Monday, September 24, 2012


Grand Design by Prints Charming

One has not blogged for yonks and misses it dreadfully.  

One is swamped with Uni (two subjects this semester) and full-time work.

But one is not whingeing...just observing.

Of course one gets distracted by all sorts of develops a keen interest in embroidery as per the picture above...

Then one decides to try and lose weight...again...and goes for the odd walk and sees odd trees such as in Picture Number Two.  Anyone got any idea what tree it is??

Or this one?

And then there are so many yummy books ... particularly now that the Booker shortlist has been announced....not just one stack but two....

And then there are friends who fly in from interstate and force one to go to art galleries....

It's a tough life I tell you....

I am, in a word, content.

What about you?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Elizabeth Taylor's Angel - Week 4

So-called “Rondanini Medusa”. Marble, Roman copy after a 5th-century BC Greek original by Phidias, which was set on the shield of Athena Parthenos.
And so we come to the end of our reading of Angel by Elizabeth Taylor.

Did you, like me and Mr Fennelly, fall under Taylor's spell?

...loving her, almost as if he had invented her - bad fairy, wicked stepmother, peevish goddess, whatever she was.

I believe Taylor had fun creating her monster but the last chapter is testament to her love for her creation.  One cannot help but feel that, like the recalcitrant chauffeur Marvell, she misses her already as she kills her off.

No-one, to my mind, captures the real grief of aging quite like the words of Theo:

As we grow older, we are already dying; our hold on life lessens; there are fewer to mourn us or keep us in mind.  I am on my way already and taking the last of Hermione with me as I go.

Can we ever really know Taylor and what inspired her? 

Luckily for us, Taylor has many more captivating characters in her pantry and we are now moving on to her next novel in chronological order....please join Kaggsy's Bookish Ramblings for discussion of In A Summer Season.

My grateful thanks to all those who have commented on this blog this month.  Your comments have been most thought-provoking and companionable.  

Thanks too to the lovely Laura for offering me this opportunity to host this month and encouraging us all to celebrate Elizabeth Taylor's work and keep the flame alive.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Elizabeth Taylor's Angel - Week 3

From the movie Angel directed by Fracois Ozon and starring Romola Garai and Michael Fassbender

In Part 3 of Angel, Angel spends the season in London, finds her way to Esme's studio and has her portrait painted.  Taylor describes her love for Esme as follows:

Love had laid her waste, so that she was open to other emotions, too, from which she once had been immune.

Esme's sister Nora in contrast...

felt the pains of martyrdom more exquisitely.  She brooded over her sufferings with a saintly acceptance of them, added each new one to her hoard and wondered if any woman ever was so wretched.

Angel seduces Esme with food

...excellent and abundant and.suited to masculine tastes : there was a saddle of mutton and wing-ribs of beef, a York ham with Cumberland sauce and a terrine of grouse.

Esme's declaration of love in the conservatory

was the only time in her life that she had forgotten an animal.

Have you seen the adaptation of Angel by Ozon?  It was interesting that he chose to place Theo rather than Esme with Angel when she discovers Paradise House, n'est-ce pas?

Sam Neill as Theo

Have you seduced someone with food?  Was it a saddle of mutton or a terrine?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Elizabeth Taylor's Angel - Week 2

The common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) is a small New World monkey courtesy of Leszek Leszczynski on Flicker
This month I am hosting a read-a-long of Elizabeth Taylor's Angel in celebration of Elizabeth Taylor's centenary this year initiated by the lovely Laura.

Hopefully by now you will have read Part Two of Angel which introduces us to some very important characters in the story of both the furry kind and human kind, as well as the imaginary - I am speaking of the redoutable Mr Delbanco invented by Angel's long suffering publisher, Theo.  

Angel is growing in confidence as her reputation as an author grows. With her newly acquired wealth, she moves to a new more salubrious abode in the burbs  - The Birches at Alderhurst.  She surrounds herself with exotic pets - a parrot, a marmoset and a great dog called Sultan.  Her mother is ailing and eventually succumbs to an internal haemorrhage.  Her departure from this mortal coil paves the way neatly for the entrance of Nora, Angel's companion for the next thirty years as well as Esme, Nora's reprehensible and profligate brother.

