Sunday, June 10, 2018


I've been grateful these last couple of days to be free of the sun! It's been cooler, too, which I am also happy about. We went to get some groceries yesterday afternoon and it was a bit stuffy and on the verge of too warm on the way home, but it's nice and cool in the house. There was a bit of fog or haze or something, but Benbulben in Sligo was still just visible in the distance.
We've spent the day just hanging out. We only have a little bit more to put away now, but tomorrow is another day. It's been nice to have a day to just meander through instead of feeling like we have to get stuff packed or unpacked. I'm sure I'll be switching things around and reorganizing as time goes on, but for now it's good enough.

Here are a couple more books from May:
Unnatural Causes by PD James
Crime novelist Maurice Seton is found in a washed up dingy. he is dead and his hands have been cut off. Adam Dalgliesh happens to be right on the spot, visiting his aunt. he is not in charge of the case, since it’s not his jurisdiction, but he investigates anyway. This book was originally published in 1967. The edition I had (picked up from a charity shop) was published in 1989 or thereabouts--I was surprised at the strange mistakes in it--both grammatical and typographical. I didn’t engage much with this book, but it could have been that I was a little distracted, since I read it while we were packing to move house.

Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China By Jung Chang
I’d read the author’s book, Wild Swans, a few years ago and really liked it. I’d also heard her talking about this one on a podcast around the same time, and when I saw it at a charity shop, I picked it up. I decided to read it before we left so I could have one thing less to carry. I found this book to be very informative. It is exactly as the title describes. Cixi had been a concubine to the emperor, and had a son who took over at the age of five. Cixi and the empress, who were great friends and remained so for decades, launched a successful coup to seize power from the regents who had been appointed by the emperor on his death bed. Technically, she was ruling on her son’s behalf, and when he died, she adopted her nephew and continued to rule. During her decades in power, she ushered in a good many reforms and modernizations, although there were some setbacks as well. I get the sense that the author may take a somewhat different view than most historians. Coincidentally, at the time I was reading this, I discovered a 20-episode podcast on BBC Radio 4 called Chinese Characters. each episode is about 15 minutes and taken together, the aim is to tell the story of China by telling the stories of Chinese lives. I downloaded them and am listening to a couple at a time. I will be curious to see how Cixi is discussed and whether it is different than how she is portrayed in this book.

I hope you're having a relaxing day, too.

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