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King John | William Shakespeare
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Reminder - for us completists and bold souls willing to take on “the runt in the litter of Shakespeare‘s plays on English history” - we start King John next week.

Act I - May 22
Act II - May 29
Act III - June 5
Act IV - June 12
Act V - June 19

Here‘s a link I found helpful that ponders if this play is a farce or not. https://interestingliterature.com/2020/01/summary-analysis-william-shakespeare-k...

TheBookHippie Oh thanks! 3d
merelybookish I'm hoping we get to go out with a bit of a bang! 🤞 3d
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Lcsmcat There‘s room in this story for some real drama so 🤞🏻 3d
Graywacke @TheBookHippie you will have them all after this! 🙂 3d
Graywacke @merelybookish yes please! If the text will just cooperate 3d
TheBookHippie @Graywacke I‘m so excited because I‘m that nerdy… 🤣 3d
Graywacke @Lcsmcat there is. What a life King John had. 3d
Graywacke @TheBookHippie I‘m jealous of you! 😆 3d
TheBookHippie @Graywacke my only working reference to King John is Robin Hood. 🤣 3d
GingerAntics Fingers crossed this one is better than the last two. 3d
Graywacke @TheBookHippie 🤣🤣🤣 but… actually that‘s really cool. Robinhood was loyal to absent crusading King Richard and against usurping John. I didn‘t know that. By the time this play has kicked off, brothers Richard and John are reconciled and, I think, Richard is already dead. 3d
Graywacke @GingerAntics so…😁… I really liked H8. But, yes, 🤞 3d
GingerAntics @Graywacke I just didn‘t feel like it was really Shakespeare. If I hadn‘t been expecting Shakespeare, I may have liked it as well. 🤷🏼‍♀️ 3d
TheBookHippie @Graywacke ah yes- well, my son as a young child was enamored with the Disney RobinHood Cartoon movie and the rule in this house is to learn and know the real story as well as the fun Disney, so I learned all kinds of information I had no clue about! We also read several versions of Robin Hood. Was great fun. 3d
Graywacke @TheBookHippie ah, such a great rule. Love it! (edited) 3d
jewright I haven‘t read this one yet either. 3d
batsy Completists and bold souls! 😆 Love it. 3d
39 likes18 comments
China Room | Sunjeev Sahota
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My next book. I‘m in Punjab at some unspecified date and a 15-yr-old girl doesn‘t know what her husband looks like. Her MIL tells her, ‘You don‘t need to know.”

(this will be my 12th from the 2021 Booker longlist)

JamieArc I really enjoyed this one, though it felt quite unfinished - not fully fleshed out. 5d
vlwelser I didn't read as many of these as you. But this is actually one of my favorites from the list of ones I did read. 5d
Graywacke @JamieArc interesting. Feels like The Handmaid‘s Tale for me, initially. (edited) 5d
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Graywacke @vlwelser that‘s encouraging! 5d
vlwelser You're basically done. This is fast. And the next one is even faster. Then you can pick your own books for a tick. Or do you move to a different prize? 5d
Graywacke @vlwelser oops, I really meant to reply here sooner, but got distracted. The next prize for me will be the Booker 2022 longlist. I would like to do more, but I‘m snooty with new books 🙂 and so limit them. I would like, for example , to do the International Booker, which is all translations to English, but two lists seems too much. And i like the ToB in theory, but in practice I don‘t really like the lists. 3d
43 likes6 comments
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My next audiobook and a fun follow up to my 2 years of reading Nabokov. Although, it‘s not short. 17 hrs. But fun so far, read by the author.

Side note: this came out in 2003, and of course was a big deal then and for book people I think comes with a kind of cultural timestamp of an era. 2003 - you know, before these smartphone thingies. My weird mind thinks this is both like yesterday and also like a ancient history. Anyway finally listening.

Graywacke Also, I really love this cover photo. 6d
Suet624 2003. You‘re so right. I keep forgetting how long ago that was. Time is a strange thing, especially as we get older. 6d
Graywacke @Suet624 my first thought was 2003 was still very recent, and I had to reason with myself that 19 yrs is actually a lot. 🙂 6d
55 likes3 comments
Complete Stories | Clarice Lispector
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I captured this best early on. I wrote: “I'm really enjoying this on audio so far. These stories. Each one the narrator is looking you straight in the eye, speaking in full confidence, clear, rebellious and defiant, no matter how crazy they get. It's a wonderful series of studies of the desire for rebellion against the confines of life, the intent and act, and the inevitable compromises."

85 stories in 23 hrs. They evolve from there.

vivastory Lispector's The Passion According to GH was one of the more singular reading experiences of last year. I hope to get around to this one soon. 6d
Graywacke @vivastory I‘m noting that title. This was the first time I have read anything by her. Honestly, had no idea what to expect. 6d
batsy That's an elegant way to sum up this collection! Love it. If there weren't so many other books to read, I could spend a lot of time rereading these stories to learn more about writing. 6d
Graywacke @batsy i caught your review on GR when i was first starting and it stuck with me. It‘s a strange removed curious world, the experience of going through all these. 6d
48 likes4 comments
Second Place: A Novel | Rachel Cusk
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I thoroughly enjoyed this. I‘ve now read 11 from the last Booker longlist, 2 to go. Cusk is intense in the first sentence. And the monologue never stops. If you can tolerate that, she‘s a wonderful writer who captures thought processes in complex ways that touch familiar. Here the married narrator invites a male artist to live on her property‘s extra place, the second place. The rest plays with layers; and also with and against the expected trope.

Graywacke And I could say so much more. Gender roles and constraints, privilege, relationships, communication, art, identity, what makes a meaningful moment, or was it all for literary effect…and that writing style. (edited) 6d
vivastory I've read only one Cusk, but I did enjoy it & have been meaning to explore her work further 6d
Graywacke @vivastory I had read a chunk of Outline in a Paris Review years ago and it stuck around. But that was all. I found this the same style, but more intense (which is good and bad), and more inward looking and self-eviscerating (but with a layering nuance that cuts in several different ways) 6d
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vivastory Outline is the one that I read & I am certainly intrigued to hear this described as more intense as although I enjoyed Outline it felt a bit ethereal in places. She is an interesting thinker. There seem to be a lot of connections between her & Ali Smith, but definitely a lot of differences as well. I think it'd be an interesting experiment to read them in tandem. 6d
Alfoster Yes! I loved this one as well! Didn‘t initially realize it was based on D.H. Lawrence (and as a retired high school English teacher, I loved that little tidbit)! 6d
Graywacke @vivastory Ali Smith. Hmm. Interesting comparison to think through. The differences strike me first. I mean of course both are contemporary British women writers of thoughtful fiction and likely similar outlook. Cusk is so serious and Ali is so playful and witty. I really love Ali‘s style. 6d
Graywacke @Alfoster 🙂 Cusk has a way of thinking, no? The DHL connection is very interesting… 😁but I have never read Lawrence…. yet 6d
vivastory Ali Smith's style definitely appeals to me more than Cusk's. Have you read the following? It's one of her more under the radar works but definitely one of my favorites 6d
vivastory I've heard a few people compare Companion Pieces to it, which really intrigued me 6d
Alfoster I only read Lawrence in college; not sure I‘d want to now!😝 6d
Graywacke @vivastory noting Artful! 6d
Graywacke @Alfoster 😂 maybe I wouldn‘t like him. But it would be nice to find out. 6d
Alfoster Let me know if you do! I‘d be willing to give him another try!🤞 6d
Graywacke @Alfoster where should I begin? 6d
Alfoster Hmmm…Maybe Lady Chatterley‘s Lover or Sons and Lovers (free from Amazon on kindle), or poetry if you like it! I can‘t sit down with a whole book of poetry but lots of people can! Let me know when you do! 6d
Graywacke @Alfoster thanks. I will! 6d
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Henry VIII | William Shakespeare
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This is different. The language. It‘s verse, but there is a lot less compression and ambiguity. Instead it‘s kind of surprisingly clear. And I actually enjoyed that. Katherine is terrific. And Wolsey makes an entertaining fall and elegant exit. It‘s not a great play all the way through. Some is just spectacle (this is _the_ play that burned down the Globe). But I thought the good parts were very good. A 👍 from me. #shakespearereadalong

The Photograph | Penelope Lively
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Used bookstore haul. Took my daughter to get a new passport (which takes 5-7 weeks and she leaves in 5 weeks. Eek. 😳). Afterwards we stopped by a used bookstore. I‘ve never read Brookner.

Emilymdxn I loved A Closed Eye! 1w
Graywacke @Emilymdxn oh good! I know nothing about it. 1w
merelybookish Great stack! I am wanting to read more Spark after finishing a few last month. 1w
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LeahBergen That‘s a nice stack! 👍 1w
Graywacke @merelybookish Yes, need to read more Spark. The Comforters is her first novel - I didn‘t know when I bought it. (I was a little confused for moment when I googled the title and got lots of bedding.) 1w
Graywacke @LeahBergen thanks. I‘ve only read two by Spark and one by Lively. Lots of options left. 1w
CarolynM Nice work with the Livelys and Starks 👏 1w
batsy I loved Loitering with Intent! I definitely need to read more Spark. 1w
59 likes8 comments
Second Place: A Novel | Rachel Cusk
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Next book. (One of three left from the Booker 2021 longlist)

Leftcoastzen Cute !🐶 1w
vlwelser What are your other 2? This one wasn't my fav. But she gets extra points for vocab usage. 1w
Cathythoughts I thought it was very good. 1w
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Graywacke @vlwelser I have China Room and No One is Talking About This left. I really enjoyed Cusk‘s first chapter monologue. @Cathythoughts oh, good! @Leftcoastzen Our pup a sweetie, unless you‘re a stranger, because then she pulls out her hellhound mask. 1w
vlwelser I listened to this as an audiobook and that may have been a mistake. I might try her books again. I'll be curious to see what you think of those other 2. Do you read all of the longest ones first? You seem to be left with the short ones. 1w
Graywacke @vlwelser yes, intentionally. I list them in length order and then begin on audio with the longest. The idea is to overcome my intimidation… and that it gets easier as my enthusiasm wains. ☺️ But this has to vary with availability and series. Last year two were the 3rd of a trilogy and one wasn‘t released in the US until Sep 2021, so that messed with things. Also - I try to limit the audio to ~10 hours or more, and find shorter books in print. 1w
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Ethan Frome | Edith Wharton
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This left my high school mind with a warped view of Wharton. Unwilling or unable to see the masterpiece, I came away with “droll”, and a sled. Starkville, MA is far away from the New York elite. And it‘s winter and there‘s no money - and these define Ethan‘s marriage and spoken words. And drive his impulsive pursuit of the dancing Mattie Silver. After a slow start, I got really into this sparse shadowy cold world. Great stuff. #whartonbuddyread

BarbaraBB I loved this one. 2w
Cathythoughts Great review. I loved this one too. 2w
Graywacke @BarbaraBB @Cathythoughts it‘s such a perfectly executed little thing. 2w
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An Island | Karen Jennings
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Easily my favorite from the 2021 Booker longlist. A lighthouse caretaker on an otherwise empty spare island finds a body washed up, a still living man. As we begin to get a sense of this place, we see the flickers of the caretakers past. The Adjectives dystopian, bleak, ambiguous come mind. It‘s a terrific novel, tightly constructed, creating wonder and discomfort.

