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July 21, 2015


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Lesley Moreland

Have you tried an audiobook of Middelmarch? I really enjoyed it and got lots of sewing/knitting etc. done while listening. I have just started listening to Anna Karenina which I read many years ago and so far so very good.


Many years ago, when I worked as a librarian, I conducted a survey of male only readers. One of the questions was to name one or some favourite authors. Overwhelmingly, men read books by male authors, so it's not surprising that women read books by female writers. If one of the reasons we read is to reflect on our lives, it follows that each gender will read books that may throw light on his or her experiences. But it is good to read outside our own comfort zone from time to time as well.

Anne B-A

An interesting post Jane. Hmm - Middlemarch. It took me three attempts spread over a large number of years but I am very glad I pressed on as I really loved it. I have no idea why it didn't work first and second times but did on the third. Not going to over think that one. The JR book is 'on my list' as I know the Lakes reasonably well and am interested in how people live their lives within the Cumbrian community. However I did hear a little bit when it was broadcast on Radio 4 recently and decided JR is a pretty angry man. Not sure I am too fond of angry men. And then MB - got to love him! Do have a read of his books - varied in the ground he covers in his writing as you would expect, but he doesn't disappoint. Am going to tune into the recent programme this evening as I missed it and several friends have recommended it to me.


Try The Soldier's Return. It has some good things.

Lisa G.

Isn't it funny you can't read Middlemarch? I read it several years ago, when it was on TV. I enjoyed it, far as I can recall.


Middlemarch was on my guilt pile for 18 years, after I failed to tick it off the summer reading list before starting my English degree. I finally read it last summer, and found that once past the first two hundred pages, it picks up and up until it's unputdownable.


Thanks for the link, I would have missed it otherwise, to the Melvyn Bragg programme. I watched it on i-player last night and enjoyed it very much. I enjoy In Our Time when I catch it and now may try a novel of his.

Philip Wilkinson

I do know what you mean about Geoff Dyer. A lot of the observations - on life, books, films, photographs, whatever - are very sharp, but the prose so often comes back to himself. I think in this book he handles this quite well, because his inability to write his book about Lawrence involves his being, in a way, a kind of imperfect analogue to Lawrence. But for many readers the Dyer preoccupations get in the way.

Kristin Nicholas

Hi Jane - Hope your summer is going well. I am almost finished w/ The Shepherd's Life. I didn't realize the masculine attitude of it all but that is probably because I live with a sheep farmer?

What I did like about it was the sense of place and history behind the whole thing. Being from the States, we cannot comprehend the history that could be in those flocks of sheep and the genes that they pass on. We have raised sheep for 30 years which is such a little piddling to the Lake Farmers. Our sheep do have a history though and they know where they are going at different times of year. They can find their way to their next pasture without any help whatsoever. Kind of cool considering "people" think sheep are dumb.

The one thing I am really happy about this book is that the shepherding way of life has caught the interest of the mainstream press in both the UK and US (written up in the NYT). It is not an easy life to live - whether in the UK or the US or anywhere else. To see so many people interested in it is kind of cool.

Thanks as always for your blog. Happy summer. XO


Interesting point - I will consult my bookcases!!
Hm, about 60/40 in women's favour, I'd say, possibly due a) to biographies of women frequently being written by women and b) the "series" I tend to collect…

Have you read Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor's travels? They're on my list for this summer after a recommendation by my mother :)


I can't comment on authors nearly as intelligently as you can, Jane, but I do adore Middlemarch and have read it at least twice, all the way through. Mr Casaubon IS detestable but the novel itself is such a wonderful portrait of its characters and I dearly love it.

As far as you and male authors go I seem to remember you are pretty heavily connected to Mr Dickens, no? Is he the major exception to your lady authoress affinity?

Jane from Dorset

I conquered Middlemarch with the help of the Dove Grey Reader blog. We read it in installments over a period of eighteen months (the same rate at which it was published) and now I recommend this approach for any large tome which feels like an impossible task. In fact i am about to read Middlemarch again, this time noting all the references to stitching and fabric which I glossed over the first time while in pursuit of the story.

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