Sunday, 20 August 2017

Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote

I hadn't realised that Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's was a novella - only 100 pages in my sweet little pink Popular Penguin. Not that I'm complaining. Brief is good for me right now.

This particular edition also contained three more short stories by Capote - House of Flowers, A Diamond Guitar and A Christmas Memory.

There's probably not much more I can say about the actual story of Breakfast at Tiffany's that hasn't already been said. Yes, the book is different to the movie. Capote clearly tells us that Holly has 'boy's hair, tawny streaks, strands of albino-blonde and yellow', yet it is impossible to read this story now without Audrey Hepburn in mind.

The book is seedier, grittier and less romantic than the movie. But in both, Holly comes across as being extremely young and naive (she loves Wuthering Heights after all - the ultimate symbol of young, naive passion). She's looking for love and belonging in all the wrong places. She allows herself to become a kept woman and keeps everyone at arm's length, even the cat.

She's described as being a phony (although a 'real phony. She believes all this crap she believes') and a liar. I'd like to say she was at least true to herself, but that was the part she hadn't worked out yet. She was still searching; trying on different parts; hoping, wishing, longing for something more or something different.

You call yourself a free spirit, a "wild thing," and you're terrified somebody's gonna stick you in a cage. Well baby, you're already in that cage. You built it yourself. And it's not bounded in the west by Tulip, Texas, or in the east by Somali-land. It's wherever you go. Because no matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself.

You're left hoping, that Holly will one day, like the cat, stop running and find a home where she feels that she belongs.

The other three stories are much slighter and quite different in tone and subject matter. I guess you could say that they represent a good cross-section of Capote's writing style, except the sum total of my knowledge about Capote's work is now contained in these four stories. So what would I know!

House of Flowers is set in Haiti featuring a young girl, Ottilie, who has found her way into prostitution. Like Holly, she longs to know what love is and to feel a sense of belonging. For Ottilie this means returning to the Mountains of her childhood and facing the hostility of an older, dying woman. The story seems to be about the battle for power between the two women, with the younger coming off the ultimate winner. Her old life is quickly forgotten as the age-old juggle/struggle for power begins with her new husband.

By the time I had got to the end of A Diamond Guitar, I realised that love and belonging were major themes for Capote. I also found a sense of nostalgia and yearning prevalent in all of his pieces. This one is a prison story - not one of those harsh, cruel prison stories full of depraved beings, on both sides of the wire - but one that focused on friendship, longing and memory with maybe just a hint of gay love.

The final story, A Christmas Memory, is apparently an American classic, but one I have never heard of before. A quick google revealed that there was an autobiographical element to the story, which made it more interesting and enlightening. Capote's writing was obviously his way of searching for the love and belonging that was missing from his childhood. This reminded me that the only thing I had known about Capote before reading these stories was his childhood friendship with Harper Lee. Apparently Sook, the elderly cousin that featured in his Christmas stories, was befriended by Capote during this same time.

I love how books can find connections with other books purely by chance. I'm currently reading Lincoln in the Bardo. Capote's descriptions of Sook made me smile,
Her face is remarkable – not unlike Lincoln's, craggy like that, and tinted by sun and wind.

It gave me an instant affection for her.

I'm not sure if other countries produced pink popular penguins, but in 2013 Penguin Australia teamed with the McGrath Foundation to help raise money for Breast Care Nurses in communities all around Australia.

Glenn McGrath was a prominent Australian cricketer a number of years ago. His wife Jane sadly died of breast cancer in 2008. She was only 42. They started the McGrath Foundation together in 2005. Currently 117 Breast Care Nurses have been placed in various communities around Australia.

The Pink Popular Penguins

• Alphabet Sisters by Monica McInerney

• Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote

• Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

• Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

• Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

• Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind

• The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald

• A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

• Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford

• Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

• Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

• A Spy in the House of Love by Anais Nin.

This is my seventh completed book & review for #20BooksofWinter. 
I've half read two others on the list. 
There is a grandness in my ability to fail reading challenges!

Friday, 18 August 2017

A Wintry A to Z

Jane over @Eden Rock Beyond hosts a semi-regular, when the mood takes her, A-Z of all things bookish and bloggish.

After an unseasonal, glorious run of spring-like days, another bout of wintry weather has just blown into Sydney town. So I thought I'd stay inside by the fire and have a go at finding 26 bookish things to list.

  • A is for ABOUT ME. A little while back there was a flurry of blogging activity around what we book bloggers actually do on our blogs. Is it reviewing or is it book journalling or something in between? At the time it seemed important that I work it out. The problem was, all that reflecting and navel gazing put me off my game! I may never get around to writing an ABOUT ME page. But for the record, I consider myself to be a book journaller. I write about how a book makes me feel, what connections I made whilst reading it and any research I may have felt compelled to do to understand the book or the author at a deeper level. I don't write straight book reviews. I don't read book reviews either. I always skip over any book synopsis to get to the bit where the reader tells me what they thought of the book or what they discovered while they were reading the book. I usually select my next read based on a mix of mood, gut feeling and zeitgeist. Therefore what you think about a book and how it made you feel influences me more than anything else.

  • B is for BALI. Our next holiday destination. Wahoo! I can't wait to wear my summer dresses, laze by the pool and drink cocktails! Binge reading, massages and eating out for every meal may also be on the cards!

  • C is for CUBA. I've been asked to put together a photographic exhibition at our local library of my Cuba pics. The only problem is that I took all my photos on my smartphone and every time I've tried to print so far, I hit resolution issues. HELP! One friend suggested that I just do a postcard size exhibition - an up close and personal approach perhaps?

  • D is for DRINKY-POO. It's 6 pm on Friday evening in Sydney town. I've had a busy week at work and a nice cold beer is lubricating this post quite nicely!

  • E is for ERDRICH. I'm very excited to have an ARC of Louise Erdrich's new book. Future Home of the Living God is due for November publication in Australia by Hachette Australia.

  • F is for FOOTBALL. The soccer season is finished for the year once again. B20's team made it to the first final round while B16 (about to turn 17) got through to the second round of finals. Mr Books is heavily involved in the local football committee so he will still have things to do, but for the next few months at least, we have no major demands on our weekend time. What will we do with all this free time I hear you ask? A week in Bali is one, a trip to the Blue Mountains another. I'm also hoping for some bush walking and city exploring adventures.

  • G is for GRACE. My One Word has been a real battle all year. I'm struggling to feel good about it right now.