Graywacke @Hooked_on_books Saturday‘s mission is accomplished. 🙂 I really enjoyed this. 2w
Tamra Intriguing! 2w
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BarbaraBB Wow, your favorite! That means a lot #stacked 2w
BarbaraBB … I mean #bought 🤣, found a copy online for 5€ 🤷🏻‍♀️ 2w
Cathythoughts Stacking 👍🏻❤️ 2w
Graywacke @BarbaraBB oh, how fun! It‘s a quick read. Enjoy. 2w
Graywacke @Tamra @Cathythoughts recommended to both of you 😈…😇 2w
Tamra Ordered from the library! 👏🏾 2w
Graywacke @Tamra ❤️ 👍 2w
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An Island | Karen Jennings
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Working, still, through the 2021 Booker longlist. I‘ve so far only read this over yesterday‘s and today‘s lunch breaks. The first 40 pages are terrific - one lighthouse keeper on a neglected island, and a living body washes up.

vlwelser I def want to read this one. It's one of the few I have left from the list. 2w
BarbaraBB That sounds terrific indeed. Looking forward to your review! 2w
sarahbarnes I liked this one a lot! 2w
Graywacke @sarahbarnes yay. I‘m really into it. 2w
Graywacke @vlwelser @BarbaraBB I will report back once I finish. I think I have four others from the longlist yet, but they are all short. 2w
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Bewilderment | Richard Powers
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Bewilderment is a good word for my general mindset.

Powers latest, on last year‘s Booker longlist, gets mixed responses. Starts out with tropy extremes - overwhelmed single widower father, extra-intelligent difficult son, a questionable new psycho-therapy. But he caught me. My anxiety peaked as I rushed through. We‘re all doomed, our planet is doomed and humanity is pathetically helpless. Now calming my anxiety with denial again.

BarbaraBB I so recognize my attitude towards the state of the world in what you say. 2w
Currey @Graywacke I also was shaken by this book and by the state of our 🌎 2w
Graywacke @BarbaraBB @Currey Part of me was very interested in what he was doing and how much it reached me, and whether in might still do that ten years down the road, and how worked up I still am, but the rest if me knows this is really sad. 2w
batsy That's how I feel. Doomscrolling, then engulfed in gloom. And then trying to resist doomy pessimism. 2w
Graywacke @batsy this is a book that will feed your doomscrolling itch. (It also uses the word doomscrolling once, which I kind of liked) 2w
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North and South: Easyread Edition | Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell
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Started this Sunday, part of a Victorian theme on LibraryThing. I basically missed all the Victorian novels, so filling in. I‘ll try to pick through it in little pieces over the next two months (in between other things).

BarbaraBB This is also one I‘ve been meaning to read. 2w
Graywacke @BarbaraBB you can always join the group read 🙂 (although I think I‘m the only one who has started) 2w
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The Reef | Edith Wharton
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The meaning of the title is symbolic. Written in the shadow of her own divorce and failed secret affair, this is a novel on fidelity and infidelity and maybe boundaries. But the image makes a nice contrast of the New England winter of Ethan Frome.

Wharton was unhappy with her novel, and called it a “poor miserable lifeless lump”. Critics tend to be more forgiving. If you‘re curious, make your own call in our next #whartonbuddyread

Lcsmcat Love the photo! It does warm one after the snows of Starkesville! (edited) 3w
Sparklemn @graywacke I'd love to join the read for The Reef 2d
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Graywacke @Sparklemn Cool. Your timing is perfect. We'll chat about Book One in about two weeks. Have you read Wharton?... or what have you read by Wharton? 2d
Sparklemn @Graywacke I've read Age of Innocence, the Buccaneers, and The Custom of the Country albeit many years ago. Looking forward to trying another Wharton. 2d
Graywacke @Sparklemn well, you‘ve read a few. The Custom of the Country is actually our next book. (It will be new for me - well, all three that you have read will). Glad you‘re joining. 1d
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King John | William Shakespeare
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#Shakespearereadalong - This will complete the cycle for our read along through every play (although as I joined late, I missed several). We have talked about some sonnet ideas. So stay tuned for that.

The lesser known King John comes with a contorted plot. So before you start, strap in and be ready to hang on. You can find a plot summary here: https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/shakespedia/shakespeares-play...

TheBookHippie Yay!!!! I‘m an OG ! I can‘t believe we‘ve done it! 3w
batsy Wow... Like @TheBookHippie I can't believe we've covered it all (almost!) 😁 3w
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GingerAntics I did the math and I know how to evenly distribute the sonnets over about 7 weeks if I remember correctly. I‘ll have to go check my notes again. 3w
Riveted_Reader_Melissa I can‘t believe you have made it all the way through, I skipped some here and there, but I‘m still impressed with how many new plays I have read with this group. I think I joined round Cymbeline….thank you all for the ride and great discussions. 3w
erzascarletbookgasm My first with this group was A Midsummer‘s Night Dream! I‘ve skipped a few and all the history plays (not a fan🙈). So glad I found this group, thanks all for the insightful and fun discussions. Thanks for hosting, hosts! 💜 I‘ll skip King John and visit the sonnets. 👌 3w
Graywacke @TheBookHippie @batsy you guys have done the whole path, every play? What a cool accomplishment. Kudos both! 2w
Graywacke @GingerAntics I‘m so all in. Sonnets! 2w
Graywacke @Riveted_Reader_Melissa @erzascarletbookgasm I‘m trying to remember my first… Macbeth? I think that was it. The first I hosted was Julias Caesar. Thanks for being such memorable parts of our atmosphere here. #shakespearereadalong rocks! 2w
TheBookHippie @Graywacke I want a certificate 🤣 the first year I won a mug. I treasure it! 2w
Graywacke @TheBookHippie wait, we gave stuff away? That‘s so cool. I want to see. Can you post a picture of your mug? 2w
batsy @Graywacke Yep, I remember when it first came about... I think Hannah (@readinginthedark) and @merelybookish floated the idea. I don't have my reading notebook to hand atm but I think we started with Hamlet? It's been so amazing and I've loved our journey 🙂 1w
merelybookish @batsy It was Hannah's idea I think. And @Jess_Read_This was involved. Our first play was Much Ado About Nothing. 1w
batsy @merelybookish Oh yes! Thank you for refreshing my memory. I looked back at my notebook just now and found Much Ado listed, with Hamlet being the next one. 1w
merelybookish @batsy Yes we really just hopped around from play to play. No real method. Whatever seemed good. Which is how we ended up with so many duds at the.end. 😆 Has it been 3 or 4 years? Or 5? 😳 1w
Graywacke @merelybookish i knew about @readinginthedark , but not @Jess_Read_This . That‘s amazing. Macbeth, my first, was Sep/Oct 2018, 3.5+ years ago. (Oh, and i still need to read Much Ado. And Cymbeline. I read Hamlet on my own once.) 1w
Graywacke @batsy I love that you have this all on a notebook. 🙂 1w
batsy @merelybookish We started with Much Ado in October of 2017! 😯 1w
batsy @Graywacke I used to keep a reading log and stopped, then started again. GR is one way of keeping a record but there's something particularly satisfying about rifling through a notebook 😁 1w
merelybookish @batsy Wow! Almost 5 years! Also impressed by the notebook. Also must confess, I skipped a few plays along the way. 1w
merelybookish @Graywacke Cymbeline is special! 1w
GingerAntics @Graywacke I have the schedule done. I just need to post it. lol 1w
GingerAntics @merelybookish @graywacke maybe for our next go around, we need a method. Shake them up a bit so we‘re not so disappointed at the end. lol 1w
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Bewilderment | Richard Powers
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“… ninety-eight percent by weight of animals left on earth were either Homo sapiens or their industrially harvested food.” - !! Really?

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Bewilderment | Richard Powers
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And a second book I just started, this time for the 2021 Book Longlist - I‘m still working my way through. No clue what to expect but the first 30 pages went by quick.

Leftcoastzen 😻 3w
Graywacke @Leftcoastzen The title might be a poor match for him. I‘m sure he has some clear yet discretely wicked thought in mind. 🙂 3w
49 likes2 comments
Ethan Frome | Edith Wharton
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This copy is the one I sullenly maybe read in high school (as a junior?). It has my handwriting, it‘s falling apart, but it‘s somehow still around, 30+ years later, patiently awaiting another visit. I‘ve started it for our #whartonbuddyread

Lcsmcat Cool! 3w
Leftcoastzen 🐶 3w
Cathythoughts Love your copy 👍🏻♥️ I started too ! 3w
Graywacke @Leftcoastzen she‘s a happy lazy pup. 3w
Graywacke @Cathythoughts @Lcsmcat I‘m ready for tomorrow now. A bit slow moving, every word has a purpose. 3w
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I finished part I of this 1700 page book following a child of Nazi Germany living in New York City in 1967, a single mother, a professional in a giant bank building, living on Riverside Drive in Manhattan with her ten-yr-old daughter and no other family, but some Jewish heritage and many ghosts. While reading I had one day in NYC and we walked around a lot from Central Park to Columbia University. It felt to me like a city still in 1967. 👇👇

Graywacke The book mixes in daily news headlines as presented in the New York Times (Vietnam, crime, riots, an interview of Stalin‘s daughter)with Gesine‘s life in 1967, with the stories she tells her daughter of her parents in 1930‘s Germany and the politics of their small town, with the ghost voices in her head. It‘s oddly directionless and captivating at the same time. 3w
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Based on a special find. During a cleaning of St George‘s Church, a decommissioned church in Vilna, Lithuania, in 2017, a trove of hidden papers were found in the organ pipes. These were Yiddish biographies of teenagers from the late 1930‘s. They had entered a competition that was never awarded because of WWII. The works were hidden from the Nazis and then the Soviets. Krimstein has illustrated 6, teenage voices from the lost Yiddish world. ✡️

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David Copperfield | Charles Dickens
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The ugliest edition of David Copperfield ever. But I finally finished last week after 41 hours of reading over three months. Only my second Dickens and I‘m really happy to have it read. Too much to sum here. But it felt very personal, also an author in complete control. A zillion iconic characters, always entertaining.

GingerAntics That is a very odd cover art choice for David Copperfield. 4w
Graywacke @GingerAntics 1981 design 🙂 4w
Texreader My Audio stopped at chapter 18. 😒 I‘m looking forward to finishing it someday. And I agree about that cover. 🤨 4w
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GingerAntics 1981 was not a good year for David Copperfield apparently. 4w
Graywacke @Texreader i saw your post on that and was hoping you had a fix. Big bummer. 4w
Graywacke @GingerAntics at least it hasn‘t age well. 4w
GingerAntics @Graywacke it would be weird if one day it became a popular edition because the cover was suddenly great. lol 4w
56 likes7 comments
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I finished this three weeks ago but neglected to post here. Written in verse for Henry II of England in 1170*, when the English nobility spoke Old French. Knights and damsels and tragic love. And first person commentary by our mystery poet. Fun stuff.


GingerAntics That sounds truly intriguing. 4w
Graywacke @GingerAntics I thought it was. The penguin edition is a quick easy charming read…if you‘re interested. I used a library copy. 4w
GingerAntics @Graywacke I‘m looking for this now. Thanks for the translation suggestion. 4w
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I bought this in 2013 in an occult science phase, started it in Dec. and finished last night. Pages of Hermetic magic, Latin untranslated, and the odd life of G Bruno and his spiritual infinite universe and mind, with memory, containing all things. He was burned in Rome in 1600.

The link between the drives of the metaphysical perspectives of religion, magic, and science may be a kind of enlightenment moment. Bruno might make a nice center point.

