I just finished reading 'Suite Francaise', which was very sad. In fact, the appendix was the saddest part of the book. It is unfinished, but there is a sense of completion at the end of he book as it stands (two sections were finished). Strange how even when there are so many stories from WWII still manage to be so poignant. Maybe all war stories, but there seem to be most from WWII and they are perhaps the most sad. Maybe it is all the different facets of the war that can be covered. Concentration camps, the blitz, people fleeing concentration camps, the soldiers, the people waiting for soldiers at home, the perspectives of people from so many different countries. 'Suite Francaise' managed to capture the sense of the largeness of war, and the scope of people caught up in it, particularly well. It focused on 'ordinary people' in France at the time of the French defeat and occupation. It was written at that time as well, which gives it a different perspective, most books have knowledge of the eventual German defeat, in this one it is France who appears to have lost. There is a comic, detached and almost satirical tone to it, along with a sense of tragedy. People's faults and good qualities are all dwelt on, a sense of love flowing through underneath, the humour of everyday life and the contrast to the upheavals of war. It reminded me of 'Les Miserables' in some ways, and brought to mind that WH Auden poem, 'Death's Echo', for some reason (maybe because it is another recent acquisition, who knows?):
The desires of the heart are as crooked as corkscrews
Not to be born is the best for man
The second best is a formal order
The dance's pattern, dance while you can.
Dance, dance, for the figure is easy
The tune is simple and will not stop
Dance till the stars fall down from the rafters
Dance, dance, dance till you drop.
(quoted partially and from memory).
WH Auden has a tendency to be gloomy.
So, just arrived in Canberra from Jindabyne yesterday. A good week of skiing, with snow so much better than last year. It was best on the first day and got progressively worse all week, so we felt we probably went at the best time. On the first day I fell over onto my face, hit my head on my sunglasses and cut my forehead as well as grazing it. Everyone was looking at me, there was blood, it was very dramatic but not very serious at all. We went to both Perisher and Thredbo: I've never been to Thredbo before, and skiied all over. I took a day off for my thesis, but skiied the rest of the week. We were all very sore by the end; note to self, exercise more before next skiing trip. Andrew is going to go off and ski for another week, I don't know how he does it.
We stayed in a house in Jindayne which was very very cold, and heated by a wood stove. Always fun. We also watched 'The Quick and the Undead', a zombie movie which is viing for the coveted position of 'worst movie I have ever seen'. 'Twas quite funny though. Seriously, the acting, script, plot, cinematography and probably costuming were all severely lacking in the quality department. Don't watch it. Also came to the realization that all my family are better skiiers than me. Very depressing. Goes without saying that Andrew is a better skiier than me, he spends an awful lot of time waiting for me to get down slopes, and then zooms off again.
What else... My sister was in a race with school, we watched the flare run on our last day at Thredbo, very pretty, drank lots of hot chocolate although I managed to spill a whole cup all over the table and my boots etc (it had a whole heap of cream on top and two marshmallows! A sad loss...).
Thesis progressing slowly...