Tuesday, 31 July 2018

The Classic Club Spin #18

Time for another classic spin. The new moderators of the Classic Club (thank you for taking over) starts with one of the popular challenges; The Spin! It is easy to follow. Make your list of  20 classics you want to read. Post about it before Wednesday 1st August 2018; that is, create a post with your list. Once the spin takes place and a number comes up - the book listed by that number is the one you should read before the end of August. More info under the link above.

I have slightly revised my list and took away a couple of books I read from there. I must confess that I don't always manage to read the book listed. At least I try. It always depends on my mood what I want to read, so the spin and my mood have to be in harmony at the right time!

My spin list for 2018

1. Washington Square by Henry James
2. Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Carter
3. New Grub Street by George Gissing
4. Karin Lavransdotter by Sigrid Undset
5. Shirley by Charlotte Brontë
6. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
7. Women in Love by D.H. Lawrence
8. Child Harold by Lord Byron
9. Richard III by William Shakespeare
10. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
11. In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway
12. The Wings of the Dove by Henry James
13. The Taming of a Screw by William Shakespeare
14. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
15. Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
16. Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
17. Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
18. The Divine Comedy by Dante
19. Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor
20. Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder

Let's see what number comes up.

Saturday, 28 July 2018

Mount TBR Reading 2018 - checkpoint 2

Bev at My Reader's Block is hosting this very useful challenge, which aim is to lower the number of books on your TBR shelves. Four times a year we check-in and share our process. My aim was set for Mount Ararat, that is 48 books. I do hope to finish more, and it feels better to read more than less. So far I have finished 34 books. At the last check-in I had read 13 and was a little bit on my way up Mt. Bland. With 34 books I am nearing the top of Mt. Vancouver. The mountain is 4.812 m high and I am now at 4.545 m. Two more books to go. In the mean-time, a few challenge summaries of my reading that Bev has put together for us.

Choose two titles from the books you've read that have a common link.

Link is family - The Empty Family by Colm Toíbin and Kate Hannigan's Daughter by Catherine Cookson

Tell us about a book on the list that was new to you 

Målarens döttrar (The Painter's Daughters, my transl.) by Anna Karin Palm. First time I read something by her, and never heard of her before. The book was a treat, a present time story mixed with a past story that beautifully intertwines in the end.

Which book (read so far) has been on your TBR mountain the longest? Was it worth the wait? Or is it possible you should have tackled it back when you first put it on your pile? Or tossed it off the edge without reading it all?

I think it is Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marques. A classic I wanted to read. It started it out quite well, but then it dragged out over months, or maybe even over a year before I finished it. I still don't know what I think about it. It is written in a wonderful and 'juicy' way, and I love the characters who really are 'characters'. Living their lives as they please and quite differently from anyone else. It is magic and you don't really know if you are in a real world or not. I found it a little bit too long, but am happy that I finally finished it.

Use titles from your list to complete as many of the following sentences below as you can

My Life According to Books

1. My Ex was The Secret Keeper (Kate Morton)
2. My best friend is The Girl in Rose (Peter Hobday)
3. Lately, at work (I have been) Restless (William Boyd)
4. If I won the lottery, (I would like to be one of) The Mistresses of Cliveden (Nathalie Livingstone)
5. My fashion sense (is a) Fatal Voyage (Kathy Reich)
6. My next ride (will be to) Brooklyn (Colm Toíbin)
7. The one I love is The Virgin's Lover (Philippa Gregory)
8. If I ruled the world, I would (buy) Cathedrals of the Flesh (Alexia Brue)
9. When I look out my window, I (see) A Streetcar Named Desire (Tennessee Williams)
10. The best thing in life is Finding your Element (Ken Robinson)

Thank you Bev for another guidance to fulfil our challenge of reading from our TBR shelves. I just love these summaries, they make all the difference and put a little bit more excitement into the task. As if climbing a mountain would not be exciting enough!

Friday, 27 July 2018

Paris in July 2018 - French TV-series

While looking at the Play version of one of our TV channels, I ran into a French TV-series, supposed to be one of the best thriller series in the world! Sounds good to me. I started watching the other day and it consists of three seasons, with 10 episodes for each season. It is called Le Bureau des Légendes, and is about the French secret service. I have only seen three episodes, but so far so good.
Are any of you familiar with it? What do you think.