When forced to consider the character of Angel and describe what makes her so odious, I think it is her complete lack of a sense of humour.  Thankfully Elizabeth Taylor abounds in humour and that is what makes reading Angel such a delight. Writing humour or comedy is no mean feat and I love to try and dissect Taylor's work to discover it's secrets.  Little sentences or phrases provide much joy e.g. 

"...industry made Norley an impossible place for industrialists to live in...." or 

"Miss Nora Howe-Nevinson," Lord Norley said loudly.  It was not an easy name to say and sometimes he made the most embarrassing mistakes.".

I love the dance of conversations - Taylor makes much of awkward silences and who is the first to fail or fall into the trap of speaking first and letting the other person "win".

William Govett driving a De Dion Bouton on an unsealed road c 1905 from State Library of Queensland
Taylor takes us on a tour of Angel's life in what can now be considered a rather quaint linear fashion from beginning to end.  Rather like travelling in the open tourer of Theo's De Bion Bouton without protective goggles, our senses are assaulted by the weather of her life's little and big storms.  By the by I thought Sam Neil was beautifully cast as Theo in the recent adaptation of Angel - though the rest of the film to my mind was rather stilted and tedious and captured none of Taylor's humour.

Taylor's prowess at humour is intensified by the tremendous pathos of Mrs Deverell's loneliness and decline and Angel's hopelessness at intimacy and happiness.  One of my favourite descriptions of Angel is as follows: 

"Once he saw a large cactus-plant in a flower-shop window.  From one unpromising, barbed shoot had sprung a huge, glowering bloom.  It looked solitary and incongrous, a freakish accident; and he was reminded of Angel." (p. 77 of my Virago edition)

How are you traveling on this journey?  I mentioned in an earlier post that reviewers are the bane of Angel's life.  Angel's publisher knows she writes tripe and has to perform editing cartwheels to save her from herself.  And yet her writing is the source of his good fortune.  

How do you choose what to read next ?  Which reviewers do you find most useful?  Friends, journalists, bloggers?  What do you look for in a review?  Do you read to escape into the exotic? Or do you look for realism?  

Here are some links to reviews of Angel written by fellow Elizabeth Taylor afficionados..

Remember when you share your thoughts on the book please do so via a Mr. Linky on Laura's Elizabeth Taylor Centenary page.

Monday, July 9, 2012

A lazy Sunday afternoon....

Goodwill Bridge, Brisbane taken from Southbank

One got to catch up with one's nearest and dearest for lunch yesterday.  We sat by the Brisbane river....something that I don't get to do much anymore so it was a welcome change.    My nearest and dearest are working very hard on a book - they will be finished soon we hope.  It's been a lot of hard work for a very long time.

The venue for lunch was The Stokehouse.  I lead a very sheltered life and had not heard of it but I believe it won an award very recently for its design. The Arkhefield website has some fabulous photos which do it much more justice than my humble camera. 

The Stokehouse Brisbane

I arrived just before the hordes hit at midday.  The service was attentive and efficient.  We shared breaded green olives with three cheeses for starters.  Then some of us had entree sized angel hair pasta with prawns, mussels and clams which was pronounced "Yum" - another tucked into some Barramundi.  I couldn't resist an affogato to finish off whilst the others had a pear thingummy.  Kisses, hugs and late birthday presents on both sides were exchanged with oohs and aahs and promises to catch up soon.

Then I had to dash off to a book launch for.....

Cover of Alex and the Watermelon Boat by Chris McKimmie published by Allen & Unwin

I am delighted to know a couple of young gentlemen for whom this would make the perfect birthday or Christmas gift.  It's the kind of gift that they will "grow" in to, as it were ... it is aimed at 4-8 year olds and my gentlemen are a smidgin younger than that.  

I do love picture books and now that I have the far from onerous duty of being "back-up" story-time reader in my new job, I enjoy checking out what's on offer.  This is a lovely BIG book with fabulous illustrations and lots to look at providing much food for thought and discussion whilst sharing with small ones. The story was inspired by the recent floods in Brisbane and Robyn Sheahan-Bright accurately describes the author Chris McKimmie's style as "whimsical and delightful" in her teacher's notes which you can read here. 

