Thursday, 20 July 2017

Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood

A famous novel, that to a new audience is probably more known as the musical Cabaret. This book was a very positive surprise for me. All I knew was that Cabaret is based on the novel, but it is so much more. It is a semi-autobiographical account of Isherwood's time in Berlin during the 1930s. It describes the pre-Nazi Germany during the Weimar Republic.

The novel is really six short stories that are connected. They are titled: "A Berlin Diary" (Autumn 1930), "Sally Bowles" (Cabaret), "On Ruegen Island (Summer 1931), "The Nowaks", "The Landauers" and "A Berlin Diary" (Winter 1932-33). Isherwood is the narrator and the stories describes the situation in the country and the wild array of people he meets. They are all fascinated, outsider kind of characters and give the novel its base.

Sally Bowles is an Englishwoman who sings in a local cabaret and she goes through life with her court of admirers. A total free spirit, or is it her way of coping with an uncertain world? Frl. Schröder, the landlady, another kind of free spirit, living in her own world of how it should be, and who is who. The other tenants of the house, as well as the poor, working class Nowak family, with his friend Otto and the rich and successful Jewish family Landauer.

It is all set against the turbulent times of Germany and it is very well described in a low key. Slowly, slowly we see how life changes for the people we have gotten to know. The first adaptation of the book was called "I am a camera" and this is in a way a very good title. Isherwood is the camera. Through the lens he sees what is happening around him, but, although he cares about the people he meets, he is able to leave whenever he wants.

I read the book in a day, and I must say it was difficult to put it down. Isherwood transfers you to the times which seems unreal in a way. Maybe this is how it is in a society which is about to change and where people do not really know what the outcome will be. Trying to do the best they can to survive. Very well written account of the times. It takes you away to the streets of Berlin and its inhabitants.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

2 x Anita Shreve

For quite some time I have had two books by Anita Shreve on my shelves. Many years ago I read The Pilot's Wife and got fascinated by Shreve's way of writing and her personal stories. It seemed like a good idea to read some more and I have now finished both of them.

Eden Close and Sea Glass are stories about everyday people who are facing a drama or events in life that change their lives. In Eden Close Andrew returns home after many years to attend his mothers funeral. While preparing their old house for sale, his memories of the fatal events that struck his neighbour Eden comes back to him. Going down memory lane and his old feelings for her, he finally digests what happened that night many years ago. Like in The Pilot's Wife, everything is not what it seems to be, and the event that so effected many people finally gets its solution.

In Sea Glass we meet at set of people in north east England just before the Wall Street crash in 1929. Honora and Sexton, a young couple just getting married. He is a salesman of typewriters and copying machines, she is a bank clerk, McDermott, working in the mill and mostly deaf due to the noises in the factory, Vivian, a bored society lady who does not know what to do with her life and Alphonse, a twelve year old boy working in the mill.

All these people do not seem to have anything to do with each other. But as the events of the big crash occurs their lives intermingle in unexpected ways. This is the time of strikes, workers fight for a decent work hours and pay and the situation slowly builds up until the day it is time to go into a strike.

As usual Anita Shreve slowly builds up her stories, we get to know the characters and their positive sides and their failings. Then all of a sudden events happens fast and it is difficult to put the book down, until the end of the story is revealed. I really like her stories, maybe because they are about you and me, ordinary people who find themselves in situations we all face in life. Well, maybe not all of the situations in her books, but we are still able to sympathise with them.

I was quite fascinated by Honora's collecting of sea glass. The description sounds lovely. While finding the covers for this post, I did find pictures of sea glass. They are absolutely beautiful. I don't know if they are available on European beaches. Anybody who knows? Anybody who also collects sea glass? Here is an image I found. Aren't they beautiful?

 All in all, two books perfect for a summer day read.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

A little book inventory!

I have been doing an inventory of my book cases. That is, going through books I have read and books from the TBR shelves. Space is always a problem, and I must admit, that these days I look at the book after finishing it and decide whether to keep it or not. Influenced by KonMari? Maybe. I had a big problem in the beginning doing it,  but I am getting better at it. It also helps that we will move next year and the idea of moving a lot of books I will never read again is helping. Book boxes tend to be very heavy. And there is not much space where they are going.

