Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Die Manns (The Mann Family) by Tilmann Lahme

One of my favourite books is Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann. It was Thomas Mann's first novel and it was published in 1901. It gave him the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1929. Tilmann Lahme's biography of the Mann family is an interesting account of a family where the author rose above everyone else.

Thomas Mann was born in 1875, but the biography starts in 1922 when he was already an established writer with part of his production behind him. It covers the years in Germany, the exile years during World War II (France, Switzerland, and the USA), the peace years, and the final years in Switzerland. 

The Manns was a troubled family. The mother Katia, took care of the family and the business that was Thomas Mann. They had six children; Klaus, Erika, Golo, Monika, Elisabeth och Michael. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reviewed the book and this extract says it all. "Each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way, says Tolstoy. One should read this book to  understand the meaning of it." (my transl.) How true. This is a peculiar family and one cannot help reflecting that it might depend on Thomas Mann himself. Protected by his own family by his wife, he demanded peace and quiet to write. He was put on a pedestal, treated almost godlike. The children's only wish is an acknowledgment from their father.  It never comes. Furthermore, he did keep favourites, and not very discreetly. Maybe that is a reason why, almost all of them, had problems in their adult lives. Some of them did, occasionally, make good careers, but it came at a cost. 

All of the children, except Golo, lived off their parents. None of them did well in school. They jumped from education to education, work to work, and had difficulties settling down on their own, finding their place in life. There is a strange interdependency between the family members. The could not live with each other, but neither without each other. In 1933, the first day in exile, Golo writes in his diary: "Now the family is all I have; it can never end well..." (my transl.)

Thomas Mann struggled with homosexual tendencies, which was mostly reflected through his novellas,  Death in Venice being the most known such work. Three of his children were also homosexual, Klaus, and Golo, and Erika was bisexual. Klaus and Erika went in their father's footsteps, writing books, articles, and manifestos. Especially, Klaus and Erika, political to the left, tended to oppose life in most of its forms.  They also tried acting, especially Erika, but she got tired of acting when she did not get the main role from the beginning. Michael, the youngest, was a talented violin player. He, however, never wanted to leave the safe world of lessons to go into performing. He finally did and had some kind of career. Monika never really made it off at all. One wonders if the idea that achievements come easy was due to their successful father. 

The most successful of the children were Golo and Elisabeth. The latter became an internationally recognised expert on maritime law and policy and the protection of the environment. She received numerous rewards from various countries for her work. Golo studied history (after trying out numerous different educations), wrote books, and became a successful and famous historian. He was the only one who went for a career and life without constantly asking the parents for money. 

Egocentric is the word that comes to mind when describing the Mann family.  It is the main character of the family members, except Katia. She was quite different from the rest of them but very loyal to the Mann family as a concept. Maybe because her role was to be the practical person taking care of everything. There is however a lack of structure in the education of the children. Although one may not say they were spoilt, there was leniency towards them, which might explain their not too happy adult lives. There is always the idea that if anything goes wrong it is somebody else's fault. If there is a lack of money, somebody should give them money. This includes Thomas Mann. Although wealthy there were times when money was lacking. The family could not understand why their rich friends could not just give them the money they needed. 

Their life in exile was a rather pleasant one compared to a lot of their fellow exiles. In 1939 Klaus Mann's novel The Volcano was published. He considered it his best novel and worked on it for two years. It received good reviews when it was published and his fellow emigration colleagues felt he had described their lives well. "Possibly it would have been in place with "a little more poverty and despair over money," "a little more misery, dirt and darkness" in a novel about emigration, says Stefan Zweig. Klaus Mann has not experienced any of this, and thus he has not described it."(my transl).

Lahme's biography is well researched and makes for interesting reading. There are a lot on Mann's views on the politics in Germany, the war years, and the following return to Europe after the exile, not mentioned here. It reads like an exciting book where you wonder what will happen next to the family.

The Mann family saw the world according to their eyes. When it did not live up to their expectations, they went on with a few white, and sometimes, not so white lies. This was most notable with Klaus and Erika. While reading the biography, one is more than amazed at how they lived their lives. Although sometimes a little bit shocked about their actions, their attitude towards each other, towards other people and towards the world, it is a fascinating account of a family out of the extraordinary. 

Monday, 13 July 2020

Paris in July - French movies

Paris in July, hosted by Tamara at Thyme for Tea. Everything French and Paris is interesting for this group of bloggers.

I wanted to watch a French film, but have not yet got through D'après une histories vraie (Based on a True Story). In the meantime, I wanted to recommend a couple of other French films that I love.

I really enjoyed  Coco Avant Chanel (Coco Before Chanel), about the French fashion icon. This is her story before she got famous. It is beautifully filmed and shows a woman determined to make something of herself and her talent. Audrey Tautou makes an excellent performance as Coco. 

