Small Ceremonies

by Carol Shields | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 1857020294 Global Overview for this book
Registered by abitstormyout of Ely, Cambridgeshire United Kingdom on 6/21/2007
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4 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by abitstormyout from Ely, Cambridgeshire United Kingdom on Thursday, June 21, 2007
Not Carol Shields' best work (that honour comes to Unless) but still very readable and fervent.

Amazon.co.uk Synopsis:

Judith Gill is writing the biography of a minor Victorian novelist, having completed a novel with which she is unhappy. To make things worse, her personal life has gone awry.

Released 12 yrs ago (7/14/2007 UTC) at Caffe Nero IP1 book-crossing zone in Ipswich, Suffolk United Kingdom

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Passing onto a fellow BookCrosser who has this on his Wishlist :-)

Journal Entry 3 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Sunday, July 15, 2007
Many thanks to TF for thinking of me, and fulfilling a wish :)

Journal Entry 4 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Thursday, January 31, 2008
31/01 Carol Shields is becoming my favourite female author; more reliable than Bainbridge or Fitzgerald (but not as quirky/varied), with richer insights and characters than Tyler or Atkinson, more accessible than Woolf. In Small Ceremonies we look into the life of the older sister of Charleen (The Box Garden), Judith Gill, a Canadian biographer, mother of adolescents Richard and Meredith, wife of academic Martin, [she] going through something of a mid-life and mid-career crisis...all very familar Shields’ themes. But nobody but CS has me grabbing for the pen so often – to write down quotes – or sucks me inexorably into the hypnotic prose from page 1 to a meagre 179. The title appears early, the Gill’s having ‘English’ high tea, a 'Small Ceremony', a legacy from a sabatical year in Birmingham. During this trip Richard and Judith both establish links to members of the host family without meeting them, the latter with a bit of a far-fetched story of a twice plagiarised novel, and unknown to Richard his pen (love?) letters to Anita Spalding become the basis of another novel. Hey, that all sounds a bit odd, but it doesn’t feel like it. The mix is spiced with some eccentric characters, notably Rudyard ‘Furlong’ Eberhardt, and his purpled and pleated mother. But the main story is about Judith, her attempts to write fiction, the inveterate nosiness of a biographer of other lives, her internal dialogue as she tries to pull together the apparently unravelling threads of her family and friends lives. To complete the metaphor, there *are* some annoying loose ends, but it’s mostly a pleasure :)

And some quotes, from many:

(Said of Judith), ‘...basically you believe that fiction is wicked and timewasting. The Devil’s work. A web of lies.’ Now that’s a common view that i’ve heard, or has been alluded to, sadly including some of my nearest and dearest :(

About summer, after a long Canadian winter, ‘when heat piles up in corners, sending us sandalled and half-bare to improbable beaches.’

A brilliant summing up of man...don’t believe a word of it!
“Tell me what a man eats and I will tell you who he is. A man’s sensitivity is indexed in his library. A man’s bank balance betrays his character. A man’s weakness is outlined by the medicines which enslave him.’

Judith bemoaning her relatively dull upbringing, and lack of stories, ‘...we two sisters turned to literature out of simple malnutrition. Our lives just weren’t enough...We were underfed, undernourished.’

Shields paraphrases something that I heard on the radio quite recently, that a success has many parents but a failure is an orphan. Her ‘excuse’ for borrowing a plot, ‘A good idea should never be orphaned.’

And lastly, enough already(!), Judith and a friend sharing heartfelt stories of their parents frugality, ‘Living meanly is the greatest sin...Needless econonmy. It thins out the blood. Cuts out the heart.’

Journal Entry 5 by BookGroupMan at Caffe Nero IP1 book-crossing zone in Ipswich, Suffolk United Kingdom on Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Released 11 yrs ago (2/9/2008 UTC) at Caffe Nero IP1 book-crossing zone in Ipswich, Suffolk United Kingdom

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Taking along to the Ipswich meet-up to share or help to stock the OBCZ shelves.

If you find this book, please write a journal, and enjoy :)

Journal Entry 6 by MrsDanvers from Aldeburgh, Suffolk United Kingdom on Monday, February 11, 2008
Highly recommended by TF.

Journal Entry 7 by MrsDanvers from Aldeburgh, Suffolk United Kingdom on Tuesday, September 23, 2008
I can't match BGM's review, so suffice to say this was a pleasure to read.
Carol Shield's depiction of the small ceremonies of life for the Gills and their friends is a fine study of a "normal" family. The ideas of writing are explored, as well, until the lovely twist of the poacher poached.

Journal Entry 8 by MrsDanvers at BensonBlakes in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk United Kingdom on Friday, February 27, 2009

Released 10 yrs ago (2/28/2009 UTC) at BensonBlakes in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk United Kingdom

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Journal Entry 9 by Scatz from Aldeburgh, Suffolk United Kingdom on Sunday, March 01, 2009
Picked up at the Bury Meet.

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