book of the year. For the past few years I had trouble breaking 80, which I finally did in 2008 so this is really a great achievement for me. Will I ever do it again? Who knows, but I'll have a bit of fun bragging about 2009.
You might be wondering what book was my 100th of the year. That honor goes to Persephone's The Carlyles at Home by Thea Holme. I'll be honest and tell you I didn't know a thing about author Thomas Carlyle before I began this book but that mattered not a whit. What I am interested in, and what this book provides, is a peek into everyday life in a Victorian home.
From finances to home renovations, illnesses, noisy neighbors, and particularly servants, Thea Holmes has woven a picture of the day to day life of the Carlyes. The most prominent subject in the book are the servants that revolve through the Carlyle's door. One after another they arrive, some are competent, others steal, some stay a few weeks, others a few years. Jane adores some of them, but that adoration almost always turns into distaste. Jane Carlyle would surely have agreed with the sentiment 'good help is hard to find.'
I've read here and there that the Carlyle marriage was famously unhappy. That is not evident here. Perhaps I shall have to read the sections on the Carlyles in Parallel Lives: Five Victorian Marriages which has been sitting patiently on my shelves.
It was fortuitous that Persephone published a picture of Jane Carlyle on their daily blog recently(page down to December 2). Isn't she lovely?
I'll end today with a little, okay a BIG treat. I came across this post on Smitten Kitchen (great recipes) the other day, and having all the ingredients in the house I made this crazy delicious yet super easy butterscotch sauce. OH MY. Is this stuff ever amazing. I found the last box of jars at the grocery store, and my yearly neighbor gift giving quandary has been solved. I bet you wish you lived next door right about now, no? ;-)