This is about all I am able to achieve in the hot wave that has hit all of Europe I think. In Sweden it is hotter than usual and my energy level is down to zero! I guess it is a good thing just to watch a good TV-series and try to spread out your limbs so they don't touch each other! How are you all keeping up?

Paris in July is hosted by Tamara at Thyme for Tea and it is all about Paris and France. Join in!

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Breakfast reading

Sweden has been hit by a heat wave, and I have difficulties doing anything. We are just not used to this kind of weather. I have lived in hot climates before, but obviously I forgot what it is like. Anyway, one should not complain. That is just an excuse to explain the low energy that I have for the moment. Can't do anything more than lying in the shade reading, which is, after all, not that bad. However, it generates fewer blog post, and I am now pushing myself to the limit to write a few!

I take my breakfast on the balcony a little bit later in the morning. Since I eat it alone, I enjoy some reading during breakfast. Either some magazines, or some suitable books. By suitable, I mean books that you can stop reading whenever you have finished with breakfast. I have recently been finishing a few of them, and I would like to share them with you (although they are in Swedish).

Short story books are one option of course, but what I really love is books that gives you half a page, or a couple of pages of information. For this purpose the three books I have been reading are perfect.  Two of them are by a well known Swedish historian, Dick Harrison. I have several of his books and he writes in an easygoing and interesting way. It is like reading a non-fiction book, and it is always exciting. He has a column in one of the Swedish papers where he answers historical questions. These Q & A has been put into two books under the names of 'Historian on duty'.

The other book I have quoted from recently, regarding my posts for Paris in July, and that is 365 days by Anders Bergman & Emelie Perland. They have collected diary entries from well-known and not so well-known diary keepers. It makes for interesting reading and a few notes to look further into their diaries.

For the time being I am going through magazines lefter here by my mother. I will look into my TBR shelves and see if I can find something more suitable for breakfast reading.  Of course I have time since I am not working anymore, and I just love sitting down for breakfast for an hour or so. It is such a treat after all these years of stressing through breakfast and preparing for school and work. What about you? Do you read during breakfast (if you are eating alone that is).

Monday, 23 July 2018

The Hanging by Lotte and Sören Hammer

Summertime is crimi time, and I found this book by a Danish brother and sister on my shelves. It turned out to be quite a page turner, although I was a little bit reluctant in the beginning. Why is that?

Well, I am rather tired of all these chief inspectors who are middle aged, overweight, living an unhealthy and unhappy life. They seem to appear everywhere these days. I cannot believe that real life is like that. The other thing a lot of crimi novels have these days, is gruesome, sadistic and violent murders. What is wrong with a quiet, country murder like in the Agatha Christie novels? Why do the murders have to be so horrible?

Having said that, I did enjoy the book. From the back cover:
"On a cold Monday morning before school beings, two children make a gruesome discovery. Hanging from the roof of the school gymnasium, in a clear geometric pattern, are the bodies of five naked and disfigured med. Detective Chief Superintendent Konrad Simonsen and his team from the Murder Squad in Copenhagen are called in to investigate these horrific murders. When the sinister motivation behind the killings, becomes apparent to the police, and is leaked to the press, Simonsen finds himself battling against public opinion, vigilante groups, and even some of his own team in his mission to catch the killers. "
The story follows both the police work and the perpetrators.  The story has a moral dilemma and as such, the authors use both sides to highlight it. They show how easy it is to manipulate the public through the open media, where only one side tells the story. It is very interesting considering everything that is happening in the world today. It gives food for thought.

It takes all the skills of Simonsen and his colleagues to find a way to nail the murders. We follow the day to day work of the police, including how they have to deal with the outside; press, chief of police and ministers. This time the police have to take extraordinary measures to catch the murders. It makes for interesting and exciting reading, and the more you get into the story, the more difficult it is to put the book down. It is mixed with a little bit of private life of the characters, but does not take over the main story.

This is the Lotte and Sören Hammers first book in the series, and in July this year book number six will be published. I like when the crimis have a good story to go with the mystery, and this seems to be the case for Hammers following books as well. More to find there it seems.

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Paris in July - My French Dinner

The Content Reader

One of the things I wanted to do in July was a French dinner, and I did. Not a big one, just my friends Ingalill and Benny who are neighbours. It was decided to have it on the same day as France and Croatia played the final in the football world championship. What can be better than hit "two birds with one stone"?

Here is the meny from my wonderful "Guest and Menu" book I received as a gift many years ago. It always comes in handy on occasions like this.

