Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Once upon a time...

...there was a woman who couldn't stop reading. Every minute of the day her nose was in a book. Her children looked sadly at the dry crusts on the table, her dogs gazed at their empty bowls, her husband threatened to find a witch to brew up a potion to effect a cure, but to no avail. "Oh dear," the woman sighed, "just let me finish this page..."

Which is a longwinded way of saying that I have succumbed to yet another challenge. Or, as Margaret at BooksPlease would have it: "Oh No, Not Another Challenge!" Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings ran this challenge last year, and is reprising it for 2008. It is just so exactly my kind of thing, encompassing myth and fairytales, that I can't resist. I'm going for Quest the Second, one book from each of the four categories that comprise the challenge, and they are:

Fairytale – Andrew Lang, Chronicles of Pantouflia
Mythology – Margaret Atwood, The Penelopiad
Folkore – Diana Wynne Jones, Fire and Hemlock
Fantasy – Connie Willis, Passage

The Andrew Lang book is a re-read, but I haven't read it since I was young – I only found my copy recently, it's been hiding ever since we moved here a mere 14 years ago! It was out of print for a long time, so I was rather pleased to see it again.


  1. Ha! Love your opening Once Upon a Time... :)

    I am so glad you are joining in on this second iteration of the Once Upon a Time Challenge. Fascinating book choices. I've heard Fire and Hemlock is *the* DWJ book to read and I look forward to your thoughts on it.

  2. I love 'Fire and Hemlock', but then I love everything Diana Wynne Jones writes, she is magnificent. I ought to read 'The Penelopiad', it's been sitting on the shelves almost since it was published. That's probably a bad sign, actually. I suspect that if I was going to read it I would have read it straight away.

  3. I'm looking forward to it, Carl, but I'll have to find a copy of Fire and Hemlock before I can read it!

    TT, I love DWJ, but am much more ambivalent about Atwood. I'm rather hoping that The Penelopiad is something the library might actually have.

  4. I've read lots of DWJ but not Fire and Hemlock, which is why it's on some of my other challenge lists this year! there's so much fantasy to read that I didn't put it on this challenge....
    and, I hate to break it to you, but Passages is the one Connie Willis that doesn't have any fantasy (except perhaps the very last part of the book)....it's the least of any of her books to have fantasy in it. Now, To Say NOthing of the Dog, or the Doomsday Book (one of my favourites) or Bellwether (my favourite) all do....have you read them? I'm curious as to what you think of Passages, it was interesting and still haunts me and it's been years since I read it.
    Good list, too! And like Carl, LOVE your opening! I've taken to reading at mealtimes so I can get a few more pages in, so far the kids haven't noticed (we eat in front of the tv because the dining table is filled with stuff...) *sigh* finding reading time is a challenge, isn't it??

  5. "just let me finish this page ..." such a familiar line. A fascinating choice of books. I am sure you will enjoy them all.

  6. Susan, I hope I'm going to enjoy Passage even if it lacks fantasy - I can talk about the fantasy elements when I write about it! I have read the others you mention - To Say Nothing of the Dog was an Amazon recommendation, and I count it as an epiphany, because the dreariness of the books in our local library had persuaded me that I'd read everything worthwhile (I know, ridiculous, but I was feeling rather demoralised). With TSNOTD I realised that there were people "out there" who could recommend books and I started actively looking for new authors - Diana Wynne Jones was new to me then too. Then last year I found book bloggers and I really feel a bit "Brave New World" about it all.

    I'd cheerfully read while I eat, but I think the 2 other adults in the household would feel a bit miffed. We watch cookery programmes and argue about them while we eat!

    Becca, thank you - my greatest complaint is the way my eyes close at night before I finish the page.

  7. I'm glad you've joined too. it's a while since I read any Diana Wynne Jones, but I did like those I have read.

    Which book did you snag from LibraryThing? I hope they have more for the UK too!

  8. My LibraryThing book is called The Private Lives of Pippa Lee by Rebecca Miller. I was very surprised to get it!

  9. I'm trying hard to get back into books again, so I will make note of these titles and check them out, if my lame local library has them, of course. Good luck with your challenge!

  10. I sympathise about lame local libraries. As for getting back into books, go for it!