I entered New Hall Hospital on 9th January, intending to persevere with Patrick O’Brian’s ‘Master & Commander’. This despite the fact that I cannot really concentrate on reading in my post-operative condition.
This novel is the first of the author’s acclaimed series of 18 works focussing on 18th century seamanship. Whilst I could admire the skilful research and the accurate presentation of seagoing life during O’Brian’s chosen period the book’s first hundred or so pages had not engaged me.
Mine is the 2008 edition of the Folio Society, illustrated with contemporary maps and paintings; and detailed drawings of ropes and rigging. It is the immense amount of technical detail that tied me up in so many knots that I could not enjoy the undoubted excellent characterisation offered by the writer.
Back at home, I opened it again, where a telltale bookmark slipped out from between pp 324/5. My practice of leaving bookmarks in my books is featured in ‘Bookmarks’. A secondary bonus is that this will remind me that I have already read the work. That I had no memory of this one demonstrates that I had struggled equally ten years ago.
This time I abandoned the effort and turned to ‘Treasure Palaces’, edited by Maggie Fergusson. This, a Christmas present from Tess and Mat, is a perfect recovery project: short chapters, each a description of a variety of authors’ chosen museums, contrasting their first, childhood, experience with a more recent one. Completing my reading today, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
This evening we enjoyed a second sitting of Hordle Chinese Take Away fare.