Friday, 28 September 2018

Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson

I have just joined a "Borrow and Read" circle at my local bookshop. You pay 40€ and you can borrow and read 55 books. Most of them are newly published books within fiction and crime novels. Since I seldom read very new books, I am happy to have this possibility instead of buying them. The concept is; you borrow one book at the time, you can keep it as long as you like, the last book you borrow you can keep. Not a bad deal.

The first book I choose was Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson. A new writer to me, and it seems it is her first novel. It is a 'letter novel' and the correspondence takes place between a Danish man working at a museum in Denmark, and an English woman living on a farm in East Anglia.

It starts with a preface to a book about the Tollund Man, written by a professor Glob. At the time he dedicated the book to a group of school girls who were interested in the find. Fifty years later Tina Hopgood writes a letter to him. She is looking back to the time when she was young and had all her life in front of her. As usual in this age, she starts questioning her life and what became of it. The professor is dead since many years, but the curator at the museum, Anders Larsen, replies to her letter.

This is the beginning of a wonderful friendship (as I think they say at the end of Casablanca) between the two. They venture into a correspondence where they are able to air their most private thoughts about life and what became of it. The more they write, the more they get to know each other. Both of them, due to their life circumstances, have nobody around them they can speak to in such an open way.

The encouragement they give each other, makes it possible for each of them to look at their lives, their behaviours, their interaction with other people and also come to terms with life. Their correspondence is a life line for both of them, and when the letters stop coming from Tina, Anders becomes devastated.

An absolutely, wonderful and beautifully written novel about two characters that develop in front of your eyes. Their thoughts about life, are thoughts that we all face when we become older and look back on what has been. Did it turn out the way we expected? Would it have been different if we had made other choices? For better? Or worse? It is very low tone, but perfectly describes life and the decisions we have to make along the way.

All is set at the backdrop of the Tollund Man, which is a mummified corpse from the 4th century, found in Jutland in the 1950s. What can we know from just examining his body, which is very well preserved? How did he live? Was he happy? What was his life like? The correspondence between Tina and Anders covers all aspects of life and their curiosity in how this man lived, forms the entrance to their extraordinary friendship. It also shows that we do have different options in life, and just because we entered one path, there might be another one we can turn in to.

While reading I was wondering how it would all end. It is so easy to make a very banal ending, but it was really perfect. The ending is really so important for their correspondence and their relationship and Youngson manages to keep it on track until the very end. Highly recommendable read.

Monday, 24 September 2018

Bookmark Monday

This meme is hosted by Guiltless Reading and it is all about bookmarks This week I present three fantastic bookmarks (although two are postcards) printed from paintings exhibited in Castle Ambras in Innsbruck. They have three floors of marvellous paintings of the Habsburg family. On their website Castle Ambras you can read the following on the portraits.

"Habsburg portrait gallery 
The Portrait Gallery contains over 200 likenesses, including paintings by Lukas Cranach, Titian, Anton van Dyck and Diego Velázquez. Most of the Habsburgs and numerous other rulers are represented by portraits—including Emperor Maximilian I, Emperor Charles V, King Phillip II of Spain, the young Maria Theresia and Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. Of special interest are the numerous portraits of children, such as the picture of the three-year-old Eleonora Gonzaga which is attributed to Rubens. 
No family influenced the history of Europe over the centuries to the extent that the Habsburgs did. From the 15th to the early 20th century, they provided numerous Emperors and Kings and were related either by blood or by marriage to nearly every important European dynasty. The portrait gallery offers not only a walk through the history of a European ruling house, but also affords the viewer a unique overview of courtly portraiture from the late Gothic era to Classicism. 
The Portrait Gallery is located in the Upper Castle, where the living quarters were during the time of Ferdinand II."

My three bookmarks shows three Habsburg nobles; Maria of Burgundy, Infanta Maria Teresa I (not to be mixed up with the Empress Maria Theresia) and the very distinct profile of Emperor Maximilian I. 

Friday, 21 September 2018

Book beginnings on Fridays and The Friday 56

The book this week is She Rises by Kate Worsley, comes from my TBR shelves. I got interested in the summary on the back cover. Does not mean I have read it yet! But getting inspired by the beginning and page 56, I might start it soon.

"Louise Fletcher, a young dairymaid on an eighteenth-century Essex farm, has long been warned of the lure of the sea - after all, it stole away her father and brother. But when she is offered work as a maid in the naval port of Harwich, she leaps at the chance to see more of the world.
Fifteen-year-old Luke has been press-ganged into His Majesty's Navy and sent to sea. Aching for the girl he has left behind, he must learn fast if he is to survive. Louise's and Luke's new worlds are dangerous and exciting, but when they collide the consequences are astonishing. "

Book beginnings on Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader.
"It's the singing that wakes him. He does not move, he cannot move, there's a body pressed heavy against his left side. He won't be opening his eyes neither, his head hurts so."

The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice.

"The pen scratches.
'Sir, please, forgive me, sir, you are mistaken -'
De Clare pauses. 'Mistaken? I think not.' He raises his voice: 'Luke Fletcher, welcome to the
Essex.'The boy takes a gasping breath. The moment, this was the moment, and it is gone. And over and over for years to come, he will ask himself: shy did I not tell the truth?"

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Time to Get Your Goth On!

The Classics Club dares you to dare for the month of October. It is a slightly different challenge from an earlier one it seems. This time the rules are much easier.

