Philobiblon: June 2005

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The challenge of genre

Literary types like to dismiss genre fiction as pure formula, yet judging by the number of published novels that are near- (or all too frequently far-) misses, a detective novel is as difficult to write well as any other.

I was musing on this after reading C.J. Sansom's Dark Fire, the second in what looks likely to be a long series featuring a hunchback lawyer, Matthew Shardlake, who's navigating the hazardous political/religious waters of the later years of Henry VIII's reign with Cromwell (no the other one) as his patron.

Having enjoyed the first in the series, Dissolution, I was keen to pick up this one, but finished it feeling vaguely dissatisfied (although I did read it through in one session, so it was good enough).

Analysing why, I decided that Sansom has got it 75 per cent right. The characters are excellent - Matthew is an interesting, complex central figure, with believable sensitivities about his hunchback and a plausible back story, and there are colourful minor characters, particularly the apothecary Moor who is his best friend and, in this second book, an important character.

The historical setting is, so far as I can tell, well researched, and it only occasionally intrudes in a way that suggests the author couldn't resist including this detail, without literary reason.

The plots too fairly rolic along, in a way that demands you keep reading, and have the sort of neatness and fairness that fiction demands and real life almost never delivers. (So in Dark Fire an orphan girl who is accused of murder is kept safe and finally, rightly freed, when anyone who knows anything about "justice" of the time knows she wouldn't have had a hope. But fair enough: our 21st-century minds demand right triumph, in a way that would have been seen as hopelessly naive in the 16th century.)

What isn't right is the language, and the detail of the writing. "Lay off the weather!" I feel like yelling at Sansom at regular intervals. And he hasn't really got the "show not tell" rule. e.g. in Dissolution: "As I passed down Ludgate Hill, I noticed a stall brimming with apples and pears and, feeling hungry, dismounted to buy some.". Drop the "feeling hungry", please. Why else would you?

Overall Sansom does a pretty good job of avoiding anachronism, while using basically modern language (I'm not a great fan of the "thee, thou" school of historical writing - you can't write "in period" because we wouldn't understand it, and using such dressing is like those home improvement shows that turn a suburban dining room into a medieval hall with a bit of plywood and paint.)

But it is funny how odd words grate: Matthew refers sometimes to his "condition", sometimes others refer to him as a "cripple", both of which seem fair enough, but sometimes he is thinking of his "disability" - I'm not sure exactly why, but this just seems too modern a word.

Reading such fiction makes you realise how little we really know about the details of historical life. I'd question, although I can't cite sources why, whether Matthew and his sidekick in the first novel would really have changed into nightshirts to sleep (which becomes significant in the plot) - surely, particularly when staying at a rough country inn, they would have slept in their day clothes.

Then Matthew in Dark Fire is forever saddling his horse to ride a mile or so across London. I think of Pepys, rather later of course, but he used to walk down to Rochester, and all across London. Given the difficulty of finding somewhere for the horse at the other end would not Matthew have walked?

Still, will I buy the next in the series? Probably.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Call yourself Pharoah

My name using Egyptian Hieroglyphs!


Try your name

Script by

Prompted by the fact that I'm about to throw out the T-shirt that I got embroidered with my name on it in Egypt ... yes, I know, the things you do when travelling that you wouldn't dream of normally. (And the odd thing is, the two versions are almost identical - when they could have embroidered anything on the T-shirt and I wouldn't have known the difference.)

(Via Liberty Street.)

Net Nuggets No 9

* Exciting news: an (almost) complete poem of Sappho has been reconstructed (from 3rd-century BC mummy wrappings). And it's lovely.

Again I find myself wondering why it is that it is always women's work that disappears, particularly Sappho's, when she was so important to the ancient world. I suppose in this case we should blame medieval monks and the Arabic libraries, which we must thank for the survival of so many other texts.

* From the same issue of the TLS, a fascinating historical background to the Make Poverty History campaign, starting from the development of the idea that this might be possible - it really is a short history.

* Why are the poor in America apparently happy to give to the rich? What can you call it but false consciousness? This article has a sophisticated analysis of the problem.

* An excellent round-up of the state of the field: Ralph E Luker's history of history blogging.

* I'm currently trying, for the second time around, to enter academia via an OU tutoring job, so I've noted this collection of essay criticism for possible future use. (I'd appreciate tips from anyone who's successfully negotiated the application system.)

*Finally, for a bit of fun, plug yourself into the Buttafly Starbucks Oracle. Learn your personality type from your order! (Via Feministe.)

