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Showing posts from June, 2015

Only a Novel: The Double Life of Jane Austen by Jane Aiken Hodge

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Jane Austen’s popularity never seems to cease. New biographies enter the market at regular intervals. Thank you to  Endeavour Press , who provided me with a review copy, I have read Jane Aiken Hodge’s biography of Austen’s life, from 1972. It still feels very modern. It could be that a newer biography would have more revelations on Austen’s life, but I am not sure. The main problem writing about Jane Austen’s life is, that there are not that many facts to base it on. Some letters survive, but many were destroyed by her sister Cassandra after her death. Jane Aiken Hodge has written a charming biography of one of the most popular English writers. This was not the case in her own time though. Apart from Pride and Prejudice, which was the most popular, the others did not do that well. She wrote the first books several years before they were actually published. The first book she wrote, which her father managed to sell to a publisher, was Susan. It was never published and years later, her

Sunday bliss - after the battle!

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Through the woods to Waterloo Yesterday was a lovely day. Small clouds on a blue sky, nice temperatures and a small wind. A perfect day to go biking. My husband and I decided to bike over to Waterloo, to visit the battlefield and some of the farms, which were part of the battle, but not so accessible when we were there last time. We were not entirely sure on the biking route to Waterloo, but started out in the forest, enclosing our part of the suburbs. As usual this is such a treat, biking or walking under the huge beeches. They are standing very close, so the sun comes down in rays only. Absolutely beautiful. At one point we had to take the tunnel under the highway to go over to the other side. Too close to the big road, but we made it into the village of Waterloo, to continue over to the battle field area. Buddy looking cool amidst a palm tree in a Waterloo restaurant!

Paris in July 2015 - Button competition

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Tamara, hosting this years' 'Paris in July' on Thyme for Tea opened a Button competition. There has been many nice creations forwarded. I contribute with these two:

Bike, Read and Bookswapping

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Yesterday was a busy, bookie day! Weather has turned nice, warm and sunny. I perfect day for a bike ride through the forest, down to the next village of Terveuren. There is a huge park, with lovely ponds and birds. I stopped there to sit on a bench in the sun and read The City of Fallen Angels  by John Berendt. In the evening I went to the book swapping club which celebrated its 5th anniversary. Lots of people, a wonderful singer-songwriter, Sandra Ferretti, accompanied by guitarist Daniel Vincke, who entertained us with popular music. Both I and my friend Karin managed to convince our husbands to come as well. We took this opportunity to try out the food in the restaurant and found a table outside! Yes, for once this year we could sit outside.  We had a lovely meal of Cevapcici and a wonderful red Macedonian Merlot wine. For the book swapping I had brought four books and got three with me back home. Mind you the 'Berlin' book was chosen by my husband. We intend to go the

The Battle of Waterloo - bicentenary anniversary

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Two hundred years ago, on 18 June 1815, one of the most famous and important battles in modern history took place in a small village outside Brussels called Waterloo. It was to determine the future of Europe. As for a 'Pyrrhic' victory (named after king Pyrrhus of Epirus whose army defeated the Romans at Heraclea in 280 BC and Asculum in 279 BC; his army suffered irreplaceable casualties and is quoted by Plutarch as saying:   one other such victory would utterly undo him) the term Waterloo  became synonymous with something difficult to master. Lord Byron, in a letter to Thomas Moore wrote: "It (Armenian) is ... a Waterloo of an Alphabet." Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, was the first to use the meaning of someone meeting their Waterloo: "We have not yet met our Waterloo, Watson, but this is our Marengo." (from Return of Sherlock Holmes). Marengo refers to the battle Austrian forces fought against Napoleon in Italy, where he came close to a defeat. After the battle

Weekly haberdashers!

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I love the word haberdasher. Please correct me if I am wrong, but I see this as a small old fashioned shop with a little bit of everything. I suppose it is mostly connected to sewing and everything that goes with it (unfortunately, it does not at all go with me, I am hopeless with a needle and thread), but I use it freely and include books and other things into it. I have just finished two books. One I actually won on a creativity web-site in Sweden, called in my own translation  Creativity without fuss by Stefan Ekberg . It is about creative people, going into business, but I think a lot of it is also applicable on myself and my blogging. The other one is one I have been reading for a long time, a non-fiction called Kalmarunionen  by Lars-Olof Larsson, about the Kalmarunion. It was a union between Denmark, Norway and Sweden that lasted from 1397 - 1523, although it seems it was nevertheless most fighting wars than understanding. Talking about fighting wars, leads me into the bi

Can Reading Make You Happier?

