Monday, February 2, 2009


During NaBloPoMo, I wrote a post titled Books in Season (remember?). I said that winter is an excellent time for a "project". If you've long been planning to take a crack at War and Peace, Les Miserables in its unabridged form, or any other lengthy tome, winter's a good time to do it. It's cold out, so your book doesn't need to be portable -- you're not going anywhere. In fact, sometimes the weather turns to the point where you can't go anywhere, in which case, it's good to have hours and hours of entertainment right on your bedside table.

I did well at the library last time, and I'm proud of myself for doing a good job in keeping track of my due dates. The last three books profiled were all due today and returned yesterday. Of the two I renewed, one is a real project.

Helen of Troy, by Margaret George, weighs in at 624 pages. I've read two of her other books: about Mary, Queen of Scots and about Henry VII. I enjoyed both of them a great deal. George researches meticulously the times and events surrounding her subjects, but attempts to present them from the subject's viewpoint. So, obviously, there's a great deal of license taken in some cases: quoted conversations that she'd have no way of knowing about, fleshed-out relationships that have little real-life documentation. (We know that Mary, Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I were sisters, that they never met, and that Mary was put to death by Elizabeth due to accusations of treason. We have no way of knowing how they felt about each other, though.) But the books are very engaging, and Helen, which I started last night, is no exception.

I feel like I should have started with a nonfiction book about Helen of Troy, in case there are blatant falsehoods or extrapolations and I wind up with wrong ideas. I have only a vague knowledge of the story, and most of it comes from expressions: "The face that launched a thousand ships;" "The Trojan horse" and the like. But so, far, I'm enjoying this book a lot.

Do any of my readers currently have a book project going? I'd love to hear about it in comments.

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