Monday, June 27, 2005

Taking a small bow ...

... I note that my Emily Hahn review has been chosen as a Blogcritics pick of the week. (Thanks Pat.)

This brings me to muse on another point - a discussion on Blogcritics about my Femme Fatales produced the statistic (which I can't vouch for) that there are only seven women posting there (and many, many more men).

As the name suggests, it is primarily but not exclusively, a site to post reviews. (There are also "culture" and "politics" sections on which you can post just about anything.)

You are welcome simply to cross-post items from your own blog, and it is a great way for increasing traffic and your personal web of contacts. (For example posts appear on Google News.) But you don't have to post everything on your blog; I tend to post mostly reviews, and not more personally centred stuff.

The reviews tend to be of fairly popular items, but I've had a good reaction to posts on academic books covering topics of general interest. (And there is also an email list through which you can ask for free review items.)

So if you even occasionally review books/films/music etc, or you would like your political or cultural musings to have a wider audience, why not join? - particularly if you can help to redress the gender imbalance! (More here.)

Sunday, June 26, 2005

The Countess - worth £10

Finally, after too long a break, to the theatre last night. I thought The -Countess would be an excellent encore to the season's other pre-Raphaelite play, Earthly Delights and it did work out quite well. Together they send a message that if you were a woman at the time, the approach of any handsome young pre-Raphaelite should make you run in the other direction just as fast as your crinoline would let you.

The Countess hasn't been particularly well reviewed, see for example the Guardian's and Telegraph's verdicts.

The publicity outside the theatre too doesn't do it any favours, suggesting something suitable for a stereotypical maiden aunt, while in fact the themes, if not the language, would demand a broadminded one.

And it is curious that this production seems to have been a roaring success in New York, because it does suffer from a curious lack of intellectual sophistication. The set is plain tacky - fibreglass rocks and curiously literal railway stations, and two much of the first act set right at the back of the stage – and the staging, well, horribly, unnecessarily, stagey.

Alison Pargeter as Effie is definitely the star of the show; the two men OK if not spectacular and the minor character parts very well done.

But, as they say, the play's the thing, and this is a not-half-bad portrayal of a psychologically abusive relationship, based quite closely, it seems, on the accounts of the time. The story goes that John Ruskin was unable to consumate his marriage because he was put off by finding on his wedding night that his wife had hair on her body - his image of womanhood being entirely formed by white marble statues - and he then proceeded, with the help of his horrible parents, to try to send her mad, or at least present her as such to the world.

He also thrust her into the arms of other men, finally the painter John Millais, for whom she left him, sueing for an annulment on the basis of non-consumation. (For a sociologist's view of the effects on Ruskin, see here.)

In a scandal-obsessed age, it seems to have been one of the really good ones.

The play focuses on the time the threesome spent in the highlands - hence the fibreglass rocks, and lots of "rain effects", and their return to London. It suffers a little from the fact that most of the audience will know the ending - and if they don't a print on display in the bar will give it away, but some of the dialogue and the stage chemistry partially redeems it - this is the first sexy hair-cutting scene I've seen.

Had I paid for a full price £30-plus ticket I might have felt a bit cheated, but since only the stalls are open, my £10 ticket got me in the front row. That did require a bit of neck craning, but certainly got me close to the action, including the odd shower as plaids were shaken out in accompaniment with the rain soundtrack.

You can see what I mean by a "literal" production.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Some good news

A quick update on the case of Zach, the gay teenager whose story I mentioned a couple of days ago. It seems the organisation holding him captive is being investigated for child abuse. Via Republic of T.

A revision of the revision

Now I'm as much a sucker for a nice revisionist history as the next person ... everyone else has got it wrong, but here's the TRUTH ... but I was puzzled by the reception in the London press of Mao: The Unknown Story, by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday.

The reviews seem to have swallowed it hook, line and sinker: everyone thought he was a great leader, but now it has been shown he was a pathological psychopath with no special skills or outstanding qualities. See for example The Times and The Telegraph. Now you might argue those are right-wing sources, but theGuardian is only slightly more critical.

Blood & Treasure provides an essential critical corrective.

Friday femmes fatales No 11

Where are all the female bloggers? Here, in my weekly top ten.

I had been planning after the first ten weeks to start including bloggers who'd made the list before, but the excitement of collecting 100 women bloggers has gone to my head, and I've decided now to go for 200.

