After my last post I didn’t read The Sot Weed Factor at all for the best part of two weeks. I thought about it it several times but just couldn’t work up the enthusiasm, so when I finally picked it up again on Tuesday night I couldn’t find my place, or even remember where I’d reached (a stable in Plymouth I think?). What’s more, I couldn’t say that I cared much. Reading isn’t supposed to be a chore so I took P’s advice and decided to call it a day.
It’s the first book I’ve given up on all year. I’m disappointed but so relieved to be moving on to books I might enjoy more. I celebrated by going to bed early with a cup of tea and my copy of Classic Victorian and Edwardian Ghost Stories, which I’ve been intending to start for a while now. The Tapestried Chamber is the first story in the book and it’s only twelve pages long so not too challenging after my two weeks of book fasting. I thought a ghost story would be perfect for a cold, autumn night in bed but in truth it was a pretty inauspicious start to the anthology.
General Browne, newly returned from the revolutionary wars in America, is travelling home when quite by accident he comes across the ancient home of an old school friend. He’s invited to stay and is given a bed in a beautiful chamber decorated with tapestries in the oldest part of the house. The next morning Browne appears from the chamber visibly stricken. He describes to his host an apparition that appeared in the night, the ghostly figure of a haggard crone in old fashioned dress.
“Upon a face which wore the fixed features of a corpse were imprinted the traces of the vilest and most hideous passions which had animated her while she lived. The body of some atrocious criminal seemed to have been given up from the grave and the soul restored from the penal fire in order to form, for a space, a union with the ancient accomplice of its guilt…”
Understandably he’s a bit pissed to hear that his host was fully aware of the chamber’s past all along. Quite rightly. I would be too.
As I said, it’s not the most promising start. The plot is flimsy and there isn’t a great deal of time given to explanations of who the apparition represents or why she’s there. It’s all very brief and unsatisfying.
After reading The Tapestried Chamber I finally began Lady Audley’s Secret which has been lurking at the top of my book pile for months. I’m wondering if I should have gone with this book instead of The Sot Weed Factor three weeks ago, it’d have saved me a lot of time and disappointment. Oh hindsight is a wonderful thing.
I’m enjoying Lady Audley so far anyway.