Mariana af Monica Dickens

mariana lola ramona

This review is also available in English

Titel: Mariana
Forfatter: Monica Dickens
Først udgivet: 1940
4/5 stjerner

I ‘Mariana’ følger vi en ung piges opvækst i 1920erne og 30erne. Vi følger hendes barndomsminder, forelskelser, hjertesorg, drømme og skuffelser. Det er en simpel med fin historie uden det store drama. Bogen er sød uden at være vammel, og er simpelthen en herlig fornøjelse at være i selskab med. Jeg nød hver side, og ønskede, at den aldrig ville slutte. Jeg sneg mig til at læse hvert øjeblik jeg havde, og glemte alt om blog og strikkeprojekter.

People don’t want to read about people in heaven. They like to lick their lips over them in hell.

Jeg holdt umådeligt meget af vores hovedperson, Mary. Hun sætter pris på de gode ting i livet, føler kærlighed helt inde i sjælen, er kreativ og drømmende. Selvom hun er social, har hun behov for at være alene og nyder sit eget selskab. En pige efter mit hjerte!

She had a feeling of calmness, almost of dignity, that she had never had when she was not alone. With other people one was only an unconsidered fragment of the company; alone, one was a complete entity by oneself.

‘Mariana’ er en vidunderlig roman som jeg vil anbefale til alle, der holdt af I Capture the Castle, A Tree Grows in Brooklynn, ‘Anne of Green Gables’ og Jane Austen. Eller bare til alle, der holder af at læse dannelsesromaner fyldt med drømme og kreativitet.

She was nineteen and it felt wrong not to be in love.

Monica Dickens er en forholdsvist ukendt – for mig i hvert fald – forfatter, på trods af at hun har skrevet et hav af bøger og er Charles Dickens oldebarn. ‘Mariana’ har været ude af print i mange år og er først for nylig blevet genoptrykt – så det bliver spændende at se, om hendes andre bøger er til at støve op, men jeg vil gøre et ærligt forsøg.

This review is also available in English

mariana af monica dickens

Labre Baby Bukser

knitted pants

Her er mit seneste strikkeprojekt: er par labre funky bukser til Edith Olenska (hvis navn lige er blevet godkendt – yeah!). De er lavet af garnrester: det sorte garn fra et projekt jeg fortrød men ikke kunne aflevere garnet tilbage, da kattene havde haft fat i det. Det gule garn er fra en fin lille cardigan. Begge farver er baby alpaca, så bukserne er bløde som silke. Mønsteret er fra Drops og er gratis. Jeg har brugt magic-loop tricket i stedet for strømpepinde.


English Recap
Here’s my latest knitting project: a pair of super funky pants for Edith Olenska. The yarn is baby alpaca so the pants are so soft you won’t believe it! The pattern is free.

strikke magic loop

North and South

North and south

This review is also available in English

Titel: North and South
Forfatter: Elizabeth Gaskell
Først udgivet: 1854
3/5 stjerner

Margaret Hale er en ung kvinde, der flytter med sin familie fra landet til en industriel by, hvor alt er anderledes end hun er vandt til. Der er en anden jargon, ukendte sociale normer, og en type mennesker hun ikke har mødt før. Hun kommer fra finere selskaber, og finder nu sig selv blandt arbejderklassen. Det ændrer hende. Eller snarere finder det en før skjult side frem hos hende. Hun føler stor passion for social retfærdighed, knytter anderledes forhold til en ny type mennesker, bliver voksen, hvor hendes forældre ikke slår til, og hun udvikler følelser for en mand hun instinktivt hellere vil skændes med.

Alt sammen danner grundlag for en glimrende historie. Og den var sådan set også fin og interessant nok. Men den manglede desværre sjæl og charme. I en kommentar til en tidligere post, skrev en af bloggens læsere, “I feel like Gaskell doesn’t quite have Jane Austen’s sense of humor”, og det må jeg give hende ret i. Havde Jane Austen haft fingrene i ‘North and South’ havde hun med garanti tryllet humor og sarkasme frem blandt siderne. De lidt ynkelige forældre havde været et humoristisk indslag, nabo- og venskaberne fyldt med varme og humor, og kærlighedshistorien havde givet sommerfugle i maven.

But the cloud never comes in that quarter of the horizon from which we watch for it.

Det er kedeligt at være på barsel

barsel

At være på barsel er meget anderledes end jeg forestillede mig. Jeg så en travl hverdag for mig, hvor jeg hele tiden ville være ved at drukne i opgaver. Jeg tænkte, at jeg ville prøve at gøre det så afslappende som muligt, vi skulle ikke gå til for mange ting – der skulle være ro i hverdagen og karma i kalenderen.