Another French icon is Colette. Keira Knightley plays Colette in the film with the same name. It is the story of how she became a successful writer, and the obstacles she faced on the way. For a long time, she had to publish her books under the name of her husband. 

Both films highlight strong women who had to fight hard to make it in a men's world. I found both films very interesting. 

One of my favourite French movies is The Intouchables. It is about an aristocrat, who after he becomes a quadriplegic from a paragliding accident, hires a young man from the projects to be his caregiver. Superbly acted by François Cluzet and Omar Sy. Two different kinds of people, from different worlds, meet, clash, fight, and become friends. It is about how we all can take lessons from each other, how we can learn from people different from us, and how someone, locked into his own world, can come out on the other side. It is a charming film and a must-see. (Links to trailers under titles).

Monday, 6 July 2020

Paris in July - A Magical Room by Ingrid Svensson, part II

Paris in July, hosted by Tamara at Thyme for Tea. Head back to her page to see posts from participants in this annual challenge.

I continue from my last post about two other literary salon hostesses in 1920s Paris; Adrienne Monnier and Sylvia Beach.

Adrienne Monnier

had no connections to the literary world when she opened her book shop on 7, rue de l'Odéon in 1915.  Her mother encouraged her to read and her father provided financial support.  Reading was not her only interest, she also enjoyed theatre and music. Debussy became a favourite. 

The area where she opened her shop was not so exclusive then as it is today. It was, at the time, home to bohemian students who needed cheap housing. Her bookshop, La Maison des Amis des Livres,  was surrounded by shops, a theatre and cafés and people soon found their way there. From 1921 Sylvia Beach opened her shop on the other side of the street. "The researcher Laure Murat is speaking about rue de l'Odéon as the Atlantic, a transfer route that unites the French and the new world". 

The bookshop was a magic room, used as a meeting point, a book shop, a lending library, and a salon. Monnier herself described it as a "small, grey shop". It was simply decorated as far as furniture was concerned. The walls were filled with writers' portraits, writers she favoured. It resembled an exhibition in the end. 

Monnier was an outgoing person and made contacts easily. She developed her bookshop, arranging events and meetings with writers. Quite modern in her approach how to turn people's interest to her shop. She advertised, started a membership scheme to borrow books. Her idea was that to buy a book one either had to have read it or know about it. She promoted books and writers in a way so even people without money could enjoy her shop. Very soon her shop was a melting pot of literary and cultural gatherings.

In 1921 Sylvia Beach moved in with Monnier, and they became an established pair. They lived together and worked opposite each other. This lead to a direction into the English language and promotion of new writers both from Europe and the other side of the Atlantic. Although they were two independent women, it seems that they supported mainly male writers. Could, of course, be that there were not that many female writers at the time. There were a lot of women engaged in the work of the shops, but not as writers. 

Monnier also wrote herself, poetry, and articles, which received good reviews. She also ventured into publishing books and starting magazines. Apart from her work in her shop, she was very productive in other literary fields as well as fighting for female voting rights. There is a lot more information about this remarkable woman, but I stop here.

Sylvia Beach

"My loves were Adrienne Monnier and James Joyce and Shakespeare and Company" (my transl.)

Sylvia Beach might be the most famous, or remembered of the ladies who kept a salon. Mainly because her bookshop Shakespeare & Company is quite famous. Born in the US she arrived in Paris in 1916 together with her sister Cyprian who already lived in Paris. Cyprian was hoping for a carrier in films.

Sylvia had studied languages and spoke Italian and Spanish, apart from French. Her aim was to immerse herself in French literature. She started out as a volunteer (this is during the war) in agriculture and vineyards. After the war, she worked for the Red Cross in Serbia as a secretary and translator. 

At the end of 1919 she was back in Paris with Adrienne Monnier. Meeting Adrienne had a significant influence over her life. Together with Adrienne Sylvia developed into a powerful, goal-oriented, and independent woman.

She opened her bookshop on 17 November 1919, in a Paris changing after the war. A new era opened up. Art was changing and the new writers were arriving. Her bookshop was much more colourful than Monnier's. Carpets, art, antique furniture filled up the rooms, and there was even a kitchen. The new Englishspeaking literature was rather unknown in France, as was the modern American one. Sylvia Beach found her niche here. She wanted to introduce Anglo-Saxon literature in the original language, which was a genius initiative. After the war, Paris saw an influx of Americans who found their way to her cozy bookshop. Many writers left the US due to limitations in freedom of the press. 

Sylvia sold and lend books, and could not imagine selling books she did not like herself. She enjoyed when customers sat down in an armchair and read from the book before deciding whether to buy it or not. On her shelves, one could find Sherwood Anderson, Charlotte Brontë, Beowulf, Robert McAlmon, Thomas Hardy, Ernest Hemingways, Samuel Richardson, and Dorothy Richardson. She mixed old with new. 