Henry VIII | William Shakespeare
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A made for the #shakespearereadalong Signet edition. These are our next two plays. First, today, I started H8.

batsy Yup, an edition that's ideal for our requirements 😆 1mo
GingerAntics My edition put these two plays together as well. It must be a common pairing. I suppose H8 and KJ aren‘t the most popular plays. 1mo
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It‘s amazing these stories exist. A late-1930‘s biography competition for Yiddish teenagers across Europe accumulated several hundred entries in Vilna (now Lithuania). Of course there are no more Yiddish teenagers in Europe. These were first hidden from Nazi occupation and then hidden from Soviet Russia and only recently discovered. Krimstein illustrates six of them. I‘ve just begun to scan through.

GingerAntics Wow, what a treasure. I‘m going to have to go find this now. It sounds wonderful and heartbreaking. 1mo
Graywacke @GingerAntics its history is heartbreaking. By the way, I love your picture (which looks like doves on a Ukrainian flag to me) 1mo
GingerAntics @Graywacke that‘s what it‘s supposed to be. It‘s really sad and terrifying that somehow this is all very current as well, since Putin is calling the Jewish president of Ukraine a nazi. 🤔🤯🤬 1mo
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The cat and I are checking out this 12th-century French poet (who was apparently writing for a Plantagenet king of England).

jewright How do you pick your books? You always read interesting and different ones. 2mo
Graywacke @jewright funny you ask on this one, an unplanned book. Within all the chatter about Groff‘s Matrix (which I haven‘t read), is this source material. On LibraryThing someone said, forget Groff, read the Lais. So I became curious and, requesting other library books, looked this up. And the library provided. But - I largely have my year, 2022, overly planned out with set themes. 🙂 2mo
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Coriolanus | William Shakespeare
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No one likes this. Every critic in my signet edition begins saying something to that effect. And then they carefully breakdown why it‘s really a carefully written thoughtful thing - the warrior who never grew up, never learned to feel and empathize, never realized there was anyone else around other then mom. It just makes awful drama, all these men fawning over stiff imagined narrow greatness. Well, checked off. #shakespearereadalong

merelybookish I feel the same way. This is no hidden gem. It has a terrible reputation for a reason. 2mo
TheBookHippie 🏆 Review. I‘m looking at it as an accomplished goal. 🤦🏻‍♀️ The signet had wonderful information alas it still is a pan of a read.. 2mo
TheBookHippie @merelybookish Well. Now we know. 2mo
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GingerAntics I agree to all of that. 2mo
Graywacke @merelybookish @TheBookHippie @GingerAntics I guess there was only one way to learn. ☹️ 2mo
Graywacke @TheBookHippie i got really tired of the Signet info, but it was good info. Oddly I enjoyed the Plutarch part. (But the worst part was the last section, summarizing all the major performances, which I always find exhausting having no context to process any of the info, ended … and then had a several page post script update 😳) 2mo
Cathythoughts I like this picture ! 2mo
batsy I love a good pan! I feel like ol' Will escapes from ever getting a pan from me because he'll throw in a few lines that has me underlining them and thinking, "All is not lost..." ? 2mo
TheBookHippie @Graywacke I kept having flashbacks to English class homework days 😂 I enjoyed it but it was work ! 2mo
Graywacke @Cathythoughts Judi Dench and Kenneth Branagh. 🙂 I thought captured the little boy inside. 2mo
Graywacke @batsy There are a lot of those lines in this. What‘s odd is that despite not working (for a lot of people) it‘s actually really well written. 2mo
Graywacke @TheBookHippie i certainly question my own self on why I needed to read every extra Signet bit. I do this every time. But ultimately I‘m always grateful I did, including with this one. 2mo
TheBookHippie @Graywacke It‘s the forever student in me. 2mo
Graywacke @TheBookHippie that sounds like a nice problem to me. I think I‘m compensating for the guilt of being such a terrible neglectful student. Forever trying to make it up. 🙂 2mo
TheBookHippie @Graywacke 😂 I was a very good student grades wise but I had detention every single day 😅… quite often for arguing with teachers 🙃 the rest dress code violations 😇 2mo
Graywacke @TheBookHippie 🙂 I‘m imagining you as making quite a impact on your poor teachers. I was a bad student with good (sorta) grades. Solid practical laziness. I wasn‘t a terrible kid otherwise, but really I was too introverted to get into too much trouble. (My daughter is like all this- except way smarter and not so introverted. hmm) 2mo
GingerAntics @Graywacke true. Plus, once it‘s all over, we can say we‘ve read them all, then never read the bad ones again. I really should have put my rating of each play on that master list for future reference. 2mo
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I got 1/4 way in and quit and wrote this snooty review: It's manipulative and I don't want to spend my audiobook time dealing with that. If you like authors who poke holes in obviously unsupported arguments that no one still maintains, and then fill those holes in with their own unsupported ideas, and expressed with self-confidant gusto, this is your book.

The Fruit of the Tree | Edith Wharton
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It‘s not just how many different unexpected turns this novel‘s focus takes, but how thought provoking each is. A look a labor, and the flawed selfish leisure class who have the divine power of ownership, and the role of women in this class and it‘s impossible contradictions. And idealism vs reality. And relationships…oh how she captures their flaws and strains and that bewildering unintended failure to communicate. Enjoyed this. #whartonbuddyread

Graywacke my LT review: https://www.librarything.com/topic/337810 (hashtag, no spaces) 7799631 2mo
52 likes1 comment
Boccaccio | Thomas Goddard Bergin
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This is a weird thing, but the scholars like it. One chapter on the European world of Boccaccio (which is great fun). One chapter on his life. Then one chapter on every work, most of which don‘t have decent translations. He summarizes the work, then provides commentary. These chapters are just barely readable, but also really helpful to get a sense of the extent and variety of very original (but mostly not very good) stuff Boccaccio wrote.

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I read this in 1999, 2014 and then again last month after that backward school district banned it. I never mentioned Maus II here though, so a late post. In brief, it‘s brilliant, surprisingly powerful yet again, and one of those books you can‘t help wishing everyone would read. What caught my attention this time is how secondary the actual story is, the Auschwitz story, and how much is about his relationship with his father, and his art.

MommyWantsToReadHerBook I missed the news about a school district banning it - what?? 2mo
MommyWantsToReadHerBook @Graywacke oh my word. That's so ridiculous! Thanks for bringing me up to speed. 2mo
Graywacke @MommyWantsToReadHerBook right, that‘s the perfect word. I think if you look at the book pages here on Litsy (Maus I and II and the complete Maus) you‘ll see a lot of interesting posts about it. (Sales took off in February in response and stores sold out of Maus. 🙂) 2mo
50 likes4 comments
Complete Stories | Clarice Lispector
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My next audiobook book. I‘ve wanted to read Clarice Lispector for a while, but not sure this is right place to begin, 85 stories in a 23-hour collection. I loved the first story.

bnp I have this as an ebook, and I like the stories I've read, but am not reading it regularly. I like her sense if humor 2mo
Graywacke @bnp I‘m on story 2 - Obsession. I‘m thoroughly enjoying it. 2mo
37 likes2 comments
Decameron | Giovanni Boccaccio
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Love, or the natural drive of lust, cleverness and fortune…and storytelling. One of my big projects for 2022 was to read the Decameron and I finally finished yesterday. Individually the 100 stories range from mildly amusing, to erotic, to just mean and hurtful, but they have a sum affect, one after another, within the plague story frame, that in a sense lifted me up and floated me off to another plane of existence. An experience.

batsy Well done! I've been meaning to read this for years and in 2020 it was being touted as the perfect pandemic read and I still haven't got to it 😆 2mo
Graywacke @batsy I think it would have been a tough read for some of us in 2020. It‘s a fun read though. I imagine if it calls to you, you will enjoy it a lot (and all it‘s oddities). 2mo
jewright I‘m intrigued. 2mo
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The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois | Honore Fanonne Jeffers
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An audiobook for me, and I didn‘t like the main reader.

An ambitious work, an ode to black history in Georgia, a child of One Hundred Years of Solitude, with less magic. For all the praise this gets, it‘s a good, but not great book. It has problems. It has a lot of strengths too, my favorite being her undergraduate perspective on a fictional Spelman-like historically black women‘s college the early 1990‘s (my college years).

vivastory I'm intrigued. I just finished watching a Pulitzer predictions video & the content creator named this as their top prediction. 2mo
Graywacke @vivastory Cool. Thanks for sharing that. It captures the American experience and I think that means something with that award. 2mo
51 likes2 comments
The Fruit of the Tree | Edith Wharton
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The Fruit of the Tree : Book IV part XXXVI - XLVIII (end of the book) #whartonbuddyread

Ansel advises Amherst, “Do you know what you have to do…? Exactly what she decides.” Justine takes charge, however we may think of her choices, and whatever sense of original sin we may apply to their happily ever after. A lot in this novel. Thoughts? Favorite themes? Did it all work? Why/why not?

