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Francesca recommends books: Animal edition | Manolo for the Big Girl

Francesca recommends books: Animal edition

This week Francesca has chosen three books in which animals figure prominently, at different levels of seriousness:

Although everyone seems to know the story, or think they do, Francesca is astonished by the number of otherwise educated people who have never actually read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Come, come, now, it costs less than $4, will take you one afternoon to read, and is highly entertaining. And then you can say that you have actually read it. It is about time, don’t you think? Just follow the white rabbit . . .

Speaking of rabbits, if you like epic adventure stories, Francesca must recommend Watership Down. Yes, yes, it looks like it’s a book about rabbits. However! In actuality this a gripping tale about a small group of adventurers who, for various reasons, leave their home and set out to found a new kind of society. Along the way we, the readers, are given much food for thought about teamwork, environmentalism, religion, even fascism. Francesca has read her copy so many times that it is falling apart. She has cross-referenced all the many examples of foreshadowing and metaphor. It is. a. great. book.

Finally, we turn to non-fiction. The book Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World just goes to show that if researched deeply enough, and if explained compellingly enough, any topic, even a type of fish, can be shown to be fascinating. As stated on the back cover about cod, “Wars have been fought over it, revolutions have been spurred by it, national diets have been based on it, economics have depended on it, and the settlement of North America was driven by it . . . Cod is a charming tour of history with all its economic forces laid bare and a fish story embellished with great gastronomic detail . . . . ” The book is not long, but it delights Francesca in its ability to make a mundane topic so assuredly important. And there are old, old recipes! Calling Manolo’s Food Blog!
Happy reading!

xoxo, Francesca

**Plumcake would like to note that her nom de plume stems almost directly from a certain passage in Chapter 7 of Alice Through the Looking Glass wherein the Lion and the Unicorn (who were fighting for the crown donchaknow) took a break. The lion expressed curiosity regarding the nature of Alice.

The Lion looked at Alice wearily. `Are you animal — vegetable — or mineral?’ he said, yawning at every other word.

It’s a fabulous monster!’ the Unicorn cried out, before Alice could reply.

`Then hand round the plum-cake, Monster,” the Lion said, lying down and putting his chin on this paws.

7 Responses to “Francesca recommends books: Animal edition”

  1. Twistie October 11, 2007 at 1:03 pm #

    Ah! the Alice books! How many times have I read them? I’ve lost count. And when I was a child, we had a set of records of each book read by Cyril Ritchard. I re-read both books last spring when I was felled by whooping cough and needed comfort reading. Once again, Alice was a safe haven.

    Watership Down, though, I could never make it through. I tried five times. It ought to have been a slam-dunk Twistie book, but somehow I always put it down in the middle of chapter five and didn’t pick it up again. Go figure.

    The cod book, however, sounds like a fascinating read to me. Then again, I’m fascinated by many things piscene – particularly the eating of them.

  2. Francesca October 11, 2007 at 2:45 pm #

    Twistie does not like Watership Down?!?

    Oh, Twistie, how much you miss . . .

    Chapter 5 is just when the heroes leave their home and go out into the big scary world! The story has barely started! Twistie has read only the exposition! There is so much more to come! You have not even started the “rising conflict” parts of the book!

    But, Francesca knows that this is a matter of personal taste, and will not push.

    ::eyes Twistie suspiciously, not sure if she can trust someone who doesn’t like Watership Down.::

  3. class-factotum October 11, 2007 at 4:49 pm #

    The cod book is great! He has also written about salt, which amazingly enough, was just as interesting. So was his book about the Basques.

  4. Francesca October 11, 2007 at 7:04 pm #

    I didn’t know about the book on salt. I’ll have to get that one. Salt indeed is an amazing substance.

  5. Carol October 12, 2007 at 6:58 am #

    Like Twistie, I grew up with the books (with the John Tenniel engravings, as shown) and the record by Cyril Ritchard. I grew nostalgic for the record 20 years ago (still have the books) and was thrilled to find it on the internet a few years ago after many years of searching through thrift store record bins. Goodness, I love the internet.

  6. gemdiva October 12, 2007 at 8:06 am #

    Ooooh Twistie & Carol I had the same records. I think we played them until the grooves disappeared. I also adored Cyril Ritchard as Captain Hook when Peter Pan was first televised. Anyway, I now have an early edition of “Alice” with the original engravings and color plates and I have an “Annotated Alice” which explains all of the interesting esoterica in the book. If you are an “Alice” devotee I recommend the annotated version.

    Francesca, I loved “Watership Down” even though it made me cry and, as for the “Cod” book, well this I must read. My Grandfather was a Cod fisherman in Newfoundland. My mother used to tell us about a children’s rhyme that went “The kids in Newfoundland don’t have any sleds. They slide down the mountains on cod fish heads”. Seems nothing ever went to waste. Makes one long for the old homestead :-) Thanks for the tip.