My plans to start the new year with a flurry of exercise and administrative efficiency have been hampered somewhat by a stinking cold. I thought I'd done well to avoid it as my family fell one by one but, just as I was congratulating myself on my immunity, I too have succumbed.
But it could be worse. I have a huge stock of reading material to keep me occupied. You might remember that I was hankering after a fine cloth bound edition of Les Miserables. Well, I was not disappointed on that or many other counts. My intention was to read it before watching the film that is to released mid January. Now I have the book in my hands I realise the flaw in my thinking. With 1232 pages of tiny print it is, quite frankly, massive.
Now I'm not easily intimidated by a book, but weighty tomes like this do fill me with a certain sense of dread. Yet with the inclement weather and another week off work, I have girded my loins and taken the plunge. And what a treat it is too! Clearly my year of studying the nineteenth century novel has paid dividends. What does it matter that it has taken the first seventy pages to establish that the Bishop of Digne is both generous and open minded? And then, just when I thought we had an inciting incident in the arrival of the ex-convict Jean Valjean, we have another diversion into his backstory and the injustices of French society. Perhaps it's just the luxury of sustained spells of reading, but I am really having a ball.
It might even be the time to tackle my other bête noire - Mary Warnock's Existentialism. I find this combination of big ideas and academic writing quite intimidating. My husband's gift of 'The Existentialist's Guide to Death, the Universe and Nothingness' might be more accessible. Certainly it started well over a hot chocolate in Caffe Nero, but then I started scratching my head over the distinction between 'being-for-itself' and 'being-of-itself'. Perhaps that's one to pursue another day.