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.