This seems to have been a family-orientated week. This Fish Needs a Bicycle has been thinking about how her sister was really there for her when she needed it, while Why not- right says thanks to "the best daddy in the world" and Purple Elephants Corner is combining celebrating the summer solstice and her wedding anniversary with a spot of novel-writing.

On the political side of family, Amy Loves Books explains her decision to put her children into a "inner-city, poverty-stricken, low-performing elementary school", leaping into a raging international (or at least Western) debate, while This woman's work is agonising over the issue of international adoption.

Familial links can be chosen, of course, and Ellen has been musing on the importance of the global email village to her life, and the vulnerability of the email list to the sad, the mad, or the ugly.

Turning overtly political, Ginger on LHLS ponders the question: "Did bushco really invade Iraq to keep the oil flowing or did they do it because they're really insane? Or both?"

Then, in a post to which I can only say YES, Philoillogica deconstructs much of the popular journalism directed at women.

On a lighter note, Sarah on
It's Not Rocket Science Peeps is lamenting phone callers who waste your time for no particular reason. (Not for the easily offended.)

And Pewari's prattle says "you know you're going a bit overboard with foodiness when ... "

The list of the first 100.

Please, if you're impressed by something by a female blogger in the next week - particularly by someone who doesn't yet get a lot of traffic - tell me about it, in the comments here, or by email.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

A new collective noun?

I found myself musing on waking this morning, somewhat earlier than intended, on the appropriate collective noun for a collection of jackhammers: a "rattle of", or a "pound of" perhaps?

Working nights has its advantages, but learning just how often they dig up the roads is not among them.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Net nuggets No 8

* Surely in litiguous America someone could sue to free a captive 16-year-old boy? Zach has been forced by his parents into a camp to "turn" him from gay to straight. Read the details - female inmates are forced to shave their underarms and legs twice a week. It is hard to think of a worse case of psychological child abuse.

* In Britain, liberty is being attacked by a "religious hatred" bill that will provide one particular set of beliefs with an astonishing degree of protection from criticism. (Replace "religion" with "communism" and see what you think ... what's the difference?) Ephems of BLB sets out the issue.

* There was a lot more to Helen Keller than her work with the blind, yet memories of her have become one-dimensional, a fate she shares with many other famous women, this article argues.

* It is very US-orientated, but then we are all "publishing" in the US, so this Legal Guide for Bloggers is well worth a read.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The death of Harriet Walters

The problem with unpacking and sorting books is that it is so easy to get distracted.
(I'm supposed to be replacing a lightfitting just now, so that I can hoist up the left-over laminate boards to a shelf in the storeroom, but I just have to record this before I switch off the power ...)

"The Committee are directed to investigate the circumstances under which Harriet Walters met her death, 12th June last, at the age of 17.
Her History as an Enamel Worker
She lived with her grandparents in rather poor circumstances at Sedgley. She entered the enamel works of Messrs Ralph & Jordan at Bilston, at the age of 16, in 1892, working as a brusher, and was there for six months.
From the foregoing Report it will be seen that the brushing department is the one where most danger exists in enamelling works.
The distance between her home and the enamelling works at Bilston is about three miles, which distance the girl had to walk in all weathers, in addition to which she had to stand practically all day, stooping over the plate upon which she was engaged, and brushing off this deleterious powder.
In January 1893 she entered Messrs Orme, Evans and Company's works at Wolverhampton, where she also worked at brushing, the distance she had to work to and from her work being about the same as in her previous employment. Here she worked up to 5th June, on which day she felt so ill she asked the foreman to be allowed to go home. This she was permitted to do, and she accordingly walked back to Sedgley in the company of a fellow worker.
On the 6th she was first seen by Mr Ballenden, who attended her and prescribed for her until her death. This occurred rather suddenly on the 12th June...

The Committee's Finding

The Committee agreed that she died of lead poisoning ... They further believe that her death was accelerated by a persistence in the practice ... of walking from Sedgley to Wolverhampton, a distance of three miles, without having tasted food, and of then working till the dinner hour, for, although the employers provided milk at one time, the milk was discontinued when the special rules were issued necessitating the supply of acid drink.
By this means the deceased got into a very low state of health, with great anaemia and constant want of appetite. The result was that, when attacked by lead poisoning, she had no reserve of health with which to resist it. Since the death of this girl the firm have recommenced the supply of milk at 11am....
The Committee found that the respirator in use at the time of Harriet Walter's death was in reality a common handkerchief. It is probably that in the extreme heat of last May and June the younger and more inexperienced workers would take many opportunities of slipping these off."
From: report from the Departmental Committee on the Various Lead Industries, C7239 (1983) pp. 20-21; P.P 1893/4, vol 17, reprinted in Human Documents of the Age of the Forsytes, E. Royston Pike, Victorian Book Club, Newton Abbot, 1972, pp. 258-9.