  • H is for HONOURING Jessica Anderson. For the past few years a friend of mine has organised an honouring event at the State Library of NSW where like-minded souls gather to celebrate the life and work of an Australian author who may have been forgotten or fallen off the radar.

  • I is for INSTAGRAM. I'm hooked. I take pics of our holidays, out walking around my local area, of books, flowers and art exhibitions. There are occasional food shots! My tag is brona68.

  • J is for JAPAN. When Mr Books turned 50 he wanted to go to Cuba. For my 50th I want to go to Japan. Let the planning begin!

  • K is for KIDS. Not sure if I can still call them kids now that they're B20 and almost B17. Living with adults in the making is very different to living with kids. Still adjusting. I miss the primary school years.

  • L is for LOVE. Despite issues with grace and change and periods of adjustment and perimenopause, love still abounds in our home.

  • M is for MILLER, Alex. His new book, The Passage of Love is due out in October, published by Allen & Unwin. Yet another ARC by my bed calling out 'pick me, pick me!'

  • N is for NOVEMBER and AusReadingMonth. This will be my fifth year of hosting AusReadingMonth and I'm trying to work out how to take it on a road trip around all the states and territories of Australia....I'll keep you posted.

  • O is for ORWELL. I have this fascinating new release on my TBR pile called The Last Man in Europe by Dennis Glover. It's a fictionalised account of the last days of George Orwell as he wrote 1984 on a remote Scottish island. Mr Books and I recently saw a brilliant production of 1984 at the STC. It has been on my mind a lot.

  • P is for POKEMON. My guilty secret! I started pokemoning with B16, when he was B15. It started off as a bonding thing. He quickly moved on, as teenagers do, but I was hooked. Okay obsessed. I love walking. It's my main form of exercise. Walking also allows me to indulge in my other obsession - photography & Instagramming. Before Pokemon go, I used to use a WalkMe app to track how far I walked and for how long. Now it's how many km's I need to walk to hatch an egg. Sad but true.

  • Q is for QUEENS (and kings and thrones). Yes, I am one of those hanging out for each episode of Game of Thrones. Who will be the one to rule them all? Who are Jon's parents? Why on earth do they need to catch a white walker for f*#k sake?! When will Little Finger get his comeuppance? So many loose threads: so little time!

  • R is for (RE)READING. I've always been a re-reader, but working in an Indy bookshop has made this difficult to maintain.  +Deb Nance recently made a comment on one of my posts about hosting a (re)readathon...I'm thinking about it. 

  • S is for SYDNEY. My home town now for 9 years. I'm a country girl at heart, but I've learnt to love the buzz of city life. The art exhibitions, the diversity in food, the opportunities for exploring new places, our history and our beautiful harbour.

  • T is for TEA. My new favourite is a delicious white tea called Silver Needles or Baihao Yinzhen.

  • U is for UNDER the blankets. I'm looking forward to a lazy weekend of snuggling up and reading.

  • V is for VIETNAMESE food. This cooler weather has me craving beef pho and nom hua chuoi (banana flower salad). 

  • W is for WEEKEND. TGIF.

  • X is for XIAOLU GUO and her Orange Prize shortlisted book A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers. This a recently acquired addition to my TBR pile.

  • Y is for YES! I've finally found a Book Club to join. My first meeting will be in a month and our first book together will be Steven Amsterdam's, Miles Franklin 2017 longlisted book, The Easy Way Out.

  • Z is for ZADIE Smith. I like to read some of the Man Booker longlist each year. Swing Time will probably be my next read.
If you'd like to have a go at your own A-Z, make sure you pop over to Jane's blog to leave a link to your post.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Love and Freindship (sic) by Jane Austen

My Jane-ite credentials will hopefully be confirmed by my declaration that I have two copies of Love and Freindship (sic) on my bookshelf!

One is in my lovely cloth bound Penguin Classics (2014); the other is part of my treasured Folio Society Jane Austen boxed set from 2003. Between the two books, I believe I have the entire collection of Jane Austen's teenage writings plus the various half-finished works that she left behind when she died.

Love and Freindship is a juvenile story written by Jane Austen in 1790. She was only 14 yrs of age at the time (which may explain why she misspelt friend and friendship throughout the story)! It was supposedly written for the amusement of her family. According to Christine Alexander who wrote the Introduction in my Penguin Classics edition,
Literature was a shared activity in the Austen household; it was fun and enlightening.

I like to picture the Austen family sitting around the fire together, reading stories aloud to each other, trying to impress and make each other laugh with their cleverness and wit. I suspect Love and Freindship would have produced plenty of chuckles and quite a few guffaws.

Love and Freindship: Deceived in Freindship and Betrayed in Love is a laugh out loud parody of many of the romance novels in vogue at the time. It features elopements, exaggerated reversals of fortune, long-lost relatives, outlandish coincidences, pathetic deaths and lots of ill-timed faints!

Beware of fainting fits...Though at the time they may be refreshing and Agreeable, yet believe me they will, in the end, too often repeated and at improper seasons, prove destructive to your constitution... 
Beware of swoons, dear Laura.....A frenzy fit is not one quarter so pernicious; it is an exercise to the Body and if not too violent, is, I daresay, conducive to Health in its consequences - Run mad as often as you chuse, but do not faint - .

Laura is our hapless heroine. She is sentimental to the max and proud of it! Her friend Isabel, has asked Laura to give a detailed version of the 'Misfortunes and Adventures of your Life' to Isabel's daughter, Marianne, to satisfy her curiosity and to 'prove to her to be a useful Lesson.'

What follows is a series of hilarious, ridiculous letters full of the trials and tribulations of Laura's attempts at, well, love and friendship.

Unlike Lady Susan, who you end up feeling a grudging respect for, Laura is just too silly for words. Her naivety and shallowness are a danger to society and all those around her.

You may perhaps have been somewhat surprised my Dearest Marianne, that in the Distress I then endured, destitute of any Support, and unprovided with any Habitation, I should never once have remembered my Father and Mother or my paternal Cottage in the Vale of Uske. To account for this seeming forgetfullness I must inform you of a trifling Circumstance concerning them which I have as yet never mentioned - . The death of my Parents a few weeks after my Departure, is the circumstance I allude to.

We see in Love and Freindship that Jane Austen's views on sensibility and romance were formed at an early age. She was aware, as Alexander reminds us, of the 'false values and absurd conventions of sentimental fiction'.