Lcsmcat I thought of the characters‘ fatal flaw as being idealism, and Wharton shows how conventional thought does not allow that to go unpunished. Like Aristophanes‘ The Frogs, the crowd was there to pull you down to their level. Quote below (edited) 2mo
Lcsmcat But life is not a matter of abstract principles, but a succession of pitiful compromises with fate, of concessions to old tradition, old beliefs, old charities and frailties. That was what her act had taught her— 2mo
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Lcsmcat that was the word of the gods to the mortal who had laid a hand on their bolts. And she had humbled herself to accept the lesson, seeing human relations at last as a tangled and deep-rooted growth, a dark forest through which the idealist cannot cut his straight path without hearing at each stroke the cry of the severed branch: “Why woundest thou me? ” 2mo
Lcsmcat Assuming the titular Tree to be the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil from Eden, I think Justine and John can have happiness, but it is now a happiness tempered by humility. 2mo
arubabookwoman @Lcsmcat I'm afraid they are not going to have happiness. I felt at the end that John was beginning to idealize/mythologize Bessy, and Justine was beginning to hide things from John again. Overall I felt saddened at the end. John certainly does not come across well in this book, despite his good intentions. (edited) 2mo
Currey @arubabookwoman I agree with you. I think Justine is now not as idealistic but also learning to fake her past idealism for John. John and Justine had a relationship based on truth but it is no longer. 2mo
Currey @Lcsmcat @Graywacke I found the book to be very ambitious but, for me, the ending was not satisfying. I felt as if Wharton fell back to explaining rather than allowing the story to stand on its own. This wasn‘t extreme but nevertheless not a good conclusion. The actual plot conclusion was good though, as I think it was realistic that Justine and John would not find their “garden” but be expelled by the truth. 2mo
Lcsmcat @arubabookwoman @Currey I agree that John does not come across well - rather the opposite. A lot of the problems are set up by his actions. (And his beliefs about women that attracted him to B in the first place.) And that‘s where I disagree that J & J had a relationship based on truth. They both lied to themselves and each other while Bessy was alive. While they connected on a mental plane, that doesn‘t mean their relationship was based on truth. 2mo
Currey @Lcsmcat Good point that just because Wharton tells us it is based on the truth doesn‘t mean it ever was….yes, they lied to themselves. John was a pretty miserable communicator. I did think it was very amusing and somewhat twilight zone frightening that John thought the swimming pool and gym was for the workers. 2mo
Lcsmcat @Currey That was some twisted thinking on John‘s part! 2mo
mdm139 Maybe if Wharton left out the last chapter it would have been better. End on a high note with J & J getting back together and spare us the lies at the end. History definitely was repeating itself in this book many times. 2mo
mdm139 The reunion scene reminded me of old black and white movies where the man grabs her arms and she tilts her head up to him and he declares his stupidity and love and she cries and says oh John and they kiss. 2mo
Graywacke Enjoying the conversation and great apt quote ( @Lcsmcat ) which makes me hesitate to put it all on a now openly dishonest partnership. Life is not a matter of abstract principles. @arubabookwoman I found the promise of their happiness ambiguous. @Currey is she really faking her idealism? (Does that explain/relate to J‘s paternalistic aspects?) @mdm139 But then she‘d have to change the title. 🙂 2mo
Currey @Graywacke. I think Justine retains her idealism regarding what can be done for the workers but I think she is starting to fake her idealism around a perfect relationship of like minds with John. I think she has come to realize what price she paid and that from here on out their relationship will be a more “normal” one of compromise, miscommunication but making it work. 2mo
Currey @Graywacke @Lcsmcat @arubabookwoman @mdm139 - did anyone else have the twisted stomach reaction to the sentence about Justine having to give a morphine injection when John finally came to find her….I thought that was rather brilliant of Wharton to remind us that way and also cause me to think that Justine could “do it again”, but maybe it was just me 2mo
jewright @Currey I thought this too. Their second kiss was different, and I wondered if that was because John was thinking about how morphine split them up the first time. 2mo
Graywacke @Currey @jewright i was too caught up in how awkward the whole meeting was. Justine worn and hiding in the city and not very enthused to be found, plus the gossipers yapping away. Amherst seeming as confused as me. It was a lot for me to take in. 🙂 2mo
arubabookwoman @Currey The morphine shot jumped out at me too. I'm sure it was deliberate on Wharton's part. I was wondering about the legalities at the time Wharton was writing this of assisted suicide/euthanasia. Justine didn't seem particularly concerned about criminality or facing homicide charges, just what the world would think about her hastening the death of the 1st wife of the man she then married. 2mo
arubabookwoman I thought the ending was perfect actually, even though a bit ambiguous as @Graywacke says. Until John announces the plans for the worker's center were done by Bessy, I was kind of expecting a "happy ending" (which would have been unusual for Wharton based on what I've read of hers). Then Wharton hits us with the irony of John failing to perceive that Bessy's character had never really changed. That said, I wonder?????? 2mo
arubabookwoman ...why she made out her will to leave everything to John (which was why he thought she had changed in the first place). 2mo
Lcsmcat @Currey I had the same reaction to the morphine shot! 2mo
Lcsmcat @arubabookwoman I thought Bessy‘s will a little odd, but maybe a dig at the other men who tried to control her. It seemed like she wanted to rebel against being controlled but just didn‘t quite have the energy to follow through. That said, I think John was just blind to pretty much anything that didn‘t fit in with his plans (such as his mother‘s feelings about living the way she had to before he married Bessy.) 2mo
Graywacke @arubabookwoman @Lcsmcat The will is maybe iffy in terms of character consistency, or maybe it needs more thought. Bessy herself is a commentary on leisure class women - she was not mean or evil, but childish, needy, dependent, contradictory, (and impulsive). Somewhere in that context is probably her decision with the will. She may have just felt guilty. (edited) 2mo
llwheeler I'm loving reading everyone's comments, and it's making me appreciate the ending more. I haven't had a lot to say about this one, and I don't think it will be one of my favourites, but I am glad I've read it. 2mo
CarolynM I thought I'd have lots of reading time while I was away all last week, but as it turned out I barely had any free time at all. I'm looking forward to finishing the book and catching up with everyone's comments in the next few days 🙂 2mo
Graywacke @llwheeler I feel like we made a lot great conversations around this book. Thanks for being a part of it. Hoping you like Ethan Frome better. (Hoping I like it more than i did in high school!) 2mo
Graywacke @CarolynM no worries. Enjoy it when you have time for it. 2mo
Graywacke To answer my own questions - my favorite theme was the marital miscommunication because it felt real to me. I‘m not sure this book truly “works” in the sense that it goes a lot of different places and I certainly didn‘t see the end trajectory half way through. I was sad Bessy died partially because I wanted to J & B work out or fail, and we sort of didn‘t get either. But i liked the ending and the check on idealism with reality. 2mo
jewright This has been my favorite Wharton book so far. I disliked all the characters, but I was interested in what happened to them. I did feel the book kind of switched protagonists. John is there the whole time, but the story is more focused on the women. It was an interesting way to tell a story. 2mo
jewright @Graywacke I really like Ethan Frome, and we read it in one of my classes last year, and my students liked it too. 2mo
llwheeler @Graywacke I've actually read Ethan Frome already, and I loved it. I'm really looking forward to the discussion of it when we get there, especially in light of this book now. 2mo
DivineDiana Although I have not read the book, I so enjoyed the photos and discussion. Well done! 2mo
Graywacke @DivineDiana thank you! This led to a series of great conversations. I wasn‘t aware of what a good book club book this makes. 2mo
CarolynM @Graywacke @Lcsmcat @arubabookwoman @jewright @Currey I finally found time to finish the book and read all the comments 🙂 I really enjoyed all your discussion and I think all the main points have been covered. It's an interesting story and covers a lot of ground. I found some of the emotional content a bit overwrought but there were some good insights about romantic couples and how they perceive one another's motives.👇 2mo
CarolynM 👆 I felt so sorry for Cicely. In all Justine's agonising, she didn't seem to consider Cicely at all, and yet she was the one who suffered most from Justine's absence. As Mrs Ansell (who turned out to be better hearted than I was expecting) said, she was twice motherless. Thanks everyone for another great buddy read. I'm looking forward to Ethan Frome. 2mo
32 likes36 comments
The Fruit of the Tree | Edith Wharton
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The Fruit of the Tree : Book III part XXVIII to Book IV part XXXV #whartonbuddyread

Euthanasia. Well, we should take a moment to appreciate that Wharton gave us 8 months of happiness. But, back on theme, did your sense change after Wyatt told his full version? Have these ethics aged? Also, any thoughts on Justine‘s name - personification of Justice hovering, or being subjected to itself?

Currey @Graywacke So when I first read the fateful scene, I perceived it as Justine giving a morphine injection before schedule. It wasn‘t until Wyant‘s playback that I realized it was a larger than normal dose also. So that is where my brain‘s “line” evidently is. Mercy to give Her what she wanted early and murder to give her an out and out fateful dose. 2mo
Currey @Graywacke one would think this book would have aged well given where we are with assisted suicide but somehow it doesn‘t. Knot in my stomach all the way. 2mo
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Lcsmcat @Currey I had the same thought. But I‘m not sure still that she did otherwise. Wyant is not a reliable witness, after all. 2mo
Lcsmcat I like the idea of Justine being an intentional name choice, pointing to Justice. She does start out that way with Dillon, after all. But I was disappointed in her not sending Wyant away. He wouldn‘t be believed if she had behaved differently. 2mo
Currey @Lcsmcat Exactly, Justine did not need to act “guilty”….W. clearly has a drug problem and everyone would have believed her not him but somehow we are in this terrible situation. I rather think it is justice for her rather than her being the hand of justice but it is a nice play on her name. (edited) 2mo
mdm139 I think Justine‘s decision may have been different if they had some of our modern technology and medicine. Bessy didn‘t even get a X-ray. No one knew really what was going to happen but Justine knew that her friend was suffering pure agony and “keeping her alive” was torturing her. I also think Dr. G just didn‘t want to be the one to make the decision so was waiting for Bessy‘s men and Dr. W was looking for glory. 2mo
mdm139 So Justine did what she thought was the merciful thing the men wouldn‘t do. When Dr. W didn‘t get his glory and fame for healing Bessy he reacted poorly. Became an addict, married someone else, and blamed it all Justine and blackmailed her. I like the John supported Justine in front of Dr. W but I am wondering if he will privately. 2mo
mdm139 Also wondering if there was a second motive for Justine to kill Bessy. Right now it is presented as mercy which is consistent with her character traits. However, she then marries John. Justine knew there was marital strife. Was Justine also trying to save John from making the decision? Or was it more calculating - Justine was already in love with John, didn‘t think Bessy deserved him, so she saw her chance to eliminate the competition? 2mo
Lcsmcat @mdm139 while that crossed my mind too, I don‘t think Justine killed Bessy for that reason. I think it was mercy, but a type of mercy that wasn‘t widely accepted. She had the same thoughts about Dillon and whether it was kinder to keep him alive but unable to work, or to let him die. X-rays would have been nice, but I don‘t think they‘d have changed the prognosis. I think the paralysis affecting her lungs is what was killing her. Slow suffication. 2mo
mdm139 @Lcsmcat I think it was mercy too, but if it became well known what Justine did then society would look at it as Justine killed off the first wife to marry John. I am still wondering how John will react privately. Will he hate Justine and divorce her or live separately. Or will he be grateful. 2mo
Lcsmcat @mdm139 How he treats her in private is the big question, isn‘t it? And how will this affect Cecily? 2mo
Graywacke @Lcsmcat @mdm139 i didn‘t mean to stop us at such a cliffhanger. I‘m really curious from the sense that Amherst is a terrible communicator (that was a lame marriage proposal). Will he be able to express how he feels? 2mo
Lcsmcat @Graywacke “lame marriage proposal” indeed! 2mo
Graywacke @Currey @Lcsmcat @mdm139 I never felt any guilt for J (and so didn‘t understand her fear of Wyatt). I don‘t know that we know what Justine did, but it‘s really a matter of scale. J clearly put B out of her misery, and seemingly at B‘s request. What was awkward to me is that Justine, always so confident, was so unable to manage how to relay this to John. That implies she has serious guilt, which implies she has some doubts 2mo
Graywacke (PS - Enjoying the discussion so far) 2mo
mdm139 @Graywacke I am wondering since John is such a bad communicator will John and Justine be able to overcome his poor communication skills. Obviously Bessy and John both had poor communication skills and couldn‘t overcome it. I suspect John will be unable to communicate to Justine how he feels about what she did, but I am hoping she is smart enough to know what he trying to say. 2mo
CarolynM I'm behind. I'll comment when I catch up. 2mo
Lcsmcat @mdm139 I wonder that too. They are supposedly so mentally in tune, but she kept this secret so it doesn‘t bode well. 2mo
llwheeler I caught up this week! I agree with everyone else, wondering how this will play out given the track record of John's terrible communication (and Justine keeps saying how perfectly they understand each other but I'm not really sure how strong of a basis she has for thinking that...) 2mo
Graywacke @CarolynM look forward to your comments and take on this. 2mo
Graywacke @llwheeler glad you‘ve caught up! 2mo
jewright I think Bessy was asking Justine to kill her. Justine seemed like she was trying to keep her alive to see John, but the line in the book seemed to give her permission to release Bessy. I hate how Wyatt is treating Bessy like a science experiment. 2mo
arubabookwoman Family things got away from me this week. Will rejoin next week hopefully. 2mo
33 likes24 comments
The Fruit of the Tree | Edith Wharton
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The Fruit of the Tree - Book III part XXI - XXVII

Marital problems, impulsive bad decisions, and consequential accidents - a section of heavy allegory. And in the midst is Justine trying to figure out - well, what exactly? Justine has at least 5 intense encounters - with Wyant, Amherst, Ansel, Bessy and Reverend Lynde. We still have a lot of book. Thoughts?

