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I read things in January. Don't act like you're not impressed.

I am returned.

"You left?" say you. "Don't be rude," I reply.

Yes! To Wisconsin I went on my church's annual women's retreat. We pair up with a church from Oak Park, which is the fancy liberal suburb outside of Chicago that's close enough that one of the El lines still goes out there, but far enough away to be town-like and not just Chicago-neighborhoody. It's also where Hemingway went to high school. He apparently hated it, but how many teenagers are super gung ho about their high school?

Anyway. Migraines were had. Wine was drunk. Discussions about Buddhism occurred because the retreatants are all hippies (whatever, I love them). Good times all around. Except for the migraine part. But then it went away!

February happened while I was gone! I made it just under the wire with Edwin Drood and January. Unlike December, January was a super-productive month (mooostly because I read a lot of YA I'd been putting off for years): 

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe 
Gone Girl 
Lost Magic 
The Looking Glass Wars 
The Mystery of Edwin Drood 

I KNOW. I finished things. Crazy. But I started another book on the retreat: The Invisible Woman, which is a biography of Nell Ternan and her eventual involvement with Dickens. So far it is AWESOME, mainly because Claire Tomalin's like "Would you like to know a brief history of actresses in England? YOU WOULD?" and then I learn about Dora Jordan and Lucia Vestris and Nell Ternan's family history (they were alllllll actors) and it's obvs makin' me a bit more sympathetic towards her now.

I would write about The Mystery of Edwin Drood (you can never have enough Drood posts, amirite?), but my marked-up copy is currently in New York having a high old time backstage at a Broadway theater, and I have no idea when it shall be coming back to me. So until it does, you are all spared a review of why it is great and why Wilkie Collins was being a giant jerkface when he said --AFTER DICKENS WAS DEAD -- it was "the melancholy work of a worn-out brain." 

Dude. Not cool. I laughed MIGHTILY at least twice while reading, and only half the book exists, so no judgey. Melancholy work my ass.

I will say, however, that I had a rather unexpected reaction as I reached the end of the final existing chapter. I was at work, and had to finish it before the end of the day so I could ship it out, so on break I read the last few pages. About three pages from the end, as Dickens describes a brilliant morning shining on the old city, and rooks flying back to the cathedral tower, I just lost it. There is absolutely nothing sad about the last chapter Dickens wrote except the fact that it was his last. I sometimes get so wrapped up in how mad I am at him about his personal life and the way he treated his wife, I don't realize how much I love his writing. Which is just a lot and a lot.

I have a bunch more of his books to read, but I think the realization that eventually I WILL get to the end of them just hit me as I was finishing his unfinished book. I'll defend it really soon. Even though it's only half-completed, it's worth reading.


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