Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Catherine Gildiner

Catherine Gildiner’s childhood memoir Too Close to the Falls (1999) was a New York Times bestseller and on the Globe and Mail’s bestseller list for over a year. In 2010, she published a sequel, After the Falls, also a bestseller.

Her new book is Coming Ashore, the third title in her memoir series.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Gildiner's reply:
I recently read a number of English books about Oxford so I could bone up on my Anglicisms when writing my own English section of Coming Ashore.

A Dance to the Music of Time is a 12 volume set of novels by Anthony Powell. It is one of the longest collections in the English language. It was published between 1951 and 1975 and describes the life of Nick Jenkins. It also details upper class life from pre World War 1 to the hippie era in the late 60s. It is really about how wealth changed hands in England after the turn of the century and many aristocrats who were flush at the beginning of the book have thread bare grandchildren, clinging to their titles in the last volume. Hundreds of characters are introduced and nearly all of them reappear in a masterful way. It is a perfect study of manners and class.

Next I tackled The Patrick Melrose Novels. These are five novels by Edward St. Aubyn. They again explore upper class British life but have far more edge and pathology than The Anthony Powell series. Patrick's life is described in his highly disturbed upper class life where he is raped by his sadistic father and ignored by his ineffective mother. The books take you through his teenage and college years of heroin addiction, the death of his parents, and finally his foray into parenthood and semi-recovery. He has great powers of description and the wrenching part about him as a little boy at the hands of his psychopathic father are some of the best passages in literature on the child's point of view.

Although I've only made two entries, I'm discussing 17 books which I highly recommend.
Visit Catherine Gildiner's website and blog.

The Page 99 Test: After the Falls.

My Book, The Movie: Coming Ashore.

--Marshal Zeringue