Here they are!
So, one sunny day I went through my books and managed to sort out 65 of them! Yes, I was rather amazed myself. In Belgium there is a FB group called Swedes in Brussels and I posted a short message and bawang! The books were given to someone eager to read them. I am quite happy since I don't really like to throw books away.

About the same time (this happens when you clean up dark corners) I found two bags of used books. Quite forgotten they were there. Yes, this happens too. One bag was from my friend Helen who also sorted out her book shelves. I choose the following books from her pile: The Past by Tessa Hadley, Brooklyn by Colm Toibin, Emily's Journal by Sarah Fermi and Brontë in Love by Sarah Freeman. Toibin is a favourite of course, it is always interesting to read about the Brontës and Tessa Hadley is a new acquaintance.

The other bag must have come from Sweden and a second hand bookshop, plus two new purchases. Two of them are old favourite authors, Anya Seton and Barbara Erskine and the third has the interesting title The Time Travelling Guide to Medieval England. The New purchases are an historical account of the southern provinces of Sweden and a new guide to Linné's Skåne travels. This is the area where I will settle down in the future so good to read up on the history.

I am quite happy about the inventory and there are now spaces on the shelves. Means I can fill them up with new ones!

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Mixed reading

Lately, I have been reluctant to write reviews of the books I have read. Sometimes I make notes during my reading, sometimes not. I always think I will remember what I was thinking at a certain point, but, alas, this is just wishful thinking. I have been slow with reading and for once did not have the energy or will to open a book. It comes and goes, but this time it has lasted longer than ever. I hope I am over it now, so looking forward to more reading during the summer. For now, I will share my thoughts on three books.

The Temporary Gentleman by Sebastian Barry

Sebastian Barry is a favourite author and I loved his The Secret Scripture and A Long, Long Way. Here we meet Jack McNulty in Ghana in 1957. He is a former UN observer whose mission is over. He is dreading going back to Ireland and the life he used to lead. He reflects on his life and failed marriage and his failings as a father. His present life acts as an opposite to his past life. While he has had problems engaging in his own family, he does engage himself in his servant's life and is trying to save his troublesome marriage.

As usual Barry gives us so many layers of what life is about. How do we act towards ourself, our family and friends, and people around us. McNulty starts to write a diary and this is when he really starts reflecting on his life and how to act in the future. Excellent writing, as usual, from Barry.

Blood & Guts - A Short History of Medicine by Roy Porter

I purchased this book while visiting Stratford-upon-Avon. It is an account on how humankind has fought disease over the ages, and the often gruesome ways in which doctors and surgeons learned how the inside of the body looked and worked.
"With an extraordinary cast of barber surgeons, quacks, apothecaries, witch-doctors and anatomists, this is an eye-opening, humorous and often terrifying look at our ongoing quest for immortality." 
Often while reading, I am really happy to live in the 21st century. Entertaining reading though and it gives you an overview of medical history. It is humorously written and understandable even for non-medical persons.

Self Power by Deepak Chopra

I think we all have our part of ups and downs in our lives. We all seek different ways to handle them. One of them is spiritualism. I am not a very spiritual person myself, but do embrace some of the wisdom. This book by Deepak Chopra is very good read. It gives good advice without being to overwhelmingly spiritual, and keeping it on realistic grounds. In the first part of the book he gives advice for how to act as life imposes itself on you. In the second part he answers questions from readers. Both parts are very useful and insightful.
"How you deal with the unknown determines how well you make choices. Bad decisions are the result of applying the past to the present, trying to repeat something that once worked. The worst decisions are made by applying the past so rigidly that you are blind to anything else. We can break down bad decisions into specifics. What we see is that each factor is rooted in contracted awareness. By its very nature, contracted awareness is rigid, defensive, limited in scope, and dependent on the past. The past is known, and when people aren't able to cope with the unknown, they have little choice but to remember the past, using old decisions and habits as their guide - a very fallible guide, as it turns out."
I really felt that his advise on how to approach things in life is practical and easy to adapt into you own life. Which decisions do you make, how can you change your life when you are unhappy. How can you open up to new ways and directions in your life. Useful reading for anyone.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Book beginnings on Fridays and The Friday 56

Rose City Reader, is hosting Book beginnings on Friday. She says:

Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name.

