Reading matter for the past couple days: The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James. It’s one of those books I’ve had hanging around on my bookshelves forever but have never made much headway through. For some reason this time I’m plowing through it at breakneck speed.
Henry James is one of my dad’s favorite authors, and for that reason alone, I’ve always hoped I’d like him someday. Reading Daisy Miller in high school was really a slog for me, for such a short novel. Then I read “The Turn of the Screw” in college, which was a bit better but not much. I think I am just not that interested in James’ theme of Americans vs. Europeans and what mischief/mistakes Americans get up to when they go to Europe. On the whole, The Portait of a Lady is going fairly well anyway. The lady in question, Isabel Archer, has already turned down two marriage proposals and I’m not even a quarter of the way through the book, so the suspense of waiting to find out whom she’ll eventually marry is enough to keep me going. No doubt she will choose poorly, they always do in nineteenth century novels.
In other artsy doings, Paul and I went out yesterday afternoon to see The Shape of Water at the E Street Theater downtown. I’m so glad this movie is swimming in Oscar nominations, as it’s a wonderful film: a mixture of romance, suspense, old-fashioned monster movie, caper, fantasy, and homage to early cinema. There’s timely social commentary as well, on bigotry, racism, and “othering” in general. And it’s beautifully designed and shot. And there’s a lovable illustrator–I’m very fond of those of course. A thoroughly satisfying moviegoing experience.
Otherwise we had a quiet weekend, full of good food. Paul made monkey bread yesterday morning for our weekly brunch, and both of us ate more of it than we intended to, since it was so good. He added raisins soaked in brandy to the goodies, which contributed an extra layer of decadence to an already plenty decadent treat. Then for dinner last night I roasted chicken thighs with some tiny potatoes, lemon, garlic, and rosemary. It felt odd not to be having chili and nachos and wings like the rest of America, but we opted not to watch the Superbowl–Paul has a looming illustration deadline, so he worked all evening, and not having the slightest interest in football, I wasn’t about to spend my evening watching just for the commercials. I’m glad the Eagles won though. I do like an underdog success story.