The Menu

Friday, 20 July 2018

Book Beginnings on Fridays and The Friday 56

This weeks book beginning and page 56 highlight is from a recently purchased book. It is rather new and I thought it will help me not worry to much. It is The Subtle Art of not Giving a F*ck - a counterintuitive approach to living a good life by Mark Manson.

Book beginnings on Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader
"Charles Bukowski was an alcoholic, a womanizer, a chronic gambler, a lout, a cheapskate, a deadbeat, and on his worst days, a poet. He's probably the last person on earth you would ever look to for life advice or expect to see in any sort of self-help book.
Which is why he's the perfect place to start." 

The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice
The truth is that there's no such thing as a personal problem. If you've got a problem, chances are millions of other people have had it in the past, have it now, and are going to have it in the future. Likely people you know too. That doesn't minimize the problem or mean that it shouldn't hurt. It doesn't mean you aren't legitimately a victim in some circumstances.
It just means that you're not special."

I love both the opening and the paragraph from page 56. It tells a lot and I am eager to read this book. Have you read it? What do you think?

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

A Sense of Jane Austen

The Content Reader

Jane Austen is always an interesting subject for an exhibition. 'Kulturen' in Lund (a city close to here) presently hosts an exhibition with clothes used in the filming of her books. Most of the from the excellent dramatisation for BBC of Pride and Prejudice, with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth.

While going around looking at the displayed clothes, the beautiful music from the adaption is playing and there are screens showing different parts from the tv-series. There are also clothes from other adaptions.

The clothes are absolutely beautiful in real life. The only think I wonder is how a human being can fit into them. They do look terribly small, but maybe they have been folded in the back?

Monday, 16 July 2018

Paris in July 2018 - The de Goncourt brothers

I have recently quoted from a book called 365 dagar (365 days) by Anders Bergman & Emilie Perland. There are extracts from famous and not so famous writers of diaries. You meet a lot of different people that you have never heard of before, and they are sometimes fascinating characters. Two of them are the de Goncourt brothers, Edmond and Jules, both naturalism writers.  "They formed a partnership that "is possibly unique in literary history. Not only did they write all their books together, they did not spend more than a day apart in their adult lives, until they were finally parted by Jules's death in 1870."They are known for their literary work and for their diaries, which offer an intimate view into the French literary society of the later 19th century." (Wikipedia)

Edmond (left) with his brother Jules.
Photographed by Félix Nadar (Wikipedia)

Researching the internet, I found this interesting article by Tara Isabella Burton (from 2015) on the brothers in The Paris Review Here is a quote from the article:
"Whether or not one is familiar with the poets, novelists, and absintheuses of Haussmannian Paris, to read the Goncourt brothers is to plunge headlong into a world of bitter rivalries and bitterer friendships, in which every gathering around a café table on the Grands Boulevards is a chance to raise one’s status in the byzantine literary hierarchy. “Here,” as Christopher Isherwood put it, “gossip achieves the epigrammatic significance of poetry.” Of course, such a cynical, self-satisfied perspective can grate. André Gide, writing on the Goncourts’ novels, excoriated their style as pathologically shallow—a Perez Hilton of the Passages des Panoramas: “It is impossible to read a page by them where that good opinion they have of themselves does not burst out from between the lines.” 

From the de Goncourt Journal

March 4, 1860

"We have been discussing Hugo's Legendes des Siecles with Flaubert. What specially strikes him about Hugo, who aims at being taken for a thinker, is the absence of thought.
Moliere is a great event in the history of the middle classes; he is a solemn declaration of the
soul of the Third Estate. Corneille is the last of the heralds of the nobility; Moliere is the first poet of the middle classes."

March 30, 1862

"We go up to the fourth floor, at Number 2, rue Racine. A little commonplace man meets us, opens a door, and we are in a very large room, a sort of studio. Against the window at the end, through which a five o'clock twilight is entering, there is a gray shadow in the pale light a woman who does not rise and rests immobile when we greet her. That seated shadow with the sleepy countenance is Mme Sand, and the man who has let us in is the engraver Manceau. Mme Sand looks like an automaton.
She talks in a monotonous and mechanical voice, which neither rises nor falls and never gets animated. Her attitude has something of the gravity, the placidity, the somnolence of a ruminant. Her
movements are slow, very slow, almost like a somnambulist's, and they always lead to the same
thing always with the same methodical actions to the lighting of a wax match and to a cigarette at her mouth."

