A Day In The A Blue Mountains.

Thanks for visiting my blog. I welcome you to take your time and browse , visiting my bush garden and discovering the wonders of my city within a national park; Blue Mountains National Park. Via my blog you will travel with me through the successes, trials and tribulations of gardening on a bush block. I share with you my patchwork & quilting, knitting, paper crafts, cooking and life in general.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Winter Hibernation ...

...means a good book or three to read as one snuggles on the couch, wrapped in a scarf and blanket.  
I've been coping with the cold by staying indoors as much as possible. 
As a result the garden has been neglected but I've managed to catch up on some reading.
Just like my post here I'm a little ashamed to admit that I've never read To Kill A Mocking Bird (Lee Harper).  I cannot explain why this is the case, except to say that I have been curious about the novel when it has come up in conversation in the past. 
But with all the hype about Lee Harper's new novel Go Set A Watchman my curiosity got the better of me and I became determined to read for myself what all the fuss was and is about.
Can you imagine my delight when, (on the 15th July) I happened upon a charity shop in Katoomba as I made my way to a function at the Paragon Cafe where I would meet with my Best Friend Ever. As I walked past the shop I made a mental note to pop in and a have a look after lunch.

The Paragon Cafe itself is a treasure trove of memorabilia.

 We indulged in a 50's themed Christmas in July Lunch on a bitterly cold day and as we were returning to my car My Friend, being a vintage clothes junkie, couldn't resist the Steven Walter Children Cancer Foundation - Op Shop (which has been described as a 'boutique-style charity shop') and as I'd already forgotten my mental note, I would not realise how appreciative of my friend I would be until my later find.

The store is a treasure trove...there is indeed a select array of the finest vintage items. Some may even be classed as antique but I'm not qualified to say.  We found room after room of nicely displayed collections of furniture, china, clothing, toys, and...books.

On spotting the books I began scanning the shelves for Lee Harper's first novel but quickly gave up as I couldn't really work the system employed by the staff to file their books (it definitely isn't the Dewey system!).
A staff member was stacking more books from a trolley so I approached her and asked if they happened to have To Kill A Mocking Bird and when I saw the look on her face I hoped she didn't think I was mocking her!  I could see her brain ticking over and I wondered to myself what retort she may be thinking up but after a few seconds her gaze, along with her mind I imagined, cleared and she uttered the words (or similar):  Yes we do, I've just put one up on the shelf here.
Then to my amazement she walked over to a rattan shelf and she reached up to the top most shelf and from atop the top most book, she took down a forlorn paperback copy of the book I had requested. (I would never have looked there.) Seek and ye shall find.  It is as simple as that.  I paid three dollars for it. 
Then two weeks or so later, at my local bookshop I paid $45 for a hardcover edition of Go Set a Watchman.  Oh well. (And no, it's not a first edition, as far as I can work out.)

To Kill A Mocking Bird

As a first time reader of the first novel written by Lee Harper I found myself drawn in by the character of Scout Finch and even though the setting is in a different continent and a different time to my own childhood the many similarities astounded me.  Perhaps both Scout and I commit, perhaps unconsciously, to existentialism.  
The most innocuous is what at times connects (for example) generations, or cultures. Besides, this narrative most certainly continues to relate to contemporary issues in my own homeland, and I imagine, many parts of the western world. 
Although reviews have described To Kill A Mocking Bird as a series of flashbacks in Jean Louise Finch’s life, I found them to be cohesive enough to not come across as a retelling of past events but rather, an unfolding of events in a troubling time as experienced by a young child, who perhaps is more open than most children to the impact of the behaviour of various adults and social groups in their life; as well as the conditions imposed on the children she associated  with (or didn’t)  as she grew up in Maycomb County, southern Alabama.
The questions it will trigger in the reader are as relevant today as they were back in the 1930s.   

Go Set A Watchman

This novel has a definite beginning, middle and end. It questions life issues more directly, I think, than To Kill A Mocking Bird.
The beginning was slow, reminisces a lot about Jean Louise/ Scout's childhood , and written in a much shriller voice than that of the deep and worrisome chesty tones of To Kill a Mocking Bird.  Perhaps it’s the inconsistent tone of the writing that left me feeling uneasy in the beginning. 
As a result, I found the start of the book sedate and irritating, especially since I read it immediately after Lee Harper’s first book. 
But it’s not long before Scout’s questioning of and refusal to accept the norms of her isolated and close knit community comes to the fore and once more I became enthralled and swept up by her thoughts and reasoning.
It’s been some years since Scout left Maycomb and this narrative is set during her annual visit to her childhood home. 
Go Set A Watchman, in the twenty first century, has just as much relevance as it would have in the 1950s, but perhaps we as humans have evolved enough to process the message more readily.  Whether we accept the challenge or not remains to be seen. 

 (I have read where a book seller has offered to refund buyers of the book, their money if they so wish, because they may have been led to believe it was a ‘nice summer novel’ but instead may find it to be an ‘academic insight’.  My response to that is: Hummpf. http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/aug/04/us-bookshop-offering-refunds-for-go-set-a-watchman-harper-lee.)

In the beginning this book made me laugh, in the end it brought me to tears but most importantly, in the middle, as I became absorbed by the conflicts experienced and betrayals perceived by Jean Louise, the words truly made me think and caused me to question my own views and beliefs towards people of other creeds, cultures, social standing and race.  It raises the question of the probability of how civil rights and liberties are interpreted depends on which group is doing the interpreting.  

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