Have you ever listened to a party from the next room?

Leo Tolstoy’s writing is sophistication itself, charm and veneer and glamour, somehow combined with oak-true integrity. He observes the surface machinations of the human animal, but can gently remove the veneer cast by humans when they are at their society best.

He begins his momentous Russian story, War and Peace, with a party. It is a reception, and despite the competition of other much grander occasions, Anna Pavlovna’s drawing room fills steadily because she has the social standing to pack it with celebrity. For she is the maid of honour and favourite of the Empress Marya Fedorovna.

The hostess works relentlessly.

“As the foreman of a spinning mill,” he writes, “when he has set the hands to work, goes round and notices  here a spindle that has stopped or there one that creaks or makes more noise than it should, and hastens to check the machine and set it in motion, so Anna Pavlovna moved about her drawing room, approaching now a silent, now a too noisy group, and by a word or slight rearrangement kept the conversational machine in steady, proper and regular motion.”

The hum of conversation at a party like this is a thing to behold. The privilege of moving from group to group and hearing the topics change and shift, the quick wit fly, each character gently jostle to render themselves socially comfortable: it is one of the wonders of creation.

Which is why the blogosphere has proved such a delight.

It is not auditory, but I hear it anyway: a hubbub of voices speaking the zeitgeist of the day, saying it how they see it on a global scale. It is an imperial reception with a thousand Anna Pavlovnas, walking and spinning their wheels, adding just a word or making a slight rearrangement to create the perfect conversation for the day.

Over the past three months, the gracious and the good at this celebrated gathering have been according me awards, each of which I have appreciated: versatile bloggers, liebsters, a nomination for a competition on another site.

I consider myself extremely fortunate to be thought of in this way, and humbly thank the good members of the drawing room for their generosity in thinking of this site. These awards are significant because they link us with one another, rather like Anna Pavlovna did, once upon a time in a fictional drawing room in Imperial Russia.

I think you will agree that the most important aspect of such awards is the importance of passing on excellence: of wandering up to a tight-knit group of talents and murmuring: “I wonder, have you met….?”

Many of you will have met each other already, as befits an efficient reception. But I’ll do a short Pavlovna circulation of the room to make sure everyone is acquainted.

It is a long time since I last shared one of my favourite haunts, Kathy’s To Write is To Write Is To Write. Now there’s a lady with a quick Texan wit: a woman who can write in the manner of the vast American tradition. She has a book in the writing, did you know? Her characters are her secret passion.

Meli  is a published poet but she doesn’t blog poetry. Mostly, she blogs her son: whose name is Felix. When I first stumbled on her site, quite some time ago now, Meli and her clever photographer husband were trying for a child. I visited them all the way through Felix’s pregnancy and now he’s a bouncing one year old. Serendipitous, unaffected joy radiates from her site. It is a site for a rainy day. Go check out some of Felix’s sunbeams.

From Northern Ireland, Fiona leads us through a lovely life which has its trials. She documents triumph and tribulations like no other blogger I know, with honesty, integrity and the most impish sense of humour.

Susan Nolen has just started blogging, and she’s launched with a fabulous set of posts. Her writing is self-possessed and rather beautiful, and speaks my kind of language. The woman has literary style.

Cameron: with a seductive. low writing voice no one can resist, she is a tireless networker for other writers and a superbly entertaining one in her own right.

Why did someone not tell me about Cecilia aeons ago?  A New Zealander who has experienced the rat race and eschewed it, setting up a sustainable farm in the American midwest, she writes wonderful, funny, rambling life-food. A staple part of your blogging diet, ladies and gentlemen.

And here are the black-clad beatnik poets in the corner: or that’s how I see them. I’m sure in reality they have rainbow wardrobes and can pass for average, but not here in this room. For a feast of poetry and observation check out Ruth, Gabrielle and Beeblu.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and visit some of my other guests.

The picture – Larry Salk, Summer Cocktail Party with English Butler, 1961 , Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston – is from the Norton-Simon Museum via MuseumView, which you can find here


43 thoughts on “Hubbub

  1. Amen…Celi is something else.., she’s great, as I’m sure all you have mentioned are…I actually came by to present you with another award, if you haven’t already received it from someone else. It’s called the ‘Reader Appreciation Award” I received it from a dear blogger friend some time back, and only by surfing another friends site did I become aware of it…last night…2 months later. What you’ve just said about how these awards help knit us together is so true…as 2 months ago I was …

    Well, anyway, I have written the post that links to you and all the other bloggerhood friends I am forwarding it to…But, I don’t plan to post it till later today, or,tomorrow, as we are all spread so far around the world, many of my friends haven’t read my current post. Which, incidentally features one of Celi’s photos, as she feeds some of her thirsty bees some much appreciated water.