Those who lament compensation rights of today might like to ponder their importance.

Miss Stuart anyone?

Emily Hahn, on whom I posted yesterday, writes of a British Museum (library) reader she identifies only as Miss Stuart, who the writer saw on her first day at the museum (which must be late Twenties or very early Thirties).

""She rode past me on a bicycle, through the opening in the great iron railings and across the courtyard .... She had a jaunty manner ... but there was more than that to be noticed about Miss Stuart. On a cold, raw, dark day in January, in an era when women never wore bifurcated clothing for anything but the most drastic activities, she was attired in very short running shorts, a cotton sweater without sleeves, and socks ... (p. 127)

After the war, Miss Stuart's costume "is covered, winter and summer, by a frayed macintosh ... and she now wears a hat as well - a thing like a basket pulled down over her straying, pepper-and-salt hair".

And she has also got a bit strange ...

Hahn is told another reader saw her spitting.
"She would spit on a page, then turn it over and spit on the next. She was very careful not to miss a single page..."

The book was Lives of the Popes, and when this neighbouring reader reported her an attendant came, saying: "Now Miss Stuart, you know you aren't to do that. You've been told before." As she was led away, Miss Stuart hissed "Papist spy" at the informant. (p. 136-7).

I don't suppose anyone knows any more about "Miss Stuart"?

Monday, June 20, 2005

A wonderful, adventurous life

I've forgotten who pointed me to Emily Hahn, the 20th-century journalist and writer, but I'm very grateful they did, having just read No Hurry to Get Home, the collection of articles that forms her memoir.

I particularly identify with her, I think, because of her unconventional educational start: "Flushed with the glory and the triumph of my BSc., excited by the publicity which I received as the First Woman Graduate in Mining Engineering from the University of Wisconsin [this was 1926], and generally on top of the world, I completely forgot the reason for my acquiring that extraordinary diploma and actually took a job with a mining company." p. 56 (She had ended up in that course only due to sheer bloodymindedness, when denied by bureaucracy the right to take chemistry as an arts major.)

Leaving that mining company, she drifted into a job stencilling cards in Santa Fe, before moving to New York in 1930, just in time for the Depression. Her roommate ended up pregnant, and I've not read a better account of the realities of the time ...

"..she cried sharply:'Oh I wish I could! I wish I could go home right now!'
'Then why don't you?'
'I can't. I'm having a baby,' said Kathy.
What she meant, and did not have to explain, was that she did not intend to have it; outside of books and movies, girls in her predicament never did. Both of us knew that much but very little more, except that the operation was illegal. We discussed possible ways and means at such length that Kathy got distressed to a greater extent, and when I said that we had to get in touch with Ivan she had hysterics and had to be helped to bed ...
He found the abortionist, he supplied a part, at least, of the money and he even arranged to be at the apartment on the day of the operation, to make sure we got back all right - for I went with her of course. I can see now that it all must have been a considerable strain on him as well as Kathy, but at the same time, when we got back and found him drunk, I was not inclined to make allowances. I'd found it very difficult to get Kathy up the stairs and the sight of Ivan, staggering and foolish, was too much. Grimly I got her to bed. She was trembling, and rather green in the face." (p. 119-120)

So far so relatively conventional, but then she was off to London, for a research job at the British Museum, where she found what seemed to be her natural base in the Reading Room, to which she always returned.
However, "A time arrived when I overdid things and strained the patience of even as permanent a spirit as the Reading Room's, by staying away a full decade. It was 1946 when I returned that time, and I felt a nasty little shock as soon as I set foot in the entrance room. The Museum had changed. Dust was everywhere ... Wooden supports held up the ceiling and there were rough screens barring the public [from bomb-damaged areas]...
Surely my permission to use the Reading Room would have lapsed, I thought, if only because the records had been scattered, so I went to the old office and asked for an application. The attendant, when I explained the situation, was hurt and surprised. 'But Madam,' he said,'if you already hold a card, all you need do is hand it in and we'll issue you a new card.'
I said, 'Alas I lost it. I know it was careless of me, but I was in China, you see, and what with the war and one thing and another -'
'Oh I quite understand,' he said. His pleasantness did not relax one tittle. 'In the circumstances, we'll give you a new card even though you can't turn in the old one...
He picked up an ancient ledger, blew off some dust, and opened it at the right letter ..." (p.132-133)

