Escaping into historical fiction. And canned soup.

On Sunday night I discovered I can download whole books onto my new iPhone for a dollar a pop.  A couple of taps and I’ve got Emma by Jane Austen and North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell.  So, I devoured North and South as my afterwork entertainment and relaxation earlier this week.

My, that woman was a shrewd observer of human motivations, not to mention prejudices.  She was also a terrific snob.

I liked North and South almost as much as I loved Cranford, where less happens in terms of plot, but which allows more scope for the convincing development of character.

I always feel curiously chastened when I read fiction written in the Georgian/Victorian periods (not to be confused with much of the tripe which is merely ‘set’ in the Georgian/Victorian periods).  Partly because the average person’s vocabulary seems to have been so much richer than ours (even taking into account all our new words such as ‘download’ which would have been unknown to them), but also because virtue and vice is so much more keenly felt and sharply delineated.

Makes me realise that I’m not nearly virtuous enough.

Of course, all the virtue in the world won’t cover being plain. Heroines are always beautiful, which makes up for ever so much sin. 😉


I have vowed to make my own lunches this month in order to save my pennies for my trip back to the UK next month.  So far, so good.  I even found a canned soup that I (quite) like.  Normally, canned soup is far too salty for me – I’ve tried a bewildering array of brands, persevering until I hit upon Heinz Pea & Ham.  Its not bad, really.  Although, when you tip the remaining soup down the office sink, it looks unnervingly like vomit.

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4 Responses to Escaping into historical fiction. And canned soup.

  1. piereth says:

    When you look at a book like Middlemarch, the point of the story is moralisation – I guess, the focus for books for the sort now (romances, would you say?) is sex! I love the personalisation of and attribution made to these characters.

    I’m not sure that they were always beautiful – Dorothea Brooke wasn’t, she got the brains while Celia got the looks but was as daft as a guppy. Eleanor Dashwood wasn’t beautiful either – according to Robert Ferrers she’d ‘lost her bloom’. But they were all very moral. Beauty on the inside shining out! Not something I can claim either – let’s bring back the old days! 😛

    I’ve never read ‘North and South’ – I think I shall, over a hearty bowl of pea n ham soup (sounds good!)

  2. truce says:

    You’ll love “North and South” and “Cranford”. Start stocking up on soup 😉

    And good point about Dorothea and Eleanor. 🙂

  3. A lot of soup looks unnervingly like vomit, I find. As does oatmeal. And many other things. If I think about it too much, I’ll never eat again.

    Agreed about the average person’s vocab 150 years ago. I think a great deal of that richness came from reading the Bible, actually … you can’t read the King James without picking up a fairly ready flow of oratory.

  4. truce says:

    Excellent points, both.

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