    Anyway, I will be entering the post some time soon, and hope you will read it. In the mean time, you could…If you want the badge to go onto your site, you can just get it from my sidebar. If you are not much on posting those things on your site, that’s fine too, but, you deserve it. Bless You

    1. Thank you in advance, Paul: this is not the first time I have benefitted from your generosity. Celi: oh my goodness, I am so cross at all the stuff I have missed, before I found her! What a life philosophy! I shall look out for that photo.

  2. The hostess with the mostess! Clever, yet unassuming; accepting compliments with grace, and sharing them with others. You are a delight, Kate,and I’m so happy I’m in your reading circle.

  3. Oh and I SO want to be a lady who lunches! Pass the Bolli darling! Thank you for such kind words and such wonderful company. It is dawn so I must away but I shall be back to visit the rest of the gathered company! c

  4. Your beginning rather reminded me of a little attempt to condense that novel a bit which I once blogged, commencing:

    This book starts without a worry
    At Pavlovna’s little soiree:
    There we meet young Pierre Bezuhov,
    Niklolay, Natasha Rostov,
    And, of course, there’s Prince Andrey
    (He gets killed off, anyway);

    I covered the rest of the novel in sixteen more lines! 🙂

    The last time I followed your recommendations there were no disappointments, and I am sure the same will happen on this occasion.

  5. Kate, this was the best party of the season! It is a joy to be a guest at your party. The perfect hostess, better than Pavlovna’s, and that was such a wonderful Tolstoyian introduction. This is a party of sorts. I hadn’t thought of it that way, but, now I shall and it is the best party I’ve attended and I’ll be out and about soon, visiting all these wonderful blogs you have introduced us to today.

    Funny, I just caught The Last Station on television this week and have been in a Tolstoy frame of mind since. The six inches of snow blanketed our acreage adds to the mood.

    1. Snow! I hope the deer are faring well. And why does snow always send me scrabbling for Tolstoy or Checkov? Perhaps because Russia does snow well. Remember that scene in Dr Zhivago?

  6. One of these days I will read War and Peace. . .

    I love reading your blog, Kate, it’s like seeing my own thoughts, but written with so much more eloquence and insight.

  7. I used to wear black all the time when I was younger and a bit of a goth (or maybe an emo) but now it’s lots of colour to improve my mood. Thanks Kate 🙂 A lovely post with lots of love sharing. The blogosphere is just how you describe it – I can hear all the voices too (even though there is never any sound) – in fact it gets so loud I do feel like I am at a party.

  8. Thank you for the wonderful blog links, Kate. I’ve thought about a post along this line. Blogs are like small parties; intimate gatherings where sometimes it feels a bit awkward for the latest arrival. I’ve been doing more blog reading as of late (non-poetry) and I hesitate to make comments for I feel almost an intruder. I can almost hear the chatter…”who is this libraryscene with her two cents?!” (smile) Not much of a joiner, but always a thinker. cheers ~

      1. 😀 i see you’ve met Nancy, Angela. A hostess with the mostest. It’s always lovely to ahve one of your comments: they have a carefully balanced, considered quality which makes them essential reading. May I say, while you’re here, how amazing those prose blogs of yours are? Fabulous reading, and somewhere everyone should head to take a read!

      2. Actually, I think I’ve been following Nancy for over a year. She is a wonderful blogger and host, as are you! Many thanks for your kind words regarding my prose. It is hit or miss right now as I branch out from just poetry. Thank you for tolerating my ‘novella’ commentary (smile). ~

  9. I loved this Kate. My husband and I are out of town for a few days and I have spent some time talking to him about the different people at my cocktail party. I introduced him to you, too! What a fabulous connection you made….Tolstoy! But it’s so true! And the artwork drew me in first. The Norton Simon is in my neck-of-the-woods so I want to see this piece in person. I will think of you and wish you could be my art walk companion! Debra

  10. *huge smile* – this is very generous of you, Kate. Thank you. The “black-clad beatnik poets in the corner” is my kind of compliment, but although I used to be all black-clad and attempt the moody, mysterious air when I was young, now I’m just moody, haha.

    Thanks too for the intro to some fine bloggers – I’m never going to get to read another book at this rate 🙂

  11. aw thank you kate. that is very very sweet of you. i had assumed everyone else must get bored of me rambling on about felix all the time!

    i remember trying to read war and peace when i was about fourteen, and giving up after three pages!

    in the end i read it when i was 23 and just adored it…

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