I truly believe that all I am fit for today is reading chicken wings and reading Daphne du Maurier’s My Cousin Rachel [shout/countershout coming soon!!], but here I am, writing this post instead, for which I believe I ought to be rewarded with chicken wings and the time to read My Cousin Rachel.
This post is chockful of Big Dame Energy, which is why it seemed particularly relevant to share this trailer to a movie I am BEYOND excited for: “Tea With the Dames,” in which it appears that we will all have the immense privilege to just sit in a movie theater and witness a conversation between four of show businesses most venerated British ladies, which is one of the most perfect things I could imagine.
Since we’re talking about dames, have you subscribed to the Two Bossy Dames newsletter yet? I’ve recently discovered the joy of newsletters and Margaret H. Willison and Sophie Brookover have created one of my favorites. It is somehow even MORE effusive than this blog and is full of recommendations of all kinds and links to all kinds of interesting articles/thinkpieces/etc. The link above is where you can subscribe [there are two versions: a biweekly free one and a weekly paid version], and here are the archives, where you can get a feel for their [excellent] vibe.
Excellent Women– Barbara Pym
I feel so horrified that I lived my whole life without Barbara Pym until the last couple of weeks. I’d heard her name tossed around throughout the years, but I guess I had the wrong idea of the kind of books she wrote, until Daniel Mallory Ortberg mentioned her in this interview [he gave A LOT of interviews around the time of his book launch and I read THEM ALL, OKAY] describing Excellent Women as “one of the best novels of the 20th century…about the rich inner life of an overlooked, single woman in the 1950s” which of COURSE hooked me. After reading this one, I’m dedicated to reading Pym’s entire body of work, because I just want more of her wit, warmth, concerns, and celebrations.
I’m not sure how I can better describe this book than Ortberg’s succint description, but I absolutely loved spending time with Mildred Lathbury, the book’s protagonist who has all but accepted her place as one of the “excellent women” who keep society running but are generally assumed not to have any needs or desires of their own. Her observations are astute and her insights precise and I often found myself cackling out loud while reading.
The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore – Kim Fu
Summer camp! Pre-teens! Danger! Frenemies! Kayaks! The long-lasting impacts of traumatic events and the way they shape and recontextualize our lives!!
I read this book in one day, which is always a good sign and good feeling. I’m not sure if I would classify it as YA — as even though the throughline of the book is a group of young girls who find themselves in a dangerous situation at a summer camp, the majority of the book actually follows each of the 5 girls into their adult lives. Not that teens/young adults aren’t interested in or capable of reading about adult lives, it just seems written to appeal more to adults than teens. Actually, as for myself, I was a little frustrated with the focus on their adult lives. I was drawn to this book because of the “pre-teen girl survival story,” and I wish the book had been more 70% that and 30% the girls carrying the experience into their adult lives, but the book was fast-paced and well-written and I’m glad I read it.
Also, TW for a couple instances of sexual assault.
Cassandra at the Wedding – Dorothy Baker
A bonus book in honor of the fact that I was at a wedding this weekend!
If you, like me, are in general bound to have an existential crisis at pretty much every wedding you attend [no matter how excited you are for the couple in question], you need this book as much as I did. Another short read that focuses powerfully on the inner life of a woman who isn’t quite sure where she fits or who with. Cassandra, the main character, is going home to attend her twin sisters wedding, and…basically has an existential crisis.
As weird as it sounds, this is actually a fairly funny book [especially one that I’m Trigger Warning for portrayal of suicidal ideation/attempted suicide]. Cassandra is a self-aware protagonist with a dry sense of humor whose self-awareness is not nearly as helpful to her as the sense of humor. There were so many times when she thought or said something that seemed like it was exactly out of my own head as she navigates the situation with just about as little grace as possible.
After you’ve read this book, please enjoy this discussion of it over at The Toast [r.i.p.] [CONTAINS SPOILERS] [and also probablyyy wouldn’t be that interesting to you if you haven’t read the book, but once you have you’re going to want to hear as many people talk about it as possible] : http://the-toast.net/2013/09/12/emily-books-book-club-cassandra-wedding/
So long! Farewell! Have some chicken wings in my honor!