"During OCTOBER we DARE you to face your fears and get your Goth on!  Simply read a CLASSIC book from your #CClist that you classify as thrilling, a mystery, or Gothic. It could even be a book or author that SCARES you (because of its length, its topic, its reputation etc). Combine it with other challenges if you wish such as R.I.P XIII or #Frankenfest with our very Marg@BooksinBloom.

I don't really have any scary books on my list. Should be the length of them in that case. I am reading Mansfield Park by Jane Austen now. It should have been finished for Austen in August, but, but...I don't really like this book at all, although a fan of Jane Austen in general. What a boring book, boring people and not much happening at all. I guess I could put this on the list to read, due to the dread I have in opening the book. Ok, I will finish it in October at the latest, this is a promise. I have about one third left so this will only be a bonus read.

I will go for Jostein Gaarder's Sophie's World which has been on my TBR for ages. I bought it when it came out, and don't really know why I have not read it. However, thinking back on my reading experience, it might be more suitable to read it now rather than when I bought it. I think it will be a real challenge to read. So be it!

I read Frankenstein some years ago and really loved it. Would be a suitable book for this challenge. Looking forward to see what you are all reading.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

To repair a favourite book

When you are moving things tend to pop up at the most unexpected places. It was thus, that I found a favourite book of poems by the Swedish poet Nils Ferlin, "glued" to a sticky surface of a Guestbook. It had a very simple, brown cover, but with the glue it had been torn off. Being into scrapbooking and journaling I thought I should be able to repair it. It went from this... this.

Not exactly professional, but it feels good to save the book so I can still display it in my book case. Next, the Guestbook is waiting for a refreshing new cover.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

For the Love of Notebooks

I have got a fling for notebooks. Can hardly resist buying one, although I do have a few at home. In my quest to buy small and light souvenirs, I usually go for bookmarks. Sometimes I am not able to resist a small notebook as well.

During my trip to Innsbruck and London I purchased two of them. The cover of the first one you see to the left above, and the back cover below. Beautiful covers taken from Book of Writing Patterns from the end of the 16th century. It is absolutely lovely with the peacock and various styles of writing. The inside pages are blank and I will use it for journaling. Possibly with a historical theme from my visits.

The second one (to the right above) is an A6 size sketchbook from the Freud Museum in London. A lovely and interesting museum, situated in a villa area at the Swiss Cottage underground station. A beautiful walk from the station to the house. On the day I was there the sun was shining and the garden was open for visitors. A wonderful place to live for the Freud family. Freud himself died the year after they arrived in England, but the rest of the family stayed on. His youngest daughter Anna, went in his foot steps and became a famous psychiatrist as well. It was her wish that the house should be turned into a museum when she died. I will dedicate this notebook for the soul. Reflecting on good things in life and mind inspiring thoughts.

I will hopefully be able to show you some of my journaling later on.

Monday, 17 September 2018

Bookmark Monday

This meme is hosted by Guiltless Reading and it is all about bookmarks. I have been travelling for about a month and this is always a good way to collect new, interesting bookmarks. I start this week with sharing two from the Fernandeum museum in Innsbruck, Austria.

There was an exhibition with Lucas Cranach the Elder and his paintings of Saint Jerome in the Wilderness. Fantastic paintings and an interesting exhibition, comparing his paintings with real Nature. He paints very realistically, but adds a few odd bits and pieces. Just look at the birds at the pond. Another peculiar thing, but quite common at the times, is that Saint Jerome was in the desert, but the surroundings on the paintings are the alps. Nevertheless, it makes for beautiful paintings. And...another two bookmarks to my collection.

Friday, 14 September 2018

Bookbeginnings on Friday and The Friday 56

This week's quotes come from a newly purchased book The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor. I saw a lot of posters on this book in the underground while in London last week. It seemed like a thrilling read so could not resist it when I saw it at Heathrow airport.

Book Beginnings on Friday hosted by Rose City Reader

"The girl's head rested on a small pile of orange-and-brown leaves."
"Start at the beginning.
The problem was, none of us ever agreed on the exact beginning. Was it when Fat Gav got the bucket of chalks for his birthday? Was it when we started drawing the chalk figures or when they started to appear on their own? Was it the terrible accident? Or when they found the first body?" 

The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice

"I jumped from the bench and got on my bike. I likd Mr Halloran, but he was definitely weird. Better to be a fool than an angel. Weird, and just a little bit scary."

My review of the book is here: The Chalk Man

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor

I have been to London which is always inspiring. I will tell you what I did there in another post. This one is about a book I saw advertised on big posters in the underground, The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor. It sounded thrilling, but since I already have a lot of unread books I was hesitant. However, arriving at the airport I found an offer for two books for 1 1/2 of the price so could not resist. The other book I bought is Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. I read a review recently by Laurel-Rain at Curl Up and Read which intrigued me to want to read it. But first to the 'Chalk Man'.
"'Never assume,' my dad once told me. 'To assume makes an "ass" out of "u" and "me".'"
When I stared at him blankly, he went on, 'See this chair? You believe it will still be here, where it is now, in the morning?'
'Then you assume.'
'I suppose.'
Dad picked up the chair and stood it on the table. 'The only way to be sure this chair is going to stay in the exact same spot is to glue it to the floor.'
'But that's a cheat?'
His voice got more serious. 'People will always cheat, Eddie. And lie. That's why it's important to question everything. Always look beyond the obvious.'
I nodded. 'Okay.'
The kitchen door opened and Mum walked in. She looked at the chair, and then at Dad and me, and shook her head.
'I'm not sure I want to know.'"