The extract from the book 365 days for 10 December, 1860 is not present in the extracted journal. Here is a short summary from the Swedish version (my translation):

"On the way out from Odéon, after having seen L'Oncle Million, I meet Flaubert and Bouilhet, surrounded by men in simple material hats, with which they shake hands. Bouilhet is leaving us with the excuse that he is going to the next door café. It seems, that in order to keep a play going in the Odéon, you need to spice it with drinks and hand shakes.

Flaubert tells us, that when he wrote how Madame Bovary was poisoned, he felt a pain in the stomach as if there was a piece of copper. It made him throw up two times. He said that one of the most pleasurable times during writing was when he worked on the end of the novel and was forced to get up and fetch yet another handkerchief, because the one he had was totally wet. All of these things he told us to entertain the bourgeoisie."

Do you find it fascinating to read diaries? Do you have any to recommend. I loved this concept, because the sources are different all the time. It might be a little bit boring to read entries from the same person all the time. It depends of course on the person and what they have to tell.

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Paris in July 2018 - French National Day

The Content Reader

Paris in July, hosted by Tamara at Thyme for Tea, and it is the French National Day. For a short historical note, here is what it says on Wikipedia:

"Bastille Day is the common name given in English-speaking countries/lands to the French National Day, which is celebrated on the 14th of July each year. In France, it is formally called la Fête nationale; and commonly and legally le 14 Juillet.  
The French National Day is the anniversary of Storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789, a turning point of the French Revolution, as well as the Fête de la Fédération which celebrated the unity of the French people on 14 July 1790. Celebrations are held throughout France. The oldest and largest regular military parade in Europe is held on the morning of 14 July, on the Champs-Élysées in Paris in front of the President of the Republic, along with other French officials and foreign guests."
The Bastille (Wikipedia)

My present 'breakfast reading' is "365 dagar" (365 days collected by Anders Bergman & Emelie Perland) and is a collection of diary notes from known and unknown people. It is quite interesting, and suitable enough, I found some references to 1789. On 14 July 1789, king Louis XVI noted: "Nothing" in his hunting diary at Versailles. That at the same time as the storming of the Bastille took place! 

Dr. Edward Rigby (Wikipedia)

Edward Rigby (1747-1821), a British doctor saw himself in Paris in 1789, witnessing the storming of the Bastille. Below and extract from his letters.

"...This disarming the populace and establish-ing a well-armed military body of citizens, may be considered as one of the most important steps which could have been taken by
the Parisians at this period of the revolution, and the extraordinary address and temper they discovered in doing it will probably ever be mentioned with admiration. 

Friday, 13 July 2018

Book Beginnings on Fridays and The Friday 56

Another Friday is here and time for quotes from books. This week I found A Gathering Light by Jennifer Donnelly on my shelves. It sounds very interesting and here is a summary from the back cover. 
"Based on a real murder at the turn of the century, this outstanding debut novel is a powerful and moving coming-of-age book. Mattie is torn between her familial responsibilities, her desire to be a writer, and the excitement of a first romance. Her dilemmas and choices are quietly reflected in the life of a young woman found drowned in a lake, a woman that Mattie only gets to know through reading her letters.
When finally the tales of Mattie and the drowned girl merge, their stries beautifully combine in a brilliant and perfect conclusion."

Book beginnings on Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader

When summer comes to the North Woods, time slows down. And some days it stops altogether. 

The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice
 I was angry at Lawton for leaving, too. But Royal was no family and therefore had no right to speak against him. Thing of it was, I didn't understand why my brother had left, either.
What do you think? Does it sound tempting to read?

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Six in Six - 2018 Edition

From Margaret at Books please I found this one-time-a-year challenge hosted by The Book Jotter. The idea is to look through what you have read in the first sex months of the years and share 6 books in 6 categories. For the categories go to the link above. List your books and post some time in July. The images are from the category of my favourite covers, in no specific order.