As Adrienne Monnier, she knew how to attract people by using promotion, signs, and display books and magazines in the windows. She promoted literary magazines, supporting new up-coming writers and poets. The important writers published extracts from there coming books in various magazines, like Finnegans Wake by James Joyce. 

In 1921 she moves her bookshop to 12, rue de l'Odéon, opposite Adrienne Monnier. At the same time, she moved in with Adrienne where she stayed until 1936. "Sylvia had alert eyes, a brown velvet jacket and was kind", writes Hemingway. She let him borrow books on credit when he did not have any money. It was here he found his way to the Russian authors. It opened a new world to him: "to read in a city like Paris, where you could live and work well, no matter how poor you were, was like receiving a great treasure." (my transl). Maybe that was part of Sylvia's talent that she could encourage and detect talent. The story of James Joyce and Ulysses is well known. 

The 1920s was the glorious period for Shakespeare & Company. During the 1930s depression Americans went back to the US. The number of Americans in Paris went down from 20 000 to 4 000 persons. André Gide started an aid campaign to help Sylvia Beach keep the bookshop. It worked for some time, but with the onset of the war, she had to close in 1941. In 1942 she was taken to a detention center in Vittel, where she spent six months with other American and British women who stayed on in France. 

Returning back to Paris, she did not want to open the bookshop again. She settled down at the top floor of the shop where she used to store books, and spent the 1940s working for the Red Cross and other charities. After the suicide of Adrienne Monnier her life turned darker.  She died in 1962 and the papers she left behind are kept at different universities in the US. The name of her bookshop is still alive. Now situated on 37, rue de la Bûcherie, it is a different bookshop where only the name connects it to Sylvia Beach. 

All in all, a very interesting book of which the three posts I have written contains just a fraction. Unfortunately, the book it is not translated. 

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

A Magical Room, Saloons in 1920s Paris by Ingrid Svensson

Better late than never as they say. This post was supposed to go up last year. At a museum in Sweden I found a book about 1920s saloons in Paris. Very interesting and it generated the post: Paris in July - French Saloons.  As promised then, here is the first of two posts about four of the main hostesses. 
Still picking from the "Magical Rom" and events from Paris in the 1920s. There were four main characters who put their mark on the literary scene of the time; Gertrude Stein, Natalie Clifford Barney, Adrienne Monnier, and Sylvia Beach. For most of you, they are already well known. These ladies had one thing in common, as well as many of the women holding salons, in that they were all lesbians. This was maybe one reason why they ended up in Paris, being more liberal (although you had to be discreet) than many other countries, and the US specifically. They were very creative and talented and did a lot for the cultural scene in Paris, introducing new talents and helping them to survive and make their breakthrough.

Gertrude Stein
"It takes a lot of time to be a genius, you have to sit around so much doing nothing, really doing nothing."
She was a patron of the arts. She and her brother were collectors of art, buying from young, unknown artists from early on, such as Pablo Picasso, whom she met already in 1905. In 1907 she met Alice B. Toklas and the rest is history as they say. They enjoyed a life-long relationship and complimented each other in many ways. Saturdays, their home was open to a mixture of artists, writers, and ex-pats. The evenings usually started with dinner for a few chosen friends. Afterward, everyone who knocked on the door was welcomed. "The salon was not a place for snobs, here everyone socialised freely and simply, in a somewhat chaotic environment full of life and discussions." "The salon became a springboard for innovation."(my translation).

Natalie Clifford Barney

was American and daughter of the railway magnate Albert Clifford Barney and artist Alice Pike Barney. She came from a wealthy family and used her money to support poor artists. She published a few of her own books as well. Sapfo was an important poet for her identification.  She rented a house in Neuilly, with a garden, perfect for parties. Among her visitors were Isadora Duncan, Sarah Bernhardt, and authors Anna de Noilles, Colette, Marie de Régnier, Renée Vivien, and Lucie Delarue-Mardrus. From 1909 she rented a house in the court of rue Jacob 20, where she for many years held a lavish salon. The last one was held almost 60 years later in 1968. It was during the 1910s and 1920s that her salon had its peak. It could be up to 200 guests. Apart from the salon, she held a reception once a month for about 100-150 persons. Samuel Putnam was of the opinion that she was the only one who held a salon as they were held in the 18th century. Here you saw wit and elegance come together. Leaders in literature met with scientists and doctors. She was not interested in the formal merits, it was man who interested her: "I'm not a bibliophile but humanophile: it's the strange human specimens I seek."Her salon was lavishly decorated, full of colours and old furniture. One can imagine that the people who visited here, were transferred back to the original salons of times past.

