I began Anne Brontë’s novel The Tenant of Wildfell Hall a week or so ago, and so far it’s been great. I do love nineteenth-century novels, and I miss them if I go too long without reading one. I love their length and the way the best authors can string a story out so it lasts a long time but never feels slow or dull. I’m having an experience with this book that I used to have all the time, which is that it’s the main book I’m reading (I dip into The Recognitions now and then, but mostly it’s Brontë), so I find myself absorbed in it at various points in the day and I feel like I’m immersed in its world. I like reading multiple books at once, but it does diffuse that feeling of absorption.
The story so far is good — it’s got all the typical elements of a 19C novel, a frame narrative, stories within stories, women of uncertain reputation, a marriage plot, intrigues about money. It also has an amusingly unreliable narrator, one who strikes me as silly and petty and foolish but who is absolutely convinced of his own rectitude and wisdom. And now I’m in a section with another narrator entirely, one who strikes me as much more reliable, but about whom I still have some doubts. I like unreliable narrators very much, if only because they offer a reader so much food for thought.
And yes, I’m still plugging away at The Recognitions, at least now and then. I have about 110 pages left to go, and yes, I’m counting. I admire the book and I’ve enjoyed reading at least parts of its, but at this point I have to admit I’m ready for it to be over. I might have fared better with it if I’d read it faster in order to stay immersed in its world, but I’ve put it aside now and then, which has meant I’ve forgotten some of the characters and plot events, and this really isn’t a book where things are easy to keep track of even in the best of circumstances. There’s even a website that offers a plot summary, and yet it’s still hard going. But I will persevere. There’s no way I’m quitting this 950-page book with only a little bit left to go!
And now for a cycling update. Things were going very well right up until about 1 1/2 weeks ago; up until that point, I was riding hard, doing fine in races, and having lots of fun. But then I caught a cold and missed a race because of it. I was hoping to recover quickly, but I spent a week feeling tired and achy. I’m back on the bike now, but I’m not sure how much fitness I’ve lost, and I still haven’t quite shaken the cold.
What interests me about this is how much my feelings shift over time. At the end of March I was completely and utterly enthralled with the riding I was doing. I was determined to find time for it no matter what the cost. After I got sick, that feeling evaporated, and I found myself grateful I couldn’t ride, so I had the chance to get a little more work done. I was grateful I could use the cold as an excuse to sleep in and spend more time lounging around. Now that I’m back on the bike, I’m enjoying riding, but also not quite feeling my former enthrallment. I expect, however, that the enthrallment will return soon enough. Isn’t it odd the way, over the course of a short week and a half, so much can change? I feel like I don’t recognize myself half the time.