Yesterday I finished editing the first of four Juniper Prize manuscripts. I will be editing the other three as well, but they have not yet appeared in my inbox, so theoretically I have today to myself. Yet given the ubiquitous and irritating chain-smoking, mess-making, shouting-arguing-thunking house painters who have been draped outside my windows all week, I'll probably have to wander down the street and find some coffee shop to take me in. As the wife of a house carpenter, I am generally the last person to complain about workmen. But even Tom is rolling his eyes at this crew.
On my way to yoga class last night, I stopped at the library and took out two books: Kenneth Roberts's Arundel (1930) and the complete stories of Jean Rhys (first published between 1927 and 1976). Arundel is a potboiler: a historical novel about pioneer-era Maine that I last read in high school. But when I learned that my dear friend Steve, a birchbark canoe builder and an expert on the Maine wilderness, also fell in love with it as a child, I decided I should read it again. Moreover, most of it is set in my beloved homeland: the forest of the Kennebec River corridor. The plot centers around Benedict Arnold's trek north through the woods into Quebec, in the pre-revolutionary days before he defected to the British. It should be the quintessential I've-got-to-kill-time-in-a-coffee-shop book.
I know less about the Jean Rhys stories, though I've read a couple of her novels before. But Ford Madox Ford loved her work, so that is a good-enough advertisement for me.