If you'd like to find out more about the floods in Brisbane earlier this year, check out the State Library of Queensland's recent collection of images Mosaic captured here and written about here  ,

A lazy Sunday afternoon indeed, flooded with great food, family, friends and stories.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Purveyors of Twaddle

Cover art is detail of a Portrait of Madame Lacroix by Giovanni Boldini
All right Luvvies, listen up.  This month I will be hosting the read-a-long of Angel in celebration of Elizabeth Taylor's centenary.  No, not that Elizabeth Taylor, the other one.  We have been reading her works in chronological order...well some of us have...I was doing quite well until April.  Anyway I do hope you can join us.  This week we are going to begin the book.  I have sneakily read it already in order to be prepared but am re-reading it and highlighting the bits I love.

Angel was published in 1957 but is set in 1900.  Elizabeth Taylor was born in 1912 (centenary - get it?) and died in 1975.  According to The Reader's Companion to Twentieth Century Writers published by the 4th Estate, she was the daughter of an insurance inspector and was born Elizabeth Coles.  She attended the Abbey School (Jane Austen went there too) and worked for a time as a governess.  She married the director of a sweet factory in 1936  and "devoted herself to domestic life and bringing up two children, making time away from this to write her novels and short stories." 

It is said that Angel is based loosely upon the lives of Marie Corelli and Amanda McKittrick Ros.  It is about a "preposterous popular novelist who believes every word of the drivel she writes..." (Reader's Companion again).  The novelist is called Angel Deverell - yes, you get the pun...she is no angel and she lies about playing the harp. 

Taylor is known for her fabulous characterisation, wit and, to my mind her greatest talent, cogency.  The Reader's Companion describes it as astringent writing.  

Angel does not write astringently.  She aches to be rid of her dreary suburban life.  She is a great fabulist.  On page one we are told "The girl had a great reputation as a liar..."  

The book is in 6 parts which roughly corresponds to the time we have to read it.  

Try and read the first part by next Saturday and let's talk about a few things then....

For example...have you read any Corelli?  Or McKittrick-Ross?

Do you read twaddle secretly?  I have read Fifty Shades of Grey for professional development as a trainee librarian you sixteen I devoured Harold Robbins books with BFF Judith - they were hidden carelessly under mattressees.... 

I am now trying to "devour" Corelli - Barabbas to be specific...not sure how far I'll get but I'll give it a go....

Have you ever written twaddle?  I did when I was 12 - I spun the globe, my finger landed somewhere in South America and my two lead characters were called Roderick and Anastasia - so there.

Has anyone seen the film Angel directed by Francois Ozon starring Sam Neil, Charlotte Rampling and Romola Garai?  I'm borrowing it from my local video store this afternoon.  

Have a think about the symbolism of the name Angelica (Orlando Furioso),  the meaning of Angel as messenger and why women in order to be attractive/sexy must be chained up or submissive.  Well this is a Virago Modern Classic discussion after all.  My husband is washing up as I write this blog....hrumph.

Ruggiero rescuing Angelica by Auguste Dominique Ingres

Other tidbits are that the book is dedicated to Patience Ross, Elizabeth Taylor's agent.  I do think this book is a book about writing - what we think of writers, how we use writers, how writers and publishers fare in the vicarious world of readers and their fancies.  

Here's another tidbit - Joanna Kingham says in her introduction to Complete Short Stories by Elizabeth Taylor recently published by Virago ...."One of the many things that I recall about my mother was her deep love for art and the great pleasure she took in visiting galleries and exhibitions.This pleasure is captured in another of her letters, written in 1965 "I nipped up to London, yesterday and bought the most beautiful picture at the Leicester Galleries.  It is by Elinor Bellingham Smith - a dead, still, frozen world.  I long for the exhibition to be over so I can have it home to stare at.  I was frightened at spending so much money, but didn't take a taxi afterwards.  Then this morning the cheque came for Tall Boy and I thought, "This is marvellous.  I am turning stories into pictures." 

