Saturday, May 24, 2008

When Life Doesn't Slow Down....

How do you find time to read? I feel like I'm starving for lack of books! In the past 4 weeks, I've only been able to finish (horrors!) three titles. This is a bit depressing. But I have to remind myself that this is only a season. And it will soon be only a dim memory.

Looking on the bright side, I've been able to squeeze in time reading aloud to my little brother. A bit of a new experience, and one I've enjoyed immensely. He has discovered the world of Little House on the Prairie for the first time. I love it when we get to the end of a chapter and he asks for "one more, please?"!

Reading aloud at the park

I've tried my hand at bargain shopping. Best deal last week: 26 individual cups of organic yogurt and 2 boxes of herbal tea for $2.50. I could get hooked on this!

My first big Walgreens experiment. It came to about $4 after sales, coupons, Register Rewards and rebates.

Watched four baby robins grow up. First they were naked and helpless. Then they were open-mouthed and ugly. Just when they started looking like birds, they were gone.

The baby robins in one of the ugly stages

Took care of one horse, two dogs and fifteen-plus cats. Weeded the garden. Had a piano recital at my house. Accompanied at an opera rehearsal. Played for a wedding. Saw the flowers of my peony plants after waiting for two years.

Biscuit and I

Life is good. But bring on the books!

One of the many cats

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

A Portrait of Jane Austen by Lord David Cecil

A Portrait of Jane Austen
Lord David Cecil

This fascinating book is one of the most sensible biographies I've read. Sensible, because the author sets his subject in context and refuses to apply modern philosophy to his understanding of her life and art. Too many biographers are eager to impose their own pet ideals on those they write about.

My picture of Jane Austen was rather sketchy prior to reading "A Portrait". From her books, I knew her to be a humorist well grounded in Christian morality. From my study of fashion history, I knew what she was likely to have worn. But of her personal life and motivations I knew little.

Drawing primarily from personal letters, Lord Cecil paints a picture of a woman surrounded by a large family, educated at home, and eager to write from an early age. Jane's father was particularly influential in encouraging Jane's literary bent, providing her with good books to read. It seems all the family shared a common sense of humor, amusing each other through the writing of plays, stories and parodies of popular literature.

Despite an early start in writing, her books were not published until much later in life, under a pseudonym. Even after they became best sellers, Jane Austen was loathe to be known as an author. It was a proud brother who shared her secret, and soon she received letters of congratulation from her surprised relations. I found the poem written by one of her nephews on learning Jane was a famous authoress quite amusing.

Since reading this book, I feel I have a much better grasp of the life of Miss Austen, one of my favorite authors. I highly recommend this biography as an introduction to her life. It is well written, and (at least in hardback), beautifully illustrated with period paintings.

Related: Miniatures and Morals by Peter Leithart ( a study guide focusing on Christian themes in the novels; remarkable for a persuasive essay, "Real Men Read Austen". Highly recommended!)

Soon to be released: Writer of Fancy: The Playful Piety of Jane Austen by Peter Leithart
I'm looking forward to reading this new volume from the Leaders in Action series this summer.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Quote of the day

In this vain and fallen world, a man who cannot laugh has no business undertaking to cure the world's ills, because he is chief among them.

--Doug Jones and Doug Wilson in Angels in the Architecture, as quoted in For Kirk and Covenant: The Stalwart Courage of John Knox