Elinor Dashwood and Anne Eliot's rational, sensible approach to life and love is something that Jane clearly favoured all of her life. It's pleasing to be able to trace the more mature, sophisticated exploration of these ideas in Sense and Sensibility and Persuasion from this earlier, lighter story.

Love and Freindship is a high spirited, fun read and instructive, in more than ways than one!


Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Top Ten Tuesday

The Broke and the Bookish host a weekly meme called Top Ten Tuesday.
Each week they nominate a topic to encourage those of us who love a good list to get all listy.
This week it's all about book recommendations...

My Top Ten Book Recommendations for 2017 (so far)

I've had a bit of an odd reading (& blogging) year so far.
So much so, that I've just realised that I missed my 8th blogging anniversary last month!

So happy 8 years, 1 month, 1 week and 1 day blogging anniversary to me!

I've been trying to read more classics and reread some old favourites this year, which has been lovely, but most of my top ten book recommendations still seem to be new releases.

I tried to put these ten books in order from favourite to most best and wonderful favourite, but it was too hard. All ten of these books are very different and loved for different reasons. They also appealed to my different reading moods over the year in varying ways.

The list is chronological instead. The first book is the most recently read favourite stretching back through the months until January.

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

What a delightful, slightly gothic romp through Victorian England!
A book about love, in all it's guises.
If you're in need of an easy to read, heart warming story to get lost in (like I did) then this could be perfect for you too.

The Murderer's Ape by Jakob Wegelius

Sometimes a book comes along that surprises you by how much it sucks you in and how much you love it. When that book is a soon to be released, for the first time in English, children's book from Sweden, you wish you could be a kid all over again discovering the wonder of this story for the first time with the innocence of youth.

Needless to say, Sally Jones will live in my heart and soul for a very long time.

What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt

A glorious literary read about, well, love.
But also about art and New York and grief.

Insomniac City by Bill Hayes

I had a bit of an art, New York and love-fest in May which included this glorious memoir about Oliver Sacks....and New York, art and love.
It was also a beautiful produced book that was a pleasure to hold.

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

I enjoyed this slim, but multi-layered book so much, that I was very tempted to reread it straight away.
Instead I ordered a copy of The Reluctant Fundamentalist.

The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose

I really loved reading this book.
I learnt a LOT about modern art and Marina Abramovic in particular.
But I confess, I don't remember much else.
It wasn't a book that evoked strong or lasting feelings, but it was a fascinating experience at the time.

The Boy Behind the Curtain by Tim Winton

Such a wonderful insight into one of Australia's favourite and most well-known authors.
This collection of essays revealed so much about Winton's childhood, his beliefs and his approach to writing, that I slowly savoured each story over several months.

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

This slight, slim book punched well above it's weight.
Strout knows how to tease out those painful, nuanced interactions that make up our daily lives and most intimate relationships.
I cant wait to get into her latest book of short stories, Anything is Possible.

The Fortune of the Rougons by Emile Zola

The very first book in Zola's Rougon-Macquart series was a gem of a read.
Having read three of the other books (out of order) I was delighted to finally see how it all started.
I also read this during #Zoladdiction month with Fanda - I love a good readalong!

Speaking of readalongs....
My final pick is a bit of a cheat since it actually includes four books in one.
But I have never been able to read one without the others in quick succession.
The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkien

The main point of difference with this (re)readalong has been the quick part.
I've been enjoying a leisurely and considered reread over the past 7 months, with the last part of The Return of the King still waiting for me to meander my way through.
I'm delighted that it still has the ability to delight me so much.
The Hobbit and LOTR are without a doubt one of my all time favourite reads that have stood the test of time.

What has been your favourite read of 2017 so far?

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Lady Susan by Jane Austen

Lady Susan is an epistolary novel written around 1794 when Austen was in her late teens (although it was not published until 1871).

Lady Susan, herself, is an amoral, self-serving coquette, but it's hard not to love her just a little bit. She has a happy knack of twisting the facts to suit herself and an even happier knack of believing her own bullshit. Lady Susan brings to mind the magnificently monstrous Marquise Isabelle de Merteuil from Les liaisons dangereuses (Pierre Choderlos de Laclos). Susan is less vengeful than Isabelle, although it doesn't mean she's any less conniving or duplicitous. Her motivation appears to be one of carefree fun and getting what she wants, rather than meanly and deliberately plotting another's fall from grace.

Les liaisons dangereuses
was first published in 1782 and translated into English two years later, it caused quite a scandal because of its erotic plot and nefarious protagonists. I assume that Austen, who had unfettered access to her neighbours library, would have come across this novel or at least heard about this book by the time she was 19.

Claire Tomalin in her biography of Jane Austen, says -
although Eliza may well have owned a copy of Les Liaisons, it is hard to believe she would have shown it to her unmarried cousin. Its cynicism was one thing; its outspoken sexual element quite another. But she could have talked about the book.

This is not meant to be a critical put down. Early Jane was known to parody or emulate writing styles and in this particular instance, it is easy to say, that imitation was indeed the sincerest form of flattery.

If you're an Austen fan you'll be charmed and delighted by Lady Susan. But like me, you may also wish that she had developed this story further as a mature writer. Perhaps we can take heart from Lady Susan's obvious influence in some of Austen's later characters - Lydia and Wickham, both artless, selfish, flirts in Pride and Prejudice, the self-serving rake Henry Crawford in Mansfield Park and the less than honest, manipulator, John Thorpe, in Northanger Abbey.

Confusingly, Kate Beckinsale starred in a movie last year called Love and Friendship (the title of another Austen short story) that was actually based on Lady Susan. It looks rather delicious, and now that I've (re)read the story, I can't wait to watch the movie.

Speaking of movies, we watched Clueless on the weekend for the first time in 20 yrs or so. I had forgotten how much fun it was. The modern day Elton had us in stitches! I had also forgotten that 'whatever' and 'my bad' dated from this time too.

Whilst researching some of the dates and facts surrounding the writing of Lady Susan, I came across, for the first time, the whole debate surrounding the authenticity of a certain painting claiming to be that of a teenaged Jane Austen.

Is this or isn't it Jane?
Called The Rice Portrait of Jane Austen by Ozias Humphry, the painting is supposedly one done of Jane when she was 13 or 14. The story goes that the painting was commissioned by Jane's great Uncle Francis during a family visit to The Red House at Sevenoaks, Kent in 1788. Various modern provenance tests have been done on the painting in recent years, with no definite answer being given, one way or the other.