Lcsmcat And @CarolynM is proved right. 😀 2mo
Lcsmcat This section picked up for me (last week dragged a bit) and Justine always seems to be close to making a definitive decision about the direction of her life when someone or something happens to pull her back. 2mo
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Currey @Lcsmcat Yes @CarolynM was right. Good prophesizing skills!! 2mo
Currey @Graywacke Justine realizes she comes alive in Amherst‘s presence and also in Wyant‘s when he is consumed with working and even when she has to take charge in Bessy‘s house, but it just serves to tickle us into thinking that her desire to find the right person and get married is not all that drives her. 2mo
Currey And @carolynM are we now looking at Justine helping Bessy to end? 2mo
Currey @graywacke Very struck this week by not only Wharton working out her familiar themes in slightly different ways with slightly more fully drawn characters but also how she is learning to better manipulate us, the readers. Or at least this one reader. 2mo
mdm139 I was glad Bessy‘s and John‘s friends finally started to work together to keep them together instead of pulling them apart. And John finally made his move to explain his feelings to Bessy. But then Bessy once again failed to listen and decided to do the immature thing by running away to Cadbury‘s house, then spend a ton of money, then ride the horse in the winter. John shouldn‘t have left the country without telling Bessy. 2mo
Louise @Graywacke I haven‘t managed to catch up with my reading. Still going through a stressful time—having to move by June, etc. I would like to stay in the group list to stay in touch so I can get back into the book discussions when life settles down a bit. Thanks. 2mo
Graywacke @Currey is that a good manipulation or bad one? 2mo
Graywacke @Currey @Lcsmcat @mdm139 I was struck by how uncertain Justine is of what she is doing. If she‘s looking for a husband, it makes sense. But, it seems she has no clear plan there. If she‘s trying to save Bessy, well, is she? Otherwise it feels like a step sideways- from hopeless emergency physical care to hopeless emergency psychological care. Not sure i‘m not making sense or just not on a 1907 mindset. Just seems to be an odd element to me. 2mo
Graywacke Also I feel Justine has become the main character. 2mo
Graywacke And what do Justine‘s parents think about what she‘s doing? 2mo
Lcsmcat @Louise I‘m sorry you‘re under stress right now. Moving sucks! Let me know if you need anything - even just an ear to vent into. 2mo
Currey @Graywacke Yes, on Justine becoming the main character and largely positive on the manipulation front. I am engaged. I do feel that in comparison to Cather, Wharton is directing me. Cather gave me (time, place, characters) and then left me to see how I thought or felt about those things. Wharton seems to be further over on the side of telling me how she wants me to feel. I am probably not making much sense. 2mo
Lcsmcat @Graywacke I agree Justine has become a main character. And the most interesting one to me. I think (like John) her father is dead but her mother living. Or am I remembering wrong? 2mo
Lcsmcat @Currey No, I totally get what you‘re saying! Wharton seems to be more engaged in pursuing a theme (and taking the reader along with her) than in exploring scenes. (If I‘M making sense. 😀) 2mo
Lcsmcat @Graywacke And to answer your actual question about Justine, she had the same education as Bessy. I think she‘s trying to find a way forward in a world she wasn‘t educated for. (edited) 2mo
Graywacke @Lcsmcat @Currey - not sure I‘m making sense either (😁) but I see Wharton as insistent, needing to convince. (Like Justine?) Cather assuming you are probably not going to change and see it her way (like, hmm, Alexandra?) 2mo
Lcsmcat @Graywacke Well put! Perhaps a result of their very different upbringings and positions in society? 2mo
Louise @Lcsmcat Thank you for your kind words at this difficult time. Much appreciated. 💗 2mo
arubabookwoman Sorry to be so late today--family things.I don't have much to add. The riding accident Wharton so heavily foreshadowed has finally happened. I kind of see Justine as the stand in (spokesperson?) for Wharton's own POV. So far she's been the reasonable one making reasonable decisions. I'm wondering if now Wharton is going to change her focus from the plight of factory workers to the issue of euthanasia. This is certainly a novel of serious issues. (edited) 2mo
CarolynM @Lcsmcat @Currey I'd have predicted an accident that killed her outright, I'm glad Wharton has taken us in a more interesting direction. I hadn't thought of mercy killing, but it seems likely that Justine will at least think about it. The last chapter made me think about the advances of the last century, not only in treating spinal injuries, but also in quality of life for survivors, & also how much farther we have to go with accessibility etc👇 2mo
CarolynM I have to agree that Cather leaves more room in her stories for the reader to decide rights and wrongs, but I feel there are many issues on which both authors would agree. "Most marriages are a patch-work of jarring tastes and ill-assorted ambitions" seems to me an observation supported by many of the marriages found in Cather's novels too. 2mo
CarolynM @Louise Hope your move works out and things improve for you soon so you can join us again. I always enjoy your input into the discussions. 2mo
Louise Thank you so much, @CarolynM. 💗 2mo
Graywacke @CarolynM - on Cather and Wharton and that line about marriage: that really does seem like a line either author could write. 2mo
Graywacke @Currey @Lcsmcat @arubabookwoman @CarolynM @mdm139 - this comment is maybe wrong as Bessy lies immobile and in great pain - but, I‘m disappointed in her. (edited) 2mo
Graywacke @Louise wish you well 2mo
arubabookwoman @Graywacke I was certainly disappointed in her when Amherst returned to talk with her, at Justine's urging, he found that she had left for Blanche's, despite knowing he was on his way. 2mo
Louise @Graywacke Thank you, Dan. 2mo
jewright I was expecting a riding accident that killed her. It is a pity that she will suffer greatly, but her death is sure to happen anyway. I‘m so annoyed with both of John and Bessy. I liked both of them in the beginning, and now I hate them both! They are both selfish and petty, and they have no idea how to compromise to make their marriage work. I‘m kind of impressed how Wharton has made me both like and hate them in such a short space. 2mo
jewright I‘m wondering if Justine and/or John will adopt Cicely since she will be an orphan? They both seem to like her more than her mother. I did hate the comment Bessy had about being glad her baby had died, so nothing would tie her to John. I am sure that the trauma of the baby‘s death has made everything worse. 2mo
Graywacke @jewright “I‘m kind of impressed how Wharton has made me both like and hate them in such a short space.” - now that you mention it, yeah, me too. 2mo
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The Fruit of the Tree | Edith Wharton
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The Fruit of the Tree: Book II part XIV to Book III part XX - #whartonbuddyread

“How the little parched soul, in solitary confinement for life, must pine and dwindle in its blind cranny of self-love!”

We‘re halfway through and perhaps the book has slowed down for everyone. In the midst of this marital struggle of Bessy and John are a whole ideas and psychological explorations. The societal pressure! Can‘t you, sadly, relate?

Midway thoughts?

Graywacke My main thought: The ways Bessy and John fail to find a way to communicate struck me. They are not being idiots, there‘s no ill will. They are really trying and yet they end up full of unintended, unwanted bitterness. It‘s frustrating, and yet insightful…painfully too true to life. 3mo
Lcsmcat @Graywacke It was a painful section to read! How two people can want reconciliation equally (albeit for different reasons) and be unable to communicate it. And I see Wharton‘s despising this social class more meanly than in previous books. She doesn‘t seem to want to cut them any slack. Whereas in Mirth it felt more like she understood but disagreed with them, here it feels like she‘s portraying them as evil. 3mo
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arubabookwoman @Graywacke @Lcsmcat Agree with both these comments. The scene between Bessy and John when he returns from the factory is heart-breaking. Two people who love each other (apparently), but entirely unable to communicate, each hearing something different from what the other is trying to say, and each unable to say what they really mean. 3mo
Graywacke @Lcsmcat “It was this unanimity of view which bound together in the compactness of a new feudalism the members of Bessy Amherst's world; which supplied them with their passwords and social tests, and defended them securely against the insidious attack of ideas.” 3mo
Graywacke @arubabookwoman that scene is one that I keep thinking about. 3mo
arubabookwoman @Graywacke @Lcsmcat And in this book, the despise the Wharton feels for the society people she is describing (and her own social milieu) is really there loud and clear. Bessy's family and friends were "so many sentinels ready to raise the drawbridge and drop the portcullis at [John's] approach," and to "push [Bessy] back into the deadening routine of her former life."?????? 3mo
arubabookwoman And, "They had inexhaustibly amusing ways of drawing out and showing off each other's idiocy" (Re the Tefler twins, but applicable to any of the group). Some of Wharton's comments on the place of women are also interesting, and I liked this, reminiscent of Lily Bart, Justine thinking she did not want to become "one of the nomadic damsels who form camp followers of the great army of pleasure." 3mo
arubabookwoman Mrs Ansell had an astute comment re Bessy: "Isn't she one of the most harrowing victims of the plan of bringing up our girls in the double bondage of expediency and unreality, corrupting their bodies with luxury and their brains with sentiment, and leaving them to reconcile the two as best they can, or lose their souls in the attempt." 3mo
arubabookwoman Is this all heading for a "romantic" relationship between John and Justine? Wharton is certainly hinting that: They "were unconsciously drawn together by the fact that they were the only 2 strangers in the room. Everyone else had the same standpoint, spoke the same language, drew on the same stock of allusions, used the same weights and measures in estimating persons and actions." 3mo
Lcsmcat @arubabookwoman I highlighted some of those same quotes. I see the attraction between Justine and John as destroying their lives without giving them any consolation of loving and being loved. (Maybe I‘m just cynical about Wharton, but I don‘t see a happy ending for anyone.) (edited) 3mo
arubabookwoman As to Bessy, "it was the torment of [her] situation that...she still loved Amherst though she could not forgive him for having married her." I find it interesting that Bessy is jealous of Justine, but not because of John, but rather because her daughter is so close to Justine. 3mo
Currey @arubabookwoman @Lcsmcat @graywacke I concur on the section regarding Bessy and John‘s inability to communicate. I really felt pain for their awkward frustrations. And then a few pages later we have an example of perfect communication with Langhope and Mrs Ansell‘s argument. They did not agree with each other but they understood each other perfectly. (edited) 3mo
arubabookwoman And I'm really getting annoyed at John-his ineffectiveness, lack of decisiveness. He began the reforms, but are we to take the fact that they are costing so much more than planned as a sign of his incompetence at actually accomplishing anything? He seems to just allowing himself to be manipulated by people and events, rather than acting on his own convictions. 3mo
Lcsmcat @arubabookwoman An interesting turn of phrase “could not forgive him for having married her” Why not for his ideas about the factory, or his not being who she wanted him to be. Such a specific and odd thing to begrudge. 3mo
arubabookwoman @Lcsmcat Agree there will be no happy ending. I'm wondering whether John needs Justine (or someone like her--Fulvia?) to be effective at making reforms. The pinch is he also needs Bessy's money. 3mo
Currey @arubabookwoman Is it conviction or just money John lacks? 3mo
arubabookwoman @Currey I'm thinking he has conviction, but lacks the ability to implement his convictions. (Maybe a bit like Odo). 3mo
arubabookwoman @Lcsmcat I think it's because in marrying her he has introduced conflict into her life. She never had to think about these things before. On the one hand she has her father and friends telling her that she's "stealing" from her daughter by reducing her income, on the other she wants to be "philanthropic." (edited) 3mo
Currey @arubabookwoman I loved your idea of Fulvia walking into the story!! Wharton really is trying to work something out isn‘t she? 3mo
arubabookwoman @Currey I'm finding it very interesting reading the work of one author in order. Wharton is certainly consistent in her themes. I won't say she is using "stock" characters (though to a certain extent some of the society hangers-on at social events are that), but we are seeing recurring types I think. 3mo
Lcsmcat @arubabookwoman It is interesting to say the least to watch Wharton approach similar problems from different angles, isn‘t it? On the unforgivable marriage, I feel like that phrasing is intended to tell us more than that they are unhappy. Maybe that Bessy is so unable to be self-aware that she has to blame him even for her still loving him? But that‘s not quite it either. Must ponder this some more. 3mo
Lcsmcat @Currey I think it‘s mostly money, but also some conviction. He doesn‘t just want to do it with her money, he wants her to be invested as much as he is. 3mo
Graywacke @arubabookwoman I‘m glad you quotes the reconcile comment - girls in the double bondage of expediency and unreality. Very apt here and also in many other circumstances. 3mo
Graywacke @arubabookwoman @Lcsmcat I‘m also curious what Wharton is doing with John and Justine. Also, I think with Wharton as author, we have to be cynical. Whatever it is, should turn out badly. 🙂 3mo
Graywacke @Currey interesting about the contrast of the Amhersts with Langhope and Ansel‘s natural communication. 3mo
Graywacke @Lcsmcat @arubabookwoman @Currey I‘m beginning to understand John better and I don‘t think he‘s failing the workers. He‘s failing the marriage (because it comes second to him). If it were his money there would be no issues with cost. But as it‘s Bessy‘s he‘s trying to win her over - the big picture thing to do. And that means he needs to compromise his progress. I think that part makes sense. 3mo
Graywacke @arubabookwoman @Currey @Lcsmcat - and lastly, I really appreciate this aspect of reading so much Wharton in order. Some of the keys to understanding this book lie in The Valley of Decision. (I think the word “feudalism” is a choice reference in what I quoted above.) But she‘s revisiting these themes in interesting ways. I feel a lot of reward with this. 3mo
arubabookwoman @Graywacke @Currey Langhope and Ansell are in the same "tribe" so they can communicate. Bessy and John, though married are in different "tribes." (And also have personalities that make communication difficult for them). 3mo
CarolynM @Lcsmcat @arubabookwoman @Currey I think Dan has summed up John's situation nicely. I agree with Deborah about communication and tribes but it is sad that a married couple doesn't at least try to overcome the barrier. Overall I was a bit frustrated with all the miscommunication, second-guessing and lack of self knowledge in this section. I'm wondering if there's foreshadowing of a riding accident for Bessy. 3mo
Lcsmcat @CarolynM Oh, I didn‘t think of a riding accident. But it could be. 3mo
Lcsmcat @arubabookwoman The tribal/feudal aspects are front and center. No subtleties about them in this book. 3mo
Graywacke @CarolynM @Lcsmcat I like that her favorite horse is named Impulse. 3mo
jewright John and Bessy need marriage counseling. Neither one is a terrible person, but they can‘t communicate at all. Money is a huge issue in marriages today, so it‘s no surprise it is here. It makes me sad the death of the baby has impacted her relationship with her daughter, and I‘m sure it‘s a factor in their failing relationship as well. 3mo
jewright @CarolynM I‘ve thought this as well. It doesn‘t help she‘s going to ride when she‘s upset. 3mo
jewright I posted a quotation with the Jacob allusion about how John would wrestle until dawn with a problem, but if he couldn‘t solve it, he would just go on. She can‘t do that, so they both see the other one as unfeeling. (edited) 3mo
mdm139 Just got caught up. I am also frustrated with John and Bessy‘s miscommunications and all the drama with the jealousy and people still trying to break them up. It was the most boring section so far as well. In some places I thought the love triangle would begin. I am starting to get Jane Austen vibes. 3mo
Graywacke @jewright i like Jacob allusion too. (Did I understand correctly that, in the same thought, she imagines herself a squirrel spinning on a hamster wheel?) I think their differences are reconcilable and agree they seriously need a good marriage counselor. 3mo
Graywacke @mdm139 completely agree. Frustrating and slow and wondering about Justine. Fortunately it‘s working for me, and still powerful. 3mo
jewright @Graywacke Yes, and that illustrates their problem to communicate and understand each other. It doesn‘t solve everything but reading a few books about personality types and love languages and such was revolutionary for me. I used to be very hurt by introverts turning down invitations. Now, I don‘t take it personally. My need to socialize doesn‘t trump their need to refuel in quiet. If we understand how people are different, we can react better. 3mo
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The Fruit of the Tree | Edith Wharton
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The Fruit of the Tree - Book I partVI to Book II part XIII #whartonbuddyread

