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.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

A Circle of Sisters by Judith Flanders

"Four women connect four men by a slender but steely thread. One man is an earl, and three times prime ministers; the second a Nobel prizewinner who turned down a knighthood, the Poet Laureateship and the Order of Merit; the third is a baronet, who has been both director of the National Gallery and president of the Royal Academy. The thread is the Macdonald sisters - four women who were the mothers of Stanley Baldwin and Rudyard Kipling and the wives of Edward Burne-Jones and Edward Poynter. "
Alice, Georgiana, Agnes, Louisa and Edith Macdonald, five sisters of which four of them married into  the history of the Victorian cultural age.

The Macdonald sisters came from the lower middle classes without any great prospects of social advancement. However, they made their name, as wives and mothers, to some of the most famous men (yes, they were all men) of their times. The sisters received an education and through their one surviving brother, Frederic, who studied at University, they came into contact with people from the higher, social classes. The father was a Methodist preacher and they moved frequently during their childhood. Their mother had the sole responsibility to raise the children and take care of the household, which she did with a firm hand. It was only when they moved to London, where the future artists and writers gathered, that their life took a turn. With their charms they met the men they came to love, and whom they supported in their future careers. Not all of them were happy, but they created a big family and kept tight all through their lives. The youngest sister, Edith, did not marry and lived with her sisters all her life, as well as helped them with their families. Not all of them were very organised and their lives were at times rather chaotic.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Bookmark Monday

Joining Guiltless Reading for Bookmark Monday. Today I have two bookmarks from Argentina! Yay! My husband, Martin,  was there last week for a business trip, and I asked him to go to Corrientes to check out this street with all the book shops. If you read my review of All Roads Lead to Austen, you know what I mean. I don't think he found that actual book shop, but he found a lot of others and came back with beautiful photos of one, which seemed to have been adapted from a theatre, Grand Splendid El Ateneo. 

He also bought me a couple of bookmarks. One with the, maybe, most famous thing about Argentina, the TANGO and one magnetic one with wise words from Einstein.

"Life is lika riding a bicycle. To keep your
balance you must keep moving."

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Mrs Jordan's Profession by Claire Tomalin

I have read another excellent biography by Claire Tomalin. The first one was about Charles Dickens and this is about Mrs Jordan, one of the best known actresses of her time. Claire Tomalin creates a fascinating and vivid portrait of a remarkable woman.
Dorothea Bland was born on 22 November 1761, as one of six siblings. It is not clear whether her parents Francis Bland and Grace Phillips were married. Her mother was an actress and that is the career that Dorothea, or as she was commonly known, Dora, entered into. She was very talented, worked her way up towards the stages of London. But it started on the darker side.
She was raped by a friend of the family, became pregnant and gave birth to her first daughter Frances, or Fanny, when she was hardly more than a child herself. After some years touring the countryside she came to London and success was almost immediate. She met Richard Ford, a police magistrate and lawyer, moved in with him and got three daughters. She left him several years later because he did not want to marry her. By this time she was very famous and made good money, so could afford to move into a house of her own.
It is at this point that she meets Prince William, the Duke of Clarenden, and he gets infatuated by her. His is the third son of King George III, a little bit of a fallout who does not really find a purpose in life. When the public found out about their relationship, they were given a hard time.  For a long time the papers were full of caricatures of the couple. However, they seemed to have been very happy together.
"An her effect on him was tonic. Not only was her dedication to her work exemplary, she also provided a centre and order to his life. She gave him good advice. Under her tactful guidance he largely gave up drinking - the exception being when he visited the Prince of Wales, which meant being on what Dora called 'hard duty' in that department. She teased him and even quarrelled with him, but she was loyal and constant."

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Books in marble

Last weekend we took the car and drove over to Namur. There is an old Citadel which casts its shadow over the city. The old city is small and quite nice, and we took a stroll through the narrow streets. Passing by the church of Saint-Loup we ventured inside for a look. A beautiful church with a row of confession boots on each side along the church, beautifully carved and art pieces in themselves. Furthermore, there was an exhibition of a Russian artist, Aidan Salakhova.

In the information sheet I read: "Her sculptures in the Église Saint-Loup continue the overarching theme of "Vices and Virtues", questioning how religions take account of the flesh or whether they deny it. How the female body is stigmatised as a symbol of temptation or modesty and how it can be protected. Her work addresses the taboos of our society, particularly those relating to desire and sexuality."

What attracted me specifically were the marble books she had created:
"Another dialogue is established between the eight confessionals and the white marble books placed on the platform. Like the enclosed surroundings of a confessional, a private space is created for each individual, whether through the acts of reading and gaining knowledge or of revealing their inner life.

