As predicted and hoped, my work days between Christmas and New Year are playing out slow and easy, which means I have additional time to read…..because it is so, so quiet. It also helps that there is absolutely nothing on the tv that I want to watch, and that our still reduced daylight hours mean that evenings are long and relatively boring – in other words perfect for reading.

The Mutual Admiration Society

The Mutual Admiration Society
by Mo Moulton
Publication Date: November 5, 2019
Pages: 384
Genre: Biography/Memoir, Non Fiction
Fits Halloween Bingo Squares: Genre: Mystery, Vintage Mysteries

A group biography of renowned crime novelist Dorothy L. Sayers and the Oxford women who stood at the vanguard of equal rights.

Dorothy L. Sayers is now famous for her Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane detective series, but she was equally well known during her life for an essay asking “Are Women Human?” Women’s rights were expanding rapidly during Sayers’s lifetime; she and her friends were some of the first women to receive degrees from Oxford. Yet, as historian Mo Moulton reveals, it was clear from the many professional and personal obstacles they faced that society was not ready to concede that women were indeed fully human.

Dubbing themselves the Mutual Admiration Society, Sayers and her classmates remained lifelong friends and collaborators as they fought for a truly democratic culture that acknowledged their equal humanity.

I finally got to make a dent in The Mutual Admiration Society, Mo Moulton’s book about the Somerville/Cambridge society that included Dorothy L. Sayers and her friends.

While I like learning more details about DLS’ friends, I’m not loving the book. There is a lot of  focus on their love lives and I could not care less, not to mention that I have read much of it before in other biographies of DLS.

What I am enjoying are the exchanges between the women on current affairs and topics of their day, and the comments which show the change (or not) in social attitudes and the perception of women before and after the First World War.

When Christ and His Saints Slept

When Christ and His Saints Slept
by Sharon Kay Penman, Sharon Penman
Series: Plantagenets #1
Publication Date: December 27, 1995
Pages: 928
Genre: Historical Fiction

Twelfth-century England, a land of treachery, high passions and shifting allegiances, is plunged into chaos as the Empress Maude and her cousin Stephen become locked in a bitter struggle for the throne lasting twenty years.

King Henry is dead, and there are two people who want his crown. But only one can have it. He has bequeathed it to his daughter Maude, much to the horror of his nobles, for she is arrogant and stubborn, and, most dangerous of all, a woman. When Stephen, a brave and popular warrior but a weak ruler, attempts to seize the throne, it is the beginning of a tragic conflict that brings suffering and bloodshed to all and victory to no one.

And waiting in the wings of this tumultuous drama are other players: Maude’s charming and devious son Henry, born of an enforced, bitter marriage, and the formidable Eleanor of Aquitaine, each with ambitions of their own.

I also finally started book # 1 of Penman’s Plantagenet series, which is long overdue seeing that I adored books #4, #5 and #6 in the series. While I have loved the beginning of the book, I have now, just after 100 pages or so, come to the point where Maud has been bypassed by Stephen, and while this should really be the start of an exciting story of competition between Maud and Stephen, my enthusiasm is flagging a bit. I know Penman will make the book an enjoyable ride, but 700+ pages about intrigue and civil war only to know how it will end seems a long, looooong, too long read to look forward to.

Maybe I should just limit myself to reading small increments often and make this book a side read rather than my main fiction book.

Has anyone else read this? Are there parts I should look forward to?