Amherst has moved from a decrepit factory town to elaborate rose gardens, and 💰💰💰. The short sledding scene might an apt metaphor for his steep fall, and dismissal, followed by a gentle rise, marrying Bessy.

But, are you annoyed with John, at how little he has accomplished with so much, or hopeful with how he has “settled” himself and with what he _can_ now do?

Graywacke Also, how are you taking to John‘s dwellings? There is a lot. He dwells on the factory conditions, on winning Bessy, on his dismissal, on his attempts to manage the informal board and Bessy? He he dwells on his use of Bessy…and not on anything resembling affection. And he dwells on the perceived limitations of women - persistently (although apparently instep with everyone around him, men and women). 3mo
Currey @Graywacke Annoyed. Annoyed that he is manipulative without real effect. Bessy still loves him but he does not seem to love her. She has gotten weepy. Thank goodness for Justine. 3mo
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Graywacke I think it‘s a little funny he put so much into winning Bessy that he won her the wrong way. He won her hand, but not what he actually wanted - to lead her to a life-style comprising (and socially decent) charity. 3mo
Currey @Graywacke I can‘t help but think Wharton is setting John up for his perceived limitations of women. Certainly Wharton does not believe in those limitations and she is really flagging it with John‘s musings on his mother and Bessy. Justine and Mrs Ansell are portrayed as very sharp however. At least so far. 3mo
Graywacke @Currey yeah! Bessy went from strong to weepy. Justine is a nice counter. Any thoughts for Eustace Ansel, another strong woman, if a villainous one? - editing- you beat me to the question. (edited) 3mo
Currey @Graywacke Eustace Ansel is an interesting character so far. She can read a room, can be subtly manipulative but also seems to care about people. She isn‘t very stereotypical so far. 3mo
arubabookwoman John is kind of turning into an Odo-wants to do big things but unable to effectuate any of them. I don't think Bessy was ever strong ("strong to weepy"). Justine described her as chameleon like-able to project to whomever she was interacting with whatever they thought she was/should be. I think Justine is the female character to watch here. 3mo
Graywacke @Currey on setting John up - I agree. Are his views of women preventing him from strengthening Bessy (And causing him to weaken her)? Wouldn‘t strengthening and supporting her be more constructive? Isn‘t he pushing for bold decisions? 3mo
arubabookwoman I think it's interesting how Wharton has big things happen off-stage so to speak. Here John and Bessy are sledding down a hill, on the next page they've been married 3 years and have lost a child. I was surprised that so little had happened re John's factory plans. It's also interesting that the loss of their child has devastated Bessy, but John does not even seem to notice it. 3mo
Graywacke @arubabookwoman I keep thinking of Odo too. Imagine if Fulvia has his positive? I enjoyed Justine‘s acid private commentary. And she‘s a fun irritating thorn in Amherst‘s side. Him telling her, seriously, no, don‘t make waves and do the right thing was very entertaining. 3mo
Graywacke @arubabookwoman what do you think it means for John - not being all that affected by losing the child? 3mo
Currey @Graywacke Also Bessy was mirroring Fulvia but now seems to have none of her backbone and Justine is, in circumstances at least, a bit like Lily 3mo
Currey @arubabookwoman I agree Bessy was never portrayed as strong but she had to have stood up against her father and her society in general to marry John which had to have taken some personal strength. Of course Wharton skips over all that 3mo
arubabookwoman @Graywacke Not sure what it means--Maybe he can see and empathize with suffering in the abstract (factory workers), but in personal relationships not so much. 3mo
arubabookwoman @Graywacke Maybe Justine will turn into John's Fulvia. 3mo
Louise Hello, All, I‘m a few chapters behind 🤦🏻‍♀️ and will try to catch up this week. Reading your comments with interest! Until soon. . . ! 3mo
mdm139 I think people are trying to sabotage John and Bessy. They don‘t like John “marrying up” and they don‘t like them trying to change the status quo on operating a mill. And in all Wharton‘s books there is the person that questions their choices and lashes out at the people they love because of their own moral dilemmas. For this book it is John. I hope they can realize this and make the changes anyway and John stops being mean to Bessy. 3mo
Lcsmcat @mdm139 Reflecting back to last week‘s love triangle comments, it seems like Bessy‘s family is trying to start one up! 3mo
Lcsmcat I didn‘t think about Odo, but that‘s a great observation. My thoughts went forward to Ethan Fromme and I was bracing myself for a sledding accident. 3mo
Lcsmcat @arubabookwoman Why do you suppose Wharton has so much happen off stage? Is it like people who can‘t paint hands always having their models put their hands in their pockets? 3mo
mdm139 @Lcsmcat yes I was thinking about Ethan Frome too. Wharton must have loved sledding. 3mo
Lcsmcat @mdm139 I wondered if she toyed with the idea of an accident (there was so much talk of the falling dark, etc) and then decided to go in a different direction and saved that idea for EF. 3mo
Lcsmcat @Currey @Graywacke I don‘t think Brady ever had backbone. Think about how Justine described her as taking on the attributes of whoever she was around and having no “self” of her own. 3mo
Graywacke @Louise have you enjoyed what you have read? 3mo
Graywacke @mdm139 @Lcsmcat I admit the possibility of a love triangle seemed really unlikely to me before, and then that marriage happened. @mdm139 I think the interests would be happy to merely sabotage John. 3mo
Graywacke @Lcsmcat @mdm139 so, my (entirely unsupported) theory on the sledding (and my memory of Ethan Frome is minimal) is that she found it here as a wonderful metaphor and couldn‘t drop it. So EF. 🙂 3mo
Graywacke @mdm139 @Lcsmcat “A sled packed with them hung on the brink: with a last shout it was off, dipping down the incline with the long curved flight of a swallow, flashing across the wide meadow at the base of the hill, and tossed upward again by its own impetus, till it vanished in the dark rim of wood on the opposite height.” 3mo
Graywacke @Lcsmcat @Currey @arubabookwoman on Bessy. It‘s not that simple to me yet. Maybe just wishful thinking on my part. She may be a sap. But she made unorthodox sneaky moves to get more info out of John, and then when she was about to lose his help…married him. Hints of independence? Or insecurity outside her sheltered life? 3mo
CarolynM I'm behind. I'll comment when catch up. 3mo
Louise @Graywacke Yes, I‘m enjoying it. She‘s laying down tracks for so many plot possibilities. While the social commentary is a bit “on the nose” so far, there are exquisite phrasings that I keep marking with a pencil. Still, I must say that Cather‘s work speaks more directly to my heart. 3mo
jewright @arubabookwoman This bothered me too. Why wasn‘t John upset about the baby at all? I totally believe it‘s a big part of Bessy‘s caving. She lost her baby. She cannot lose her husband too. 3mo
jewright @Lcsmcat I thought this too! Ethan Fromme vibes for sure! 3mo
jewright I was surprised by the time jump. I was hoping Bessy and John would be happy, but apparently Wharton can‘t ever let that happen. I‘m interested to see what happens with Justine. 3mo
Lcsmcat @jewright @arubabookwoman There‘s a lot about John that I don‘t get - his attitude towards the loss of the baby, his basic disrespect towards women, his inability to see his plans through, or judge character . . . 3mo
Graywacke @CarolynM no worries. 3mo
Graywacke @Louise I‘m glad you‘re enjoying the language. I keep highlighting too, entire paragraphs. Cather is a different perspective. With Wharton we are getting a leisure class author, even if she‘s driven and angry and, if I‘m reading Justine Brent right, bitter. 3mo
Graywacke @jewright @Lcsmcat @arubabookwoman Do you think Wharton expressing a kind of social critique with John‘s character? 3mo
Lcsmcat @Graywacke Yes, but I‘m not sure of what kind yet. Last week I would have said it was anti industrial robber barrons. This week I‘m not so sure. We‘ll have to watch John closely. 3mo
mdm139 @Louise I like Cather way better too. I like her prose better 3mo
Lcsmcat @mdm139 @Louise I agree that Wharton & Cather are very different writers. I find Cather‘s prose more lyrical. But Wharton has a way of delivering some razor-sharp social observations that are so beautifully put that the object of the attack has to think twice before they realize they‘ve been insulted, and some delicious metaphors that make me stop reading just to savor them. 3mo
jewright @Lcsmcat -He seems different here than he did in book 1. He was so bent on reform he didn‘t care if he got fired, and he and his mother had to move. Now he can‘t make it happen? It‘s very like Odo. It‘s like government. Everyone is so sure they can go and change everything, and then they go and get sucked down in the muck of politics and lose their drive. 3mo
Lcsmcat @jewright Yes! Not only was he willing to move, he was willing to get “blackballed” and perhaps not have work at all. If Wharton hadn‘t made him responsible for his mother, I could say he was just reckless. But that made him seem really committed to the cause. Now? Not so much. 3mo
arubabookwoman @Graywacke Not sure she's expressing a "social" critique of John's character, but she's definitely depicting him as weak and not following through on his ideals. 3mo
arubabookwoman @Lcsmcat @mdm139 I agree Cather and Wharton are very different writers. Cather was definitely lyrical and @Lcsmcat hit the nail on the head re wharton's observations make you think twice about the actual meaning of what she said. I find her very witty, with a dry subtle humor, despite the seriousness of her themes. Overall, I think I prefer Wharton, tho' they're both great. 3mo
Louise @Graywacke Your words “a leisure class author” say a lot. @mdm139 @lcsmcat Yes, “lyrical” is an interesting way to describe Cather‘s writing. She achieves in prose what great poems achieve—a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. @arubabookwoman Yes, I think Wharton‘s prose is delicious for the mind because of the brilliant observations and clever turns of phrase; whereas Cather evokes her characters/settings with spare language. 3mo
Graywacke @Louise @arubabookwoman been thinking about this. These are two New York City centric authors. Cather is an nyc arrival and her early stories are about wealthy people - an experience she had to imagine a bit. Her turn to Nebraska and New Mexico became very profound moves. She saw an ugly world and found some beautiful stuff, even when bitter. Wharton was born in the city leisure class and would later run away to France. But her writing…👇 3mo
Graywacke stays in that nyc leisure class atmosphere. It‘s her strength. In a way she saw a pretty canvas laid over and ugly world and she dug under that canvas. In a way she was much more in tune with the 20th century ugliness - the world that is artificial, with cracks and grime ($$ and it‘s accompanying fear of loss of it). I‘m exposing my ideas of 20th-century ugliness here - an iffy argument. Hopefully doesn‘t weaken this comment too much. 3mo
Louise @Graywacke Thank you for sharing these thoughts for us to chew on as we continue reading. I wonder if your idea of “20th-century ugliness” is rooted in the shift from the early optimism of the Industrial Age to the abuses and sense of dehumanization that came later. 3mo
CarolynM Re John, I think he's an archetypal "man with a cause" - passionate and emotional about that cause, but very little moved by the personal concerns of those around him. I'm sure you've met people like him, I certainly have. I disagree that his not achieving much in 3 years shows weakness - it's pretty clear that Langhope, Tredgar & Gaines have been fighting him every inch of the way & Bessy is still as much influenced by them as by John. 3mo
CarolynM Re Mrs Ansell, I'm seeing her as this story's Mme de Treymes - sly and manipulative, pretending to be a friend to the newcomers like John's mother and Justine but really only wanting to use them for what she sees as beneficial to her people. 3mo
CarolynM Re Wharton v Cather, I'm definitely in the Cather camp. I think she is a lot kinder to her characters and I find them a lot more sympathetic. I also prefer her prose. I find myself skimming a bit through Wharton whereas with Cather I feel compelled to read every word. 3mo
Graywacke @CarolynM i think you‘re insightful with John. And Cather is definitely kinder, Wharton can cut and sometimes does. Ansel and Treymes would have an interesting cup of tea together. 3mo
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David Copperfield | Charles Dickens
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In Philly for the weekend and I‘ve stumbled into some weather. (And, snuggly inside, I‘m reading David Copperfield. Not quite halfway through yet. Uriah just got a lot more creepy.)