Efter det første spædbarns-panik, kolik og baby blues havde lagt sig, så hverdagen dog lidt anderledes ud. Min mødregruppe kom aldrig til at fungere, så udover baby-yoga om torsdagen og baby-bio om onsdagen, havde vi fri leg de resterende 3 hverdage. Jeg kom hurtigt til at frygte disse dage.

Det var svært at finde på ting at lave – det er hårdt at være alene med en baby 9-10 timer hver dag! Jeg havde nogle lege fra baby-yoga som jeg gentog hver dag, fandt selv på nogle øvelser, lege og sange, gik rundt og kiggede på ting i lejligheden med Edith. Når jeg havde været hele kartoteket igennem var kl. 10:30. Så er der lang tid til kl. 17:30 hvor min kæreste kommer hjem. Det skal også lige siges, at Edith ikke er så god til at sove om dagen. Hun sover sjældent mere end 20-30 minutter ad gangen, så jeg er virkelig på. Jeg kan som regel lige nå at rydde lidt op, ordne vasketøj, tage en slurk vand, og så er vi igang igen.

Jeg begyndte at kede mig, blev i dårligt humør og følte mig ensom. Kunne slet ikke overskue den lange barsel, og glædede mig til at komme tilbage til arbejdet, til at se nogle mennesker og have noget at lave. Samtidig var tanken om at skulle være væk fra Edith helt ugribelig. Og så havde jeg dårlig samvittighed. Det er et privilegium at leve i et land, hvor man kan få lov til selv at passe sin baby det første år, og Edith er en utrolig sød og nem baby. Men det er hårdt at have en hverdag der består af bleer, gylp, amning, rasledyr og “hvad i alverden skal jeg nu finde på for at lave med hende?”-tanker. At have en arbejdsdag på 12-13 timer – og der er ikke noget der hedder weekend. Og det er også svært ikke at opleve noget. Det eneste jeg har at fortælle om er Edith. Næsten al min hjernekapacitet går til hende. Så snart jeg får bare et øjeblik for mig selv – som i skrivende stund – kaster jeg mig frådende over en bog eller bloggen – begge dele er blevet endnu mere uundværlige for mig.

Tanken om endnu 6 måneder med ensomhed, dårligt humør og lange kedelige dage var helt ubærlig. Så jeg besluttede mig for at fylde dagene med aktiviteter der er sjove for både Edith og jeg, og hvor vi kommer ud blandt andre mennesker. Vores program for ugen ser nu således ud:

Mandag: Besøg på Sølund Plejehjem (mere om det senere)
Tirsdag: Rytmik
Onsdag: Baby-bio (og hvis hun en dag ikke gider det mere, har vi en legestue i baghånden)
Torsdag: Baby-yoga
Fredag: Fri – her får vi ofte besøg.

Så vores kalender er godt fyldt op, hvilket er helt nyt for mig. Jeg plejer at elske ikke at skulle noget flere dage i træk – men det var dengang jeg bare kunne smide mig på sofaen og læse bøger 😀

Jeg tror, at dette har knækket barsels-koden. Og så må jeg også lige tilføje, at det skønne forårsvejr har gjort betydelig forskel. Der er øjeblikke, hvor det hele spiller: Edith er tilfreds i barnevognen, jeg har en latte i kop-holderen, lydbog i ørene, solen skinner og der er fyldt med mennesker i byen. Så er der ikke noget bedre!

Har du prøvet at være i en lignende situation? Jeg vil meget gerne høre om dine erfaringer 🙂


English Recap
I’ve found it difficult being on maternity leave: I’ve felt bored, sad and lonely most of the time, having no one to talk to and nothing to talk about besides Edith. Edith doesn’t sleep much during the day, and it’s been hard finding things to do with her when I’m alone with her for 9-10 hours each day. I had to do things differently and now we have things scheduled almost every day: Monday: we visit a nursing home (more about that later), Tuesday: rhythmics-class, Wednesday: baby-cinema, Thursday: baby-yoga, Friday: nothing – here we can have visitors. This schedule combined with the gorgeous spring weather we’ve been having, has helped a lot, and I’ve started to enjoy my maternity leave.

Have you ever been in a similar situation? I would love to hear about it!

baby bookworm

The Post-Birthday World af Lionel Shriver

ThePostBirthdayWorld

This review is also available in English

Titel: The Post-Birthday World
Forfatter: Lionel Shriver (forfatter til ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’)
Først udgivet: 2007
Min bedømmelse: 2/5 stjerner

Irina er i et trygt forhold med Lawrence. En aften bliver hun pludselig tiltrukket af en af deres fælles venner, Ramsey, og her deler historien sig i to. I den ene version læner hun sig frem og kysser Ramsey, forelsker sig i ham og forlader Lawrence til fordel for Ramsey. I den anden version skynder hun sig hjem og er lettet over, at hun ikke gav efter. Vi følger sideløbende de to forskellige liv.