Freda’s voice is hosting Friday 56 and the rules are:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
(If you have to improvise, that's ok.)
 *Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it)
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post below in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url.
*It's that simple.

My book this week is The Temporary Gentleman by Sebastian Barry


'It's a beautiful night and no mistake. You would never think there was a war somewhere.'  

Page 56 (57 since 56 is an empty page):

When my brother Tom was still a teenager he got a job as the organist at the Picture House in Sligo. It is not given to every man to see his brother in such a guise. 

left Bank by Kate Muir - Paris in July 2017

My first book about Paris and France for the Paris in July meme, hosted by Tamara at Thyme for Tea, left Bank by Kate Muir. It is an easy enough read about a fashionable couple, Madison and Olivier, living on the left bank in Paris. They are both successful people, she an actress and he a philosopher. Very busy with their own careers they have hardly time for their daughter Sabine. Into their lives enters nanny Anna.

It starts  with a family visit to Disneyland, Paris and a dramatic event. The story leaves us there to take us back in time to introduce us to the characters, their lives and loves. It is a typically French story, and it takes us to wonderful places around Paris that you just long to visit yourself. It turns out that the happy, fashionable couple is not that happy after all. The title of this book could as well has been "keeping up appearances" because that is what their lives are about.

Both Madison and Olivier are now in their mid-forties and the popularity of their younger selves more difficult to keep up. Then something happens (this is where we catch up events from the Prologue) that makes, at least Madison realise, that there might be more important thing in life than keeping your body and face in perfect condition. In a way Olivier also realises, but it is more difficult for him to adjust, at least for a longer time. What is life without the exiting lunch meeting with your lover in a small hotel?

On the front cover it says that it is "Intoxicating, witty and delicious, like Paris itself..." and that is true. It is a charming story, very Parisian, but with dark undertones on how it is to grow older and having to realise what is important in life and the necessity to adjust your life style accordingly. Which does not necessarily leads to a lesser life. I liked the book and it is perfect as an easy summer read.

One great thing is the cover. It looks different depending if you keep the paper cover on it or take it off. Charming.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Mount TBR Mountaineering Checkpoint #2

I can't believe we are already half way through this year. The checkpoints for various challenges do take you back on track. Checking my reading for this challenge gives me a poor result. Far too few books read this year, so far. Ok, let's face the facts and have a look on how far up I have come.

One of my favourite challenges is Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2017, hosted by Bev at My Reader's Block.
As of April 1, I had read 15 books and made it 1.202 m or 3.943 ft up the Mont Blanc. As of July 1, I have read 23 books, which is 4.607 m (15.088 ft) up to the top. One more book and I am there.

As usual Bev has given us a few challenges on top of the reading. Choose two titles from the books you've read that have a common link. I will choose Romeo and Juliet and Sweet Bird of Youth which are both plays. I seldom read plays so this is something out of the extra ordinary.

Tell us about a book on the list that was new to you in some way - new author, about a place you've never geen, a genre you don't usually read etc. Here I will go for Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann. My first, but not last, encounter with this wonderful author.

Which book (read so far) has been on your TBR mountain the longest? Was it worth the wait? Or is it possible you should have tackled it back when you first put it on the pile? I can't really remember which one has been there the longest. However, Buddenbrooks has been there for some time. It was definitely worth the wait, but I feel I should have read it earlier. It was just the sheer size that made me postpone it. What a mistake!

Use titles from your list to complete as many of the following sentences below as you can.

My Life According to Books

1. My Ex was The Temporary Gentleman (by Sebastian Barry)
2. My best friend is Effie (by Suzanne Fagence Cooper
3. Lately, at work [I've had to deal with ] The Medieval Murders
4. If I won the lottery, [I'd go searching for] The Last Girls (by Lee Smith)
5. My fashion sense [is] Self Power (by Deepak Chopra)
6. My next ride [will be] To the Lighthouse (by Virginia Woolf
7. The one I love is The Go-Between (by J.P. Hartley)
8. If I ruled the world, I would be The Dream of Scipio (by Iain Pears)
9. When I look out my window, I [see] Charlotte Brontë's Secret Love (by Jolien Janzing)
10. The best things in life are A Circle of Sisters (by Judith Flanders)

Well, that is it for this time. Hopefully, I will achieve a good part up the Mt Vancouver at the next checkpoint. Happy reading!