Cathythoughts Looks lovely! Enjoy your cosy read inside 3mo
BiblioLitten Uriah and Long John Silver are one my favourite villains. 3mo
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The Fruit of the Tree | Edith Wharton
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The Fruit of the Tree: Book I parts I - V

Idealists, robber barons and enablers - a literary muckraking. Well perhaps. Maybe inspired by Brendt, our nurse, John Ahmerst, a high society born factory manager, makes a desperate effort at reform. He clumsily (?) confronts his naive boss with her endangered underpaid workers - “these dim creatures of the underworld”. Can anything good come out of this? First impressions?

Graywacke Some quotes: “What he really wanted was to speak out, and yet escape the consequences” 3mo
Graywacke “Her eyes turned from Amherst and rested on the faces pressing about her. There were many women's faces among them—the faces of fagged middle-age, and of sallow sedentary girlhood. For the first time Mrs. Westmore seemed to feel the bond of blood between herself and these dim creatures of the underworld” 3mo
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Graywacke “In a flash he saw what he had forfeited by his choice of a calling—equal contact with the little circle of people who gave life its crowning grace and facility” 3mo
Graywacke "Bored? Why, she has everything on earth she can want!"
"The ideal state for producing boredom—“
Graywacke (Anyone else sensing a repackaging of The Valley of Decision?) 3mo
jewright So far this book reminds me a little of The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. Reminds me of today and how the people at the top are so out of touch. Why wouldn‘t the wife be home with her kids?! Well, she has to make sure they eat! (edited) 3mo
Currey @Graywacke She definitely has some consistent themes, doesn‘t she? I love that boredom quote. In general, I was happy to be back in Wharton‘s writing but am a bit confused about John Amherst. His mother was from the professional class but his father was a mechanic and he chose to be an assistant manager in a factory? I am not sure exactly what class assistant manager is and somehow this seems very important. 3mo
arubabookwoman @jewright I too thought of The Jungle. I googled. The Jungle was published in 1905, this in 1907, so maybe...The Cambridge Companion to E.W. says that after the success of House of Mirth her publishers wanted another expose of NY high society, but E.W. didn't want to be labeled as a high society author. It says she "almost certainly" thought about the novel Annie Kilburn by WH Howells and other popular realist novels dealing with???????? 3mo
arubabookwoman ...industrial problems in the Industrial northeast factory towns. I checked Amazon and Annie Kilburn is free for Kindle, so I downloaded it (as if I'll ever have time to read it). Other "industrial realist" novels mentioned were The Silent Partner by Phelps,The Stillwater Tragedy by Adrian (who sounds a bit like Dreiser's An American Tragedy), The Breadwinners by Hays, and The Moneymakers by ?? 3mo
arubabookwoman @Graywacke I didn't think of Valley of Decision as I was reading, but now that you mention it, Amherst's idealism and Odo's idealism have parallels. Wonder what will develop for Amherst as the book progresses. 3mo
arubabookwoman Of the Wharton's I've previously read (and grossly generalizing here) I've liked her novels of the "lower classes" more than the society novels (tho' I've also loved them). I'm thinking of Ethan Frome, Summer, and the Bunner Sisters. But despite Wharton's apparent wish not to be known as a "society" novelist, I think that is how she is best known. I am enjoying this one so far, and only hope it doesn't turn into too much of a polemic. 3mo
Graywacke @arubabookwoman Cambridge Companion to Edith Wharton? ! I want…. 3mo
arubabookwoman @Graywacke I don't have it--the excerpt I cited came up when I googled Fruit of the Tree--it was part of Chapter 8. But the whole book might be a good thing to have. ETA It's only $44 on Amazon--ha! (edited) 3mo
Graywacke @arubabookwoman I found a table of contents. Only 200 pages and only a handful of books covered - but they are: AoI, CotC, HoM…and also Summer, Valley of Decision and this one (Ethan Frome is, I think, part of another chapter) - also it‘s $40 before shipping, unless you can find a used copy (edited) 3mo
Graywacke @jewright Sinclair - not his book, but his book as taught to by my high school teachers (ie briefly) - came to my mind too. I can‘t help thinking Wharton is using the form of muckrakers as a literary tool - but that she is likely to bend it to a different will. 3mo
Graywacke @Currey i was pondering class too. Not sure I have it right. I think assistant manager is roughly low-end white collar. Not sure though. 3mo
llwheeler I had a much busier week than I was expecting so once again I'm behind. I'll catch up for next week! 3mo
Graywacke @arubabookwoman VoD - yes, that‘s where i was going. Odo and his idealism, (failed) feudal reform and muse (Fulvia) transported to then-contemporary factory abuse. Brendt becomes a different kind of Fulvia. 3mo
Graywacke @arubabookwoman Wharton is certainly mainly viewed as a critic of the nyc leisure class. So very interesting to see that she fought that reputation. 3mo
Graywacke @llwheeler hi. No worries. It hasn‘t come up today, but I think most of us were surprised how easy this reads. It‘s faster than her previous books. Regardless wish you a less busy week. 3mo
arubabookwoman I'm kind of wondering how much research EW did re the lives of factory workers and the poor. This would certainly have been far from her usual milieu. For his Rougon Macquart series Zola did all kinds of research into the various factions of society he portrayed. Can you see EW traipsing through the factories interviewing grimy factory girls? I envision at least her initial reaction as being similar to Bessies--sympathy and horror. 3mo
mdm139 I am enjoying this one better than all the others. It is so much easier to read and I like that she is branching out to the “lower” class. I wonder if there will be a love triangle between the manager, the nurse, and the widow. I also like Bessy, refusing to listen to the men in her life telling her everything is fine, even though she says she is dumb she has good intuition that the men are lying to her. 3mo
Lcsmcat I highlighted many quotes in this section, but having just gotten back home from a work “retreat” during which I was bombarded with people talking, this is my favorite: “subdued sounds and spacious stillnesses which are the last refinement of luxury.” 3mo
Lcsmcat I marked the quote you did @Graywacke too. 3mo
Lcsmcat For theme: “Where every stone is piled on another, through the whole stupid structure of selfishness and egotism, how can one be pulled out without making the whole thing topple? And whatever they‘re blind to, they always see that,” 3mo
Lcsmcat And for sheer language: “a glance from her husband reduced her to a heaving pink nonentity.” 3mo
Lcsmcat @mdm139 I‘m enjoying this one too. I wasn‘t predicting a triangle exactly, but more of a missed opportunity, like Lily in Mirth where the reader can see who the better choice of partner would be but the character can‘t. 3mo
Graywacke @mdm139 I‘m appreciating that it‘s easier read too. A love triangle would spice this up. 3mo
Graywacke @Lcsmcat 🙂 wishing you some quiet. Enjoyed those quotes. Jenga capitalism 3mo
KathyWheeler I‘m really enjoying this so far. It‘s been an easy read and I was intrigued to see where it was going from the very beginning. I‘m also wondering about a love triangle. 3mo
CarolynM This must be a good book because it is making me properly angry and stoking my socialist & feminist leanings. I love how she has captured that pompous self-righteousness of mediocre professional men in Tredegar - "to deny what was in his power to accord was the readiest way of proclaiming his authority" - & Amherst's more sensitive nature "his inward sense that Betsy Westmore stood in greater need of help than her work-people" ? 3mo
CarolynM 👆 Obviously that's help of the moral/spiritual kind. As @jewright noted, many of the attitudes resonate strongly with a lot of what is going on in the world today. It seems to me that EW is also addressing the position of women in society and I'm interested to see how far Betsy will be manipulated by those around her. 3mo
Graywacke @KathyWheeler glad you‘re enjoying. It‘s fun start to this. 3mo
Graywacke @CarolynM Tredegar is pure enabler. Great quote. What will Wharton do with the Bessy? 3mo
Graywacke @CarolynM @jewright - thinking about your comments on today, and of being out of touch. 3mo
Lcsmcat @CarolynM I loved that bit about Tredegar too. So many people like him in the world still! It roused my “socialist and feminist” ire too. 3mo
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The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois | Honore Fanonne Jeffers
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Next audiobook - based off recommendations here and everywhere, and a good audible sample.