But perhaps instead she was doubly blessed, and her passion hadn’t been divided in half, but multiplied by two.

Livet med Ramsey er vild og passioneret. Han er nærmest sygelig jaloux og de skændes over de særeste detaljer. De er voldsomt forelskede, turnerer verden rundt med hans job, frådser med penge, alkohol og cigaretter. Spørgsmålet er om begæret kan vare ved?
Livet med Lawrence er rutinepræget, trygt og ret kedeligt. Spørgsmålet er, om noget er sikkert?

Det var sjovt at læse de to parallelle historier, med ens scenarier der udspiller sig vidt forskelligt. Et pudsigt eksempel er en middag med Irinas veninde. I den version, hvor hun giver efter og kysser Ramsey, bebrejder veninden hende det og minder hende om, hvor god en mand Lawrence er. I den version, hvor hun lægger bånd på sig selv, beskylder veninden Lawrence for at være kedelig og siger, at han ville have godt af det, hvis Irina havde en affære.

Sometimes acting out of character was like breaking out of jail.

Fantastisk idé til en bog, men desværre ulideligt udført. Der var frygtelig mange ligegyldige detaljer med i bogen. Irina kunne ikke stige op i et tog, købe ind, spise en sandwich uden det blev beskrevet i detaljer side op og side ned. Og så skulle vi også lige have hendes forhold til togture, indkøb og sandwiches gennem hele liver beskrevet. Og Lawrences. Og Ramseys. Det var til tider ganske ulideligt. Det gjorde bogen ufattelig kedelig. Det var først da jeg nærmede mig slutningen, at den begyndte at blive bare en smule interessant.

… as if another life were running alongside this one, perhaps no better or worse but certainly different, and she liked to reach out and touch it from time to time, like dipping her hand into the river from a canoe.

Derudover blev alting overforklaret. Pointen i bogen er, at der ikke er et rigtigt eller et forkert valg i livet, og det bliver forklaret igen og igen. Det bliver forklaret i handlingen – først skåret ud i pap i den ene historie, så i den anden. Så skriver Irina en børnebog, hvor det bliver forklaret igen. Det sidste kapitel forklarer det så en gang til for at være sikker på, at alle er med. Og gudhjælpemig om forfatteren så ikke har et lille efterskift, hvor hun selv lige forklarer det hele en gang til. Hun skriver selv “No harm in spelling it out”. Jo, der er skade i at tale ned til dine læsere, Lionel Shriver!

Now in Danish

danish book

I’ve been giving it a lot of thought lately, and I’ve decided to reintroduce Danish to the blog. When I first started the blog, it felt natural to write in English, as I’ve got an MA in English and about 95% of the books I read are in English. But lately I’ve missed writing in Danish and have been toying with the idea.

What’s been holding me back, is that about 60% of my readers don’t speak Danish. But this blog has always been about what I wanted to write and how I wanted to write it, so Danish it is. But don’t fret – there’ll still be a lot of English on the blog:

  • Each post will have an English recap
  • Each book review will also be available in English as I’m an active reviewer on Goodreads
  • Knitting patterns will almost always be available for free in English

So I won’t stop writing in English as such – it’s more a question of adding Danish to the blog.

On top of that, I’m toying with making further changes to the blog. I feel it desperately needs a redesign, an About-Me + Contact page. And I would like to make it more personal. I’ve had rather personal posts before and enjoyed the comments and feedback I got. Furthermore, Mr. Boyfriend has agreed to write a little mini-review of each audio book we listen to together, so you’ll get the opinion of both of us.

I hope you guys are OK with these changes and won’t hit the horrible ‘un-follow’ button 😀

April Wrap-Up

Books and baby

In April I read: 4 books: One e-book (‘The Post-birthday World’), two audio books (The Bell Jar and ‘North and South’), and one physical book (‘Mariana’).

Best read: That would be Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. But it was a reread so it doesn’t really count. So the best read will be ‘Mariana’ by Monica Dickens. which proved to be an adorable little surprise.

Most disappointing read: ‘The Post-birthday World’ – a good idea poorly conducted.

Longest book ‘North and South’ (531 pages / 20 hrs 8 mins)

Books bought: Zero – I’d rather spend my limited me-time reading than buying books.

Reading challenge status: I’m 9 books ahead of schedule! Those long walks with the pram are brilliant 😀

reading challenge

Books and baby

books

Did you read any good books in April?

The Bell Jar

the bell jar

The Bell Jar
Sylvia Plath
1963
234
New York and Boston, 1950s
It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn't know what I was doing in New York.

Esther Greenwood, an intelligent and creative young girl, wins a writing contest and is awarded a job for the summer at a fashion magazine in New York. She should be enjoying the glammer and excitement that comes with the trip, but instead Esther finds herself sinking deeper and deeper into depression.

