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My Blogiversary post for 2021

It was 23 July 2012 when I published my first blog post on Sue’s Considered Trifles. I have not added any new material to that blog for some time, but it could be useful to writers wishing to know which phrases were in use in the second half of the 20th century.

Tomorrow will be 23 July 2021, so that marks 9 years of more-or-less regular blogging. Sue’s Trifles, which has become my main blog, is a bit younger having its first post on 25 March 2013. I chose the theme Pachyderm for reasons I explained here. It is perhaps a little twee. Should I change it?

At first my posts were written in response to daily prompts from WordPress, but these were discontinued. Since 2013 I have taken part in the Blogging from A to Z in April Challenge every year and in 2016 I also completed the challenge on Sue’s words and pictures, which I began in March 2015. My first post is here.

My What’s new page lists all my writing adventures, if adventures is not too exciting a word for my exploits!

Nine years is a long time and my off-line interests have changed gradually as time has gone on. My favourite games are now Rummikub and Triominoes, with Scrabble and Upwords demoted to occasional use. Even before the pandemic I had stopped going to the craft group, the reading group and an embroidery group, which may all have been mentioned here on Sue’s Trifles.

I am far more involved with social media now than I ever imagined would be the case. When I began blogging, I was unaware that it was social media and that I’d make online friends among people in various countries, who also blog.

My first reviews of books I read appeared on Sue’s Considered Trifles as a page or pages. Gradually book reviews have become the major part of my blogging activities. If you had told my 10-year-old self that this would be the case, she would have been incredulous. Having to write a review of every book read and to queue up to show the review to the teacher before being allowed to choose another book, led me to choose the thickest book on the shelf in the classroom! (Writing and queuing stole valuable reading time.)

I try to include occasional craft posts and faith posts, or reflective posts such as this one for those readers, who perhaps followed Sue’s Trifles after reading posts in those categories. I am currently rereading the psalms, attempting to keep up with another blogger, who tweets every day. A few years ago I joined in with his #psalmtweets.

Lockdown has affected both Sue’s Trifles, where Paint Chip Poems have become a regular feature, and Sue’s words and pictures, where photo challenges have provided a source of inspiration rather than outings to places of interest. At the time of writing a few posts of local interest are in the pipeline and one has been published already.

As restrictions are lifted in the UK, I am spending more time outside the home – if only in the garden! In fact gardening is seasonal. I have returned to my voluntary job and am attending some church services, but not singing in the choir.

Although I carried out my garden survey this year at the end of March, I have not yet found time to compare the results with those for previous years.

My word for the year, Focus, has proved helpful as I seem to be able to work more efficiently than at some times in the past. There are always distractions like other people’s blogs to read, conversations to join in with on social media and podcasts and videos by blogging/writing friends.

My quiet times continue to include the Bible reading notes I mentioned here.

I also try to keep my contents and other lists up-to-date, although they seem to be of more use to me than to my valued readers.

What about the future of my blogs? Book reviews and paint chip poetry are likely to make up the majority of my posts on Sue’s Trifles. The photo challenge posts on Sue’s words and pictures are likely to continue on Wednesdays with posts on some Saturdays about places visited or events, such as a steam train passing along the local railway line.

Thank you for reading my 959th post on Sues Trifles!

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Book review: Three trilogies by John Galsworthy

Among the books I recently inherited were three volumes by John Galsworthy, which had been passed down from a grandparent to my parents. These books are family sagas spanning the years from 1886 to the 1930s. John Galsworthy wrote them between 1904 and 1932. The language is somewhat different from modern UK English, especially where colloquialisms are used. Galsworthy lived from 1867 to 1933.

Three green volumes with gold lettering supported by bookends with globes depicting old maps of earth
Book covers have changed since the early 20th century

The Forsyte Saga is the first volume consisting of The Man of Property, In Chancery and To Let, with interludes between each novel.

A Modern Comedy includes The White Monkey, The Silver Spoon and Swan Song , also with interludes between each novel.

End of the Chapter comprises three novels: Maid in Waiting, Flowering Wilderness and Over the River.

I began reading the series on 11 March, interspersing it with other books, and finished it towards the end of June.

This was my second attempt at reading The Forsyte Saga. During my teenage years a TV serialisation was broadcast, but we did not have a TV set at that time. A well-meaning friend of the family sent the first two paperback books as presents for the youngsters in our family. They sat reproachfully on our bookshelf for many years having been opened, but not read beyond the first few pages. I now realise that there was little in the content of relevance to such young people. What readers gain from any book depends to a large extent on the knowledge they already have. Court cases, marital difficulties and having a house built are outside the experience of teenagers. Indeed for many adults these are vicarious experiences.

The Forsyte Saga begins on 15 June 1886 and Over the River ends in the early 1930s. The many changes in attitudes, dress, transport and government are the background to these serious novels with some gentle humour, notably in the choice of some names. There is a strong awareness of the social problems of the times. Although the books are set mainly in London and the Home Counties, there is some travel and descriptions of the wider world. In The Forsyte Saga there is an extensive family tree, which folds out. An extra generation has been added to a similar one in A Modern Comedy.

By the time End of the Chapter is reached the central characters are no longer Forsytes, although they do have some interaction with members of that family. Forsyte is the surname of a family, but Galsworthy also used ‘Forsytes’ to represent all middle class persons with capitalist tendencies. The inheritance of family wealth has a strong influence on characters and events.

The religious views and changes in attitudes during the time span of the series are occasionally touched upon. Apart from one or two clergymen, who seem to act more from a sense of duty, and perhaps compassion for the underprivileged people in their parishes, than from religious conviction, there is little faith among the characters. At the time Christianity was often seen as something to agree or disagree with intellectually. The theory of evolution was used as a major argument against Christianity, not that it should have been in my opinion. There are one or two glimpses of characters, whose appreciation of spiritual matters is a little deeper than that of the majority. Several of the characters display a background knowledge of Bible stories. Church-going and teaching of scripture in schools was usual at the time.

As in any saga there is joy and sorrow. The character and decisions of older generations affect the lives of younger ones.

I found the series fascinating and well worth the trouble of reading three tomes with thin paper and rather unfamiliar language. There are many sentences, which are quotable even without their original context.

These books are available from the usual places and also on Project Gutenberg and Kindle.

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Book review: Phoebe A story

UK book cover Phoebe A Story

I bought a paperback copy of Phoebe by Paula Gooder from the local Christian bookshop. Phoebe is the person mentioned in Paul’s epistle to the Romans 16:1-2 as someone to be welcomed. (Not as a friend suggested a character from the TV series Friends!)

Paula Gooder has ventured into fiction with what she calls ‘a story’ rather than a novel. This is probably a fair description. She has built a back story to Phoebe (from Cenchreae a port near Corinth) entrusted to deliver Paul’s epistle, which he wrote in Corinth, to the Christians in Rome. Who these Christians were and how they lived becomes clear from Paula Gooder’s well-researched and well-written tale.

I found this book very interesting and subsequently reread Paul’s letter to the Romans.

One thing, which puzzled me, while reading Phoebe was why the persecution of Christians at the Coliseum was not mentioned. I had begun reading the book while waiting for a train and had skipped the contents page. There are many pages of notes at the end of the story, in which the historical context is explained. The story is set before those persecutions began.

It is a good book, helpful in putting the Letter to the Romans in context. It won an award at the Christian Resources Together Conference (CRT) in 2019. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction. It is published by Hodder in the UK and IVP in the USA.