George, Frédéric and Valldemossa

Morning, Valldemossa.  Defeated by the insomnia of jet lag, I rise and open the curtains to a full moon shining on me.  It’s four o’clock.  Sheep down below the valley wall shuffle through grass, chewing and bleating.  No other sound; no other presence; it’s the other extreme of Valldemossa.  Twelve hours ago the streets crawled… Continue reading


Voice Work

On Thursday, the WordPress writing prompt was “Voice Work”:  who would you like to do a voice recording of your blog? It got me thinking about audio books, a book pleasure I enjoy from time to time.  The delight of this kind of ‘reading’ is in the hearing.  The voice of the reader combined with… Continue reading


Journey to the centre: Great middle lines – 16

The Drover’s Wife, a short story by Henry Lawson published in 1896, has a plot that unfolds over an afternoon and a night, marked by time phrases like “It is near sunset” and “It must be near one or two o’clock”.  The story is an excellent example of Australian realism, well-told with dry, short sentences,… Continue reading


Journey to the centre: Great middle lines – 15

The Sleeper Awakes.  It’s 1890s England when an insomniac falls into a sleep-like trance and awakes 203 years later to find he is the Master of the World.  But while he had been sleeping, the masses had been oppressed, and they now find he has awoken and hope he will rescue them.  One hundred and… Continue reading


Journey to the centre: Great middle lines – 13

At the centre of Great Expectations is a paragraph about Pip’s love for Estella, about his great expectations to win her heart.  Though I’ve read this novel several times, I’d never thought of Dickens as romantic until today when I read this paragraph separately from the rest of the story: Far into the night, Miss… Continue reading


Journey to the centre: Great middle lines – 12

A few days ago in Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet, I found an account of Sherlock Holmes performing one of his earliest deductions, at exactly the middle of Part I. You can read about it here. Halfway through Part II of this short novel, Doyle wrote a short paragraph that was not about… Continue reading


Journey to the centre: Great middle lines – 11

Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet is the first of his novels about the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes and his partner Dr Watson.  I turned to the physical centre of the book to find its change of direction, and came across a long paragraph describing a Mormon caravan of wagons, horses, walkers, and toddlers,… Continue reading


Journey to the centre: Great middle lines – 10

Today I’ve found a book on my shelf which I’d forgotten about because it’s not memorable, despite its fame as a prizewinner.  I’d bought it and read it because of an excellent piece I knew by the same author;  it was about translating, a thing I love to do.  So, I know he’s a great… Continue reading


Journey to the centre: Great middle lines – 9

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë is the first adult novel I ever read.  I remember the moment when I was thirteen and found it on the school library bookshelf, and I remember how grown-up I felt reading it. In my $1 edition I bought at a flea market, I searched today for the pages at… Continue reading


Journey to the centre: Great middle lines – 8

This morning I pulled from my bookshelf a translation of Les Misérables by Victor Hugo.  I flipped to the end, p. 1,463!  Then I backflipped to the middle, where I read on p. 731 the essence of Hugo’s message about the miserable poor of France.  Next to it on the shelf was a five-volume set… Continue reading