It has been an unusually busy past couple of weeks for me but this weekend particularly so. I have barely had time to sit down with a book, but that is what I have planned for the rest of the afternoon. There is no ending so perfect to the weekend as spending a grey, wet Sunday afternoon curled up with a book, a pot of tea, and the knowledge that everything you needed to do has been done.
I have been reading Jane Ridley’s wonderful biography of Edward VII, Bertie, but for some reason I find myself unable to really get into it. It is an odd feeling, especially since it is such a well-written and brilliantly researched book. On every page I learn something new and Ridley’s writing is excellent. But…what? I am not sure. I have never been much interested in Bertie, despite my fascination with other members of his family, which could be part of the problem. As much as I have enjoyed what I have read, I have been deeply frustrated by my inability to sit down with this book for any lengthy period. I think I shall probably put it aside for now and come back to it in a few months, when I can do it justice. The fault here lies entirely with me and not with the book.
In order to kick-start my reading after my struggles with Bertie, I have reread Kristan Higgins’ Just One of the Guys, breezed through Dodie Smith’s Autumn Crocus, and am blissfully working my way further and further into Trollope’s Orley Farm. The perfect antidote, it turns out, for what ailed me.
But most of my entertainment this weekend has been decidedly non-bookish. On Friday, I went to the theatre to see Boeing-Boeing, a 1960s farce about a businessman in Paris juggling three fiancées – all air hostesses – whose foolproof plan for keeping them all separate falls apart when their flight schedules are disrupted. The play itself is hilarious but the physical comedy in this production was what made it. It has been a long time since I laughed so hard.
On Saturday, I finally saw Quartet. The film is set at a retirement home for musicians and focuses on the four members of a once-famous quartet, played by Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly, and Pauline Collins. It is a quiet, uneventful film but a lovely and quite funny one. While all four main characters give good performances, I loved that the film did not focus exclusively on them. There were glimpses of the other residents as well, as they worked to put together a gala showcasing all of their talents and hopefully succeed in raising enough money to run the house for another year. Michael Gambon’s turn as the flamboyant, snobbish operatic director in charge of the gala is wonderful – complete with a magnificently colourful and dramatic wardrobe – but it was lovely to also see the accompanists featured alongside the divas. This is a home for lovers and performers of all kinds of music, for big names and forgotten ones. And the house itself is gorgeous. I am half a century short of needing a retirement home but would happily live there now.
Now, to ready myself for the coming week…but first a few hours with Trollope!