at libraries, I think we'd get on pretty well over a bottle of wine.

"I think that, at the time, I thought that if I looked at people - particularly boys - long enough, I would somehow work "it" out. That I had no idea what "it"was, of course, is one of the hallmarks of adolescence. If I'd been forced to put money on what "it"might be, it sadly would not have been, "Whether my life would be immeasurably improved if I stopped wearing a bathrobe, tried to be normal, and bought a cost, instead." I was, as you can see, quite hopeless."

There is a lot of drama over Moran in the internet world. She seems to talk fast and loose about her view of the world and has a huge following of people who pick over what she says. And sometimes she says things very poorly or even just wrong. But she seems like a normal person in that she (usually) knows when this happens and does her best to make amends. Most of my knowledge of any of this comes from Helen Lewis.

This book would be a great gift for any mom, sister, friend, or stranger with an interest in pop culture and a sense of humor.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Wide Sargasso Sea

I love re-tellings of classic stories, especially when they have a different point of view than the original. Jane Eyre is one of my favorite books and spoiler alert - crazy Bertha Rochester really needed her story told. Wide Sargasso Sea is told mostly through Anoinette's point of view, growing up in the Caribbean in the years before Rochester comes and sweeps her right up into his attic.

She lives in Jamaica, where she and her family do not fit in with anyone. Her mother's husband is dead and leaves Anoinette , her mother, and her infant brother alone in a mansion. The freed slaves do not respect her family and the white colonials avoid them. Eventually, after another marriage, the house is burnt to the ground and the little brother dies. The mother, who always favored the son over Anoinette, is driven into grief and locked away from society. CAN YOU TASTE THE FORESHADOWING?

"(My father, visitors, horses, feeling safe in bed - all belonged to the past.)"

Antoinette is under constant fear and relentless stress in her young life and is given a brief respite in a convent until her family arranges a marriage for her. We switch to some point of view from Rochester himself, that dreamy hunk of a man. He marries Antoinette because as a second (poor) son, he needs to marry someone with money. However, this is not a great match as we know. Rochester finds out about Antoinette's mental illness background and turns into a giant drunken jerk who for no real explained reason, starts calling his new wife "Bertha". Antoinette, who is so deeply connected to her homeland is dragged away to England and shut out from the world by a man who outright hates her.

"Above all I hated her for she belonged to the magic and the loveliness  She had left me thirsty and all my life would be thirst and longing for what I had lost before."

I'd go crazy too.

I found the book a bit confusing at times with the switching of the point of view and was left wanting more from Antoinette and less of Rochester. But the writing style is lovely and I am interested to read some of Rhys other works.

Side note - HAPPY NEW YEAR! Has anyone set any reading goals for this year? I plan on trying for 105 this year. One down and 104 to go! Wheeee!