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.