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Paris in July

Paris in July, my favourite blogging event, hit me this year out of the blue. Normally, I think about it well in advance, planning what to do. Lately, I hardly had time to read all the blogs I am following and therefor I just realised yesterday that it has already started. It is once again hosted by Tamara at Thyme for TeaThank you for hosting Tamara. I know you are very busy for the time being.

So what will I do this year? Less ambitious than earlier years, due to my present schedule. I would like to write a few posts on our recent trip to Normandie. It was lovely and we travelled along the coast all the way down to St Malo. I would like to finish Nana by Emile Zola. I already started it last year, but never got around to finish it.

I actually bought a book a while ago, which I thought would be a good read for 'Paris in July'. It is a book called left Bank by Kate Muir. It is fictional but I am not able to figure out from the describing text at what time it takes place.

Listen to some French music, maybe finding out what is the most popular songs in France this year. Another option is watching a French film or TV-series. Maybe even fix a French dinner. Let's see what 'Paris in July' will bring.

Looking forward following your French goals for July.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann

I bought this book several years ago and it has been standing on my TBR shelves ever since. I bought it because it is a classic and I want to read a classic from time to time. Furthermore, since I mostly read English classics, it felt refreshing to read a classic from another country. However, every time I felt like reading it, its pure size stopped me from actually picking it up. What a lucky day when I did!

Sometimes you start a book with not very high hopes. A classic is always a gamble. Will it still be as fresh as it was at the time of writing, or will it seem hopelessly old fashioned? Buddenbrooks feels as fresh as when it was written. You are stuck from page number 1!

The novel tells the story of four generations of a bourgeoisie family in Lübeck during the years 1835-1877. Mann's own family comes from this milieu so he was well aquatinted with it. We meet them at the peak of their success and follow the decline over the years.  Major political and military developments took place in Germany during this time; the Revolutions of 1848 and the Austro-Prussian War. They are the back drop to the story, but do not have a significant place in the novel.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Long time no see!

Hello everyone! It was quite some time since I posted here. A little bit of fatigue entered my life and I have just been letting the days past. I have spent a week in Sweden which was very nice. I managed to get me some energy there, in the fresh winds from the sea. I played tennis and swam, so exercise every day. I also used the opportunity to read two books from my shelves there.

Most of my books are in English, but lately I have bought a few books in Swedish since I have spent some more time there. I do prefer to read English books in the original language, but when there is a language I don't read, like Icelandic and Portuguese in this case, I enjoy reading in Swedish.

One of my favourite authors is Arnaldur Indridason and I found his Oblivion in my book case and I read it in one day. It is difficult to stop reading when you start one of his books. What I especially like with his books is, that apart from the murder mystery, there is a very personal and interesting story of either the victim or someone close. In this case detective Erlendur looks for a cold case of a missing girl that was never found. This story runs parallell with the murder story. Exciting to the very end. Well written and descriptions of the Icelandic nature and society. Especially interesting for me since we are going to visit Iceland this summer. I also discovered that I have another to books by Indridason on my shelves, so there will be something for my next visit.

While in Sweden I was looking for a book for my mother's birthday. The book shop had an offer of 4 for 3, so I found one for her and three for me! They were Paulo Coelho's The Spy, Stefan Zweig's Amok and Karin Bojs' Min europeiska familj (My European Family) about our ancestors from the beginning of time.

I did manage to read The Spy while I was there. It has not got very good reviews from you fellow bloggers, but I must say I am really into Paulo Coelho for the moment. I can't say how much of the story that is true, but it seems he has done a lot of research and, as usual in these cases, it is the dialogue and the thoughts that are made up. I am always overwhelmed by the wisdom of Coelho and I thought there were a lot of thought worthy elements on life, how it is, and how we interpret it. I don't know a lot about Mata Hari, only the outline. However, Coelho's story shows us a woman ahead of her time, who lived the life she wanted and embraced life and its possibilities.