The next post will cover Adrienne Monnier and Sylvia Beach. 

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Paris in July 2020

Tamara at Thyme for Tea is hosting another Paris in July. I am happy to participate again. One of my favourite challenge. Looking forward to seeing fellow Paris-bloggers to see what you are up to this year.  Simple rules; we talk about everything Paris and French. Ill-prepared this year, so no high-level plans for the month. Here are some ideas I might fulfil. 
Usually, I do a French dinner, but considering the times, this will be out of the question this year. I might make up a dinner menu at least. 

I still have an unfinished post from last year(!) about saloons in Paris in the 1920s, which I will finalise.

Someone recommended R.A. Scotti's Vanished Smile, about the theft of Mona Lisa at the beginning of the 20th century. I have never heard about this theft, but it sounds interesting. Especially, since I know the painting came back to the museum. Will try to find the book. 

I will go to the library and see what French they have. Maybe I will try two of my favourite French thriller writers; Michel Bussi and Fred Vargas. They never disappoint. 

I had a look on my own shelves. Unfortunately, not too much connected to France. I found three books though where I can make a French connection. 
  • Bussy-Rabutin - Histoire amoureuse des Gaules - bought it at his castle when we visited some years ago. My French is poor, but I might be able to read a few chapters.
  • Charles Mackay - Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. "This classic catalogue of some of the more outré enthusiasms - speculative, social, religious and just plain daft - serves as a salutary reminder that the follies of mankind are not unique to the moderns world." I have found some connections to France, so let's see what follies I can find.
  • Göran Norrby - The Rise and Fall of the House of von Fersen, 1561-1879. A Swedish biography about the von Fersen family. Axel von Fersen was rumoured to be the lover of Marie Antoinette, and also tried to help them flee. Unsuccessfully. 
There are of course many interesting French writers that I may add to the list.

I will also check out some French films, TV-series and music. 

I might go back to our French travels and find a few pictures and stories.

Saturday, 6 June 2020

before we met by Lucie Whitehouse

" A whirlwind romance. A perfect marriage.
Hannah Reilly has seized her chance at happiness. Until the day her husband doesn't come home...
Can you ever really know what happened before you met?"
Hannah goes to Heathrow to meet her husband, en route from the US.  It is his usual weekend visit. However, this weekend he is not on the plane and he is not available on his phone. Hannah naturally worries that something has happened. When he finally contact her by message, she is relieved.

When she by chance is told that he is supposed to be with her in Rome, her mind moves towards the idea he is having an affair. She starts investigating and more and more mysterious details are detected.

This is a kind of 'Gaslight' story. Is Hannah just imagining things? Everybody seems convinced that she is the love of his life. The more she detects an unknown part of his life, the more the mystery is shrouded in darkness.

This is a story keeping you hooked and guessing until the very end. It is creepy and thrilling, and you don't really know whom you should believe in. Since we follow Hannah step by step, we are there with her, sharing her feelings and fears as she finds out more about her husband's life before they met. A book, difficult to put down.

Monday, 1 June 2020

Catching up

A while now since my last post. I don't know what is happening, but time seems to go very fast. We are still self-isolating, although we do venture out a little bit more. Being careful and keeping distances. It is quite comfortable to have no demands on you because there is not so much you can do in comparison to normal times. I recently asked my husband how we will be able to cope with all the things to do, once we are back to normal. These days I am only capable of concentrating on the few daily tasks that we have. I do long for normal times, misunderstand me right, and hope that the lack of energy I feel now, will come back. It is heavy to think that we might have to stay like this for another year. We are continuing our walks in the area and have discovered a lot of nice national parks and areas to walk or bike. If this situation would not have occurred, I don't think we ever would have had time for these discoveries.

I read 11 books in May. Many of them very good. So far so good for my personal challenge of reading 7 books from my shelves every month (from April). I have done well so far; 8 in April and 7 in May. My other personal challenge of reading more non-fiction books this year is not looking that good; only 4 books this year. Well, there are times to come. I find that easy-going thrillers are the best books to read during these times.

Today is a new month and new efforts. I have, as usual, several options to choose from. I have also started listening to the first book in Lucina Riley's Seven Sisters series. Fascinating from the first sentence. I will try to listen through it fastly, so I can download the e-books from the library.

I have four books on the go, which I hope to finalise this month. All from my own shelves. They are: before we met by Lucie Whitehouse, Laterna magica by Ingmar Bergman, Inheritance (The story of Knole & the Sackvilles) by Robert Sackville-West, and Nattens historia (The history of the night) by Gunnar Broberg. Three of them are non-fiction. Hopefully, they can occupy my mind for a while.

I hope that you are all safe and using the time to read and exercise.

