It is a beautiful sunny Sunday in South Carolina. I've been sick all week, and I finally went to the doctor yesterday (yes, they are open on Saturday) and was told they had been busy all week. On Monday night I had a dreadful sore throat, and I ended up staying home on Wednesday and Thursday, but going in to school on Friday. I teach seniors, and next week the seniors have finals, so I just felt compelled to go to school, even though I knew I was still sick. On Saturday I found out that I have sinusitis and conjunctivitis on top of the virus, so I have layers of illness. I've spent the weekend blearily looking at television and trying to read. I hopped around the blogosphere a little, but without much vigor.
When I'm sick I like to read something kind of lush and atmospheric, so I picked up Passion by Jude Morgan. Did you know that Jude Morgan is really a guy named Tim? Passion is a novel about some of the women who loved some of the men of the Romantic movement. This is tricky territory for me as a reader, because I've read so much about the characters in this novel that I'm on constant alert for anachronisms or historical inaccuracies. This novel seems to be extremely well researched, so I am starting to relax into it. Passion begins with the attempted suicide of Mary Wollstonecraft, whose work and story I know well. Wollstonecraft is an intriguing woman, best known for her Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Wollstonecraft also wrote a novel, Maria, the Wrongs of Woman, and her letters are brilliant. She was a thinker, a rationalist, a feminist, and a brave woman. Tragically, Wollstonecraft died shortly after the birth of her daughter Mary. This daughter eventually became Mary Shelley and wrote one of the most brilliant novels of all time, Frankenstein. There are excellent biographies of Wollstonecraft by Claire Tomalin (biographer of Jane Austen), Janet M. Todd, and Lyndall Gordon. There's also a novel based on Wollstonecraft's life Vindication: A Novel by Frances Sherwood. I read it years ago and thought it was beautifully done.
By this afternoon I was starting to feel halfway human again (thank goodness for antibiotics), so I decided to head out to our local Barnes & Noble. There should be a sign over the door, Abandon Hope because I just can't seem to keep my money in my wallet when I walk in that door. Friday was payday, and I guess the sense of being flush (an illusion, believe me) was driving me, but I walked out with two hardcover books. Please don't tell anyone. I got The Mark Twain Anthology: Great Writers on His Life and Works, edited by Shelley Fisher Fishkin. It's a Library of America special publication, and as pretty a book as I've ever seen. I also picked up the Library of America edition of Raymond Carver: Collected Stories. I just couldn't help myself.