Three Little Words “fit the bill” in Wolf Hall

I am completely enraptured by the BBC production of Wolf Hall.  At times I call it Wolf Hall for Dummies as it is so easy to understand – I didn’t finish the book.  Much as I enjoy most historical novels and biographies this one wasn’t to my taste.

But that is beside the point.  It is the language  in the novel and the TV production  which interests me.  At no time in the written word or on the TV screen did I feel uncomfortable with the language.  It was so natural I didn’t even stop to think that this was not necessarily the type of speech that was used in the early 1500s.

So I found it surprising to read in English newspapers  the complaints about a word which nowadays is not acceptable in polite society but in the time of Henry VIII was in fairly common usage.  I didn’t even have a flicker of discomfort .  It was perfectly OK in a bit of man talk for those times.

But, and it’s a big but, I lost the thread and my jaw dropped when Jane Seymour said she would find a prayer which would “fit the bill”.  Fit the Bill.  To me that is completely out of character.  Modern English is used  in the novel but to me it is modern English devoid of any really quirky sayings which don’t really” fit the bill” for a story about Cromwell. This would have been used  in the second novel which I didn’t buy but I presume the saying was used by Hilary Mantel.  The saying  originally cropped up in a written work early in the 1800s but is still widely used today.

The Oxford and Cambridge English Dictionaries are a good source of information  for the using and  meanings of words  in classic novels or in  period pieces written more recently. .They do a wonderful job of getting back to the  original meanings of words instead of just parroting current usages as many of the contemporary dictionaries do.

And so back to the BBC and the wonderful portrayal of Cromwell, You see the story through Cromwell’s eyes and Mark Rylance’s subtle portrayal  is so good that you can almost tell what Cromwell is thinking.

So I will forget “fit the bill” and go back to adoring the BBC’s Wolf Hall.  I didn’t even notice the white teeth which niggles with some people as reported in The Guardian

In the meantime full marks to the designers and their choice of a  colour palette.  Combined with candles it is just  perfect.

Reading for Women in 1939

lazycoffees:

A surprise find – Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier being serialized in a 1939 Australian Woman’s magazine, .

Originally posted on Bound for Australia:

This week Sepia Saturday has invited us to start with an old advertisement.  And so I chose this one from a coverless copy of the  Australian magazine Woman  of  5th June, 1939 .  Who could have imagined instant hot water in the kitchen sink.  No more carrying kettles of boiling water over to the sink from the stove.  Marvellous.

sink HWS 1939The magazine has an advertisement on nearly every page with a strong emphasis on cures for colds, tinned food, bile beans, pick-me-up Worcestershire sauce, sewing machines – all things to tempt the housewife.

But I was in for a surprise.  Do you remember this famous opening line ?

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again

This was from Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier  and here it is being serialized in a 1939 magazine.  In this issue they are up to Chapter 6, soon after Mrs van Hopper…

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Mrs Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

It all happened because I had been ill. The painkillers had been making my brain woolly and I couldn’t concentrate and yet it was so frustrating lying there with only my own thoughts –  books, music and television; nothing could hold my attention. None of the unread books on my mini iPad were in the least interesting.  So I made yet another try at the Library to find something readable to download   The first book my eyes alighted on was Mrs Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children  by Ransom Riggs.

With a name like Mrs Peregrine my muddled thought processes assumed it be be yet another pleasant  offering from Persephone Books.  Such gentle, pleasant books. Sure to be just what the patient needed.  After all, Mrs Buncle’s stories came from Persephone so surely Mrs Peregrine must also be from that stable.  How wrong I could be.

Peregrine 1

The front cover with a levitating girl.

What I found was  schoolboy  Jacob who had long listened to his Grandfather’s tales of escaping from war torn Europe and his life in an orphanage on an island off the Welsh coast.  After his grandfather’s mysterious death  the 16 year old manages to visit the island and finds out about the time loop and the magical people who inhabited his grandfather’s world. It was when I finished that I found out that I had been reading a Young Adult novel. So now I can join the local librarian with teenage children who is a great fan of Young Adult novels.

 

The book evolved from a series of strange old  photos the author had collected

I’m beginning to wonder though how many of the book bloggers I follow actually read just for the pleasure of reading or are just racing ahead to keep up a monthly quota or to fulfill an obligation to review. Does that affect  their enjoyment of reading ? I enjoy reading reviews except for those few who give away so much of the plot that it’s hardly worth reading the book. But while I’m reading I don’t want to have part of me making mental notes of points worth including in a review.  I just want to immerse myself in the book and when finished take the time to stop and smell the roses before diving into the next.  Luckily we are all different.