Monday, 18 May 2020

3 x Alexander Söderberg

Another fantastic book from my bookshelves. The Andalucian Friend by Alexander Söderberg was published already in 2012 (in Swedish, 2013 in English). While reading, I realised it is the first part of a trilogy. I remember it got excellent reviews when it was first published, although I did not realise it was such a long time ago. This is one of the best thrillers I have read. Quite different from anything else in this genre. Once finishing the first book I downloaded the following two e-books from the library; The Other Son and The Good Wolf. I read them both in two days. Simply could not put them down.
"When Sophie Brinkmann meets Hector Guzman, she knows everything that she needs to: he’s handsome, he’s charming and he makes her happy. But what she doesn’t know is that Hector has some nasty friends, some even nastier enemies, and an unscrupulous police operation relentlessly following his every move. With her house under surveillance by the law and her life under threat from drug traffickers, gangsters and hitmen, Sophie must decide who she can trust – and whose side she really wants to be on."
It might be difficult to understand how an ordinary nurse like Sophie falls in love with a criminal type like Hector Guzman. I think this is the reason why Söderberg's novels have a certain appeal. The characters are well-drawn. They are not categorised into bad people being bad, and good people being good. Both sides have good and bad streaks. Nothing is black and white in this account of what is happening when an innocent nurse, by chance, is entering into the world of international crime.

One can have a doubt about how someone like Sophie can handle all the criminal elements she meets. It is a violent story. Once you have seen a brutal murder would you not call the police? Once you realise that your boyfriend is the leader of an international criminal gang, would you not, at least, try to get out of it? There are questions here that do not get an answer. Once you are on the train, maybe you just have to continue.

The tempo is extremely high through all of the three books, and I, at least, found myself holding my breath. Constantly moving forwards, even when there seem to be quiet moments. We meet gangsters, thugs, and both honest and corrupt policemen, and women. In all of this, Sophie has to balance on a tight-rope to be able to come out of this alive, as well as protecting her son.

As the story unfolds, the plot is becoming more complicated, as the international gangs are taking the stake higher and higher. The more complicated the plot is becoming, the more you ask yourself how this will end. Well, the end came quite as a surprise. Considering there really are no winners in this story, I think it was all right.

It seems the first book will be filmed, but no further details available.  It will be interesting to see who will play Sophie, Hector, and Albert, and all the other characters. I can't wait to see what the movie producers will make of it.

Monday, 11 May 2020

Gabriel Farago x 2

Gabriel Farago is an international, bestselling Australian author of the Jack Rogan mysteries. I have already enjoyed several of his books, among them The Kimberley Secret and Professor K: The Final Quest. His hero, Jack Rogan, is a man entirely to my liking. He is an Australian journalist, interested in history and mysteries. Charming, talented, and with a certain kind of humour, he seems to fit in anywhere.  It was nice to meet him again in two books I read during my Caribbean holiday over Christmas and New Year:  The Forgotten Painting and The Curious Case of the Missing Head.

The Forgotten Painting

I divide the books about Jack Rogan into the earlier ones and the later ones. The earlier ones, of which The Forgotten Painting is one, is of a more 'simple' structure, than the newer books by Farago. I classify them as an old fashion mystery book à la Agatha Christie. They are based on a mystery in the past which Rogan is trying to solve.
"When celebrated author Jack Rogan stumbles upon a hidden diary, he can’t resist investigating. Honouring the last wish of a dying friend, he is irresistibly drawn into a web of intriguing clues, hinting at a long forgotten treasure. 
Joining forces with Cecilia Crawford, a glamorous New York journalist, and Tristan, a remarkable boy with psychic powers, Jack soon finds himself on a precarious journey of discovery, exposing dark secrets from a distant, violent time, when life was cheap and cruelty ruled without mercy. 
Will Rogan succeed? Can he find the forgotten treasure he has been searching for, or will it be lost forever, depriving the world of a masterpiece that belongs to all mankind."
The forgotten treasure is a painting, lost since World War II.  Rogan's quest to find the treasure, mentioned in a diary, takes him all over Europe, from the dens of forgers into the most exclusive auctioneering houses of Europe. But it does not end there. Are the clues Rogan found really true or is someone playing with them?

Gabriel Farago notes that The Forgotten Painting is a novella, and thus shorter than his ordinary novels. He chose this genre as a way to introduce new readers to his work. It does work very well. Personally, I love mysteries of this kind, and when we think we know the answer to the mystery, the story takes another turn. A good introduction to Farago's hero.