The log by Elinor Bellingham-Smith
Was the painting something like the one above perhaps?  Great story huh?  

If anyone can enlighten me on the cover art for the VMC edition published 1984 I would be most grateful....who is Madame Lacroix is what I really want to know.... I liked the selection of Boldini's work on this blog...

Right that's enough from me.  What do you think?  When you share your thoughts on the book please do so via a Mr. Linky on Laura's Elizabeth Taylor Centenary page.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Do be an angel.....

Studio shot of a young woman dressed as an angel or a fairy c 1929
...and join me next month in a readalong of Elizabeth Taylor's Angel in July - that's only a week away!  The lovely Laura  arranged hosting of the Elizabeth Taylor Centenary celebrations this year and we've had a lot of fun along the way.

I encourage you to grab a copy of this slim volume and join me on a weekly basis to discuss your thoughts.

The Virago Modern Classics edition I have was published in 1984 - although the original was published in 1957.  Paul Bailey wrote the introduction to my volume.  He says:
 Angelica is the odd woman out in Mrs Taylor's gallery of women, and in some ways her boldest conception.  To write about a purveyor of twaddle and yet render her preposterousness human is a challenging task, for the likes of Angelica - Marie Corelli, Ouida, E.M. Hull, Ehtel M. Dell - are somehow above this mortal coil.  
Saturdays are good days for me as I work full-time and I hope that fits in with those who reside in the northern hemisphere too.  I propose the following schedule:

Saturday 7 July - Theme - Purveyors of Twaddle - I've read a few....which authors or purveyors of twaddle are your guilty secrets?  Which books do you devour rather than read?  Are purveyors of twaddle necessary in this hectic/stressful world in which we live?  Or are they end of civilization as we know it?

Saturday 14 July - Theme - Reviewers - Some reviewers are the bane of Angel's life.  Which reviewers do you find most useful?  Are readers the best judge?  What do you look for in a review?

Saturday 21 July - Video Chat - I'm keen to host a Google+ hangout to discuss your thoughts about the book so far.  Please let me know asap if you're up for it and where you are so we can try and agree on a time that will suit both hemispheres.....I'm thinking about 9pm Saturday night Brisbane time which would be midday Saturday London time and 7am Saturday New York time, I think. 

Saturday 28 July - Wrap Up - by now we should have all read the book and I will highlight your thoughts etc.

When you share your thoughts on the book please do so via a Mr. Linky on Laura's Elizabeth Taylor Centenary page.

Please note that I have 36 followers on this blog and months ago I did promise a prize for the 40th 50th follower so tell anyone you think might be interested in joining us next month.....and get your reading wings on!

PS Sorry about the change to 50th follower - I realised that it was in celebration of my 50th per this post !  Silly me....

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Long Weekend

One is currently luxuriating in a bevy of long weekends.

The first long weekend was spent celebrating one's birthday and the significant birthday of one's BFF by traveling down to Melbourne.

We went to inspect the Grace Kelly exhibition at Bendigo and enjoyed a lovely lunch afterwards at Basement on View just near the gallery where these photos were taken.  We didn't book and were VERY lucky to get a table at all.  I suggest you book to avoid disappointment.


You'll be lucky if you get tickets to the Grace Kelly exhibition at's put on by the V&A and is very interesting.  The frocks look lifeless and dull without Grace in them - (dim lighting for conservation purposes probably doesn't help) and the photos supporting the exhibits are vital to see how they really used to look.. The archival footage/home movies in the theatrette was the best bit of the exhibition as far as I was concerned.  Bear with the crowds and grab a seat when you can and do stay for all three mini-sessions which vary in subject matter.  They gave you a real sense of what an extraordinary individual Grace Kelly was...

One's BFF then took one to Lavandula where one had much fun buying hats and mittens and lavendar for all and sundry....

One admired the copious amounts of lavendar whilst one's teeth were chattering from the cold.

One heard an unmistakable sound ...a kind of "eeyore...eeeyore" only even more miserable because it was so very wet and cold...and so, one was very excited to make a few new friends....

Some friends were more excited than others...