Six classics I have read

The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Candide by Voltaire
Lancelot by Chrétien de Troyes
The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Six new authors to me

Marie Benedict (The Other Einstein)
Michel Bussi (After the Crash)
Elizabeth Strout (My Name is Lucy Barton)
Stephen Fry (Mythos)
Diane Setterfield (The Thirteenth Tale)
Anna-Karin Palm (Målarens döttrar)

Six blogging events I enjoyed

Book Beginnings on Fridays
The Friday 56
Six Degrees of Separation
Full House Reading challenge
The Classic Club
Mount TBR Reading Challenge

Six books from authors I know will never let me down

Coffin Road by Peter May
The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
Restless by William Boyd
Force of Nature by Jane Harper
The Empty Family by Colm Toíbín
Shattered by Allison Brennan

Six favourite places to read (anywhere really...)

In bed
In my reading chair
While travelling
On the balcony
In a restaurant or café
While waiting for the bus or train

Six book covers I love

Cathedrals of the Flesh - My search for the perfect bath by Alexia Brue
The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
Mrs Osmond by John Banville
The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict
Fjärilseffekten (The Butterfly Effect) by Karin Alvtegen
The Girl in Rose, Haydn's Last Love by Peter Hobday

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

The Disappearance of Èmile Zola by Michael Rosen

The Content Reader

Paris in July hosted by Tamara at Thyme for tea.

I recently purchased this book in order to read it for the Paris in July challenge. I don't know a lot about Èmile Zola and have not read a lot by him either. I do know that he wrote the J'accuse article in defence of Alfred Dreyfus, but not much else. The subtitle of the book is Love, Literature and the Dreyfus Case, concentrating on the year he spent in exile in London, due to a prison sentence in France, and the very last years of his life.

Since the book covers the last part of his life, you do not get any background on his younger life and struggle to become an acknowledged author. He was at the time a very admired author in France, which partly changed due to the Dreyfus affair. Rosen has researched well his time in London, his feelings of exile, and how he occupied his time. Mostly, it is a rather depressing account. Zola was not happy outside France without friends and colleagues. He did not speak English, although he tried to learn some, and was just waiting to go back to France. He was very interested in photography and used this hobby as a diversion, as well as writing a new book. It was all in all a rather tedious way of living, which was complicated by his personal affairs.

He had a wife, Alexandrine and a mistress, Jeanne. With Jeanne he had two children, a son and a daughter which he loved very much. His wife was not aware of this affair during the first years and was devastated when she found out. Zola could not live without any of them and all of them settled in a sort of 'menage a trois'. The logistics of having them visit him in London was quite a complicated feat. Especially, as he was hiding the relationship with Jeanne from the outside world. As an anecdote; he mentions that Jeanne's letters arrived the day after she posted them. This even before the EU!
"...He told her (Alexandrine) on 2 April that he was delighted to receive them (roses) but it was hard, after nearly nine months of exile, torn from his country, on the end of all the relentless hatred. 'All I wanted was justice, not all these insults they've showered me with. All this comes back and smothers me on a day like this.'"
It was a difficult time for Zola. He had stood up for justice and what he believed in, and received a lot of insults from all sides. After a year in exile he could go back to France and he continued his struggle. In the end Dreyfus was released but not totally acquitted of the crime.

Rosen's biography concentrates on the exile and the few years back in France before Zola died in 1902. The part in exile is well researched and rather detailed, maybe a little bit too detailed. It is not that exciting. What I don't like in a biography is when authors state; "one can presume..." when there is no firm knowledge of situations or thoughts. This happens a couple of times during the London years. I also feel that Rosen worships his subject too much, and puts Zola on a piedestal. The book gives an overview of the Dreyfus case and its aftermath. It certainly has an interesting angle, although it could maybe have been a little bit shorter.

I don't really like the Zola that is described, as regards his relationships. He seems totally egocentric. It is not fare to any of the women and they must both have been very hurt by the situation, although they both seemed to love him. The book does give a private view of a great writer and a few troubled years in his life.

There is revealing information about his death. He died of carbon monoxide poisoning. The investigation could did not find any fault with the chimney. However, in 1953, Libération, received a letter from one M. Hacquin, who claimed he knew that Zola had been murdered.
"I'll tell you how Zola died... Zola was deliberately suffocated. I and my men blocked his chimney while doing the repairs on the roof next door. There was a lot of coming and going and we took advantage of the hubbub to locate Zola's chimney and stop it. We unstopped it the next day, very early. No one noticed us."
What really happen we will never know. In this article in History Today from 2002, you can read more about it.

