Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Book 11 of 15: Our Village by Mary Russell Mitford

I must make this one quick, because I haven't even picked my 12th book yet, and the daylight hours are waning. And my children are outside in princess dresses (except Gamgee) and flip-flops, digging in the dirt, with snot running down their faces (we're starting into the second week of the fever/snot/aches/but-thank-God-no-puke flu) and frankly, it just doesn't feel like a blogging day.

I read "Our Village" by Mary Russell Mitford. It's a series of sketches of English village life from the 1820s and 1830s, and so charmingly written that Queen Victoria herself eventually gave Mitford a small pension to support her in her declining years. Lots and lots of landscape description, which is helpful for me because my heroine in my WIP is about to reach the shores of Dover and I don't know nearly enough about English botany. And lots of lovely little portraits of her neighbors, like this of the village's alehouse owner:

Landlord Sims, the master of the revels, and our very good new neighbour, is a portly, bustling man of five-and-forty, or thereabout, with a hale, jovial visage, a merry eye, a pleasant smile, and a general air of good-fellowship.  This last qualification, whilst it serves greatly to recommend his ale, is apt to mislead superficial observers, who generally account him a sort of slenderer Boniface, and imagine that, like that renowned hero of the spiggot, Master Sims eats, drinks and sleeps on his on anno domini. They were never more mistaken in their lives; no soberer man than Master Sims within twenty miles! Except for the good of the house, he no more thinks of drinking beer than a grocer of eating figs. To be sure when the jug lags he will take a hearty pull, just by way of example, and to set the good ale a going. But, in general, he trusts to subtler and more delicate modes of quickening its circulation. A good song, a good story, a merry jest, a hearty laugh, and a most winning habit of assentation; these are his implements. There is not a better companion, or a more judicious listener, in the county. His pliability is astonishing. he shall say yes to twenty different opinions on the same subject, within the hour; and so honest and cordial does his agreement seem, that no one of his customers, whether drunk or sober, ever dreams of doubting his sincerity.

I really enjoyed this one. It was pleasant to read and, for me, great research. My copy is also illustrated with paintings, some from famous artists like Constable and some watercolors done especially for this book. If you're an Anglophile, you'll enjoy it.

More on the 15/15 project here.

peace of Christ to you,

Jessica Snell


Girl Detective said...

Jessica, is she related to the Mitford sisters?

Jessica said...

Okay . . . I hate to admit it, but I have to ask: who are the Mitford sisters?

Girl Detective said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitford_family, who were writers and various odd ducks.

Jessica said...

Huh. Odd family, indeed! I don't think there's a relation, but who knows?