The rest of the weekend was spent pampering ourselves with a beauty treatment and lunch at The Langham Hotel.

And then we shopped til we dropped on Sunday.

It wasn't Paris but I suspect we had just as much fun as if we had been there....

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Elizabeth Taylor Centenary

I've just had some lovely news from Laura of Laura's Musings.  As one of the host of the Elizabeth Taylor Centenary monthly read-a-longs I will be receiving a copy of the new Virago publication of Elizabeth Taylor's short stories.  How exciting is that?

I will be hosting the read-a-long in July for Angel.

If you haven't read any Elizabeth Taylor before I really encourage you to read her work.  The author is not THE Elizabeth Taylor of the screenworld.  Rather THE Elizabeth Taylor of the literary world.  Her novels are slim (hallelujah!) and her stories are...well ...they are hard to describe.  If you want to get a sense of her style check out some of the discussions on other hosts' blogs e.g. Simon's discussion of a View of the Harbour or FleurFisher's review of A Wreath of Roses.  The current discussion is being hosted at BuriedinPrint

Now what I am thinking about doing is hosting one or several Hangouts on Google+ to discuss Angel.  I think this would be really fun.  A virtual international bookclub if you will.  Are you on Google+ ?  Would you like to join my hangout?  I'll have to get familiar with international datelines etc and try and choose a time that might suit parties in both the northern and southern hemispheres but it will be fun, don't you think?  I haven't tried a hangout yet but this article seems to indicate that you can do all sorts of things like share screens/e-book shots etc so....let me know if you're on Google+ and would like to participate and I'll get the ball rolling with a date and a time.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Fit like?

That's an Aberdeen greeting meaning "How are you?"

Well this tea cosy fits my teapot.  And it's very ...well...cosy.  It's got a lining and everything.

Thanks to Grand Purl Baa for the pattern which is in her latest book How Tea Cosies Changed the World.

I hope it fits Fi's teapot.  It's her SIGNIFICANT birthday very soon.

You're a long time deid, as they say in Scotland, so best have a blether with your friends over a cup of tea as often as possible.  Or something stronger perhaps.

I'm looking forward to a knees-up with Fi soon.  And in our case, that would mean lifting ours knees up a few hills around the ..burbs and blethering endlessly in the wee hours of the morning. 

We call it exercise.

And finally...

Here's tae us; wha's like us?
Gey few, and they're a' deid.
Mair's the pity! 

Full credit to LynnM for all the help finding Scottish phrases et al...

Have you got a Scottish story to tell?  Have you been to Scotland?  Are you Scottish?  If so, what do you like/miss about Scotland?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Reader GeneaMeme


It's National Year of Reading in Australia - time to post a GeneaReader meme. (courtesy of Jill at Geniaus)

The list should be annotated in the following manner:
Things you have already done or found: bold face type
Things you would like to do or find: italicize (colour optional)
Things you haven’t done or found and don’t care to: plain type