Wouldn't it be exciting if the painting was proved to be real?

If you'd like to know more about the history and provenance of the painting click here.

Jane Austen as drawn by her sister Cassandra c. 1810

And a modern colour reproduction of the same.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

The Salzburg Tales by Christina Stead

*** I started this review last year.
I read the majority of the book (three quarters to be precise),
before abandoning it (as revealed in this more recent post).

I held off posting this until I had finished the book.
That ain't gonna happen now, so here are my thoughts up until pg 284! ***

I knew straight away that The Salzburg Tales by Christina Stead would be one of those books that demanded more of my attention than I had been used to giving of late.

After several false starts, I sat down one Saturday morning with a cup of tea and a pencil in hand, determined to find my way in.

Careful reading and judicious underlining slowly brought the threads together as I made my way through the Prologue which gave us our sense of time and place, through to The Personages, where Stead introduced us to her storytellers.

Like The Canterbury Tales, her characters are labelled, so that we have The Festival Director, The Viennese Conductor, The Italian Singer, a French Woman, a Doctress, an English Gentleman, a School Teacher, The Poet, a School Girl, A Lawyer and The Philosopher, just to name a few.

And like The Caterbury Tales, Stead set out to write a fairly traditional 'frame tale', whereby one story leads onto the next story and the next, almost like a nesting doll of tales sitting one inside the other.

Frame stories are often organized as a gathering of people in one place for the exchange of stories. Each character tells his or her tale, and the frame tale progresses in that manner. (wikipedia)

Margaret Harris' Introduction in my edition, also prepared me for Stead's use of The Salzburg Tales as a 'spectacular demonstration of her storytelling virtuosity, across an array of narrative genres that includes, according to her, 'the sketch, the anecdote, jokes cunning, philosophical, and biting, legends and fragments.'

Harris claimed the the stories could be read randomly and that they included the 'uncanny, fantastic, morbid, ghostly, lighthearted; tales from various tradition, others that are startlingly original; some neatly resolves narratives, others enigmatic.'

The Salzburg Tales included all of that and more.

I enjoyed some of the stories and some of the storytellers more than others. I constantly referred back to The Personages chapter to see if I could make any link between the storyteller's bio and the type of story they told. Sometimes I could, and sometimes I was left scratching my head, perplexed. Sometimes one story feed into the next, but most of the time they didn't.

Stead obviously enjoyed the intellectual exercise that is The Salzburg Tales. I was able to detect versions of well-known fairytales, classical myths and legends and gothic stories not unlike Poe. She was also apparently influenced by Chekhov, Gogol, Balzac, Maupassant, Hoffman & Hawthorne, but as I am not familiar enough with any of these writers, I failed to make the connections.

The thing I missed most whilst reading this book though, was character development.

I realised that I much prefer books with interesting, engaging, evolving characters. Characters that I can get inside of who have complex, nuanced behaviours. I want to be able to walk around in their skin for a while; to see things from another perspective.

Stead's Tales provided entertainment to my intellectual self, but most of them failed to touch my heart or soul.

The Salzburg Tales were first published in 1934. It was Stead's first published book. The Miegunyah Press produced this new edition in 2016 with an introduction by Margaret Harris, Challis Professor of English Literature Emerita at the University of Sydney, and literary executor for Christina Stead.

#ChristinaSteadReadingWeek with Lisa @ANZLitLovers LitBlog.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

The Last Days of Ava Langdon by Mark O'Flynn

The Last Days of Ava Langdon has been shortlisted for this year's Miles Franklin award, that fact, and it's striking cover, brought it into my life at this time.

I have yet to read Eve Langley's The Pea-Pickers (1942) - it has been on my TBR pile for quite some time though. Reading O'Flynn's fictionalised account of Langley's last days has increased my desire to read it sooner rather than later.

In O'Flynn's story, Langdon's famous book is called The Apple Pickers. Her real life son, Karl Marx is re-named Vladimir Ilyich (yes, really!), but her alter ego remains Oscar Wilde. Both Eve and Ava changed their name by deed poll in 1954 to Oscar Wilde.

Ava is eccentric, mentally unstable and colourful. She would now be labelled as having gender identity confusion. O'Flynn uses flashes of clarity and flashbacks to earlier times to gently reveal her story. His writes with a great deal of affection, empathy and respect for his invented character and her real-life counterpart. Most of the time I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

O'Flynn mentions in his notes at the back of the book that,
if anything she was probably more addled than I portrayed here.

Which only makes Ava/Eva's story even more bittersweet and poetic.

O'Flynn shows how her very (over)active imagination acts/reacts to every day events happening around her by using a present tense third person interior monologue.

An example looks a little like this (from pg 20):
Ava's imagination brings sentience to the world and casts it in a luminous light, like looking at a dragonfly in a bottle. Her hand briefly touches the bark of every tree trunk. For Ava the orchard is a gentle reminder of those glory days when she went fruit picking with Red, the way breakfast is a reminder of every breakfast as, in fact, an echo of the breast. An orchard is a place of whispering, familiar voices. Where are they now. her happy ghosts? Why, alive in her heart, that's where.  How long has the orchard, originally propagated by monks, been here surrounded by bush? Ava does not know, but she offers up a vote of thanks to the old forward-thinking Franciscans who planted it in the first place. Good lads, those chaps. She wonders if she has the heart to be a Franciscan. A vow of silence? Hardly. A vow of genius. Yes, more like it.

Having spent quite a bit of time in Katoomba over the years, I also really loved the walk that Ava took us on through 1970's Katoomba and Medlow Bath, especially Ava's evening visit to the the Hydro Majestic which happens to be a significant part of my own story.

O'Flynn is a local to the Blue Mountains. He did an interview with Megalong Books in Leura where he replied to a question about the type of research he did to prepare for this book with,
As Peter Carey says of research, I probably did less than you’d think and more than I’d like.

The Miles Franklin Award stipulates that the,
prize shall be awarded for the Novel for the year which is of the highest literary merit and which must present Australian Life in any of its phases.

Having read only one of the five shortlisted books I cannot compare literary merit, but The Last Days of Ava Langdon certainly ticks the second criteria very nicely.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Joan Lindsay and that Rock!

