Adventures in Reading

Joy in the Morning
September 4, 2007, 8:47 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I did finish Betty Smith’s 1963 novel Joy in the Morning last evening. In yesterday’s post I wrote a little about it but nothing too in depth. Soon after finishing the book a friend asked whether I thought Joy in the Morning or A Tree Grows in Brooklyn were better and it was an easy answer: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Joy was an enjoyable novel but very simplistic. I prefer multiple layers and a multitude of off-shooting themes in my books and as endearing as Joy is the book is very much one central highway that avoids excess winding. It is the story of Carl and Annie who have a baby. Here and there Smith suggests at certain ideas that make the book less opaque but mostly what you see is what you get. This by no means makes the book bad as it is most excellent in its own way. It is just no A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

Prior to concluding Smith I was shelving a cart of books at work and stumbled across What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew (1993) by Daniel Pool. How perfect could get this? Anyone who enjoys 19th-Century English literature must have this book. The book covers everything from currency to peerage to etiquette to card games. Can you read novels from this period without this book? Of course (I just did!) but I am only 78-pages in and am already amazed at the bits and pieces I have picked up. The book allows for a much greater sense of social tension than is apparent with 21st Century knowledge.

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