Monday, 22 February 2016

Mockingbirds, Monks And More

Two well known authors died over the weekend - Harper Lee, [1926-2016] who wrote 'To Kill a Mockingbird'  - all about prejudice and discrimination in the American South, and Umberto Eco,[1932-2016] who came to fame with 'The Name of The Rose' - a murder mystery set in a 14th Century Italian Monastery. 

Lee's book was published in 1960, and filmed two years later, with Gregory Peck playing the great Atticus Finch. She said at the time that there would never be a sequel. Last year, the sequel "Go Set A Watchman"  was published - bizarrely, Lee had written that before TKAM. It has not had good reviews, and I have yet to read it. Somehow I feel it would make me sad. I loved Atticus' style of teaching reading to his daughter Scout - he reads with her, and to her, and is not afraid of using an extensive vocabulary - so she goes to school fully able to read and write. My parents took this approach with me, and we did it with our girls [to the despair of all teachers concerned - not that we cared much!!]

Eco's book came out in Italian in 1980,  and three years later in English. I read it whilst expecting Steph! In 1987, it was filmed with Sean Connery playing the monk, William de Baskerville. Unlike Pee, Eco went on to write 6 more novels, the last being 'Numero Zero' which was published last year. Mind you, Eco wrote loads of other non-fiction stuff about the medieval period, and also semiotics. He was a very clever chap.
Although I enjoyed the Name of the Rose [like TKAM, it makes much of the importance of words, books and the sharing of knowledge] I did not get on with the next book [Foucault's Pendulum, 1988] and I gave up. Bob is currently working his way through "The Prague Cemetery". I say 'working his way' because he reads the library book with his tablet beside him, and seems to stop every page or two to look something up. My man is a pretty clever chap - but if he is finding the vocabulary and historical references difficult, what hope is there for the rest of us?
Two weeks ago saw the death of British novelist Margaret Forster[1938-2016] She was a prolific writer, and I have read lots of her stuff- my favourite being 'The Bride of Lowther Fell'. Gifted, and witty, and particularly concerned for family life, and what she called 'ordinary women' she enjoyed a long and happy marriage. She and Hunter Davies got together when she was just 17! There's a great obituary here. Growing up on a council estate in Carlisle, she won a scholarship to the Girls County High School, and then on to a place at Somerville College Oxford [Yes Kezzie - that one!] Melvyn Bragg, a year or so younger, said she was a legend in her teens- people spoke of this brilliant pupil at the Girls School. Maybe her best known book is Georgy Girl [1965], made into a film with Lynn Redgrave in the title, a year later.
I think I need to read some more Forster - I don't feel I have the brainpower to cope with Eco at the minute [and don't have my own tablet to refer to] and just don't want to read Watchman.
Have you read anything by any of these three?
Which books would you recommend?


  1. I read To Kill A Mockingbird at school but don't remember much about it so when I saw it in the supermarket last year I got it to read again. Not started it yet. I'm intrigued by the second one and if I see it in a charity shop will get it and see.

  2. I read 'Name of the rose' and was thoroughly creeped out by it (Uhrgh scary priest!) But it was v well written. I've got another Eco to read on my shelf. I think it is called 'Baudelaire'?x

  3. I read To Kill A Mockingbird years ago and recently bought a new copy for my library but I do need to re-read it. My daughter is a history/English teacher and has always thought TKAM was a huge piece of literature but she wasn't thrilled with Go Set a Watchman so I haven't thought about reading it -- my TBR stack is big enough! I would like to read Georgy Girl -- I remember the movie quite well and would love to read the book.

  4. I liked Go Set a Watchman. I think you'd like it, too.
    It isn't as amazing as TKAM, but still a good read.

  5. I've popped over from PomPom's blog from time to time, lately to read the Pause in Lent.
    I am shocked to hear that Margaret Forster died. I have only recently discovered her. I found "Isa and May" at the thrift store and loved it. Now I'll be looking for any other of her books that I can find. Our library has just two ( which I've requested).

    1. Hi Granny M - Isa & May is one MF I have yet to read. I will check out our library - thanks

  6. I've read to kill a mockingbird. I really hadn't heard of the others


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