Easter Break and New Books

Something I really enjoyed about the Easter holiday was going to a singing event at a local church on Friday.  Quite a large crowd of singers turned up and we spent the afternoon rehearsing Mozart’s Requiem with some instrumentalists, before performing it as a concert in the evening. I find Mozart’s Requiem such a beautiful piece of music, so I was quite excited about this event. The singing was aided by tea and hot cross buns, and the concert raised money for the church’s new choir school so there were some cute little choir boys who handed out bouquets to the soloists at the end!

Another nice thing about the weekend was realising that I have acquired several new books that I am looking forward to reading. First of all, speaking of Barbara Pym, while I was at my parents’ house at the weekend, I managed to hunt down A Very Private Eye, a collection of Pym’s diaries and letters, and I can’t wait to find out more about the life and personality of a writer I admire. I think it is interesting when reading an author’s letters or diaries to see how much the person seems familiar from their novels and to what extent a different side to their character is revealed. I will be particularly interested to read Pym’s diaries from while she was studying in Oxford and her letters to Philip Larkin. He is one of my favourite poets so for a while now I have wanted to learn more about the friendship between them.

While rummaging through boxes of my old books at my parents’ house, I also unearthed a Muriel Spark novel, A Far Cry from Kensington, which (if I am organised enough) I hope to read for the Muriel Spark Reading Week at Stuck-in-a-Book. I have loved some of Muriel Spark’s books (The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and The Girls of Slender Means) while strangely there are others I have not liked much at all (Loitering with Intent is one I remember). I do find her interesting so I’m definitely looking forward to reading this novel, especially as a quote from the Sunday Times on the cover describes it as set in ‘a 1950s Kensington of shabby-genteel bedsitters, espresso bars and A-line dresses’. That sounds perfect to me.

One of my recent book purchases is The House in Paris by Elizabeth Bowen, which I have already started reading. As I like her writing very much, I have decided to try to read as many of Elizabeth Bowen’s novels as I can over the next few months. She also published some travel writing (A Time in Rome) and wrote memoirs about her childhood (Seven Winters) and her family’s house in Ireland (Bowen’s Court), so I’d like to try these different genres of her writing as well. The House in Paris is so far a beautifully written and mysterious novel, and I hope to write more about it later.

Finally, I have also acquired a copy of The New Moon with the Old, a novel by Dodie Smith. I enjoyed I Capture the Castle but only discovered recently that Dodie Smith had written other novels for adults. The New Moon with the Old looks like an entertaining and magical story about a woman who becomes secretary to an eccentric family, so I’m saving it for when I’m in the mood to be cheered up by my reading.

Has anyone read (or would you like to read) any of these books?

  1. I’ve bought an Elizabeth Bowen biography after Mel recommended it and a book with her letters and I have two of her novesl to read as well. The House in Paris and Eva Trout.
    I will read Territorila Rights ofr the Muriel Spark week. I’m loooking forward to all of the books but I’m not sure when I will read them.
    It must be nice to hear and perform Mozart’s Requiem in a church. I’m glad you ejoyed it.

    • Sarah said:

      Thanks for your comment 🙂 I’d like to know what you think of The House in Paris when you get to read it. I haven’t read Eva Trout – I have read The Death of the Heart and The Heat of the Day (both great!) which I’ll hopefully re-read soon.
      I know the feeling of not knowing when to read all the books you want!

  2. I am very interested in Barbara Pym at the moment and am heading to the library this week to see about finding copy of A Very Private Eye. I’ve read three of her novels now and plan to do a start-to-finish read of her work at some point this summer. Do you have a favorite of hers?

    • Sarah said:

      It’s difficult to choose one favourite but I would probably go for Jane and Prudence or Some Tame Gazelle and I also enjoyed Crampton Hodnet which is set in Oxford. I’ve just finished A Very Private Eye – it was so interesting as I thought her diaries and letters were quite revealing and personal, especially the earlier ones, and she also writes quite a lot about her inspiration for her novels etc. Doing a start-to-finish read of her work sounds great.

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