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Through 'Pocket' I found this interesting article in  The New Yorker  by Ceridwen Dovey. There he explains how he several years ago, received a gift from friends. The gift was a remote session with a bibliotherapist. Personally, I have never heard of such therapists, but obviously they exist. This specific therapist works at the London headquarters of the School of Life, “which offers innovative courses to help people deal with the daily emotional challenges of existence.” He was rather doubtful about the good of it all, but since it was a gift he tried it out. Monastery library in Valldemossa, Mallorca He received a questionnaire about his reading habits, from bibliotherapist, Ella Berthoud. Never before had anyone asked him about his reading habits and he was quite happy to fill in the form. One question was “What is preoccupying you at the moment?”. His answer was that he did not know how to cope with grief if he was losing somebody. This started an exchange of e-mail

Paris in July!

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It is time for the wonderful, month long blog exchange of "Paris in July". Hosted this year by Tamara at  Thyme for Tea . I joined for the first time last year, and it was such a nice experience, so I am signing up again. Paris in July 2015 Tamara explains: "Paris in July is about to enter into its 6th year and probably doesn't need too much of an introduction for many of you. For newcomers to this event - Welcome :) The aim of the month is to celebrate our French experiences through reading, watching, listening, observing, cooking and eating all things French!  There will be no rules or targets in terms of how much you need to do or complete in order to be a part of this experience – just blog about anything French or Paris, or Paris-like, and you can join in! Some ideas might include; • reading a French themed book – fiction or non-fiction, • watching a French movie, • listening to French music, • cooking French food, • experiencing French, a

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

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One more book from my TBR shelves. And what a book. When I finally took it in my hand, I realised I have read another book by this famous writer, Arthur and George , which I remember liking. I also have A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters. The reason I left it there (I actually think I got it from a friend, thank you Lena) was because I mixed up  Barnes with another writher, which book I did not like. Can't remember either the writer or the title, which might be as well. The first part of the book is about Tony Webster and his friends during their studying days. They were three, but was extended to a group of four when Adrian Finn arrived at school. Adrian is different from the other boys, more serious and more intelligent. They all swore to be friends for life. However, life does not always turn out as we want it to. It is also a book about history, how it is interpreted, and when does something become history. What is true and what is not. The following exchange shows t

Tell Him About It by Holly Kinsella

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The name of Holly Kinsella sounds familiar, but I have never read anything by her. So when  Endeavour Press  asked if I wanted to review a couple of books, I choose this as one of them. I had a notion that it would be an easy, light hearted read. Tell Him About It  tells the story of Sara Sharpe who works as a publicity assistant for a big British publisher. She is sharp(!) and interested in her job, which is more that can be said by some of her colleagues. Sara is dating Simon, who is a successful lawyer and everybody expects them to marry. However, Sara is not sure that Simon is the right for her. Adam Cooper is a writer who has just published a new book. It falls on Sara to take care of him and arrange for a lecture and signing tour. Adam is newly divorced from a socialite, who has spread bad things about him in the press. First impression seems to be true, but Sara discovers something else under the surface. I probably do not have to tell you how this story ends? This is what

Back home!

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After almost a month in Sweden, I am back home, which always feels good! In Sweden the lilacs are still in bloom. Here our own lilac is past the flowering season. But, it looked like this Yesterday we could even enjoy a glas of champagne with strawberries in the evening sun. I think it is almost the first day of this year, that we can sit outside!

Vasadöttrarna (The Vasa Daughters) by Karin Tegenborg Falkdalen

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We have two dynasties that have been on the Swedish throne since the 16th century; The Vasas and the Bernadottes. The last one is the present family. The first king of the Vasa dynasty was Gustav Vasa who reigned between 1523 and 1560. He was married three times, and got one son in his first marriage, the future king Erik XIV and eight sons and daughters with his second wife, and none with his third wife. Maybe because he was rather old and she was rather young. Three of his four sons succeeded him as king of Sweden; Erik XIV, Johan III and Karl IX. One son, Magnus, had an illness and died rather young. He had five daughters of which we don't know so much. Not surprisingly, considering that daughters in those days were much less important than sons. Their advantage was that they got a good marriage, mostly to improve the family and contacts with other European dynasties. This book is about his daughters.

Varied reading

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I brought some Swedish books with me for my trip to Sweden. I took them from my TBR shelves, so it feels good to tell you that I have finished them. And...on top of it, they were very good. Also taking the opportunity to borrow books from the library while here, which is a real treat. Just a few lines about the books. Svinajakten (The Wild Boar Hunt  my translation) by Anna Bovaller. A new writer for me, but I will be happy to read more from her. It is about a lawyer Petra, living in Stockholm, and having a summer house in Skåne, in the south west of Sweden. While there for a weekend she runs into a former boy friend from years back. He is married and has just inherited a big mansion. Before you know it, he dies in a hunting accident. At least that is what everybody think. Except, the loyal house keeper who says that he was killed. When she is killed as well, the local police and Petra get involved in the solving of the cases. It is excited to the very end, and the culprit was a sur