The Curious Case of the Missing Head

With his later books, Gabriel Farago has entered into the world of international crime, and he does it with great skills. The stories are well built up and very complex. The different storylines are skillfully merging in the end.
"Esteemed Australian journalist Jack Rogan is on a mission to solve the disappearance of his mother in the 70s. But when a friend needs help rescuing a kidnapped world-renowned astrophysicist, he doesn’t hesitate. Struggling with more questions than answers, his investigation leads them aboard a hellish hospital ship, where instead of finding the kidnap victim, he’s confronted with a decapitated corpse. 
As the search intensifies, Jack bumps up against diabolical cartels with hidden agendas. And when his research reveals dubious experiments, a criminal on death row, and a shocking revelation about his mother’s fate, he must uncover how it’s all linked.
Can Jack unravel the twisted connections and catch the scientist’s killer, or will the next obituary published be his own? 
The Curious Case of the Missing Head is the fifth standalone novel in the page-turning Jack Rogan Mysteries series. If you like meticulous theoretical science, exponentially increasing intensity, and astonishing surprises, then you’ll love Gabriel Farago’s hair-raising medical thriller."
This is a thriller that keeps you hooked from the first page to the last. Farago's thrillers are so well researched. Often science plays a big role in the stories, as here, and it is impressive how much detail we are given. That is what makes his stories seem trustworthy.

What I also like with this novel, as well as with Farago's other novels, is that the characters are carefully sketched. Usually, people are either good or bad. Farago gives both the good and the bad ones more dimensional characters.

In principle, there are two mysteries in this novel; the long-ago disappearance of Rogan's mother and the kidnapping of a scientist. You wonder how Farago will be able to tie together two such separate stories in the end, but he does.

The Jack Rogan mysteries can be read in any order. Each book has a story that is finalised in the end. As I said, I love some of the earlier books where you meet Rogan as he starts his 'career' as an investigating journalist. However, it is no problem to start with later books, where the stories are more complex.

On Gabriel Farago's website, you can get a free download of some of his earlier books. His newsletters are also worth subscribing too.

Thursday, 7 May 2020

The Strauss Family by Peter Prange

This book Die Strauß- Dynastie was published in 1993, so it has been a long time with me. I love classical music, and some of the best and most beautiful music comes from the Strauß family. It seems that Peter Prange wrote the book from a manuscript. That is maybe why, at least in the beginning, it is a bit difficult to come into. A bit of static writing. However, as I came further into the story, the exciting, and rather sad, history of this family took over.

It is an unusually talented family, all the sons were into music. Maybe Johann was the most talented, but the other two brothers, Joseph and Eduard, made their marks at the time. Johann Strauß, the elder, left his wife and family to move in with his mistress. It was a big change for the family, even if the husband/father paid for them. The mother, Anna, became a rather miserable figure. Although one must admire her stamina, she was a powerful woman and reigned her family, that is, her children with an iron hand. Having said that, she also dedicated her life to her sons and their music.

The brothers did not get along very well, which also affected the family. Johann Strauß, the younger, left his home at a rather young age, and sort of distanced himself from them. His career is interesting and his fame did not come without sacrifices. Both father and son traveled extensively over Europe and America, leaving the political climate of Vienna.

A fascinating family who ruled the dancing scene of Vienna for most of their lives. Their music is still popular today, and that says something of its charm and quality. Reading about their lives gives another aspect to their music, the times they lived in, and the faith of a family who was striving in different directions. An amazing and interesting account of a talented family who put their marks on the world.

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

The Book of Secrets by Tom Harper

Another excellent book from my own shelves, The Book of Secrets by Tom Harper. It just shows how many good books are hiding there. The book covers two separate stories, one in the past and one in the present. This structure I find very appealing, maybe because I love historical fiction. It is a mystery and thriller and it holds you captured to the very end.
"In a snowbound village in the German mountains, a young woman discovers an extraordinary secret. Before she can reveal it, she disappears. All that survives is a picture of a mysterious medieval playing card that has perplexed scholars for centuries. Nick Ash does research for the FBI in New York. Six months ago his girlfriend Gilliam walked out and broke his heart. Now he's the only person who can save her - if it's not too late. Within hours of getting her message Nick finds himself on the run, delving deep into the past before it catches up with him. Hunted across Europe, Nick follows Gillian's trail into the heart of a 500-year-old mystery. But across the centuries, powerful forces are closing around him. There are men who have devoted their lives to keeping the secret, and they will stop at nothing to protect it." 
The book might be compared to  The Da Vinci Code, although it does not have an overall religious theme, even if it is bordering. Nick's quest for Gilliam takes him and his friend Emily on a trip around Europe, in order to discover the meaning of the medieval playing cards, at the base of this story. Someone is following in their trail and leaving death behind. 