In one of those curious book-geek things that I do sometimes, I decided to read two books about Australian author, Joan Lindsay, at the same time.

One was her own 'reminiscence' Time Without Clocks from 1962, the other was the recently published biography, Beyond the Rock by Janelle McCulloch. However, I have been putting off writing about my experiences with these two books for weeks and weeks.

Lindsay wrote Time Without Clocks before Picnic at Hanging Rock (1967) was even conceived. She was writing about her marriage, their homes and their many famous, accomplished family and friends before she was famous herself. It was a fascinating reflection of life in Melbourne during the twenties and thirties.

She started off with her 1922 Valentine Day's marriage to Daryl Lindsay in London and their subsequent return to Australia. Where she met Daryl's family for the first time, including his already famous brothers Norman, Percy and Lionel, on their way to their new home in Melbourne.

Lindsay painted a rosy, happy, but poor, 'struggling artist' picture of the early years of their marriage. Money was tight, jobs were scarce and making do was the thing. They mixed in a very social and very creative circle that included Dame Nellie Melba, Arthur Streeton and the McCubbin's. I never felt like Joan was name-dropping or showing off - these were simply the people they knew.

Joan claimed to be able to stop clocks which probably accounts for her fascination with the ambiguities of time. She also had a thing for ghosts and Valentine's Day. She was clearly one of life's odd-bods - charming and eccentric - the kind of person that makes all our lives a little better, a little brighter and a little richer thanks to their creative energies.

She attracted very loyal, very close, life-long friends (including their Mulberry Hill neighbours Keith & Elizabeth Murdoch). Meanwhile her circumspect, respectful interpretation of her marriage to Daryl Lindsay was admirable, though not very believable. Even before I had read a little wider about her life, I struggled to accept her positive, constantly cheerful version of events.

Writing an autobiography is all about telling the story of your own life as you want it to be told. However, what you leave out can reveal as much about you as what you choose to share.

There were moments throughout Time Without Clocks when Joan came across as being rather snobbish and conservative. She often expressed her discontent with modern life, preferring the more gentile time of the Edwardians, yet she also prided herself on breaking with the patterns of a normal life. Like most of us, Joan proved to be a fascinating mixture of contrary self-beliefs.

Joan had her portrait painted a few times, including Archibald prize winner Sir John Longstaff and George Bell. You can view George Bell's portrait of Joan in Sitting room, Mulberry Hill (1927) here.

Lindsay concluded Time Without Clocks in 1952, prior to their sojourn in America, of which she wrote about in Facts, Soft and Hard (1964).

At the Hanging Rock (1875) William Ford - National Gallery of Victoria
Beyond the Rock was an equally curious reading experience.  I was prepared to be caught up in the mystery of the rock, the story and the author, much as I had been wrapped up in the melodrama and suspense of Picnic at Hanging Rock (both the book and the movie). After all, it's the 50th anniversary of its publication. I was also looking to have some of Joan's carefully curated stories from Time Without Clocks fleshed out and expanded.

However despite the lush and beautifully produced presentation, McCulloch's biography failed to capture my imagination. Perhaps the lovely over-sized hardback raised my hopes too high?

Right from the beginning, McCulloch declared her intention to perpetuate the sense of mystery that surrounds the book (and movie), without trying to explain it at all. I appreciated knowing what her biases were, but this lack of objectivity and critical analysis bugged me all the way through. As did, the absence of footnotes. Not only was I not convinced that there was any mystery at all, but McCullough's continued attempts to try and prove so, felt weak and manufactured.

On page xix, she says,
So just what haunts Hanging Rock? And is it geographical, paranormal, or some other force we can't explain? Nobody knows. 
The place is a mystery.

I had been hoping for a more rigorous, in-depth exploration of the story and its author.
When I pick up a biography I expect to gain fresh psychological insight into the chosen subject as well as being utterly saturated in the detailed facts of their life and times. Neither happened.

Instead, there were too many statements that began, 'it was believed' or 'it was felt' or 'they seemed'. The repetition of phrases and ideas occurred too often for my liking. Many long bows were drawn to connect the un-connectable and then stretched to breaking point - my breaking point at least! I did discover some extra details in the 30 pages or so in Beyond the Rock that covered the same time period as Time Without Clocks in what proved to be the most interesting section of the book for me.

The dedication and acknowledgement to 'traditional Aboriginal owners of the land' at the beginning also raised my hopes that McCulloch had uncovered some interesting mythologies or traditional stories about the rock that would somehow connect with Lindsay's tale. But sadly, this idea was not explored further, except for one brief reference to the Wurundjeri tribe who claimed that the top of the rock was 'haunted by evil spirits'.

My favourite parts of the book, were all the photos and pictures of Joan, her paintings, Mulberry Hill and of Hanging Rock itself that were generously reproduced throughout.

I really wanted to be wowed by this book, but at best this light-weight biography was easy entertainment in a pretty package.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

#6degrees August

#6degrees is a monthly meme hosted by Kate @Books Are My Favourite and Best.

Oftentimes I haven't read the starting book for this meme, but I can assure you that I only play the next 6 books with ones I have actually read. 
If I've read the book during this blogging life, then I include my review, otherwise, you just have to take my word for it!

This month the starting book is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.
Are you game?

Old image alert - Kate @Books Are My Favourite & Best now hosts #6Degrees but this is a good refresh of the rules.
In case you've been hiding under a literary rock, the 18th July marked the 200th anniversary of the death of Jane Austen. So it's only fitting that this month's #6degrees starts with her most well-known, and dare I say, most favourite and best book, Pride and Prejudice.

I've decided to keep my first link simple by staying with the same author.
I've also just finished reading Lady Susan, Austen's 'most ambitious and sophisticated early work' (as described by wikipedia), so it's still fresh in my mind. It features a rather salacious, manipulative protagonist, whose character is revealed via a series of letters.

The epistolary style of Lady Susan reminds me of Pierre Choderlos de Laclos' Les Liaisons Dangereuses. Written just a handful of years before Lady Susan, this novel depicts the decadence of the French aristocracy just prior to the Revolution.

Which leads me to Pure by Andrew Miller - another book set on the edge of the French a cemetery. I've just spent an hour on goggle trying to find the name for this pot-boiler of a book I read 20 yrs ago about a woman buried alive in Sydney after suffering some kind of seizure that made it look like she was dead. Google failed me.
So my next link will take us to London and Highgate Cemetery instead.

