Easter and Prizes

This will be my last post before next Tuesday as this weekend, as well as being Easter, is my mother-in-law’s 70th birthday party, an occasion significant enough to warrant a marquee and caterers. My husband’s siblings are arriving from Toronto and Brussels (and Sheffield) and about 40 of my mother-in-law’s local friends are expected. It will be very nice to catch up with all the family, but given that I am not a party animal, and consider the optimum socializing time to be about an hour and a half, I have to admit to some quiet apprehension. It’s not that I don’t love my family, only that I have trouble spending more than three hours in any noisy, sociable environment. Still, I have a plan to get me through the party itself. We’ve started a family news blog for my mother-in-law as a kind of present, and I was going to go round her friends at the party asking what memories they had of the first time they met her. I’ll post the responses up on the blog, which might later win me some quiet, relaxing time with a keyboard if I’m lucky. We’ll see how it all goes.

I’ve also got quite a reading project to sneak off with, should a tempting dark corner lure me into it. A little while ago I decided to bite the bullet and join the parents’ reading group that convenes at my son’s school. The choices for the meeting that takes place a bit later this month are Kate Summerscale’s The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, which I received for Christmas and have been looking forward to in any case, and Wilkie Collins’ No Name. It was surprising enough that a group should have two books to discuss, not just one. And then No Name arrived in the post yesterday and lo and behold, it is a monster chunkster, weighing in at 741 pages. So altogether, the members had assigned themselves over a thousand pages to read. ‘What are the people at your school on?’ I asked my son, who replied somewhat drily, ‘I’m glad to see they expect as much from the parents as they do the pupils.’ Anyway, knowing my time over the weekend would be restricted, I’ve made it through 169 pages so far, and it is at least a very good story and most enjoyable. British 19th century isn’t my favourite era, but Wilkie Collins knows how to reel the reader in and keep the pages turning. Before No Name jumped the queue, I was having a lovely time with Mary S. Lovell’s entertaining biography, The Mitford Girls, which was no slim volume itself (529 pages). So when I turn up with both of these it’s going to look less like I’m expecting a weekend party than a siege.

Finally, I conducted the draw for the book giveaway. People came up with completely brilliant suggestions and I was truly sorry I didn’t have a prize for everyone. I promise you, if I’d had more doubles of any kind, I’d have given out more prizes. Anyway, there were so many wonderful contenders that I was scrupulously correct in doing the draw (names on scraps of paper from which I chose with eyes shut, no penguins on this occasion) and the winners are: Verbivore, Pete and JB. People, if you could let me know a postal address to which you would like your books sent, by emailing me at litlove1 at yahoo dot co dot uk, that would be splendid.

Have a wonderful, peaceful Easter, my blogging friends, and I’ll be back next week with reviews of Francine Prose’s Blue Angel and Lloyd Jones’ Mister Pip.

18 thoughts on “Easter and Prizes

  1. I’ve loved everything I’ve ever read by Wilkie Collins. I have not read No Name, but I betcha’ it’s going to be marvelous. Also, last year I finished a biography of Diana Mitford entitled Diana Mosely: Mitford Beauty, British Fascist, Hitler’s Angel by Diana de Courcy. She doesn’t seem to have been a very likeable person, but I thought the book was super! Have a wonderful Easter and birthday party. Congrats to the lucky book winners!

  2. I like the idea of pairing “The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher” with a Wilkie Collins. I might have to replicate that when I finally get round to “Suspicions,” although I don’t think I’ll opt for the 741 page one. They’re not all 700+ pages are they? Myself I’m currently finding a 500 page novel about werewolves a surprisingly quick and compelling read (a book I’m “auditioning” as a potential birthday gift for one of my nieces).

    I feel for you as far as the grand family gathering goes. I too need a great deal of solitude, although I’m beginning to feel a bit more sociable now as I always do at this time of year once my teaching term is done and I’m no longer using up all my energy for interaction pretending to be an extrovert in the classroom.

  3. Clever strategy for party avoidance. I sympathize, especially as I will be in the same situation next weekend (father in-law; 75th; feuds; such fun). Happy Easter!

  4. I didn’t realize No Name was a book club book. And you’re also reading The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, too? They are certainly an industrious group. Had to laugh at your son’s comment though! I really liked the Summerscale book and have no doubt you plow easily through it. And Wilkie Collins is very adept at stringing the reader on (which is why I like him so much–he anticipates how a reader is feeling). Good luck with the socializing and family events. I can only handle so much when it comes to parties, too. And I want to read that Lovell bio by the way, too!

  5. Happy Easter, Litlove! I love that you have an arsenal of reading material to help cope with the family weekend- everyone’s always very bustling and paper-shaking and throat-clearing whenever I try to read around my in-laws, so much so I’ve given up when I’m at their place except before be (ah, bliss!). Llew has no idea – NO IDEA – just how scot-free he is because I’m mostly estranged from people I’m related to. He never has to deal with in-laws. Never ever. I love mine, his family is great, and you love yours, but let’s not pretend there aren’t moments when the only thing that seems to matter is making one’s escape! Having said that, I love parties, and this sounds like it’s going to be a cracker, so I hope you’ve pressed your party frock!

  6. I downloaded No Name to my Sony PRS-505 after reading about it here, and I have begun reading it and enjoying it. Collins does have the ability to keep the reader on the hook, wanting to continue reading to find out – in this case at the beginning – what was in the letter from New Orleans that caused Mr. and Mrs. Vanstone to rush off to London for three weeks. The description of Mr. Wagge made me think of Obidiah Slope in Trollope’s Barchester series.

  7. I hope you have a lovely time at the party, and are able to slip away as needed to rejuvenate yourself in private! Since my husband and I are only children, we have such a small extended family that I occasionally find myself longing for a big family bash – but then I consider all the wear and tear on my sensitive nerves and think better of the idea.

    At any rate, you have a couple of good exit strategies if things get to be too much.

  8. I must say you’re very brave to turn up to a weekend party with two chunky books. No matter how much I’d like to hide away for some quiet time on these sorts of weekends, guilt usually prevents me.

    I hope you’ve had a lovely Easter weekend.

  9. Happy Birthday to your dear 70 year old! I hope the party turned out to be more relaxing and enjoyable than you anticipated.
    But over a thousand pages for a book club reading?! Gives me shivers. Your son’s rejoinder was brilliant.

  10. I hope the party is okay — I totally sympathize! Parties are exhausting, even when I’m having a good time. And enjoy the Collins — I think he’s so much fun and am looking forward to reading more of him. I’m glad you are liking the book so far.

  11. How exciting, I never win anything! Thanks very much, will send you my postal address. Hope you had a lovely Easter weekend and the party was bearable, if not fun!

  12. Thanks for the prize!! And Happy Easter. I hope the party was a success and that you got some escape-time too. Whenever I celebrate my birthday I will remember your dear mom-in-law. Also intrigued about Mr Whicher but will give the Collins a skip. Happy reading.

  13. Thank you so much, dear blogging friends, for your wonderful comments. I’ve been treasuring them all. I’m too pooped right now to respond individually, but please do consider yourselves virtually hugged, or virtually thanked, whichever you appreciate more (or indeed both, if that pleases).

  14. Hope you had a lovely Easter and I hope the party went well. What a great idea for a blog you had! And I expect you managed to slip away enough to get in some good reading.

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