In the distant, medieval past Johann Gensfleisch is absorbed by his will to create something beautiful and lasting. Fate takes him through a Europe hit by the plague, poverty, and violence. He makes friends as well as enemies, but when he meets the talented painter Kaspar Drach, he is drawn into his not so organised world.  
"He was the most obscenely talented man I ever met - more so, I believe, than Nicholas Cusanus. While Cusanus tended his thoughts in walled gardens, Drach roamed freely across the earth; where Cusanus pruned, watered, shaped, and cropped, Drach sprayed his seed without thought for where it would land. Tangled meadows of bright and fantastical flowers sprouted wherever he walked. Though among their twisted stems, serpents lurked."
Both storylines are set with mystery and violence. With the historical story, Harper takes us into a world of darkness, as his characters are facing the hardships of the time. With the modern story, we are equally into something mysterious and hidden. It is fascinating, thrilling and a few surprises along the line. The language is beautiful, the characters are drawn with care, and we are allowed to follow them in the distant. The purpose of the chase stays open until the very end. A book that is difficult to put down.  Although it is a mystery and thriller, it is written in a poetic language that usually is not found in books like this.  My first experience with Tom Harper, but certainly not the last.

Monday, 4 May 2020

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

I must be rather lucky with my reading for the time being. I have read so many really good books. The best books ever, A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, seems to have been just the beginning. Just read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, and ended up with another really, really, good book. 
"Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day, and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.
Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled existence, Except, sometimes, everything..."
As the summary tells us, Elanor Oliphant is a down to earth, simple woman who has planned her life accordingly. She is happy and satisfied and does not seem to lack anything. Maybe we laugh a little bit about her in the beginning or wondering why she lives such a plain life, without very much excitement. Well, we are about to learn a great deal about Eleanor Oliphant.

Her perfectly planned life is changing due to two men; Raymond, the new computer technician at her work, and Johnnie Rocks, a musician, and singer. The first one becomes a friend and the second one is her chosen boyfriend to be. The only thing is; Johnnie does not know it and they have not yet met.

This is in a way both a hilarious and a sad book. However, Honeyman manages to be so honest about Eleanor, that very soon we just love her. We realise that she suffers from a trauma in her childhood, maybe have some kind of syndrome, that makes it difficult for her to show and feel emotions. We are eagerly following her own kind of logic, realises when it will go wrong, and are happy when things are going well. It is a fantastic book about life, circumstances and our possibilities to change our lives. Sometimes with a little bit of help. I will not add more than this in order not to spoil the story. We are surprised about Eleanor and her life as we follow her path to another, hopefully, happier life.

In an interview in The Guardian, Gail Honeyman said: "I didn't want Eleanor Oliphant to be portrayed as a victim." Indeed, she has not. It is a wonderfully written account over a difficult life, but where Eleanor has found her a place where she can live. It is only when outside forces enter into her life, that she is at first, terrified, and then hoping for something else. The end is quite surprising. It is a must-read.

I hope the quotes I have chosen here, give you an idea of the character of Eleanor Oliphant.  You just can't help loving her, and when you have reached this point, you do realise she is completely fine.

Friday, 1 May 2020

Book Beginnings on Fridays and The Friday 56

The Content Reader

This week's book is one that I have had for quite some time on my shelves, The Book of Secrets by Tom Harper. The back cover summary tells a story that is exactly my cup of tea.

"In a snowbound village in the German mountains, a young woman discovers an extraordinary secret. Before she can reveal it, she disappears. All that survives is a picture of a mysterious medieval playing card that has perplexed scholars for centuries. 
Nick Ash does research for the FBI in New York. Six months ago his girlfriend Gilliam walked out and broke his heart. Now he's the only person who can save her - if it's not too late. Within hours of getting her message Nick finds himself on the run, delving deep into the past before it catches up with him. 
Hunted across Europe, Nick follows Gillian's trail into the heart of a 500-year-old mystery. But across the centuries, powerful forces are closing around him. There are men who have devoted their lives to keeping the secret, and they will stop at nothing to protect it." 

Book Beginnings on Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader

"Oberwinter, GermanyThick snow covered the village that morning.  cold silence gripped the streets. The cars parked opposite the hotel were shrouded with frost - except one, where a gloved hand had scraped a rough circle clear on the driver's window. Behind the black glass, the red eye of a cigarette blinked and glowed."

The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice
"'There is your design. A penny to whoever produces the more perfect copy.' 
The penny did not interest me: I knew I would win it. Something about what Konrad did had chimed false, though I did not know what it was. I pondered it while I worked on the ring. First, I took a flimsy piece of parchment that had been soaked to become translucent and traced the image on the paper with a leaded stylus. I washed a thin layer of wax over the face of the ring, and rubbed the back of my parchment with the lead. Then I put the ring in a vice, overlaid the parchment and retraced the image, bearing down hard with the stylus. When I took the parchment away, a light grey stag had appeared on the wax-coated ring."

Friday, 24 April 2020

Book Beginnings on Fridays and The Friday 56

A long time since I posted something under this banner, but now I am back with a wonderful book.
It is Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. I bought it because many of you put up excellent reviews. They were well deserved. A review will come soon.    