The book's pages bring to mind both the folds in a veil and a ploughed field: the parchment of life. Her works are open books on a range of symbolism: white and black, dag and night, darkness and light, a cosmic well, the cubic form of the Kaaba or Malevitch's Black Square and symmetry breaking."

Books, in whatever disguise, holds a spell on me!

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Miscellaneous reading

I have read a variety of books lately, but not really had time to write about them. Here are three books that I finished recently, and that I enjoyed.

The Holy Grail, History, Myth, Religion by Giles Morgan is an interesting summary of the Holy Grail and how it has appeared through history. From the very first pre-Christian sources on a magical vessel to the Cup of Christ. Continuing we enter into the magic world of King Arthur and the Holy Grail, where we also meet Merlin, Excalibur as well as Lancelot and Lady Guinevere, Camelot and visits the Isle of Avalon.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

I wanted to read Virginia Woolf for a long time but somehow did not get around to do it. One day recently, I grabbed To the Lighthouse which I have had in my bookcase for quite some time. If this is something typically of her, I am a new fan. A wonderfully written book, with mesmerising characters.

While reading I was thinking of the Bloomsbury group and her own family. How people gathered in the summers to be creative, social or anti-social, meeting friends and enjoying themselves. I read that this novel is partly autobiographical and it was a great strain for her to write it.

The novel is divided into three parts; in the first part, we meet Mrs and Mr Ramsay, their family of eight children and invited friends and colleagues. The story starts when their son James wants to go to the Lighthouse and Mrs Ramsay promises to take him there tomorrow, should the weather be fine. Mr Ramsay spoils it by saying that the weather will not be fine.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Bookmark Monday

Joining Guiltless Reading for Bookmark Monday. Visiting the Sterling bookshop here in Brussels, I found a lot of bookmarks available for customers. They were all designed by people working in the shop. I think this is a very good idea. Here are some of the ones I choose.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

The Empress of South America by Nigel Cawthorne

Opening this book was like opening Pandora's box. All the evils came out, not to be spread through the world, but over Paraguay.

The title of this book tickled my curiosity when I was offered a review copy from Endeavour press. The Empress of South America? Who could that be? It sounded impressive, but I had never heard about such a title or empress.

It all started with Elisa Alicia Lynch, born in Ireland in 1833. Ten years later the family emigrated to Paris due to the Great Famine in Ireland. That was the beginning of a life that was to be anything but normal. She married at seventeen, separated from her husband three years later, and entered into the world of the courtesans. Through connections she managed to move into the highest circle; the one surrounding Princess Mathilde Bonaparte. It was in this circle that she met her fate; the Paraguayan general Francisco Solano Lopez.

But, let's start where the book starts. In Paris, one night in May 1961, when a Paraguayan of Lebanese descent, Teófilo Chammas, scaled the walls of the famous Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris, to steel the bones of Eliza Lynch. When he finally finds the mausoleum where she is buried, he reads the plaque, saying in Spanish:

"Monument erected
Enrique, Federico and Carlos Solano López. 
To the illustrious memory 
of their always beloved and unforgettable mother
 Dona Elisa Alicia Lynch-López. 
Died 25 July 1886."
"Reading this, students of Latin American history would instantly recall the bloodiest war in the history of the Americas, a war which left more dead than the United States' bitter Civil War and all but destroyed a wealthy nation, through the weakness of a man and the ambition of a woman. It was this woman, Elisa Alicia Lynch - López - better know as Eliza Lynch - that Chammas had come for."

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

6 Degrees of Separation

March is upon us and there is another book chain to consider.  Host, Books Are My Favourite And Best, starts with Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby. I am not familiar with the book, but it is about football in general and the author's relationship with Arsenal Football Club in particular. It is Hornby's first book, published in 1992, and is said to be an autobiographical essay.

The first word coming into mind is of course 'sport'. I don't really like reading about sports, and don't know about any books about sports either. However, I did read I am Zlatan by David Lagercrantz, which is a biography about one of our greatest football players ever, Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

That takes me to 'David Lagercrantz' who wrote the sequel to the Millenium book by Stieg Larsson. It is called The Girl in the Spider's Web. I have not read it, and am not sure I will, although I read the first three ones.

The word girl, or girls, takes me to Lee Smith's The Last Girls, which I finished recently. A group of girls went on a raft down the Mississippi, in the foot steps of Huckleberry Finn, during their college years. Thirty five years later, four of them meet up again, to take a boat down the river, in honouring their friend who died. A really good story, where nothing is as it seems to be. Review will follow.

The word to go from here will be 'voyage', and I settle for Fatal Voyage by Kathy Reichs. Our favourite forensic anthropologist, Temperance Brennan  is in action again. Don't we just love her?