And vampires.
The Highgate Vampire by Asa Bailey is a YA thriller that appealed to me at the time because I had once lived in Highgate.

I also once lived in Cowra, which made me very keen to read Thomas Keneally's recent book Shame and the Captives, set in a fictional town based on Cowra. Trouble was I hated it. I was really annoyed by the fictionalising of Cowra. It was obviously meant to be Cowra, Keneally made no bones about that fact, yet he chose to give the town a fictional name. It bugged me more than I can say and for reasons I cannot really articulate. I also struggled with the dialogue, but that's another matter entirely....

Finally, we come to another book centred around real events.
Sarah Schmidt's recent See What I Have Done was a fictionalised account of the Lizzie Borden murders. Unlike Keneally's attempt, Schmidt was able to get inside Borden's head and give her a voice. She also gave us a plausible scenario in which the murders might have taken place.

From a classic story about love and marriage set in Edwardian society, through the disintegration of French society during the Revolution, to the fantastical underbelly of Highgate cemetery and WWII prisoners in rural NSW to finish with unsolved murders in 1890's Fall River, Massachusetts. It has been quite a journey!

Where did you end up with your #6degrees?

September's starting book will be Wild Swans by Jung Chang.

Friday, 4 August 2017

The Return of the King, Book V by J R R Tolkien

Ohhh, I had forgotten how much I love this book. I mean really, really love this book.

I raced through Book V (The War of the Ring) so quickly because I could not literally put the book down. I knew what was going to happen next, but I wanted to be there and experience it all again! I love how being fully immersed in this world makes me feel.

In some ways I was reading this for the first time though.

My previous reads had been racy, breathless reads to find out what happened next to our four beloved Hobbits. I didn't linger over the descriptions of the buildings or meander through the more scenic sections, like I did this time. Having Alan Lee's full page illustrations to pour over at regular intervals helped my stunted imagination a lot. I could trace their journey or pick out details that Tolkien referred to thanks to Lee's meticulous drawings.

I even read all of the battle scenes for the first time with care and due diligence.

I discovered so many small comments and gentle observations with this reread,
For the Tower of Ecthelion, standing high within the topmost wall, shone out against the sky, glimmering like a spike of pearl and silver, tall and fair and shapely, and its pinnacle glittered as if it were wrought of crystals; and white banners broke and fluttered from the battlements in the morning breeze, and high and far he heard a clear ringing as of silver trumpets.
Alan Lee, Minas Tirith
I love this section for the growth and maturity that we see in Merry and Pippin in particular. At the beginning we see them as being a tad silly and foolish. But now they have faced danger and battle together and for the first time they are separated as Pippin is raced off to Minas Tirith by Gandalf.

We realise how much Pippin has matured when we see him through the eyes of strangers - Denethor 'I see that strange tales are woven about you.'
- Beregond 'you have endured perils and seen marvels that few of our greybeards could boast of.'

We also get a Tolkien clue about where things are up to for Frodo (and Sam) when Pippin,
wondered where Frodo was, and if he was already in Mordor, or if he was dead; and he did not know that Frodo from far away looked on that same moon as it set beyond Gondor ere the coming of the day.

Via Pippin and his brush with a Nazgul, we're also reminded of Tolkien's religious beliefs -
'No, my heart will not yet despair. Gandalf fell and has returned and is with us. We may stand, if only on one leg, or at least to be left still upon our knees.'

Gandalf finishes this chapter with ominous words, 'The Darkness has begun. There will be no dawn.'
before passing the story telling baton back to Merry and his journey with the Riders of Rohan.

Merry's kindly, generous, father/son like relationship with Theoden brings into stark contrast Pippin's experience with Denethor. Pippin offers his service to Denethor 'for pride stirred strangely within him, still stung by the scorn and suspicion in the cold voice' as a 'payment' of his debt to Boromir for saving his life at the expense of his own. While Merry is moved to service by 'love for this old man'.

Either way, these two Hobbits and their sense of duty and fealty to a cause bigger than they could have ever imagined, is inspiring and a little misty-eyed at the same time.

Aragorn and the Shadow Host scenes were pretty creepy and unfamiliar to me. I have a vague recollection of this scene in the movie, but for their entire journey through the mountains, I felt like I was in a new-to-me story. Like Gimli, my sense of time got seriously waylaid here. It was only at the end of the chapter that Tolkien reminded us of the time frame, 'but the next day there came no dawn, and the Grey Company passed on into the darkness of the Storm of Mordor'.

In previous reads, the next two chapters were usually given short shift by younger me. I wanted to get to the action - I wanted Merry and Pippin to meet up again. All that riding and fortifying and waiting drove me crazy!

However, this time around I enjoyed the anticipation and the slow build. So much so, that at the end of the siege of Gondor, I trumpeted out loud (much to the bemusement of a sleepy Mr Books) 'Rohan had come at last!' and hugged the book to my chest.

The battle scenes were heroic and desperate, as one would expect of any fictional battle scene, but what I noticed this time around was that Tolkien then gives plenty of time to the after effects of such a big battle. He shows us the field strewn with the dead and dying. We feel the pain of the injured - and not just the physical pain but the psychological pain as well. Denethor's failure of character at this time, as he gives into despair, reminds us that even those on the side of good can fall into dark ways.

We finish Book V with a battle plan. Our friends (isn't it lovely to have them all back together again?) realise they are out-numbered and out-gunned by those on the side of Mordor, so they plan a sleight of hand, in the hope that Frodo will be able to follow through with his plan, which has the potential to save them all, while Sauron is distracted by them at the Black Gate.

However, things look pretty hopeless at this point. The fellowship fear for Frodo and Sam's safety after hearing about the path they have chosen, and we already know what danger has actually befallen the pair. We, the reader, know that things are even bleaker than the fellowship fear.

I always thought that The Two Towers was my favourite of the trilogy but after this, I can safely say that Book V is now my favourite part of the story.

Will Book VI be able to keep this momentum going?

I leave you, tonight, with a quote from one of Tolkien's letters.

#213 to Deborah Webster 25 Oct 1958
I am in fact a Hobbit (in all but size). I like gardens, trees and unmechanized farmlands; I smoke a pipe, and like good plain food (unrefrigerated), but detest French cooking; I like, and even dare to wear in these dull days, ornamental waistcoats. I am fond of mushrooms (out of a field); have a very simple sense of humour (which even my appreciative critics find tiresome); I go to bed late and get up late (when possible). I do not travel much. I love Wales (what is left of it, when mines, and the even more ghastly sea-side resorts, have done their worst), and especially the Welsh language.