I was quite happy to find Stefan Zweig's Amok. So many of you have recommended him and I really look forward reading the book. He is also Austrian, like my husband, and since I have not read that many authors from there, I always enjoy finding someone good. Like Robert Seethaler's A Whole Life

That was a small catch up from me. I have four reviews that will come within short. The Temporary Gentleman by Sebastian Barry, Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann, Blood and Guts: A Short History of Medicin by Roy Porter and Self Power by Deepak Chopra. See you soon!

Monday, 12 June 2017

Bookmarks Monday

Guiltless ReadingI am joining Guiltless Reading for the Bookmarks Monday meme. A couple of weeks ago I was visiting England and Stratford upon Avon. It was a great visit and I walked around all the places connected to Shakespeare's period. The Anne Hathaway's Cottage, Nash's House, Hall's Croft and of course Shakespeare's birthplace. They were all wonderful places and I really enjoyed walking around Stratford as well.

One bookmark and one book was the outcome of my visit there. The book was Roy Porter's Blood and Gut, A Short History of Medicin. Great book and not as bloody as I expected. The bookmark is all related to Shakespeare and you see it here.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Life's different phases

It has been rather quiet here lately. This is partly due to a travel I did to London and Menorca. While in London I also visited Oxford and Stratford and hope to do a couple of posts on these wonderful places later.

Otherwise life has been very heavy from the beginning of the year. I am trying to cope with lack of energy and hope that I am now on the right way. Something that helps is to read your blogs which always inspire me. It feels good to see what you are all up to, what you are reading and how you cope with life.

I have a couple of book reviews waiting to be written. I read Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann. A huge book, but what a treat it was to read it. In Stratford I bought a book, Blood and Guts, A Short History of Medicin by Roy Porter. Very interesting story on the development of medicin. To help out my present state I finally read Self Power by Deepak Chopra, which has been on my shelves for some time. It contains a lot of useful tips on how to approach life and, if necessary, change your outlook and situation.

This week, while sitting by my computer, I am enjoying the French Open in tennis. A lot of interesting games, surprise wins and overall good tennis play. It is a windy day here today, so perfect to stay inside and enjoy the games.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

20 Books of Summer

I have been away for 12 days (London and Menorca) and had a wonderful time. More about that later. When I managed to go into feedly to read your blogs, I ran into this challenge. Sounds like a good idea for the summer.

It is Cathy at Cathy 746 Books who hosts this annual challenge;  20 Books of Summer. Well, since she admits the rules are a little bit slack, you can choose 10, 15 or 20 books from your TBR shelves. They should be read between 1 June 2017 and 3 September 2017. Suits me fine, since I want to read at least 50 books from my TBR shelves, if possible more.

I have the same problems like some other bloggers, that as soon as I put a book down on a list, I dread to read it. I just don't know why. I hope this list will not cause me look for other books on my shelves. However, whatever book that disappears from there is a good deed.

Here is my list:

Bowen, McAleer, Blyth - Monsoon Traders, The Maritime World of the East India Company
Bryson, Bill - Notes from a Small Island
Chopra, Deepak - Self Power - Spiritual Solutions to Life's Greatest Challenges
Gogol, Nikolaj - The Overcoat and Other Short Stories
Hannah, Kristin - Viskar ditt namn (Angel Falls)
Indridason, Arnaldur - Den som glömmer
Isherwood, Christopher - Goodbye To Berlin
Marques, Gabriel Garcia - One Hundred Years of Solitude
Morton, Kate - The Secret Keeper
Tolstoy, Leo - Anna Karenina

It is a mixture of fiction and non-fiction books. I will check in on this challenge sometimes in beginning of July to see where I am. Maybe I can add a few books.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

The Dream of Scipio by Iain Pears

"Julien Barneuve dies at 3:28 on the afternoon of August 18, 1943."
That is the first sentence of The Dream of Scipio. It is my first book by Iain Pears. Luckily, I have another one waiting on my shelves. This book was such a wonderful surprise and I think he will be one of my favourite authors in the future. 'The Washington Post' has put it right to the core: "A thrilling journey through history, into the human heart and soul."