LitStephanie Looking forward to your review! 3mo
Cathythoughts I‘m on audio with this one at the moment. It‘s very good , I‘m half thinking of getting the book , I imagine it would read beautifully too 🤔 Spoiled for choice 😄 3mo
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Rereading with a group on LibraryThing in response to the recent school district banning. I‘ve read this a few times now, but still I had forgotten so much, and still I was surprised, again, how powerful it is. (And still I missed tons of artistic details like the swastika Poland landscape here after Vladek and Anja‘s escape the ghetto and then have no where to hide.)

GingerAntics I don‘t think I noticed the swastika waking path either. It‘s so glaringly obvious. How did I miss that before? 3mo
TheBookHippie I‘ve been rereading it as well. I think I see something new everytime I read it. The art is very intricate. 3mo
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Memento Mori | Muriel Spark
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I really like this original 1959 cover.

This was a quick book on audio, zoomed by. It is really all elderly characters, mostly in their 80‘s, and they are terrifically difficult and entertaining as they deal with their pasts, personality flaws and waning physical and mental health. (In a news article one character is complimented for being “abundantly alive”.) It‘s funny, but also there‘s a great deal going on.

vivastory I had a bit of a Muriel Spark kick last year. Great stuff! 3mo
merelybookish I enjoyed this one. 3mo
LeahBergen I really enjoyed this. 👍 3mo
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All's Well that Ends Well | William Shakespeare
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Boccaccio‘s Decameron - Day 3, story 9. Sound familiar? #shakespearereadalong.

LitStephanie Yes, and even more romantic in a condensed form. 🤢 3mo
Lcsmcat There‘s nothing new under the sun, as my mother used to say without crediting the original author. 😂 3mo
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Graywacke @Lcsmcat the editor notes there is a 5th century Sanskrit version. 3mo
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The Two Gentlemen of Verona | William Shakespeare
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Acts 1-4 were really entertaining. Funny, clever, disturbing, even a dog. It‘s terrific fun Shakespeare. But what to make of act 5, where up-till-then likable Valentine not only forgives Proteus for attempting to rape his lover, but then offers her to him? And this is presented as a happy ending. It really seems to spoil this play.

Graywacke (and maybe that‘s why parts were recycled into Romeo and Juliet, Merchant of Venice, Loves Labour Lost, and several other plays.) 3mo
GingerAntics All of the comedies seem to do that. There is such a sudden and abrupt change at act V to quickly wrap everything up in a nice bow. I guess I‘m a tragedies person. 🤷🏼‍♀️ 3mo
Graywacke @GingerAntics yeah, actually there is something to that. Quick wraps with smiles and piles of unresolved issues 3mo
GingerAntics @Graywacke all the unresolved issues annoy me. I‘m always left thinking, “yeah but…” 3mo
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The Fruit of the Tree | Edith Wharton
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Reminder. See you Saturday.

Currey Looking forward to it 3mo
arubabookwoman Thanks for the reminder. I was thinking it was this weekend and started it this week. It's fast reading so far, and different than the Wharton's we've read so far. 3mo
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CarolynM Thanks Dan 3mo
jewright I actually like this one so far. 3mo
Graywacke @arubabookwoman i‘ve barely read anything but I‘m also surprised how fast the first few pages read. 3mo
Graywacke @jewright yay 🙂 3mo
Louise Hoping to start reading it on Monday. 3mo
Graywacke Well, that took half as long as I expected and now I‘m done with our section way too early. It was terrific. 3mo
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The Two Gentlemen of Verona | William Shakespeare
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Two Gentlemen of Verona - Act 6

Back to Hilary Spurling: … Proteus abandons Julia, betrays Valentine, abducts Silvia, and when his career of complicated treachery is finally unmasked, apologises as casually as though he had just sneezed. Whereupon our hero, Valentine, is so overcome that he promptly offers to hand over his beloved to the man who, not three minutes before, had meant to rape her.

Anyone able to process this?

Lcsmcat This ending was 🍌 👖! It really felt like a rush to a happy ending where preserving the destroyed friendship of V and P was even more important than the obligatory marriages. 3mo
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Graywacke I want to say that the end of this play is so deranged from any perspective within, say, the last 400 years… but judges are still forgiving rape. So it jars my mind in the play and in how it brings up upsetting ever-contemporary stuff. 3mo
Graywacke @Lcsmcat yes. Like a college fraternity mindset. 3mo
vlwelser This ending seemed a little rushed. But maybe it's because it's a play so there's a reasonable time constraint. Also since this is written for an audience it kind of says a lot about who the target viewer is and what they may have been into or expecting. 3mo
vlwelser And not to hit you with a lot of nonsense but what is the next one and is there a schedule? 3mo
TheBookHippie @Graywacke EXACTLY What I was thinking OLD BOYS CLUB or FRATENITY.....either is exchangeable...... as for rape..... there's a reason people don't report it. The fact it has a lifelong affect but a limit on how many years you can ask for it to be prosecuted speaks for itself. This part was mind boggling but so accurate to the time we are living in once again. Hard pressed to say if that's revolting or terrifying or both. YIKES. 3mo
TheBookHippie @vlwelser I'd LOVE to know who it is targeting ! Who was this for and why?
@GingerAntics has the schedule up for Coriolanus! It is on her page.
vlwelser @GingerAntics Hi! I sent you a request to be added. Let me know if I need to do something else. 3mo
jewright I did enjoy all of Julia‘s asides in act V. 3mo
merelybookish Well I guess we know why it's one of his least popular plays. Mystery solved! 🕵️ I stand by last week's comment that Silvia & Julia should get to run away together. 3mo
Graywacke @merelybookish 🙂 indeed, mystery solved. 3mo
Graywacke @vlwelser we don‘t hand off our list updates so well between coordinators. Sorry. 3mo
Graywacke @Lcsmcat @vlwelser the end felt awkward to me too. Like someone said, “times up. Wrap it up guys. Oh, and happy please” 3mo
Graywacke @vlwelser @TheBookHippie yeah, says something about audiences. Is our world any better? 3mo
Graywacke @TheBookHippie Valentine has no interest in the consequences of Proteus‘s actions to anyone but himself. He‘s ok, so all‘s forgiven. 3mo
Graywacke @jewright Julia was awesome, until she forgave P. She was a little racy too. I took a double-take on her pearls comment. 3mo
batsy The ending is incredibly awkward & I agree with @merelybookish . Drives home the point that on the list of terrible crimes, rape was low on the list because women were property. A casual rape threat or two is no biggie. Really jarring to read it now. Would have forgiven the abrupt, facile ending a bit more if Proteus hadn't revealed himself to be a total creep. I enjoyed Silvia & Launce & the kind of stuff they said. They stand out from the rest. 3mo
batsy I also was a bit surprised at how devoted Valentine was to Proteus... Some might say that's his true love. 3mo
TheBookHippie @batsy could be his true love I agree. 3mo
TheBookHippie @Graywacke It once again is so relevant to the times it just 🤯. 3mo
Lcsmcat @batsy Maybe P and V are a couple and Silvia and Julia are their beards. 😂 3mo
Lcsmcat @jewright I thought Julia got some great lines. 3mo
batsy @Lcsmcat That's the play I wanted to read! Lol 3mo
erzascarletbookgasm I think the ending is silly and convenient. Of course it‘s unsettling to read Silvia being offered as a token of peace! But I guess the ending‘s apt, after all the title does suggest it‘s all about these two friends, their ‘friendship‘. 3mo
erzascarletbookgasm @batsy @Lcsmcat V & P make a great couple, they deserve each other! 3mo
GingerAntics The apologies did seem quite empty to me. 3mo
TheBookHippie @Lcsmcat THAT IS THE STORY! 3mo
mollyrotondo @batsy yes! This can definitely be read today as a love between Valentine and Proteus. An extremely fraught love since Proteus really screws over Valentine and has him banished so Proteus would make a bad partner no matter what. But I‘m interested in watching it performed to see if it looks and sounds the same. 3mo
mollyrotondo It is extremely frustrating to read the threat of rape as no big deal and to silence Silvia in this Act. I hope it‘s Shakespeare making a point but I unfortunately believe it‘s just a sign of the times: rape is no big deal and why give the strong woman something to say after being threatened with rape? But it would be genius if Shakespeare was trying to be ironic and not just misogynistic. 3mo
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Memento Mori | Muriel Spark
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Might have given up on my previous audiobook book. I found this is free in audible through feb 22, if you have a membership. I‘m unreasonably excited about that and am now listening.

ETA - whoops, hit spoiler flag by mistake. Fixing (unspoiling?)

BarbaraBB I loved this one! 3mo
CarolynM It's a good read. Enjoy! 3mo
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It‘s time to read this again. (This copy is autographed to wife.)

TheBookHippie ♥️ 3mo
GingerAntics 💙💙💙 3mo
batsy So brilliant. Really hit me hard when I first read it. 3mo
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Amiable I pulled my copy out of our bookshelves this week to read, too. 3mo
AmyG Oooo a signed copy! 3mo
Graywacke @Amiable 👍 I‘m tempted to buy another copy (and, if I could, gift it to some curious kid in that TN school district). 3mo
Graywacke @TheBookHippie @GingerAntics @batsy it‘s so special. A wow for me when I first discovered it. 3mo
Graywacke @AmyG she‘s so lucky. He spoke at her tiny college when she was an undergrad (1990‘s) 3mo
SqueakyChu I have Maus 1, but no longer Maus 2, and the hold at my Library is so long. Maus 1 is a reread for me as would be Maus 2. What I remember most about Maus 2 is the walk to the gas chambers. I read that part imagining what my maternal grandparents must have felt on that walk. That chilling image remains with me in a way that no other Holocaust book has ever affected me. 3mo
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