Summer Reading Tip from Judy Patterson, Tampa Bay Great Books Council member

Life can be joyous. I just want to tell you that becoming a “bookie” in the Tampa Bay Great Books Council’s activities has been a big plus in my life.  I love to read, and here I am among all these interesting readers!

Right now I am reading “Black Sheep, Grey Falcon, A Journey Through Yugoslavia” written in 1931 by Rebecca West, a major English writer.  Rebecca West’s book is more than a timeless travel guide to Yugoslavia; it is a portrait of the author’s soul and of Europe on the brink of World War I.  It is a work of literature, a masterpiece where West formulated her views on religion, ethics, art, myth and gender.

West made three trips to Yugoslavia when it was a unified nation: the first, at the invitation of the British Council, to give lectures in the spring of 1936; a second with her husband, Henry Andrews, in the spring of 1937; the third in early summer of the following year – all long before Yugoslavia splintered into a half-dozen independent states)

“Black Lamb and Grey Falcon” takes up two subjects: the first is Yugoslavia, and the second is everything else. By the time it was published – in two volumes totaling half a million words – West was somewhat at a loss to discover why she had decided “in 1936 to devote five years of my life, at great financial sacrifice and to the utter exhaustion of my mind and body, to take an inventory of a country down to its last vest-button, in a form insane from any ordinary artistic or commercial point of view”.

As the “mass of her material” swelled and changed, so this “inventory” became immense and at last came to represent a complicated picture not simply of her own soul but that of Europe on the brink of the Second World War. The result, which she feared “hardly anyone will read by reason of its length”, is one of the supreme masterpieces of the 20th century.

Yet now I sit here reading her book at my dining room table with the Atlas opened and its maps of what used to be Yugoslavia, my world globe and a magnifying glass.  What a wonderful voyage I am having.  It is 1,150 pages but can be enjoyed slowly.  You can read for a while and then put it down – the perfect Summer reading.


Judy K. Patterson

Judy Patterson's art work

Meet “Platterface”!  I turned a platter upside down and did a mosaic using dishes I have broken over the years along with a radiator cap and other treasures.