Friday, December 08, 2006

You Want Us To Read What?

Not so very long ago, in a book store not so very far away, I was perusing the hardcover delights when I happened upon a table of Woodsworth Classics. I spied a novel I had, for some unknown reason, always wanted to read. I say “always” but of course don’t mean that literally. When I was in my Dr. Seuss phase three years ago, that was all I wanted. A Cat in a Hat indeed.

A few years back, my New Years resolution was to start reading all those “classics” you’ve heard of but never read – unless you were forced to do so by a teacher. I have to date read everything from The Wizard of Oz (that movie is all lies!) to Jude the Obscure and all points in between. My top 5 favorites so far include Robinson Crusoe, Around the World in 80 Days, The Count of Monte Cristo, The Moonstone and the Sherlock Holmes stories.

One I never got around to, but was of interest to me, was Tess of the d’Ubervilles. As it happens, last summer our little group chit-chatted and tossed about the idea of starting a book club. We are a little behind Oprah, but only by about 8 years. Trends take a while to hit the E-dot. We’re a bit like Tasmania that way according to The Boyfriend.

Anyway, I thought it was a fine way to combine the two efforts. That plus the books were 3 for $10 and who can say no to that? It was a sign indeed. “Is this for a book club?” asked the clerk as I plunked down 12 copies. “No professor. Papier-mâché project.” Was my response.

Home I went with my head buzzing. So inspired by my find, and anxious to start the book club, I wrapped each copy in brown craft paper, addressed them and tied with twine to give it that authentic period feel. (And when I say period I mean, well, you know what I mean). Enclosed was an invitation announcing the inaugural meeting of the “New Toronto Lakeshore Village (and out of town guests), Gay and Lesbian (and selected invited breeders) Book Club”.

As it is a lengthy novel “with small print” I gave everyone 8 weeks to read it. During that time, a few mini debates flared up at various gatherings. Was Tess a woman of low moral standards or did Alek take advantage? Did we love or hate Angel. I think she was taken advantage of and Angel needed to get a spine.

With the big day fast approaching a couple people admitted they hated it and couldn’t finish it and one person revealed they rented the movie instead. At least they owned up to it. Finished or not, the club was going to meet!

I made traditional drinks – Regency Orange Brandy (sidebar, I lovingly removed the zest from 12 oranges, put it in a glass jar and began to add the booze. As I bragged to the boyfriend about my efforts of making it myself he said “why are you using rum”? Apparently “Brandy” and “Bacardi” sound too much alike for me), Hot Buttered Cider with Rum and Lambs Wool (a concoction of heated ale, sugar and baked apples). Dairy themed food was prepared in honor of Tess’ stay there. There was cheese of all sorts (including a brie wheel with chutney baked in filo pastry) and for the autumn season, a cake, shaped and decorated like a pumpkin.

The room was awash with light from oil lamps and candles. Getting the conversation started was a bit slow and tedious. As the host and brainchild behind all of this, it fell to me to get things started. In a nut shell, I like the book. Thomas Hardy, from the little I have read, was not a “happily ever after” kind of guy. For whatever reason, that appeals to me as it seems more realistic. The general consensus was that it was good, if a little long winded and descriptive. Personally, I liked the in-depth detail as it gave me feel for this form of entertainment. Back before TV, radio, iPods etc. I would not have wanted the Coles Notes version.

Unbeknownst to me, some goggled ideas came out during the conversation. I found them quite insightful and was all “wow they are way smarter than me”, but now I know better. I didn’t know you could find such things on the net. Oh well.

Our next meeting is being hosted by KitKat and CFB. Their selection is A Naked Civil Servant. I am now on chapter six and anxiously awaiting the big night. I wonder if we will have to dress like women? Good thing Halloween just passed and I have ready access to my old Scarlett O’Hara costume.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved this one, not enough to read it though. The movie would work for me and I would even need the closed caption.

4:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am soooo impressed with your stamina- Hardy could really put you out cold. Are you on to the excellent Charles Dickens PBS autobiography on Charles Dickens right now- fabulous. Karen

4:34 AM  

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