Sunday, 28 September 2008

Pond Lane and Paris

A while ago, I read a copy of Susie Vereker's Pond Lane and Paris; she's kindly asked to use my review on her website so I'm going to repost it here:
22nd February 2007

I finished PLAP (what a great acronym!) last night: it's a hard book to review without including any of the dreaded "spoilers"!
This is, in fact, the book's achievement. Susie Vereker is incredibly successful at showing how perceptions, romantic or otherwise, can be totally misplaced. She takes the standard 'types' of romance and plays with their failings when they are shifted into reality. This gives the novel a great deal of pace. It also tackles the ambiguity of moral positions, enacting for the reader the disparity between what we know is right for a character whom we have grown to love and what our standard ethical code would encourage us to believe.
Yet again Transita's version of "real life" is one situated in the upper middle classes. This isn't the first heroine who's fallen into genteel poverty in the novels I've read from this publisher. The narrowness of social scale isn't necessarily a criticism but it raises questions for me about Transita's marketing capacity. Having said that, the insight into diplomatic Paris life provides a wonderful dimension to PLAP. And even our heroine Laura, whose background is firmly within the same strata as her employer's, marvellously expresses the insecurities of being female, whether the worries derive from class, culture, or chic-ness!
I actually felt that the book could have been longer - I wanted more and deeper exploration of the serious questions which are raised in the final chapters of the book. Oliver's encounter with Julius could have been revisited to provide a context for Laura, and I felt that the visit to the empty house was a 'smoking gun' that didn't explode. Nonetheless this is a challenging and unusual read which I thoroughly enjoyed.

If you're interested in Susie's books, visit ; her personal blog is at 

Friday, 12 September 2008


One blog I read regularly has worked out that by mentioning "panties", she will get all sorts of hits from people who type that word into a search engine. I was thinking about this last night when I considered writing here about the section of my dissertation that I'm about to send off to my supervisor. The only trouble is that, if I do so, I may win hits from people interested in "circumcision" or "foreskin", rather than in Middle English accounts of Christ's circumcision!

It's been a fun topic to work on, partly because it is a complete conversation-stopper: no one has a response for "Christ's circumcision" when they pose the question "what are you working on at the moment?" However, I've reached my usual wobbly pre-submission moment. My piece is far too quotation-heavy right now. I need to cut out great swathes of Middle English before forcing my supervisor to read it. I tend always to get too thrilled by the texts and forget to comment myself on what they are doing. So I've a 20 page draft to read through and work through.

And then I can move on to the magi.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Shamelessly stolen...

... from Speculum Stultorum:

Having read about this site earlier on, I spent a considerable amount of time choosing which of "my texts" I should input. Would it work with the anonymous Cursor Mundi? Or the cycle drama?

Eventually, I thought of a text that would fit and now have "5 means [to] destabilize, decenter, deconstruct, or otherwise devalue that book"

  1. Subjectivity as Breath: Visioning Lesbian Ethnocentrism in St Brigitta's Liber Celestis
  2. Heterosexual Savagery and the Symbol of Oral Rage in St Brigitta's Liber Celestis
  3. Coding, Producing, (be)laboring: Marginalia in St Brigitta and the Theoretical Permeability of Historicism in Liber Celestis
  4. The Postmodernity of Semiotics and the Gendered in St Brigitta's Liber Celestis
  5. The Theory of Permeability and the Encoded in St Brigitta's Liber Celestis