'Forensic' takes us to any murder mystery, and I settle for one book on my shelves, not yet read. That is Playing With Fire by Peter Robinson. I have read one book by him and liked it.

'Fire' takes me to Sweden and the second part of a fantasy trilogy by Mats Strandberg and Sara Bergmark, Eld or Fire. I have read the first one, The Circle which is very good. Looking forward to his one.

There I went very quickly from football, to girls, to fire and a few travels in between.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Classic Spin #15

Time for Classic Spin #15 with the Classic Club. What is the spin? Here is what they say over at the Club.

"It's easy. At your blog, before next Friday, March 10th, create a post to list your choice of any twenty books that remain "to be read" on your Classics Club list.

This is your Spin List. You have to read one of these twenty books in March & April. (Details follow.) Try to challenge yourself. For example, you could list five Classics Club books you are dreading/hesitant to read, five you can’t WAIT to read, five you are neutral about, and five free choice (favourite author, re-reads, ancients — whatever you choose.)

On Friday, we'll post a number from 1 through 20. The challenge is to read whatever book falls under that number on your Spin List, by May 1, 2017. We'll check in here in May to see who made it the whole way and finished their spin book!

Here is my spin list, but it is also available under Challenges 2017.

  1. Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
  2. The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot
  3. Goodby to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood
  4. Karin Lavransdotter by Sigrid Undset
  5. Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann
  6. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
  7. Women in Love by D.H. Lawrence
  8. A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
  9. Richard III by William Shakespeare
10. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
11. The Overcoat and Other Stories by Nikolaj Gogol
12. Sweet Bird of Youth by Tennessee Williams
13. The Taming of a Screw by William Shakespeare
14. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
15. Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
16. Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
17. Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
18. The Divine Comedy by Dante
19. The Go-Between by J.P. Hartley
20. Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder

Are there some I am dreading? Yes! For example; The Mill on the Floss and possibly The Divine Comedy. The plays; yes, I find it difficult to read plays. Much nicer to see the actual play in the theatre. Otherwise most of them are classics that I look forward reading.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Bookmark Monday

Time for another Bookmark Monday, hosted by Guiltless Reading. Last week I visited the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels. After having had a look at the old Masters, where Breughel, senior and junior, stands out, I once again had a look at the René Magritte collection. I did not like the surrealists from the beginning, but have noticed that the more I look at their work, the more I like it.

After the tour I ended up in the museum and could have bought quite a few items there. I did limit myself though to a poster, some postcards and three bookmarks.

The Masterpiece or the Mysteries of the Horizon (Private Collection),
 The Castle in the Pyrenees
(The Israel Museum, Jerusalem)
 and Oil on Canvas (National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Book sale continued!

There are still a couple of books that I bought on the book sale.  Unfortunately, I had to leave most of them in Sweden since I only had hand luggage going back. But, it means something nice will await me next time I go.

I bought three cook books. I love reading cook books and of course also trying the recipes. About one and a half year ago, I change my way of eating. I am now doing the LCHF, low carb, high fat regime. It works very well with me. I have lost 10 kg, my problematic stomach is better than ever, and it all makes we very happy. It keeps you stomach full, you are seldom hungry and you get to eat a lot of great recipes. Most of the time they are very easy to cook and it cooks fast.  For me? A win-win situation.

LCHF 2.0 is by Åse Falkman Fredrikson and Anna Hallén Buitenhuis which looks great. I follow Åse on her life stile blog 56 kilo. She also provides a lot of great recipes on-line, and I often use them for dinner.

Annikas Paleokök by Annika Sjöö. Paleo food is that kind of food we ate when we still lived in caves. It looks interesting and contains yummie recipes. Eager to try! It also goes well with LCHF.

I have decided to go into to yoga, so what would be better than to buy a book about Yoga food? Can't go wrong there I think. I also bought All About Yoga by Kerstin Linnartz which I started reading. Seems interesting with a guide to yoga itself and exercises to go with it. Unfortunately, I forgot it in Sweden, so here I am, no yoga. Maybe, I can find something on youtube in the meantime.

The last four books are for the well-being of the mind. Längtan visar vägen (Yearning Shows the Way, my translationby Patricia Tudor-Sandahl are reflections on life and can hopefully show you which way to go. Omgiven av idioter (Surrounded by idiots, my translation) by Thomas Eriksson seems to be a humorous book on how we interpret what people around us are saying. 365 days by Anders Bergman and Emilie Perland contains diary entries from various people from all over the world. I seems like a good idea to see what people did on this day, 200 years ago. Entries are from various times. Breakfast reading?

I am very happy for the variety of the books that I found. Something there for any day and any mood!