Redeemed by the Ending

June 1st, 2011

Well, I have to admit that the final chapters of Anthony Trollope’s The Warden (released in 1855) went much faster than the earlier ones. It’s actually a very short novel, purposely so, according to the author, who wanted to publish it in a single volume (longer works were usually issued in two or more parts during the 19th century). If you’re at all interested in the politics and finances of mid-19th century England, or if you have a fondness for church dramas, The Warden may be right up your alley. The romance between Mr. Bold and Eleanor Harding is rather an afterthought, though it does add a certain lightness to an otherwise serious plot. I did like the way Mr. Harding played his imaginary cello whenever he was nervous — I’ve occasionally caught myself doing the same thing.

After finding the ending of The Warden so much more engaging, I have been forced to revise my hastily-formed opinion of Mr. Trollope’s scribblings. I will, at least, give him another go round. I’ve got a copy of The Small House at Allington all ready to go, though it may be a few weeks before I actually get to it. And of course, I am eager for suggestions — what is your favorite book by Trollope? Or would you rather recommend another author altogether?

Just don’t bring up Zane Grey please. As soon as I finished The Warden last week, I headed for Stairs of Sand. Boy, oh boy. I’m hooked by the story, so will put up with the dialogue to find out what happens, but sheesh. My eclectically well-read husband questions whether Zane Grey actually existed, or if he was just the nom de plum of a group of early 20th century western wordsmiths, getting paid by the pound to churn out pulp. I heard a radio interview last month with a man who claimed to have seen a cancelled check endorsed by Zane Grey at auction, so I think he did exist. Whether that existence can be justified by this book, well that’s beyond the scope of even my pretensions.

Zane Grey

Further proof that he existed — this is Mr. Grey posing with his horse, Juan Carlos.



3 Dollars Worth of Literature

May 22nd, 2011

Have I mentioned that I love Housing Works? They run a fantastic Bookstore Cafe on Crosby Street in SoHo that both collects and sells an amazing panoply of used books and records. I finally gave up trying to give away my recent reading material and decided to donate it to Housing Works. In fact, I think I bought most of it there in the first place.

Of course the best part about donating your books when you’re through with them is that it gives you a perfect excuse to scoop up a few new titles while you’re in the shop. Here’s my haul from today’s jaunt:


I always head straight for the 50 cent rack — they may have a little more wear on the spine, but they’re perfect for dragging around the City (I do much of my reading while I walk — yes, I’m that nut you banged into earlier with her nose buried in a copy of Dubliners — at least it’s better than running into people because you’re texting on your mobile phone). So this impressive array cost a mere $3 plus tax. My companion, he of the exquisitely eclectic taste, snagged a Frank Sinatra LP and a first edition of Oboler’s Omnibus. If you don’t know who Arch Oboler was, ask someone who was born before you were.

I actually hated Sister Carrie, and vowed never to read another book by Dreiser. But I know enough about the plot of American Tragedy to have had my curiosity piqued. I’ve never read anything by Zane Grey, but early 20th century westerns are a guilty pleasure in which I indulge too rarely. The Trollopes are because someone (I only wish I could remember who) told me I’d enjoy him more than Hardy. Evangeline needs no explanation; though perhaps I should tell you it holds particular meaning thanks to my fifth grade history project where I recreated an Acadian folk-costume. Last but not least, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution is a silly present for a friend.

Have you read any of these? Tell me what you thought — but please don’t spoil the endings!