And so, after an interval of Mrs Peregrine wafting  along behind me, I now remember her Home and its occupants with amusement and affection

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

The MiniaturistWell done, Jessie.  There is no two ways about it.  I enjoyed this book.

What is puzzling me is how it came about that I read it.  It turned up at the library one day as something that I had placed a hold on many weeks before.  I had obviously read about it somewhere but I can find no trace of it in the blogs which I read regularly.  So whoever it was who gave me just enough information about the book to make it enticing, I thank you.

A young country girl comes to Amsterdam as the wife of an older man.  It is the 17th century and she enters an established household of husband, stern sister-in-law and a couple of servants.  She comes with no secrets but with her intelligent observant mind she soon becomes aware of the atmosphere of secrets in the house. Over the course of the book the secrets slowly unravel and the bride is gradually absorbed into and becomes a trusted member of  the household.

This is all set among burghers and merchants, Guilds and Church, the wharves and canals of C17th Amsterdam.   There is also a slight tinge of the supernatural  with a miniaturist making tiny models for a miniature house. This merely heightens the tension.  But it is the people in the house who dominate.

Jessie Burton writes beautifully but much as I love my British History it is such a pleasure to get away from Kings, Queens and the aristocracy.  They have been so done to death.

I prefer the stories which move away from the well documented “upper classes” and tell us stories about the remaining  great majority of the people. Books like “Year of Wonders” by Geraldine Brooks and  “Harvest” by Jim Grace, both about villagers dealing with unusual circumstances.  And this time a young bride dealing with unusual circumstances.

Soon after i started reading I started wondering if this debut novel is on one of lists of books being considered for a prize.  I feel it is worthy of being there.

This book is also a good advertisement for telling a story chronologically. None of the annoying habit of leaving a story hanging and  going back in time to give us large swag of explanations instead of just dripping information  into the story as needed..

I’ll say it again, Well done, Jessie  I look forward to your  next book.

 

Tools of the Trade – The Housewife’s Cook Book

Originally posted on Bound for Australia:

Once upon a time the head of the family, the husband, went out to work each day to provide for his family while the wife stayed at home and followed her trades  as a  cook, cleaner, laundress, nurse, etc.  And one of the tools she needed for her trade as a cook was a cookery book with detailed instructions on how to put those important meals on the table.

D2 Chas & Vera 1929Vera Tansey married in 1929 and is pictured here a few weeks after her wedding. She had provided herself with an Every Ladies’ Cook-Book by Miss Drake.

Mrs Drake Cookery Book Cover bAs you can see it has been well and truly used by my mother

Lucy Drake who had trained in London had been in charge of cookery classes at Swinburne Technical College in Melbourne.  Her salary when she started in 1914 was 12/6 a week.  The publishers of Everylady’s Journal decided Australia needed a…

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Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman

This originated as  a collection of magazine articles by Anne Fadiman about how words and books have been part of her whole existence.   Those who know her might be able to think of her without her words and books but as a reader I can’t.  They are part of her.

Confessions of a common readerIn this series of essays we learn how lucky she was to grow up with a father who delighted in long words and a story he told them about a squiggly little vermicule called Wally who didn’t merely like books, he ate them. 

Wally savored such high-calorie morsels as syzyry, ptarmigan – which tasted terrible, at first, until he threw away the p – and sesquipedalian, which looks as if it means  “long word” and, in fact, it does.

At this point the spell checker on this laptop is throwing a fit.  It doesn’t like the words I have typed. But that’s OK.  It’s just too bad if it doesn’t like my spelling. I trust my own version of English.

We learn about  Anne’s early reading through to the merging of libraries with her husband,  and a bit about  Arctic exploration  with Sir John Franklin and how the guns had been left behind on the ship but a copy of The Vicar of Wakefield included in the luggage.

They may have been incompetent bunglers, but, by God, they were gentlemen,

Her love of sonnets, her brother’s sin of leaving an open book face down on a table, book inscriptions , reading books while in the places where they are set and compulsory proof-reading are just some of the delights she touches on. But it is all words and books, all those thoughts some of us might have but don’t have the ability to translate into words, or at least words that would be of interest to anyone else, which make this such a fascinating read.

For me it was a coffee break book., one chapter at a time.   A book to be sipped, not gulped.   Anne Fadiman is someone you would like to have at the dinner table.  She delights you in this book.

But thinking in general now, how representative of the real person is their writing.  Every now and then you see someone being interviewed in a book show on the television and, though you have thought their book quite brilliant, you find them to be a pompous bore  or or unbelievably egotistical.  Mostly  I prefer to stay in the dream world of the book and and leave the author in a separate world.

This was first published in 1998 but is standing the test of time.

Enjoy…