frenchpony (frenchpony) wrote,

  • Music:

Well, I'm Back!

But not for long! A week from today, I will be busily trying out my naughty vocabulary as I supervise movers and start unpacking things in Ye Newe Chicago Apartment.

I am back from New England, though, and that was a trip that I really needed to have. I got spoiled by the Pony Parents, of course, and I got to sleep in Little Sister Pony's old room, which has an air conditioner. We saw a couple of fun movies (Our Man Flint and The President's Analyst), as well as The Magdalene Sisters, which is very good, but not exactly fun. I think that I'm really glad that I'm not a teenaged Irish girl in the 1960s. We went on an outing with my grandparents, and one of my aunts came for a visit. We saw a minor-league baseball game that was fairly entertaining -- the New Britain Rock Cats finally managed to pull it together against the Binghamton Mets. I also got to spend a day in New Haven with Little Sister Pony. I got the grand tour of the Yale Nursing School, and I was privileged to meet Little Sister Pony's boyfriend. The guy has serious brother-in-law potential. . .

Dad Pony seems to be nearing the end of the book he's writing, and we are all glad of that. I've been curious about this book for a long time, and I really want to read it when it's done. Mom Pony said something that the writers here might find interesting. She said that, when it's all done, it will probably read just like the rest of Dad Pony's writing -- individual, well-written, clearly argued points, laid out in sequence, then woven together faster and faster, until at the end, BAM! He'll sum things up and tie them all together in a final burst of brilliant writing and argumentation. "Yeah," Dad Pony chimed in. "Just like a Bach fugue." Which is the kind of music that he's been listening to for forty years. I really like that analogy, and it seems like the best academic writing does that. I want to write like that when I grow up. . .

Speaking of writing. . .

One of my grandmother's friends has published a book. But she's not just any friend, and this is not just any book. Julia Camoys Stonor, granddaughter of the 5th Baron Camoys of Stonor Park, Oxfordshire, England, has written a juicy, scandalous, tell-all revenge memoir about her estranged mother, the late Jeanne Camoys Stonor, wife of Sherman Stonor (son of the 5th Baron Camoys of, etc., etc. I haven't yet figured out whether Sherman actually got to be the 6th Baron or not.). It's called Sherman's Wife: A wartime childhood amongst the English Catholic aristocracy, published by Desert Hearts.

Julia was estranged from Mama early in her life, and apparently still bears a grudge against her. If you read the book, it's pretty clear why. Mama seems to have been completely crazy. The book jacket describes it as "[e]voking Mommy Dearest and Brideshead Revisited in equal measure." Julia is definitely dishing the dirt here. And, while the writing is kind of second-rate (if she describes one more gentleman's outfit as "bespoke," I will scream), ZOMG is she dishing some Olympic-class dirt!

The Olympics in question, of course, being the 1936 Berlin edition. Apparently, while Papa was off fighting the Second World War, Mama was the mistress of Hitler's foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, and that's just the beginning. In this book, you will read about the right-wing English aristocracy of the 1930s, in a time when "right-wing" really did mean "Fascist." See the half-Spanish aristo bastard adventuress scheme, blackmail, and copulate her way through the greats and near-greats of the era! Experience the thrill of thirty-year vendettas as family entertainment! Ruin your half-sister for fun and profit! Laugh and skip merrily through the Spanish Civil War! Find out what happens when you arrange a high-class dinner "date" for the purpose of oh-so-sweetly informing your "beau" that you know that he is gay (this is when homosexuality was still illegal in Britain), but that, for a certain sum of money, you might opt not to reveal this information to Society At Large. Oh, and, because it's him, you'd prefer the installment plan. One's own lesbian affairs, however, are just pleasant diversions.

The mind boggles. And I'm only about a third of the way through it. It's deliciously catty, right down to its evocation of Mama's speech ("Eff orf, Sherman's borin' brat that you are, heil Hitler and olé!"), and does not even pretend to be even-handed reportage. Julia sent my mother a review of the book from a British newspaper, and the review closed by noting that it's good for Julia that you can't libel the dead. This isn't at all the sort of book that I'd pick up and read on my own, but it's so gonzo that I'm glad I know the author and asked to borrow my grandmother's copy. It's just. . . wow. Words do not do this book justice. Definitely a good way to relieve the stress of packing.
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