You are encouraged to add extra comments in brackets after each item 

Which of these apply to you? reading
  1.   Have you written any books?  No.But all of my friends have...does that count?
  2. Have you published any books? No.
  3. Can you recommend an inspiring biography? Hmm....inspiring...hmmm biography...I've read a few inspiring autobiographies...e.g. Richard Branson's and Angela's Ashes....I did enjoy reading the Julia Gillard biography and I particularly enjoyed the Packer biography Who Killed Channel 9? but I'm not sure that they were inspiring....instructive....insightful....amusing....
  4. Do you keep a reading log? If yes, in what format?  Sort it a blog....
  5. Are you a buyer or a borrower of books? Both.
  6. Where do you get reading recommendations? Librarything mostly.
  7. What is the one genealogy reference book you can't do without? Nick Vine Hall still stands me in very good stead.
  8. Do you hoard books or do you discard them when you have finished? Oh dear...hoarder...
  9. How many books are in your genealogy library? Never enough...but to be specific about 50....
  10.  What's your favourite genealogy magazine or journal? Well I am besotted with Inside History at the moment...
  11. Where are the bookshelves in your house? Everywhere...though we have refrained from the toilet and bathroom (due to mould -  you understand)
  12. Do you read e-books? How?On my iPad that my BBF gave me...
  13. How many library cards do you have? I think about for Uni (well it's not a's a for Brisbane for Moreton Bay and one for State Library ...though Charlie did tell me about the National Library so I think I'll be getting one there too...does State Archives count?
  14. What was the last genealogy title you read? Probably something about Bathurst at QFHS today..ooh that's potentially another library card!!
  15. What is your favourite bookshop? Oh dear....that's hard...I think it has to be the State Library bookshop...Avid Reader at West End is very good but I feel more at home at State Library for some weird reason...Berkelouws is a close second....oh but then there is online and I do like Book Depository and ABE
  16. Do you have a traditional printed encyclopaedia in your house?  We have several....Arthur Mee's is my favourite ...but we do have Colliers and also the Children's Brittanica...when I think about it Children's Brittanica is the one I refer to most....we also have The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Animal Life
  17. Who are the authors in your family tree and what have they written? Zip...
  18. Who is your favourite author? Barbara Pym is pretty neat but I'm going for Elizabeth Gaskell....
  19. Where do you buy books? see answer to question 14
  20. Can you nominate a must-read fiction title? So hard to pin down just one...George Eliot seemed to have a great impact on me....but I also loved loved loved Elizabeth Gaskell most recently...
  21. How many books are in your personal library? Hmm too many to count...we're up to 3,000 on Librarything but I'd say a conservative estimate would be more like 6,000.
  22. What is your dictionary of choice?  Well of course I'd like the OED but we've got Robert's old Concise and well chewed Oxford which does us very well.
  23. Where do your read? In bed, but that can be fatal...everywhere room...while cooking tea...on the train....
  24. What was your favourite childhood book?  It's awful but I can't remember the title of it...but from memory it seemed to feature donkeys (Charlotte stop's most unseemly) and was Russian from memory...failing that, Beatrix Potter..The Tale of Two Bad Mice is a firm are some very important quotes..."They would not come off the plates, but they were extremely beautiful."   A dieter's dream!

    "-all so convenient!"

    "Then Tom Thumb lost his temper." - said with great emphasis.....

    followed swiftly by...

    "Then there was no end to the rage and disappointment....." sounds like my house....

    and to top it all off....

    "Jane leant against the kitchen dresser and smiled...." as all dolls do....
  25. Do you have anything else to say about books and reading? A bit like the old Nike ad...Just Do It!

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Country Women's Association Cup and Saucer at Caboolture Historical Village

 This is one of those quick posts to say Hello World!

I have been very busy of late obviously hence the lack of posts.  I have also started a new blog which does take up more of my time and about which I am being a bit more disciplined.  

Some would say that blogging is a distraction or a way of procrastinating and not getting on with what one should actually be doing. 

In my case, that would be study!!

But I did want to record that I finally went to visit the Caboolture Historical Village this month. 

It was well worth the visit and a beautiful day for it.

It's probably best to visit the village in a group or when it's a special day and lot is going on.

I was able to visit most of the displays in relative peace but I did feel a bit lonely!

There are lots of original buildings with quite interesting collections and re-enactments, as it were.

I was reminded of my trip to Old Sydney Town back in the 70s when I was at school.  It was lots of fun there with convicts being flogged et al.  But I understand it was never a going concern and has closed now. 

Why do you think these sorts of places do or don't work?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

One day left - Holidays

An anonymous member of the family wearing his mother's hat on a hot day under protest while fishing.

There's one day left of my holidays.  The house is a mess but I did blog today.

I have started a new blog - a family history one.

See if you like it.

Yes, yes - I know - a weird name...I like the colour green okay???

So I guess I'm saying I might not blog so much on this blog anymore....

I''ll see how I go.

I have had a delicious holiday - read, knitted, watched tv.

I read 40 books this year - well - last year now.

I have just finished watching Season 1 of Downton Abbey which is lovely mindless nonsense and I'm thoroughly enjoying Lark Rise to Candleford.

I did want to see Iron Lady before I go back to work - will it happen?

What's been happening in your neck of the woods?