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. 
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

I have heard so much about this author so when this book found me in the bookshop I grabbed it. It is a mesmerising account of stories from the Norse mythology in Neil Gaiman's own prose. Interesting stories of gods, giants and evil doers, it guides us through the various gods and their, mostly, misdemeanours.
"Thor, Odin's son, is the thunderer. he is straightforward where his father Odin is cunning, good-natured where his father is devious.
Huge he is, and red-bearded, and strong, by far the strongest of all the gods. His might is increased by his belt of strength, Megingjord: when he wears it, his strength is doubled. 
Thor's weapon is Mjollnir, a remarkable hammer, forged for him by dwarfs. Its story you will learn. Trolls and frost giants and mountain giants all tremble when they see Mjollnir, for it has killed so many of their brothers and friends. Thor wears iron gloves, which help him to grip the hammer's shaft." 
Charlotte Brontë's Secret Love by Jolien Janzing

Since I am a member of the Brussels Brontë Group and I have read a lot about the sisters, I thought I could not learn more about Charlotte's infatuation with Monsieur Heger. Maybe I didn't, but Jolien Janzing has approached the story in a different way. It is written as an account where the author talks to the reader. This is an approach I normally don't like very much. I think it takes you out of the story and you are interfering where you should not. However, in this account it does actually work.

We get an account on Charlotte's time in Brussels and her infatuation with her teacher. It is very well written and in line with how, at least I, see Charlotte. I do not think however, that the feelings of M. Heger was as hot as hinted in this novel, but it makes it a good story.

Sweet Bird of Youth by Tennessee Williams

I am not used to read a lot of drama, and I do not especially like to read it. Prefer to see it on stage. However, this drama did work quite well for me to read. A typical Williams setting; relationship between men and women, hot climate, family concerns and setting in the south. Underlying anger, heat and violence. Looking forward to watch the movie with Paul Newman and Geraldine Page.

Come Tell Me Where You Live by Agatha Christie Mallowan

An account by Agatha Christie about her time spent with her archeologic husband Max Mallowan, on sites in Iraq in the 1930s. It is a personal account of her time there and it makes for easy reading. You can detect that she was inspired here to write some of her books. I could almost see M. Poirot among the dunes and the diggings!


  1. I really enjoyed the Agatha Christie Mallowan book and I think the Bronte would be fascinating. I've never much liked Neil Gaiman, but this one looks to have a bit of a different spin.

    Hope you are having a lovely week!

  2. Christie was an interesting read and I enjoyed it too. The Brontë had a different approach, and I kind of liked it. I can't say about Gaiman because this is the first book I read about him. I have a feeling it might be different from his others.
    Thank you for passing by!