An extra bonus is found at the end of the book. His short story "The Hunted House" or "Angeline" is printed. He passed by a house where he lived in a suburb of London which had an overgrown garden. He inquired and heard stories that there was a ghost living there. A young girl had been killed. From this he wrote this story. We also find the "J'accuse" article which was very interesting. All in all, a little bit of French history and a side of one of its authors that you seldom see.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Paris in July 2018 - French TV-series

The Content Reader

For Paris in July, hosted by Tamara at Thyme for Tea, I had a plan to see a French TV-series. I have watched a few the last year and I find them interesting and good. I have seen Marseille, a political thriller and The Frozen Dead, a crimi about a serial killer. To my great joy I saw that there is a new French crimi on Netflix, La Forêt/The Forest, which I started yesterday. Started and finished the six episodes at 1.30 a.m. Yes, it was that good and exciting.

"Sixteen-year-old Jennifer disappears one night from her village in the Ardennes. Captain Gaspard Deker leads the investigation with local cop Virginie Musso, who knew the girl well. They are helped by Eve, a lonely and mysterious woman."

That is a short summary of the story. It takes place in a small village where everyone knows each other. Ten years earlier two girls disappeared in the forest and now another three girls disappear. Each of the five episodes (six in total) ends with a cliffhanger, so that is why it was so difficult to stop watching. I will not spoil the thrill by revealing anything more of the story, but little by little new things turn up. When people realise it has to be someone close by the normal friendliness of the villagers disappear, and human emotions come to the surface, and not always in a nice way. I really liked the plot and although I had slightly thought of who the real culprit could be, it was not until the very end that it was clear. The only thing I felt was a little bit "unrealistic" was the resources that this small village gendarmeri managed to get from the regional office. But a small thing in the overall, very exciting thriller.

The good thing with Netflix is that we get to see tv-series and films also from other countries, which makes for a little bit of diversity in the overall English/American dominance. Especially useful for Paris in July. 

Monday, 9 July 2018

Paris in July 2018 - Bookmark Monday

The Content Reader

Paris in July hosted by Tamara at Thyme for Tea. Click the link for more info.

My Bookmark Monday meme, hosted by Guiltless Reading, has a Paris theme this week. Since I did not have any bookmarks to highlight the city, I decided to be a little bit creative and make one myself. I started out with a clothes label, that I had already used as a bookmark (yes, I use what is closest at hand!). It worked very well.

I do a little bit of scrapbooking and journaling and remembered seeing some papers with the Eiffel tower somewhere. Deb Nance at Readerbuzz posted about how often we see this tower on book covers. Well, this time it will be on the bookmark. The front of the bookmark turned out like this:

The Content Reader

The back turned out like this:

The Content Reader

My handwriting is appalling, so this was the best I could do. Will use this for my next book French.

Friday, 6 July 2018

Book Beginnings on Fridays and The Friday 56

This week is the start of Paris in July hosted by Tamara at Thyme for Tea. For this weeks book beginning and page 56, I choose one book I have been reading for this challenge. It is Michael Rosen's The Disappearance of Èmile Zola.

Book beginnings on Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader

"On the evening of Monday, 18 July 1898, Èmile Zola disappeared."

The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice

"As Zola wrote in his notes for the novel, his intention was to write Three Gospels ('Èvangiles') - Fruitfulness, Work and Justice. This would match the trilogy he had finished eleven months earlier, Les Trois Villes (Three Cities) - Lourdes, Rome and Paris."

A review of this biography will follow.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Short notes on latest reads

There has not been that many reviews here lately, although I have read quite a lot. Well, time is the culprit. Here are a few short notes on some of the books I have read in June.

Three books by Colm Tóibín;  The Empty Family, Brooklyn and The Heather Blazing. All about family relationships, or the difficulty with such relationships. The first one contains short stories of different kind of family relationships. Often we might think of family as mom, dad and children, but Tóibín finds so many more kinds, and they are not always happy ones. The other two books also deals with family. In Brooklyn, Eilis Lancey, moves to New York when she cannot find work in 1950s Ireland. All alone in a new country, totally different from her old world, we see how she changes in trying to find a happy life for herself. It is very sensitively written and shows clearly how people change/develop coming to a new place, and how it also changes the relationship with the people left behind. The Heather Blazing is about a judge who is dedicated to his work, and does not shy away from making verdicts that are not popular, but according to the law which is guiding his life. Maybe because he cannot give away personal feelings in his work, he has difficulties doing it in his private life. The story jumps between present day and past days when he looks back on his life. In the end there is someone who is making him open up and share enjoyable moments of the day. Tóibín is as always a master in putting the point on the difficulty in relationships. Sometimes they end happy, sometimes not.

