Decline in the Dining Room

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Olive Reads is not turning into Olive Interiors, but I couldn't help sharing this photo from a spread in the May 2014 issue of Elle Decor. 

You may need to lean in or get out a magnifying glass, but that's a passage from Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in mural form on the dining room wall! There's a way to keep dinner conversation going: have each guest read a paragraph.

Actually, text passages appear all across this Manhattan apartment (appropriately designed by Jim Luigs, who is also a playwright, lyricist, and director). 

That leads me to today's query to my readers: if you were going to be so bold as Luigs and his client and festoon your walls in literary passages -- I'm not talking about the "Live, Love, Laugh" variety -- what would you choose?

It's King Lear for me.

No, no, no, no! Come, let's away to prison:
We two alone will sing like birds i' the cage:
When thou dost ask me blessing, I'll kneel down,
And ask of thee forgiveness: so we'll live,
And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh
At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues
Talk of court news; and we'll talk with them too,
Who loses and who wins; who's in, who's out;
And take upon's the mystery of things,
As if we were God's spies: and we'll wear out,
In a wall'd prison, packs and sects of great ones,
That ebb and flow by the moon.
See more of Jim Luigs here

Tumblr Tuesday

Monday, August 18, 2014

Yesterday was Mystery Monday, where I was a titchy bit cranky and proclaimed two mysteries that I've never embraced. Today is Tumblr Tuesday, where I am a wee less cranky, if only to tempt you over to what is really a happy corner of the Olive universe: her Tumblr page.

Pretty pictures and short little ramblings -- that about sums it up. Here's a sample from Sunday:

I’ve never combined books and tea cups — possibly my two favourite things — on one bookcase. And yet, why not? I just need a gas ring next to the fire to make a cup without trotting down to the kitchen (as they seem to do in the Barbara Pym’s I’ve been reading lately).

It's a Mystery

Sunday, August 17, 2014

And you thought I'd forgotten about Mystery Mondays. Tut tut. Despite an alarming upturn in the humidity, I am here. Nonetheless, perhaps the weather is making me a little cranky: I am here, but I'm not telling you what mystery to request from the library. No, instead I admit to two (well one book and one series) that I've never been able to lose myself in.

A classic mystery novel that any aficionado should have polished off before you can say Hercule Poirot. Unfortunately, I've barely made it through 10%. Should I have persevered or was I right to decline The Moonstone? 

Dear Father Brown: why am I bored by you? Why does your priestly charm fail to win me over? Can a kind reader tell me which of your 50-odd short stories I should read if I'm to give you another chance?

Mystery Monday

Monday, August 4, 2014

Hello Fellow Wanderers in the Written Word! (That's perhaps a bit too wordy, though it is meant endearingly.)

It's Monday but, in this part of the world at least, a provincial holiday. It's also pretty darn hot. Olive has never been known for coping well with the heat, and now that I'm a bit old for my mother to bounce me up and down under a cool tree, the only thing for it is to head into a book and forget the perspiration (to put it delicately).

What better time to initiate a new tradition then: Mystery Monday! I'd say it's pretty self-explanatory: Monday rolls around, I suggest a new mystery.

Except the heat is making me rebellious, so for this first time around I am offering the mysteries I hope to read before the summer is out. If you've read them, tell me: are they worth the hot drive to the library?

Pour the iced tea (I take mine unsweetened, thanks). It's not getting any cooler.

I've read nothing of Josephine Tey, but was put on to her by author Gretchen Rubin (whose own Happier at Home I'm currently reading).

Are there any Tey fans out there? Should I start with The Daughter of Time?

Now to Nicolas Freeling's Gun Before Butter (yes, the title caught me first). I heard about this one through yet another author, this time Jason Goodwin (who himself writes an excellent mystery series set in 19th century Istanbul). Is Mr. Goodwin correct to give it five stars on Goodreads?

Finally, what of Margery Allingham's The Tiger in the Smoke? This one was read of via J.K. Rowling in her interview with mystery author Val McDermid at the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival. She said The Tiger in the Smoke is "a phenomenal novel." Do you agree?

Well! I'm so excited to wait for your responses that I've not complained about the heat for a full twenty minutes! So go on, keep me cool and let me know your recommendations for Mystery Monday.

PS. I didn't set out to include only mysteries from Penguin's green Crime Classics series, but the colour cohension is so pleasant I'm thinking of starting a collection for my bookshelf. Wouldn't that look crisp and orderly.


The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey
Gretchen Rubin's mention of it.

Gun Before Butter by Nicolas Freeling
Jason Goodwin on Goodreads.

The Tiger in the Smoke by Margery Allingham
J.K. Rowling's mention of it.

Penguin Crime Classics to start your collection (and mine)