Operation Feedthebirds is a success!
I'm half way through Virginia Woolf's Between The Acts, her last novel. Compared to most of the earlier ones, it's an easy read. What she's trying to do is say something affectionate and positive about England on the brink of WWII (it's set in 1939). If I've a criticism it's that it's a bit too starry-eyed. But lets not carp. It's charming and delightful and I love you, Ginnie!
The story- insofar as there is a story- is about a pageant that the village people are putting on to entertain the nobs. Queen Elizabeth I features prominently. I remember watching a pageant in my home town of Croydon sometime in the late '50s and Queen Elizabeth came into that as well, entering on a white horse with a page-boy/girl holding the bridle. I guess that must have been one of the last pageants ever staged anywhere.
Woolf's England has vanished. But there are all sorts of things in the book- tricks of speech and manner and little spasms of prejudice and snobbery- that bring back my boyhood. My mother had a friend not wholly unlike the over-assertive and over-sexed Mrs Manresa, "the wild child" who overrides the rules of this rather stuffy society and gets away with it by sheer force of charm and character. I counted up on my fingers and was a little shocked to realise that 1939 is only 12 years before I was born.
Here's one of Ginnie's wonderful similes: "She had been waked by the birds. How they sang! attacking the dawn like so many choir boys attacking an iced cake."