The Fellowship of the Ring 

- Halfway post - Book one 
- TFOTR - Book two

The Two Towers

The Return of the King

Book V
Book VI

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Stories & Shout Outs!

It's time for me to catch up on what's going on in bloggerland. I'm slowly coming out of my blogging malaise. Strategically ignoring all the unwritten book responses lined up next to my computer is part of the plan! While checking out what the rest of you are up to is a lovely diversion.

I was relieved to see, when I read Cleo's @Classical Carousel recent post here, that I'm not the only one struggling to keep up with the pace of life this year.

I was gutted to realise that I had somehow missed Cirtnecce's The Shadow of the Moon readalong last month. I joined in her The Home and the World readalong previously and learnt sooooooo much about Indian history, that I would have loved to have been a part of this one too. C'est la vie! I'm sure she will understand, though, as her most recent post is also all about her recent blogging hiatus.

In case you've missed the glorious news, Austen in August with Adam @Roof Beam Reader is back for its fifth wonderful year of all things Jane. #AusteninAugustRBR

Over the years I have had LOTS of fun joining in this event - even the years where I didn't get much reading done. I've always enjoyed seeing what everyone else was up to and feeling like a was part of the Jane-ite community.

In past #AusteninAugust's I have posted about the 

If you can fit it into your schedule, Adam is hosting a Northanger Abbey readalong this year or you can simply read whatever Jane related material you might have to hand.

There's also a #JAusteninAugust Instagram challenge with Sharon @Faith Hope Cherrytree. My first entry is below.

Tamara @Thyme for Tea now has her final #Paris in July post up. I actually managed to get two posts written this year, but I'm looking forward to checking out what everyone else got up to.

My leisurely reread of #HLOTRreadlong2017 is still coming along nicely. There will hopefully be an update post over the weekend (fingers and Hobbit toes crossed)!

Earlier on I spotted this great idea by Melwyk @The Indextrious Reader about taking a road trip with Canadian books. I have been playing around with a similar idea for AusReadingMonth for several years now. A book from every state perhaps? Or follow Highway One around the coast of Australia?

The way I have been feeling lately, I was actually thinking of ditching AusReadingMonth this year. But re-finding Melwyk's post has sparked a little flame of desire to run with it again, but in a different format?

But for now, it's time to see what Lady Susan is up to. I had forgotten how salacious this story is! JA must have been one hell of a teenager! I wonder if she ever read Les Liaisons Dangereuses - she would have only been seven when it was first published?

P.S. Mr Books and I had our very first session in a float therapy room today. It was magic. I feel as calm and centred as I think I've ever felt!

P.P.S Please forgive the late edition to this post, but Jillian has just put me onto sci-fi/fantasy Australian blogger Aentee @Read At Midnight. Aentee is running a fabulous reading challenge, called #TheReadingQuest.

Designed as a game with XP points, levels and special characters, you’ll read new stories, gain experience, and level up a character of your choosing.

This challenge is not just for sci-fi/fantasy fans. All books and genres are encouraged, combining reading events is allowed while diversity is celebrated with bonus points.

It looks like a lot of fun. I haven't seen anything like it before.
Check it out :-)

Monday, 31 July 2017

Bookish Personality Tag

It has occurred to me that my recent blogging/reading malaise was actually part of a bigger problem. It slowly dawned on me that my life had got out of whack. A growing disconnect existed between what I thought, what I felt and my actions.

At the beginning of the year I took some time to reflect on my one word (thanks to Sheila @Book Journey) that would help guide me through this year.

I chose GRACE.

And I have struggled ever since.

I have been ungracious. I feel like everyone has been in my bad graces and I'm only getting by in the real world thanks to the conventional social graces. There has been nothing amazing or otherwise about my year so far.

I am aware of the religious connotations for the word grace, but I have never been tempted by any religious belief. I believe that we save ourselves, that the gift is life itself and that compassion, kindness, love, mercy and forgiveness are choices we can make for ourselves. I understand that many people need to explore these ideas within a religious framework. Whatever works for you. But it's not for me.

I have discussed this quite a bit with Mr Books of late.

I should note that he does not experience me as being ungracious, ungrateful or permanently irritable. He sees me struggling with stuff, but thankfully, I don't seem to take it out on the ones I love.

Which is when I realised that I needed to connect the dots inside of me. It's time to bring all the pieces back together, that somehow, somewhere along the way, dispersed into a million fragments.

I need to slow down - especially my mind. It goes off in hundreds of directions at once, all the time! It's exhausting.
I struggle to live in the now as I'm always forward planning and worrying about things that might happen.
I need more time in nature. The sound of wind in the trees, the feel of grass or sand under my feet and the smell of earth, beach and forest has always made me feel better.

Instead of rushing through my local parks and reserves, busy on my phone or thinking and feeling too many things at once, I could try embracing the Japanese idea of shinrin-yoku.

I stopped writing in my personal journal years ago - it might be time to start again.

And other than writing here, I don't do anything creative anymore (unless you can count Instagram as being creative).

I used to garden, cross-stitch, knit, dance and sing. I used to love cooking (until I had fussy teenagers to cater for). It's time to rediscover my creative side.

One of the blogger things that caught my eye this past week is a Myers Briggs Personality Test Book Tag! Really! It's a thing!

I've dabbled in Myers-Briggs testing ever since I first got online. I have done the test on various sites at various times in the past 18 yrs. The majority of the time I come out as an INFJ.

I'm curious enough tonight to see where this might lead.

Jillian @A Lady: A Reading Journal started me off, but you can trace the meme back to Emma @Bookish Nights and Bella and Olga and Maya and so on!

Like Maya, my personality type has changed a couple of times. One time my test result was INFP, another time it was INTJ. But most of the time it has been INFJ. Tonight, using this test, I once again came up INFJ.

Fluctuating, some might say, inconsistent, results such as these have been seen as deficiencies in the Myers-Briggs test. Many psychologists prefer The Big Five Personality Test. Having done both, there are enough similarities between my results for me to feel confident in accepting my INFJ label.

FYI - my Big Five OCEAN results show that I am 68% open, 85% conscientious, only 40% on the extroversion scale (i.e. introvert!), 78% for agreeableness and 48% neurotic.