We follow three men and their beloved through history and it takes place in France. In the 5th century we meet Manlius Hippomanes and his beloved Sophia. In the 14th century Olivier de Noyen and his beloved Rebecca and in the 20th century Julien Barneuve and his beloved Julia. Julien is an historian and is researching the other two.  Olivier is the middle man, already having had an interest in old manuscripts in the 14th century, his researched gives Julien the story of Manlius. It is only in the very last stage of his life, that Julien realises the real consequences of the life and actions of Olivier. Here an ancient murder mystery is part of the story.
"And Julien returned to his books, turning in these years to the subject that had been in the back of his mind for so long: to describe the resilience of civilization, its enormous strength, the way that even when near death it could revive and regrow. Bringing its benefits to mankind once more."
The novel takes up the eternal story of what civilisation is. Who are the civilised people? We or the others? What actions are to be called civilised? What is morally and ethically correct? Is it ethically correct to sacrifice one person to save another? This story covers big questions on these matters and it is heartbreaking at times. It also shows that it does not matter in which century you are living.  In time of war our decisions and actions change. We go through emotions we could not even dream of and have to act in ways we could never imagine.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Bookmarks on Monday

Monday again and this week I have another bookmark for the Bookmarks on Monday meme, hosted Guiltless Reading.

I bought i recently while visiting Le Mont du Saint Michel in France. As expected it shows the lovely island on a wonderful photo.

Visiting was almost like a fairy tale experience although the thick walls were maybe more fortress like than fairy tale like. Small alleys to walk around in, or climb rather. It is rather steep inside the walls. We stayed one night, walked around, up and down and had a lovely dinner watching the tide coming in.

Friday, 12 May 2017

6 Degrees of Separation - May

May is here and neither spring or summer seem to be with us. Still chilly and unstable weather. What better than to join Books Are My Favourite And Best and another 6 Degrees of Separation. This month starts with The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas. I have never heard about either the book or the author, but reading up on Wikipedia gives me a hint. Seems like an interesting book and excellent book for a discussion, either in a book club or at a dinner.

The people in the book gather at a barbecue and brings my mind to The Dinner by Dutch author Herman Koch. Two brothers and their wives gather for dinner to discuss something that their sons have done. It is only in the end we get to know what they have really done. The deed lies underneath the thoughts and dinner conversation of the party.  A novel with many layers.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Classic spin #15

For once I did finish my book for the Classic spin. It was Sweet Bird of Youth by Tennessee Williams. It is a play and I am not really into reading plays, rather prefer to see them. However, this one was quite easy to read.

It tells the story of a gigolo, Chance Wayne, who is returning to his home town in company of a faded movie star. He has aspirations to become a movie star and hope that she will be the key to opening the right doors. A reason for coming home is also to try to get back what he lost in his youth; his girlfriend whose father made him go away years ago. However, you can never get back your youth. What has been done can not be made undone. This is a lesson he learns over a couple of days. The revenge of a small town can be hard.

It is a typical Tennessee Williams I would say. Set out in the South, young and not so young lovers, underlying feelings of heat, anger and violence. I really enjoyed it.

Monday, 1 May 2017

A Room With a View

My father says that there is only one perfect view — the view of the sky straight over our heads, and that all these views on earth are but bungled copies of it.” 

E.M. Forster, A Room with a View
THE SIGNORA HAD NO business to do it,” said Miss Bartlett, “no business at all. She promised us south rooms with a view close together, instead of which here are north rooms, looking into a court-yard, and a long way apart. Oh, Lucy" 
E.M. Forster, A Room With a View

A room with a view is always a nice thing. As E.M. Forster lets his characters wish for in his novel with the same name. We have been on a tour in Normandy, Guernsey and Jersey and were lucky to have wonderful views from our hotel rooms, most of the time. Here are a few views:

Chataeu Rozel

La Vieille Auberge in Le Mont St Michel

La Porte de Saint Pierre in St Malo

The Savoy in Jersey

Three wonderful views and one back yard. Well, you can't have it all. The Savoy was a wonderful hotel otherwise with a marvellous restaurant Montana. So good we ate there both nights.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Book Beginnings on Fridays and The Friday 56

Rose City Reader, is hosting Book beginnings on Fridays.

Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name.

