Friday, August 6, 2010

Long time no see

So I've been a lazy blogger for a while, despite the huge volume and diversity of thoughts and reflections I wanted to share. But hopefully I'll get around to posting a few of them up in the next month. I think blogging is a muscle - you have to exercise is regularly, or every entry feels like hard work! So I'll start myself off small and work up. Today, I am starting with a book review.

Kate Morton - The House at Riverton

This book is about the relationship between a young girl who goes into service in the Edwardian era, rises to become a lady's maid, and leaves service after a dramatic event in the family in which she seems ambiguously invovled. The story follows her recollection of the events of her youth, prompted by a film being made about this family. I really, really enjoyed this book. In fact, I read it in one day because I couldn't put it down. I wouldn't call it a challenging book - there was more than one intended surprise which could be seen coming from miles off - and one or two of the characters were a little simplistic, but they were all very sympathetically written, and minor characters worked well as cameos even where they were not given much depth. The author built up the tension very well, however, and by the final show-down I was absolutely gripped.

I mostly came away from the book with a sense of the romanticisation of the relationship between servant and mistress, and of the lives of people in service generally. There was very little about the relentless labour, and much more about the sense of being privileged to work there. It does seem odd that certain historical periods and contexts draw so much more focus in novels, film and tv than any other - the golden age of the English Country House, the Tudor court, 1066 and the industrial revolution seem to cover most areas. Odd that we see so little of, for example, Anglo-Saxon life or World War 2, or Restoration England. Maybe I should write historical fiction to even up the gap...

OK, slight tangent there. Anyway, it's a thoroughly enjoyable book but will not rock the foundations of your being.

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