23 February 2016


Reading Diary: A Cry in the Night by Mary Higgins Clark

"Oh, Erich, you scared me," she said. "I didn't hear you come in."

His eyes never left her face. "I thought you'd want your gown, darling," he said. "Here it is."

He was holding an aquamarine satin nightgown with a deep V cut in the front and back.

"Erich, I have a new gown. Did you just buy this one for me?"

"No," Erich said. "It was [my mother's]. He ran his tongue nervously over his lips. He was smiling strangely. His eyes as they rested on her were moist with love. When he spoke again, his tone was pleading. "For my sake, Jenny, wear it tonight."

It has been yonks since I read a modern Gothic novel (or as we say in modern literary terminology, a Thriller), and A Cry in the Night was the perfect way to break my "fast." It definitely ticked all the Gothic boxes . . . Naive heroine who at one point runs around in a nightgown? Check. Brooding hero who might actually be the villain? Check. An exotic setting? Oh, wintry Minnesota is so exotic! A castle or large manor house with secret rooms? And then some! Supernatural agents? Well, more or less. At least one really nasty Catholic? I'm pleased to say that we apparently can't have everything. =P

Reading this also reminded me of the nineteenth-century attitude toward novels. You weren't really reading if you were just reading a novel. In fact, far from improving your mind, you were probably rotting it. And if you were a young woman with a Gothic novel, well, you were also contributing to the ruin of your character. A Cry in the Night may only be my first Mary Higgins Clark novel, but I already know that I won't get any credit for reading it. But who cares? I finished it in one night and wished I had a book club to discuss it with.

My big question for them would be: If you had been Jenny, at point would you have been certain that something was terribly wrong with your marriage?

I might have freaked as early as the nightgown on their wedding night.

18 February 2016


Theme Thursday 21

If it weren't for these "filler" reading memes, my blogging would look much slower than it really is. I wish there were similar ones on language blogs. I'd create one myself, but I haven't made many inroads into the online language learning community . . . likely because most of the bloggers there are actually vloggers. (You know, that makes sense.) While Shredded Cheddar still has pretensions to being a book blog, I'll continue relating themes to recent reads, resuming with something from 12 May 2011 . . .

This Week's Theme:
Women Relationships

14 February 2016


"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 140

Who knew that ten fiabe would take so long to read? When I settled on the number last November, I thought I'd be done before the end of December! Perhaps I would have, had I been willing to read Italo Calvino's stories in English . . . but I wouldn't say Italian is the culprit here. As you may have noticed, I've been going through a bit of a blogging slump. If you're still reading, Amy, Brandon, Itinerante, LTG, Mrs. Darwin, Sheila: thanks a lot for reading along!

Bat, I know that you are still reading, so you get a special thank you all your own! =)

Now for our last fiaba so that we can get St. Valentine's Day over with and properly settle into Lent: Fantaghiro, persona bella or Beautiful Fantaghiro.

05 February 2016


Twelve Things about Mrs. Doubtfire

12. My post Twelve Things about Stepmom included a tiny, throwaway allusion to this earlier movie about "non-traditional" families and divorce . . . and guess which movie everyone preferred to talk about? =P

I think I've waited long enough. Here's another go at another film which sends up that time-honoured genre of children's storytelling: the faerie tale.

11. We begin with that classic source of childhood misery: a broken home. Since this is a modern story, it's not death that parts the parents, but "irreconcilable differences." Yet every child understands that those are crappy reasons, so the movie has to bend over backwards to keep the mother, who initiates the divorce proceedings, from looking like the villain.

I can't remember what I thought about Sally Field's character when I watched this as a child, but as an adult, I see exactly where she is coming from and I understand. I also empathise very deeply with Robin Williams's character. There is no malice in their relationship, but there is incredible frustration. Should they have stayed together? Of course. Could they have stayed together without one of them becoming truly miserable? I have a very strong opinion on that, but never mind it now.

10. What we know of their marriage begins with the "last straw" . . .