Freda’s voice is hosting Friday 56 and the rules are:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
(If you have to improvise, that's ok.)
 *Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it)
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post below in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url.
*It's that simple.

My book this week is One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I think it is a great beginning.

Book beginning:

"Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."

Page 56:

"In that discomfort, breathing quicklime and tar, no one could see very well how from the bowels of the earth there was rising not only the largest house in the town, but the most hospitable and cool house that had ever existed in the region of the swamp."

Still reading this book. The pages are very dense, hardly without any space at all and it takes time. The story is sort of magical.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

The Borden Murders - Lizzie Borden & the Trial of the Century by Sarah Miller

Lizzie Borden took an ax,
Gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.

This is a song that was created around this famous murder case and it seems that it is quite well known in the US. However, it does not give us the whole extent of this extraordinary murder mystery. Behind it, is a real life murder mystery, to which there is no answer to 'who dunnit'!

Sarah Miller has done a thorough research into these gruesome murders which took place on 4 Augusti, 1892 in Fall River, Mass. The police was called to the house on 92 Second Street and found Mr and Mrs Borden murdered in the house. Mrs Borden upstairs in her bedroom and Mr Borden on the sofa in the living room.

The only persons in the house was the youngest daughter Lizzie and the maid Bridget. The police did not do a very good first investigation of the murder scene and this was later an obstacle in the trial. However, after a few days the police decided to arrest the daughter Lizzie Borden for murdering her parents.

Sarah Miller takes us through the events of the day of both the women, checking the house and the barn for evidence and not finding very much. There was quite a lot of blood from the bodies, but no blood was found on either of the women or anywhere else. The murder weapon was not found. A reason for the killing was not found, although it was said that Lizzie did not get along with her step mother, and, it seems, had no problem with her father. It is a complete mystery. Lizzie insisted all through this ordeal that she was not guilty. However, some of her initial remarks on what she was doing that day, left more questions than answers.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Bookmark Monday

I am joining Guiltless Reading for the Bookmark Monday meme.

I was recently travelling around Normandie and in the castle in Falaise, the birthplace of William the Conquerer, I found these lovely bookmarks. They really fit the Norman times.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Read lately

I have a pile of five books that I read lately and have not yet reviewed. Here are mini reviews of the books, although some of them really deserves a 'real' review.

The Last Girls by Lee Smith

A wonderful book about a group of young girls who, while in college, decides to go in the footsteps of Huckleberry Finn, and go down the Mississippi on a raft. Thirty-five years later four of them meets to make a different trip down the Mississippi. "Baby", who was the 'wild one' during their college years, has died and her husband has asked her friends to take her ashes down the river to commemorate their earlier trip.

Harriet, a teacher, unmarried, careful, not taking any risks. Courtney, married rich and have to deal with her husbands infidelity and her mother-in-law's dominance. Anna, comes från poor circumstances, got a scholarship to college and is now a successful bestseller author. Catherine, the southern beauty who went against her upbringing to become a sculptor and are in her third marriage.

They all remember Margaret "Baby" Ballou, beautiful, wild, rebellious, deceitful, promiscuous at college. She has died in a car accident and the friends suspects suicide.

The group has had not contact during the thirty-five years and they have to get to know each other again. They all think everybody else are more happy than themselves. During the trip they talk and get to know each other again. Looking back on their youth, their lives, what they made of it and where they ended up. After the trip they are all changed and realise that there is still time to live their lives.

A wonderfully written account of youth, life and where it takes us. In the background is the ever flowing Mississippi.

The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley

"The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there."

The famous opening of this wonderful account of a young man's experiences during a hot summer holiday. Leo is invited to spend the summer with his upper class school friend Marcus. He is asked to act as a messenger between Marcus' sister Marian and the farmer Ted. He is deeper and deeper drawn into their relationship of deceit and desire. One day he wakes up to make a shocking and premature revelation which ends in disaster. 
"He had made me realize something of what Marian and he meant to each other, and though I did not understand the force that drew them together, any more than I understood the force that drew the steel to the magnet, I recognized its strength."
It is a beautifully written story. A pure pleasure to read. Although the story is slow you never notice and the story slowly, slowly takes you towards the inevitable. When we reach the end, in Leo's old age, we are once again drawn into the go-between. 
"Perhaps this was unfair to Marian and Lord Trimingham, who had both treated me with signal kindness. To to them, I knew, I was a go-between, they thought of me in terms of another person. When Lord Trimingham wanted Marian, when Marian wanted Ted, they turned to me. The confidences that Marian had made me had been forced out of her. With Ted it was different. He felt he owed me something - me, Leo: the tribute of one nature to another. 