Which brings us to the questions for this meme...

What is the Personality Type INFJ?

The INFJ (Advocate) type is apparently very rare - less than 1% of the population - which appeals to my need to be independent and might explain my lifelong belief that no-one really understands me!

Advocates share a unique combination of traits: though soft-spoken, they have very strong opinions and will fight tirelessly for an idea they believe in. They are decisive and strong-willed, but will rarely use that energy for personal gain – Advocates will act with creativity, imagination, conviction and sensitivity not to create advantage, but to create balance. Egalitarianism and karma are very attractive ideas to Advocates, and they tend to believe that nothing would help the world so much as using love and compassion to soften the hearts of tyrants.
Advocates find it easy to make connections with others, and have a talent for warm, sensitive language, speaking in human terms, rather than with pure logic and fact. It makes sense that their friends and colleagues will come to think of them as quiet Extraverted types, but they would all do well to remember that Advocates need time alone to decompress and recharge, and to not become too alarmed when they suddenly withdraw. Advocates take great care of other’s feelings, and they expect the favor to be returned. Source
INFJ's place great importance on having things orderly and systematic in their outer world. They put a lot of energy into identifying the best system for getting things done, and constantly define and re-define the priorities in their lives. On the other hand, INFJs operate within themselves on an intuitive basis which is entirely spontaneous. They know things intuitively, without being able to pinpoint why, and without detailed knowledge of the subject at hand. They are usually right, and they usually know it. Consequently, INFJs put a tremendous amount of faith into their instincts and intuitions. This is something of a conflict between their inner and outer worlds. Source

 What is My Personality Like?

I've always been an introvert, but as I've got older, I have become better, stronger, braver and I can now deal confidently with many more social situations than of old. I have learnt to enjoy social events and sometimes I even get a little buzzy high when in a group of people. But it's like a sugar-high. It's built on nothing solid and collapses quickly, leaving me flat, exhausted and desperately in need of quiet, calm time to myself. And beauty.

I NEED beauty to soothe my soul and calm my jaded spirits. 

When life gets too hard, I get myself to an art gallery or back to nature pronto!

***Reading back over the early part of this (very long and getting longer with ever minute) post, I see that my INFJ was leaping out screaming 'look at me, look at me!' all along.***

'They have very high expectations of themselves, and frequently of their families, but doubts that they are living up to their full potential.' ✓

Some INFJ's can be psychic apparently, but I have never experienced anything that couldn't be explained by scientific logic and rational thought.

'As genuinely warm as they are complex. INFJs are concerned for people's feelings, and try to be gentle to avoid hurting anyone. They are very sensitive to conflict.' ✓

'But when the circumstances are unavoidable, they can fight back in highly irrational, unhelpful ways.' ✓

'INFJs are rarely at complete peace with themselves - there's always something else they should be doing to improve themselves and the world around them.' ✓

'An INFJ who has gone the route of becoming meticulous about details may be highly critical of other individuals who are not.'

If I were a character in a book what would my strengths and weaknesses be?

Like Galadriel in Lord of the Rings and Toto, I can see through dishonesty and deception. I think that's a good thing! We're also very calm and composed...on the outside.
I share Atticus Finch's altruism and passion for justice. 
Hercule Poirot's painstaking attention to detail can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on which side you're on! My colleagues would probably say the same thing.
Clark Kent and I are both unassuming and just get on with the job. We don't need lots of accolades or attention as long as the one we love sees us for who we really are.
Remus Lupin, Jon Snow and I are very loyal and protective towards our family & friends, although trust can sometimes be an issue. Once lost, it's hard to regain. Our reserve and sense of privacy can put some people off, but we're only protecting ourselves.
Like the Tinman, I often wander around believing that I have no heart, which surprises all who love us as they only see our tenderness and sensitivity.

My weaknesses are shared with the likes of Kermit the Frog, who always got stressed out by the incompetence and folly of the other Muppets! 
Our desire to be self-reliant and true to ourselves can sometimes see us push away those we love best when we need them (or they need us) the most - yes, you, Jane Eyre!
I experience Theodore Lawrence's moodiness when I'm thwarted or feeling unloved and like Lisa Simpson, I can be a tad critical of those not living up to my high standards (which I also apply to myself).

Which authors share my MBTI?

Quite a few apparently, including J.K. Rowling (although INFP's claim her too), Plato, Mary Wollstonecraft, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Dante Alighieri, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Agatha Christie, Charlotte Brontë, Carl Jung, and Leo Tolstoy.

I searched high & low for a source for this. Let me know if you know.

If I were a character in a novel what job would I have?

I'd have to be in a rather splendid, epic novel that had designs on changing the world. So my character would have to be the do-gooder (Mahatma Ghandi or Mother Theresa style) working for the betterment of humankind. Or I could take to the dark side to bring the whole thing tumbling down like Darth Vader or Adolf Hitler. 

Really? Adolf Hitler & Mother Theresa are the same personality type? The internet wouldn't lie to me now would it?

What personality type would complete my OTP?

First up, I had to look up OTP.
One True Pairing.

When it comes to romantic relationships, Advocates take the process of finding a partner seriously. Not ones for casual encounters, people with the Advocate personality type instead look for depth and meaning in their relationships. Advocates will take the time necessary to find someone they truly connect with – once they’ve found that someone, their relationships will reach a level of depth and sincerity that most people can only dream of.

Secondly, I'm surprised that everyone doesn't approach romance this way. If you're going to do a job, like the huge, amazing job of falling in love with someone for the rest of your life, you might as well do it properly - INFJ wisdom right there!

It would also seem that like attracts like in this case.
INFJ's often seek out other INFJ's for a lifetime of authentic love and togetherness.

ENFP's are the other possibility.

INFJ is the cat - just in case you were wondering!

Who are some fictional characters that would complete my OTP?

Fictional ENFP's include Willy Wonka, Faramir (from LOTR - one of my favourite non-Hobbit's), Mr Keating (Dead Poet's Society), Hawkeye Pearce (MASH) and George Bailey (It's a Wonderful Life).

And now that I've read more about ENFP's, I suspect that Mr Books may be one too.

Are you still with me?

Bravo to you!

If you feel inclined to explore your own Myers-Briggs Personality type consider yourself tagged.

I'm not sure if I feel more connected, centred or balanced after all that. But I've had some much needed time alone and my brain has had some fun, and as you now know, they're pretty important things in the world of an INFJ.