Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Lolling about with a novel - holiday bliss.

Yesterday I did something I haven't done in a while. I spent the whole day reading a novel. The novel in question was "The Goldfinch" by Donna Tartt, winner of this year's Pulitzer Prize for literature. The last thing I did before sleep the night before was read more pages. I reluctantly stopped for sleep.  The first thing I did upon waking was reach for the book. I stopped for breakfast and then placed a chair on the verandah to take advantage of the autumn sunshine and took my spot. I stopped for lunch and then finished at about 4pm. I raced towards the end because I was so engrossed in the story. Upon finishing I felt simultaneously satisfied - as if I had just finished a delicious meal - and bereft, because the story was gone. 

I think "The Goldfinch" is my new favourite book of all time. 

It's a long time since I've been free to completely absorb myself with a novel in this way. It's also been a while since I have loved a novel so much that I feel part of the story. It reminds me of Easter holidays long gone. 

Returning home from boarding school or university, it was nothing for me to stay in bed with a big novel. I read Peter Carey's "Oscar and Lucinda" and "Illywhacker" in single, day-long sessions, emerging bleary-eyed and jet-lagged from my trip into other places through the pages of a book. 

Taking literature subjects at university, with their demanding reading lists, meant homework was a pleasure, even if the choice of what to read next was dictated by upcoming assessments. 

I find the choice of "what's next" after such a big, satisfying book as "The Goldfinch" difficult. After such absorption and connection with one writer I find the switch to another author can be jarring. My choice this time is a slimmer book: "The Italian Girl" by Iris Murdoch - my book group's next choice. The gears changed as I opened to the first page and began the task of reorientation. They are still grinding a little, but I'm sure we'll settle in together. 

Having finished the novel, I now understand a conversation I had with my local Yarraville bookseller about the Booker Prize winning "The Luminaries" by Eleanor Catton - another big, fat book which I enjoyed immensely. The bookseller hadn't enjoyed "The Luminaries" because she was part way through "The Goldfinch" when she grabbed it to take on her Christmas holidays. She was dismayed to discover she had the wrong book and was forced to commence "The Luminaries" while she was stranded, remote from her copy of "The Goldfinch". Devastation! Disappointment! Frustration! Restlessness! All would have ensued. 

I'm amazed that in such a busy year I've managed to finish two huge novels - along with six others!

How do you like to read? What are you reading now? What's your favourite book?

My view from the verandah. The aeroplanes were very busy. 
Copyright 2014 divacultura

1 comment:

  1. I find its a sign of a good book if you feel a measure of grief when you finish it. Its been ages since I actually finished a book, the last two I have returned to the library unfinished - I simply haven't had the time to allow a book to put me under its spell. It makes me sad.

    I love that photo of the jet trails. Reminds me of a giant noughts and crosses game. I wonder which airline won.