King Arthur's Bones by the Medieval Murderers is a historical mystery written by five different writers. The story starts in 1191 when someone is finding King Arthur's bones. However, such famous bones are wanted by different groups for different purposes. Each part takes us further towards modern times and we follow the strange journey of holy bones and how they affect the people coming in contact with them. And then of course, the big question. How can we know that it is Arthur's bones. I have read The First Murder by the same authors. I always think that the first stories are the best and that they become less interesting. The first and last story in The First Murder really connected the stories, but I did not find the same here. It could not keep my interest up all the way through.

I downloaded two books in one of my favourite series, Winston Graham's Poldark. The Angry Tide and The Stranger from the Sea are books 7 and 8 in the series. I wanted to read them before seeing the new season from BBC. Although we are some years in the future, Graham manages to keep up his good writing and interesting characters, set against the political background of the time.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

New purchases, again!

The other day I had 10 minutes to spare before taking the bus home. Since I passed the book store, I thought I WILL JUST HAVE A QUICK LOOK. Well, it was quick but it also extended my TBR shelves with three new books. To my defence they were on sale; 50% and 70%. Not much to consider for a longer time. I quickly grabbed two non fiction and one fiction. I did not even miss the bus!

So, here are the three new additions to my shelves.

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This is a biography of August Strindberg, one of our great authors. He was very controversial and it is always interesting to see what new can be added. A free translation would be The Truth is Always Rude. It can go well with Strindberg I think.

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This is about Erasmus of Rotterdam. I don't know a lot about him and it seems like an interesting approach to his deeds.

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I have read two books by Ann Rosman before, and really liked them. They are crimis, taking place at the west coast of Sweden and always have a historical element in them, which I love.

All of them could be easy summer reading, unless I panic and want to finish some of my older books!

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Château de Bussy-Rabutin

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Paris in July 2018 hosted by Tamara at Thyme for Tea. Visit her web-site for more info. From food and Zola in my first post to culture, history and books in this one.

During a recent trip to France (Champagne and Bourgogne, heading south towards Switzerland) we happened to pass by a wonderful French château. Being a castle fanatic, it was just too good to miss. It is situated six km northeast of Alise-Sainte-Reine. In 52 BC the famous battle of Alesia took place here (although the experts are arguing about the exact place).  "It was fought by the army of Julius Ceasar against a confederation of Gallic tribes united under the leadership of Vercingétorix of the Arverni. It was the last major engagement between Gauls and Romans, and is considered one of Ceasar's greatest military achievements and a classic example of siege warfare and investment. The battle of Alesia marked the end of Gallic independence in France and Belgium." (Wikipedia). There is nevertheless a museum commemorating the battle, and if you drive up to the hill overlooking the plain there is a staty of Vercingétorix, as well as a fabulous view. But, that is another matter and we were going to talk about castles.

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The man himself
Château de Bussy-Rabutin is an interesting and very well preserved castle. It was originally built in the 12th century by Renaudin de Bussy, but has been extended and renovated through the centuries. In the 17th century it belonged to Roger de Rabutin, Comte de Bussy (1618-1693). He was a member of the Academy during the reign of Louis XIV, a notorious womaniser, and on top of that, he was bold enough to put his impressions on the life at the Sun king's court into print. The book, Histoires Amoureuses des Gaules, led him directly to the Bastille and later on, in exile at his castle in Bourgogne. Although my French is not that good, I could not help but buy the book. A page a day?

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The rotunda with portraits

The castle if fascinating, filled with portraits of military men and admirable women. His bedroom, and the rotunda attaching it, is filled with portraits of women, lovers or friends, who knows. He had a habit though, slightly bad, one must say. He added a comment to each portrait. Maybe to remember the fair lady. One of them reads: The most beautiful woman of her day, less renowned for her beauty than the uses she put it to.”

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The Renaissance gallery

There is a renaissance gallery filled of family portraits on one said and royals and other famous persons of the day on the other side. It is quite beautiful and fascinating to walk around among all these portraits. The surrounding park is a pleasure to walk around and you can also loose yourself in the maze.  We had some difficulties in finding our way out and had to squeeze through a hole in the hedge! Luckily so, since they were closing the castle and the park.