• The Family Under the Bridge, by Natalie Savage Carlson, pictures by Garth Williams — I picked this up at the library because I recognized the illustrator. I read it to a few of my younger siblings and we enjoyed it, though the ending, as they observed, was a bit abrupt. Set in Paris, it is about an independent old hobo who claims he can’t abide children, or “starlings”, as he calls them — “witless, twittering, little pests”. Really, he is afraid of losing his heart and his independence — and, of course, he loses both. It is a cute story, quaintly told, though not one I’ll be rushing to add to my own collection. My favorite quotation from the book:
“When will he return?” persisted the man. “Tomorrow?”
“Who knows?” said Mireli vaguely. “Today is today and tomorrow may come late this year.” (ch. 8)
• Barchester Towers, by Anthony Trollope, read by Timothy West — An entertaining book. Apparently the argument over “sabbath” keeping and what it means is nothing new. Although I disagree with the slimy Mr. Slope on this subject, I must side against his adversary, Mr. Arabin, on a subject of much dispute between them — the latter holding the opinion that a clergyman “was not consecrated at all, had, indeed, no single attribute of a clergyman, unless he became so through the imposition of some bishop’s hands, who had become a bishop through the imposition of other hands, and so on in a direct line to one of the apostles” (ch. 14). The book is by no means all (or even largely) theology, however, and, as I said, I found it quite entertaining.
• From Shakespeare — With Love: The Best of the Sonnets, by William Shakespeare, read by David Tennant, Juliet Stevenson, Anton Lesser, Maxine Peake, Stella Gonet, et al., devised and directed by David Timson — This collection includes 75 of Shakespeare’s sonnets. It was fun recognizing the voices of various of the actors reading them.
• Timon of Athens, by William Shakespeare, read by a full cast (Arkangel, 2003) — A play about a man who thinks it is generous to give away other people’s (i.e. borrowed) money. He comes to a bitter end. It is thought to have been written in collaboration with another author. One character, Apemantus (who, by the bye, is not Timon’s biggest fan), does not have a very high opinion of Athenians:
Timon: Whither art going?
Apemantus: To knock out an honest Athenian’s brains.
Timon: That’s a deed thou’lt die for.
Apemantus: Right, if doing nothing be death by the law. — Act 1, Scene 1
Painting: Jeune Fille lisant une lettre à la bougie (Girl reading a letter by candlelight), by Jean-Baptiste Santerre (1658-1717).