Posted by: Corri van de Stege | June 8, 2008

The Sunday Salon – Seachanges’ Patch





Some weeks are so busy that at the end of them you find your brain just won’t quieten down.  Last week was one of those weeks and last night different things were competing for attention, the reports, the presentations, the travelling, the books I’m reading or want to read, the podcasts I’ve been listening to, as well as domestic items that need dealing with.  Where do you start and how do you file them all away, these jumbling thoughts, in an orderly fashion so that your mind is clear and you can go to sleep?  I got up, what was it, 2.30? and read a bit more and jotted down some notes, made myself a cup of tea and then at around 4 tried again.  Hopeless.  I’m going to write and post in the Sunday Salon and will probably be the first one around today.


So let me tell you something about the podcasts I listened to this week.  I like the World Book Club ones and while travelling (driving) I listened to a few, including the interview with Khaled Hoseini about the The Kite Runner and Michael Ondaatje on The English Patient.  I mention these because I read the Kite Runner and loved the book, but have not seen the film (yet) whereas I saw the film The English Patient twice because I admired it so much but have not (yet) read the book.  Yesterday, when on a bit of retail therapy I could not avoid the Borders Bookshop; I bought The English Patient, as well as Haruki Murakami’s After Dark. 


I also listened to some podcasts on book reviews and one of these was an interview with the author Raymond Khoury about The Sanctuary, a book that was reviled by some reviewers as another one in the (‘tedious’) series of Dan Brown’s genre and by others as a fantastic read ‘while sitting on a plane or beach’.  I bought a copy of it, on a whim.  Has anyone read it?


So these books have now been added to the stack that I cannot possibly read in a whole year, let alone during a two weeks’ holiday, which is coming up.  It’s going to be quite hard to decide what to take and what to leave behind. 


In addition to books I also bought two DVDs, one of which is ‘The Hours’ with Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore and Nicole Kidman.  This we watched last night.  And it is appropriate for this post as it is of course about Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway.  It links the stories of three women, Virginia Woolf, a housewife living in Los Angeles in 1941 and who is reading Mrs. Dalloway, and a present day version of Mrs Dalloway who lives in New York.  I enjoyed it a lot and I realised that apart from the very first chapter when Mrs Dalloway goes out to buy flowers, I cannot remember much of the book, it is so long ago I read it.


For today?  Well, there’s Mary Phillips’ Gods Behaving Badly to finish.  This is a light hearted story, very well written, juxtaposing the behaviour of Greek gods in present day London with the lives of two Londoners, Alice who is a first class graduate in linguistics but works as a cleaner and Neil, an engineer who is in love with Alice but does not quite have the courage to tell her this.   Greek gods in the guise of humans live in a dilapidated old house that is slowly going to ruins.  There are some lovely comparisons, something a good writer must do to ‘evoke’ the scenes or settings, when for example Neil, when he sees the house for the first time, ponders how anyone could let it get into such a state of disrepair and cheekily thinks that he’d had a similar experience when looking at a recent photo of Brigitte Bardot. 


The chapters change points of views, limited third person, allowing a subtle shift of tone when entering a different character’s viewpoint.   In some chapters we are with Artemis, ‘goddess of hunting and chastity and of the moon and several other things’, who goes running in the park and takes out other people’s dogs.  Then we hear from Apollo, who is becoming jaded and tired of doing the same thing hundred years after hundred years, including having sex with the beautiful Aphrodite and who is not very good at acting in the Credo.  In other chapters we shift to Neil or Alice.  This is a really cleverly crafted book, which takes a humorous pot shot at Greek myths about gods and their presumed role and how their characteristics wreak havoc in the developing relationship between Neil and Alice.  I have not finished it yet; it’s in my salon for today.


Otherwise, I shall now definitely finish that review of Love in a Time of Cholera, as well as take my time reading the Sunday papers.  I do love reading the Sunday Papers over a cappuccino.   With a bit of luck we are at long last going to have a dry and dare I hope sunny day, which means I shall also try and do some gardening as the weeds are once more getting the better of me. 




  1. You chose great books. A few of those I have read and liked!

    My Salon moments

  2. I hadn’t thought about book podcasts before – I’m going to check out the World Book Club one – thanks for the tip 🙂

  3. Yes, I’m going to look into the World Book Club as well.

  4. Loved hearing about the book “Gods Behaving…” and just want to let you know that many of us are up in the night, tossing, turning and ultimately, doing some writing. It’s not age, hormones or any of that other blather. I prefer to see it as having had enough rest at that moment and the opportunity to think and work while others snore, leaving us to it!

  5. I hope you enjoy After Dark. I’m chipping away, trying to write a review of it for Bibliobuffet, and it’s slow going so far. It’s just SO HARD to explain what was great about this book. It’s just one that left me satisfied.

    As for the World Book Club podcast, I haven’t heard of that one, but I need to subscribe from the sound of it!

  6. gautami: hi and I’m glad you like my choice
    Mrs S; Ann Darnton: podcasts are a great invention, there are lots of others on other sites: BBC4, five life and others. BBC podcasts is the best page to start
    Oh: I so hoped someone would say this 🙂
    Andi: see above. I also find it a challenge to explain why a book is great, picking out that special something can be hard. Glad you liked it, it’ll go in the suitcase for the holidays

  7. I’d read a couple books about Virginia Woolf and seen THE HOURS promoted on Oprah. Had to see it…Loved the movie!

  8. I am becoming such a fan of podcasts. I’ve been listening to short stories as well as author interviews. Love them!

    The Hours is one of my all time favorite movies, and one of the few I actually own because I’ve watched it several times. It’s one of those rare occasions when I liked the movie better than the book 🙂

  9. Oh: unfortunately your link does not work, can you resend?

  10. J Kaye: yes, I’d missed it and am so glad I got a copy yesterday.
    ravenous reader: I can see myself watching it again and again… as I said, I just cannot remember the book at all well!

  11. Gods Behaving Badly sounds a hoot – I’ll have to look out for that. And I so want to read The Hours and forgot about it when I was making my summer reading plan. How annoying! I’ll have to slip it in somewhere.

    Do hope you got a nap today as well!

  12. Great post and wonderful books to be reading! Thanks for the reminder, too, that I was going to look into podcasts since last you mentioned them. I hope you get some good rest soon.

  13. Another thanks on the reminder about the podcasts. This was a terribly slow reading week for me — too many activities nipping at my heels for attention, although I did finish THE ELEVENTH DRAFT and enjoyed it quite a bit. I hope to catch up this week.

  14. tj: slept very well last night – thank you! Hope you’re on the road to recovery: podcasts are very soothing.
    lisakenney: know what you mean about activities – they never stop do they? Eleventh draft eh? I’ve got some way to go yet! Congratulations.

  15. lisakenney: apologies! just realise you’re talking about a collection of short stories ‘The Eleventh Draft’…. must check it out 🙂

  16. You mentioned some of my favorite books here: English Patient and Love in the Time of Cholera. The film The Hours has only intensified my strong feelings toward the novel, which is written in such beautiful stream-of-consciousness prose!

    I’ll check out Gods Behaving Badly, it sounds like something light but has depth. 🙂

  17. Hi Matt – review of LiTC is coming up, got it done at last. Actually, I must get hold of a copy of The Hours as I loved the film so much. Yes, GBB is all of those things!

  18. Had been absent from the island for some days, I’m back now but looking forward to how your projected book will be conceived.

    Best luck with your reading

  19. Jose: good to see you again – hope all’s well and you’re fine! The book is soooo slooooow in coming… anyway, off for a break in a week’s time and hopefully will be able to pick up some speed 🙂

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