Having admired Mario Vargas Llosa’s epic tale , The War of The End of The World’, I decided to embark upon another of his works. This time I chose a slighter book, the elegant and gentle piece of erotica ‘In Praise of the Stepmother’. Very well written, the tale was ultimately a considerable disappointment. The first book had contained a few indications of the writer’s fascination with sexual love, but the more violent descriptions seemed the less remarkable in the context of a savage war.
The second book, cleverly links the narrative with famous paintings, such as Titian’s Venus with Cupid and Music’. The novel features an inappropriate relationship between a forty year old woman and her stepson, in which the small boy emerges as the scheming initiator. The disappointment is that the child is presented as possessing the control. In any such relationship it is the adult who is misusing power. Given the focus on historic child abuse in recent years in this country, I wonder how Faber’s 1991 publication would be received today.
I finished reading the book this morning, before taking my usual Hordle Cliff beach walk in reverse.
Although the morning was drier and brighter than yesterday, strong winds roared across the Solent, bringing waves crashing on the shingle, and bending the ornamental grasses growing beside the steps descending from the cliff top. Sunlight set autumn leaves ablaze and threaded its way through The Needles.
I was fortunate to avoid much of the rain this morning. The afternoon was rather wetter. Having recently watched Andrew Graham-Dixon’s BBC4 programme, ‘The Art of Gothic’, I was inspired to read Horace Walpole’s ‘The Castle of Otranto’, described as the first Gothic novel. I read Devendra P. Varma’s introduction to my Folio Society edition this afternoon.
Jackie’s recent sausage casserole has, with the addition of slabs of beef and a little more bacon, has become a mixed grill stew. And delicious it was too, as we dined on it, with roast potatoes and boiled carrots and runner beans, this evening. My choice from the array of desserts was tiramisu. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Castillo san Lorenzo reserva rioja 2009. Flo just ate her dinner.