Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Girl, Sister, Wife - Relatively Random Reading

"Three books for £1" said the sign in Barnardo's, Salisbury the other week. And I sawe one I had been recommended to read, and a second which looked...worthy, and a third which looked fun . So, all in a good cause, I handed over my pound.
GIRL - "The Girl on the Train" which somebody or other [Steph? Liz?] mentioned months ago. It came out in 2015 and was made into a film with Emily Blunt [pictured on the cover] a year later.
I have not seen the film*
Basic plot - the girl [Rachel] goes to London every day on the train, passing the house where she once lived. Her ex-husband and new wife live there now. She watches them, and their neighbours, and creates stories about their lives. Then one day she witnesses something shocking... 
I wasn't 100% convinced - although I enjoyed it more than 'Gone Girl' which has many similar themes. Too many of the usual missing girl/angry divorcee/depressed alcoholic tropes. But it would be a good book to while away a train journey. ***
*The film has not had good reviews-Emily Blunt, the only Brit actor, is allegedly the one who holds the movie together. I cannot see [a] how it would translate well into a Stateside setting [b] how they manage to cast Emily [slim, attractive etc] in the part described [frequently] as overweight, and looking the worse for drink.
SISTER - Mrs Luther and her sisters- Women in the Reformation. At school we had to do a project on a historical character. I chose Martin Luther - but struggled to find out much about his wife Catherine [no internet back in the 60's, and our little library in town wasn't much help] So this looked like a useful tome to find out more about his 'Kate'. Despite the title of the book, the dear lady barely manages twelve pages. 
"Women have made crucial contributions to the life of the Church from New Testament times onwards, but the Reformation saw an explosion in their involvement. Having benefited alongside their brothers from the Renaissance's emphasis on learning, and with the increasing casting aside of the belief that they were intellectually inferior, women learned to read in ever increasing numbers - and many wanted to read the Bible. They started to interpret Scripture for themselves - which put them on a collision course with the Church." says one reviewer. I found this book a little disappointing. I will attempt to read it again in the depths of winter, and see if it has improved with keeping! I rate it just ** [I should say that this book gave no indication of ever having been opened and read right through. It was utterly pristine. Maybe that was why it was in the CS...]
WIFE -101 Things for the housewife to do, 1949  This is a reprint of a book which came out almost 70 years ago, written by a married couple,  Lillie B and Arther C Horth. Intriguing ideas and activities for the housewife in the aftermath of WW2. Many practical [but now totally outdated] tips about laundry, housecleaning, furniture, and leisure activities. A surprising number of manufacturers sent contributions to this useful 'vade mecum'In the authors' preface, many of these are acknowledged- Heals, Liberty's, Electrolux, Hoover, Brillo...plus the Women's League of Health and Beauty and Harbutt's Plasticene!
Not much about cookery- food was still on ration- but practical advice for mending saucepans [presumably the ones you hadn't sent off to be melted down to make Spitfire!] An alarmingly overstocked refrigerator is pictured on p65 "economical to run, it requires a tiny gas flame, there are no moving parts, and therefore permanent silence, and no radio interference" Perhaps I should follow the advice about massages to prevent a double chin. This book is indeed great fun to read. The foreword says it is part of a series which began in the 1920s. I'd love to find a copy of '101 things for a boy to make'.
For the sheer enjoyment, fascinating illustrations and wonderfully archaic terms ["fomentations and poultices" sounds like a Terry Pratchett curse] I give this *****.

If you can learn to lift your ribs right out of your waist, and to let them expand outwards and inwards when breathing, you will soon develop that "upward buoyant poise" which is the secret of grace and which would bring less drudgery and more joy to the daily dusting, bedmaking, picture straightening, and all the dozens of things which go towards making your home beautiful'.
With such wonderful advice as this, who needs Mrs Hinch on Instagram?


  1. Thank you for those reviews. The 101 things sounds fun so I shall look out for it in charity shops.

  2. If you're interested in herbal treatments, fomentations and poultices are still useful, practical and effective ways of easing pain and dealing with bites, stings, burns and grazes. A fomentation merely means dipping a cloth in a hot herbal infusion and laying it on the affected area (wonderful for shingles, period pains and neuralgia). A poultice is where you crush up a herb either with water or in an oil and lay it on the affected part. Onion poultices are particularly good for night time coughs in both children and adults. Sometimes the older remedies are so much more effective than over the counter pills. Nothing to do with cursing, although both Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg would both give you a look for making the comment.

  3. Ha, ha, I still use those archaic terms (fomenting), although, I suppose warm/cold compresses are probably the more modern terms. When I was a child and was stung by a bee, a bread poultice was applied to my finger, where I was stung, to "draw out the sting"! :)


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