But her real ambition was to go to the Congo, and that was where she went next, staying first with a (very odd) man she had met in Europe, whom she was forced to leave in something of a hurry ...
"My departure was seemly enough, but I must admit it wasn't well thought out. Details are awfully important in the Ituri, and in collecting supplies I neglected several important idem. I took no sugar, no butter and no other cooking fat of any sort because to get these rare commodities I would have had to ask Stewart to give me some. Except for these things, however, I had everything I needed; I was used to travelling light. To be sure I wasn't very clear as to my immediate destination, but I knew that I wanted to go east and then south. I had come into the Congo from the west, and my overall aim was to cross Africa by way of Lake Kivu, which was southeast, at the border of Ruanda-Urundi. (p. 163)

She was strongly advised by the locals against the route, but .. "All this I ignored, because, in the Congo of those days, if you listened to local warnings you never got anything done. You had to possess a strong conceit. If you didn't believe down to the marrow of your bones that you always knew best, and that Nature was sure to smile on your undertakings, whatever she might do to those of others, you would have to give up ..." (p. 164)

She made it to Dar es Salaam, of course, where she horrified the British colonists by mixing with the Greeks, Argentines and others classified as "not white".

Next, and to fit this all into one post, I have to rush, she went with her sister to Japan, then to Shanghai (where she became an opium addict - which she writes about in detail), then a prisoner of the Japanese in Hong Kong with her daughter - her husband by now (although she doesn't talk about this) being the chrief British spy on the island.

This was the life of a girl from a conventional, if education-valuing, family from St Louis, Missouri. So when she came home from the Congo and her parents heard her arranging to go dancing with an old friend. She stops short at the look on her mother's face ...
"'You're calling for him?' she demanded, shrilly incredulous.
'You're going into a public place, a hotel, and ask for a man? At the desk?'
My jaw dropped. For years I had been living on my own - sometimes without excitement, but more often on the verge of disaster, financial or otherwise. I looked at Mother; Mother looked at me. She also began to cry.
'What will they think of you?' she asked tragically. 'Whatever will those people take you for?'"

Hahn changes her arrangements to avoid upsetting her mother, this time, but it beautifully illustrates how far and bravely she travelled - utterly inspiring stuff!

(My copy is Seal Press, 2000. The book was first published in 1970 under the title Times and Places, a Memoir.)

Sunday, June 19, 2005

An anniversary note

Having just reached the 10th weekly "femmes fatales" post, I thought I'd briefly reflect on the project.

Several posters have questioned the project of singling out women bloggers. On that I'm utterly unapologetic. Every new article I read about bloggers that mentions only men, (and perhaps adds a patronising note about "mommy bloggers"), not to mention the endless "where are all the women bloggers?" questions, make me think it is a good idea.

I set out aiming not to mention anyone more than once in the first ten collections, so I have now collected 100 women bloggers. Anyone who finds themself asking THE question could browse down the list below, and they'll find women blogging on politics, science, history, philosophy, as well as more personal topics (not of course that those can't also be emininently political).

So, the first 10 ...

No 1
No 2
No 3
No 4
No 5
No 6
No 7
No 8
No 9
No 10

Friday, June 17, 2005

Friday femmes fatales No 10

Where are all the female bloggers? Here, in my weekly top ten.

The raging debate of the week, at least in the US blogging world, seems to be a return to the Seventies - whether women victims are in any way to be blamed for sexual attacks upon them. (Well I suppose it is better than back to the Fifties, when the issue wasn't discussed at all.) Chaos Theory provides a summary digest that will take you further - I'm too depressed at the fact that this still has to be argued at all to range further into the debate.

Then to something that is not a life-threatening issue, but one that consumes vast amounts of female time and effort - hair. I Blame the Patriarchy concludes: "as the Pakistani woman obscureth her identity with fabric, so doth the Western woman obscure hers with Nair".

Pam's House Blend, meanwhile, is getting angry about US southern senators refusing to sign an apology for inaction against lynching.

Moving on to more privately political terrirtory, Dr B's Blog discusses the importance of domestic partner benefits beyond the obvious financial ones.

Now I decided at age five that I didn't want to have children, and I've never wavered in that decision, but if you want to sentence yourself to 20 years or so imprisonment, Dru Blood has made a list of her favourite books on childbirth and parenting. Amybowlian looks a little later in the life cycle, exploring the torture of being forced to read aloud in English class.