Thursday, 20 April 2017

New purchases

Long time no see! I have been on a trip to Normandie, Guernsey and Jersey. It was a nine day trip on the road from morning to evening, so I had not so much time to blog. There will be some reports from our trip which was very nice and interesting, as well as a few short reviews of books read lately.

During the trip I was exhausted in the evenings and I just read a few very easygoing historical fiction books. Now at home again I will go back to One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It is a little bit more demanding to read.

Today I went to a "Book Festival" and though I was very restricted and disciplined (at least I thought so myself!) I came back with 16 books! Yes, I know. As if I don't have several TBR shelves already full of books. But when the books cost 2-5 € each, it is difficult to resist.

Of the 16 books I have divided them into four piles; five books with favourite authors, six books with authors I wanted to read, three with biographical content and two thrillers.

Favourite authors

Diana Gabaldon, The Scottish Prisoner - a 'side' book out of her Outlander series. I love historical fiction and Diana Gabaldon writes very well.

Philip Kerr, Prague Fatale - I read his book The Quiet Flame and loved it. Therefor I grabbed this one and I am sure I will not be disappointed.

Tracy Chevalier, Burning Bright - historical fiction at its best. London at the end of the 18th century.

Catherine Cookson, Kate Hannigan's Girl. Read several books by her when I was young, but that was a long time ago. I recently read a biography about her To be a lady: Story of Catherine Cookson by Cliff Goodwin and, after that interesting account of her life, I wanted to read something else by her.

Paulo Coelho, Adultery. I think Coelho does not need a lot of introduction. I recent read his The Witch of Portobello and loved it. This should be an interesting read.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2017 - checkpoint #1

Bev at My Reader's Block is hosting the Mount My TBR challenge. She has called for the first check point and here is mine. As of 31 March I have read 15 books from my TBR pile and that has taken me to the top of Pike's Peak (4.302 m or 14,155 ft or 12 books) and 1.202 m or 3,943 ft or 3 books) up the Mont Blanc. I am steady on my way. 9 more books to reach the peak on 4.808 m (15,774 ft). I hope to read at least 100 books this year, but all of them will not be from my TBR pile, so the end of the year will tell which mountain I will climb.

Here are a few things Bev asks us to consider.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Six Degrees of Separation

April and we are to consider another book chain in the meme 6 Degrees of Separation, hosted  Books Are My Favourite And Best . This month we start with the book Room by Emma Donoghue. I have not read the book, but heard about it, or at least the movie, which I have not seen either.

I make it easy for myself and start with Emma, which leads me into the book Emma by Jane Austen.
A book I tried to read for ages and just could not get into it. Finally, I decided "just to read it" and, although it is not my favourite Austen read by far, (I just can't stand Emma) it does improve after about half the book. The latter part is a relatively pleasant read.

From Austen I go to Austen! Or almost at least. Recently I read All Roads Lead to Austen by Amy Elizabeth Smith, about her trip to six South American countries in a quest to find out how Austen is interpreted by modern South Americans. A pleasant read.

Friday, 31 March 2017

"Book beginnings on Friday" and "The Friday 56"

Rose City Reader

Rose City Reader, is hosting Book beginnings on Friday. She says:

Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name.

Freda's Voice
Freda’s voice is hosting Friday 56 and the rules are:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
(If you have to improvise, that's ok.)
 *Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it)
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post below in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url.
*It's that simple.

My book this week is The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley

This absolutely fantastic book has one of the most famous book beginnings ever.

The Content Reader


"The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there."

Page 56

"I decided it would be impossible to like him, and immediately liked him better. He was nothing to be afraid of, even without the handicap of his ambiguous social position, which I judged to be below that of a gentleman but above that of, well, such a person as Ted Burgess. "

A lovely, lovely book, a review will come soon. Hope you enjoyed the quotes.