I was supposed to be having the time of my life.
I was supposed to be the envy of thousand other college girls just like me all over America.

Esther is a torn soul with a serious identity crisis. In New York she befriends two girls: the good girl Betsy and the bad girl Doreen. Esther feels attached to both girls but cannot be herself completely with either. Betsy is how Esther knows she should be, she's the girl she was brought up to be: finish college, marry a nice man and have kids.

I made a decision about Doreen that night. I decided I would watch her and listen to what she said, but deep down I would have nothing at all to do with her. Deep down, I would be loyal to Betsy and her innocent friends. It was Betsy I resembled at heart.

Doreen on the other hand is wild and promiscuous, the kind of girl she is warned against by parents, teachers, books and movies. The kind of girl Esther is afraid to become but who she also feels drawn to.

Being with Doreen made me forget my worries. I felt wise and cynical as all hell.

It seems to Esther, there is no place for an inbetweener like herself. She doesn't fit either stereotype and is throughout the novel haunted by these limitations. She can't just be a person, she has to choose a ready-made role.

On top of that, Esther has no idea what to do with her life. She's about to finish school and is frustrated with the limited roles for a young woman. She's expected to marry and have children and forget about her education and writing.

I also remembered Buddy Willard saying in a sinister knowing way that after I had children I would feel differently, I wouldn't want to write poems anymore.

I think this was my third visit to The Bell Jar. I listened to the audio this time and can highly recommend Audible's version, beautifully narrated by Maggie Gyllenhaal - she did a fine job of captured the wit and sarcasm of the novel.

Even though the novel is dark and tragic, it's also light-hearted and extremely humorous. Particularly the scenes in New York and the flashbacks to her school days and her romantic relationships are some of my favorites. It remains one of the most clever and amusing books I have ever read.

Currently Reading #5

cat and book

I’m currently reading an adorable novel: Mariana by Monica Dickens (great-granddaughter of Charles Dickens). It’s a sweet story about a girl growing up and I’m enjoying it immensely. It reminds me a bit of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, only so much better – at least in my opinion. I’ve only read about 100 pages, but I’m very much hooked – I desperately need my daily dosis. It’s been a long time since I felt that way about a real physical book. My reading time is limited, so it’ll probably be ages before I finish reading and writing a review.

The other day, I was reading while Edith took a nap. She woke up after only 20 minutes and refused to go back to sleep even though she seemed tired. So I thought Why not try and read while she’s relaxing in my arms? Like we used to do when she was very little. Boy was I naive! She kept crawling around, grabbing the book, trying to put it in her mouth, and crumbling the pages with her little hands. I can’t believe how much she’s changed in just a few months. I think I managed to read one sentence then I gave up 😀

What are you currently reading?

baby and book

A Little Life

a little life

One of the most heartbreaking stories I’ve read in a long time. A story of abuse, self-destruction, love and friendship. Were it not for a few flaws, I would have given it 5 stars.

A Little Life
Hanya Yanagihara
2015
Audio
720 (32 hours 51 mins)

In 'A Little Life', we meet a group of friends in New York. We dab into their lives, learn about their history, their dreams and their friendships. And then we linger at one character in particular; Jude. Jude is a mystery that is slowly revealed word by word. His is a tragic story of a life ruined, a destructive self-hatred, a soul utterly ruined.

This book was a rare treasure. I was very interested in Jude's story, and desperately wanted to know what had happened to him to make him the way he is. His self-destruction was heart-breaking, and while I cheered for him all the way, I knew I was in for some sorrowful hours. This is one of those novels that stabs you in the heart repeatedly. But it's also a beautiful story of love and friendship.

Why wasn’t friendship as good as a relationship? Why wasn’t it even better? It was two people who remained together, day after day, bound not by sex or physical attraction or money or children or property, but only by the shared agreement to keep going, the mutual dedication to a union that could never be codified.

I listened to A Little Life on audio, and I think that was the right format for this book. One of my favorite groups on Goodreads read it a few months ago, and one of their critiques was the writing. There were many long sentences and interposed sentences. That wasn't a problem for me, however, as the narrator, Oliver Wyman, did an excellent job performing the book. without overacting, I was always aware of where we were and which character was talking.

My top critique for this novel is that it was a bit unbelievable. There were too many horrible things happening to just one person. It was extremely overdone. And though I liked the writing, I thought there were too many repetitions. This was easier to cope with on audio, but I can imagine it would be annoying to read by oneself.

Throughout most of the book, I was completely engrossed in the story. The characters felt like old friends, and I found myself thinking about them when I wasn't listening to the story. Most of the way through, this book felt like a 5-starred read, but due to the repetitions and exaggerations mentioned above, it felt more like 4 stars.

What he knew, he knew from books, and books lied, they made things prettier.