If you want to stay footlose and fancy free, however, Game + Girl = Advance has a brilliant idea about how to prepare for foreign travel. (But she should have saved it and sold it for millions, I'd say.)

Also in the"good idea" category, Laurie Writes comes up with great suggestion for keeping in touch with all those people you are meaning to write a good newsy email to, one of these days.

But is "hypermodernism" a good idea? (Or indeed what is hypermodernism?)
Mary Karcher provides an introduction and, of course, an excellent set of links.

Finally, for some comprehensive cat blogging, 2 Board Alley provides a pictorial biography of the life of Arnie, "a nine-year-old bachelor".

Edition 9 is here.


Please, if you're impressed by something by a female blogger in the next week - particularly by someone who doesn't yet get a lot of traffic - please tell me about it, in the comments here, or by email.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Building tips

Sorry about the delay in resumption of normal service - doing all the finishing off of the flat refurbishment and unpacking my ridiculously large library, has taken considerably longer than expected. In the meantime, some potentially useful things I've learnt, for anyone else heading down the DIY route:

* Laying laminate flooring is really pretty easy, and immensely satisfying. The mock-tile stuff is excellent; it looks good and is practical, particularly if you have concrete floors that resemble the lower slopes of the Himalayas.

* Don't buy the ridiculously overpriced, tacky plastic strips that DIY stores offer to finish off the expansion gap around the edges. Your local builders' merchant will sell wood beading that you can paint to match the skirting. I bought 32m of the stuff for about £20; it would have been a fortune in B&Q. Also, don't worry about the cork spacing Homebase sells; just leave the centimetre gap around the edges.

* B&Q kitchens are really good quality for the price. My builder says don't touch Ikea.

* Older electrical systems in council flats don't have earth wires. The system is earthed by the screws into the metal box in the wall. (Very puzzling when you first look at it, if you're an electrical neophyte like me!)

*Really dark wall colours will take three coats minimum, requiring far more paint than you'd think possible. (But I think my deep purple arch in the bedroom looks rather good.)

*Moving flatpack furniture really isn't worth the effort. It always falls apart, even without the help of my removalist from hell, but that's another story ...

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Friday femmes fatales No 9

Where are all the female bloggers? HERE, in my weekly top ten.

A perfect first suggestion this week with the tale of a real femme fatale. Laura James's CLEWS, "The Historic True Crime Blog", reports on the case of Marie Nicolaiewna Tarnowska, of whom it was said in 1910: "“She is not yet thirty, but at least six men have ruined themselves for her; two of these met tragic deaths and four of them deserted wives and children.”

I particularly liked the case of one Borzlevski, who "invited Marie to shoot him through the hand to demonstrate his devotion (which she did)". Then her husband challenged him to a duel and shot him again.

On to modern matters (and manners): What do (and should) women want in bed? Holly Combe on The F-word ponders the debate about "pro-sex feminism".

Samhita on Feministing is at the intersection of feminism and environmentalism in considering why you should buy food from a local farmer, while Lucinda Marshall on ZNet Blogs questions whether you should buy items funding research into breast cancer.

Musings from Redwing Marsh, who's a serious booklover, for anyone seeking recommendations, recalls learning how to write a diary as a child, while the question "Why do you blog?" is exercising Letters from Fairy-tale Land. She ponders her resolution to post regularly, and how it relates to her relationship with her father.

Teresa on Making Light meanwhile finds several lessons to be learned in a lively piece of human stupidity.

For the parent blog-readers, Christine Hurt on Blogcritics checks out the movie Madagascar with her under-sixes, finding that "unless they read the NYT book review" it misses the mark.

For some real life animal action, check out Maviesansmoi's puppy blogging - and (if you can read the French) some lovely doggy tales. And while I'm going pictorial, there are some lovely pictures of Portugal by Sophil de l'eau. (Text also in French.)


Edition 8 is here.


Please, if you read a post in the next week by a woman blogger and think "that deserves a wider audience", note it here in the comments here or contact me by email. And don't be shy - please also nominate yourself.

The disclaimer: I'm trying to feature as wide a range of female bloggers as possible, so the views expressed may not reflect my own.

And finally, you may have noticed service has been a bit erratic lately - I've been entirely refurbishing a new flat, so most of my time has been spent on physical labour rather than at a screen. I hope normal conditions will be achieved by the end of the week.