Book Beginnings on Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader

"When people ask me what I do - taxi drivers, dental hygienists - I tell them I work in an office. In almost nine years, no one's ever asked what kind of office, or what sort of job I do there."

The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice

"She came with me from my childhood bedroom, survived the foster placements and children's homes and, like me, she's still here."

Friday, 10 April 2020

My Life in Books 2019

The Content Reader

I found this tag from Deb Nance at Readerbuzz, who in her turn found it from Jane at Howling Library. It sounds like great fun and it seems to be as much as I can do these days. Deb Nance started from 415 books(! wow). I have to start with 98 books, so maybe a little bit trickier. Let's see.

‘My Life in Books 2019’

1. In high school, I was a  - Flaubert's Parrot (Julian Barnes)
2. People might be surprised by - A Man of Some Repute (Elizabeth Edmondson)
3. I will never be - The Golden Hour (Beatriz Williams)
4. My fantasy job is - The Kimberley Secret (Gabriel Farago)
5. At the end of a long day I need - Orlando (Virginia Woolf)
6. I hate - Ordinary Thunderstorms (William Boyd)
7. Wish I had -  The Hiding Places (Katherine Webb)
8. My family reunions are - The Clockmakers Daughter (Kate Morton)
9. At a party, you’d find me with -  The Silent Patient (Alex Michaelides)
10. I’ve never been to - The Muse (Jessie Burton)
11. A happy day includes - A Gentleman in Moscow (Amor Towles) 
12. Mottos I live by:  - Gloved Heart (Charlotte Brentwood)
13. On my bucket list are  - The Final Painting (Gabriel Farago) 
14. In my next life, I want to have - Saratoga Trunk (Edna Ferber)

There you go!

Thursday, 9 April 2020

Mount TBR 2019 Final Checkpoint

I guess we are now up to the first checkpoint of 2020. Since I ended the year with a long trip, I was not really up to blogging about the end of the year versus the beginning of the year administration. Going through all the posts I meant to read later, I am finally catching up. Since My Reader's Block challenge Mount TBR is one of my favourite challenges, I cannot help filling in The Words to the Wise According to Mount TBR. Better late than never.

First of all, congratulations to Bev for reaching Mount Everest! A real effort. I aimed for Mount Ararat, but only made it a short way up Mt Vancouver. Managed Mont Blanc at least. 28 books all in all. I blame it all on the library books!

"The Words to the Wise According to Mount TBR: Using the titles of the books you read this year, see how many of the familiar proverbs and sayings below you can complete with a book read on your journey up the Mountain. Feel free to add/subtract a word or two to help them make sense."

A stitch in time...(with) Trains & Boats & Planes / Killen McNeill
Don't count your chickens...(in the) Saratoga Trunk / Edna Ferber
A penny saved is...Five Great Short Stories / Anton Chekov
All good things must come... Of Love and Shadows / Isabel Allende
When in Rome... (beware of) Ordinary Thunderstorms / William Boyd
All that glitters is not... The Newton Letter / John Banville
A picture is worth... The Greek Treasure / Irving Stone
When the going gets tough, the tough get...(into) Wedlock /Wendy Moore
Two wrongs don't make...Den store utställningen (The Great Exhibition) / Marie Hermansson
The pen is mightier than...The Third Man / Graham Greene
The squeaky wheel gets... Terror / Håkan Östlundh
Hope for the best, but prepare for... Revolutionary Road / Richard Yates
Birds of a feather flock...On Canaan's Side /Sebastian Barry

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Life According to Literature Tag

The Content Reader

I usually read other blogs on Feedly. Since I am not too keen on making comments with my iPad, I save the posts to look them up later. Well, sometimes much later. This meme on books you read last year was posted by Brona at Brona's Books on 14 January 2020. Let's see what I can make of it with the books I read in 2019.

THE RULES: Using only books you have read during the year (2019), answer these questions. Try not to repeat a book title.

  • Describe yourself: The Secret Wife / Gil Paul
  • How do you feel: The Silent Patient / Alex Michaelides
  • Describe where you currently live: Saratoga Trunk / Edna Ferber
  • If you could go anywhere, where would you go: The Hiding Places / Katherine Webb
  • Your favourite form of transportation: Trains & Boats & Planes / Kille NcNeill
  • Your best friend is: Kristin Lavransdattir / Sigrid Undset
  • You and your friends are: The Noise of Time / Julian Barnes
  • What's the weather like: Ett jävla solsken (A Bloody Sunshine) / Fatima Bremmer
  • You fear: Snow White Must Die / Nele Neuhaus
  • What is the best advice you have to give: Aldrig glömma (Never Forget) /Britt Peruzzi
  • Thought for the day: The Golden Hour / Beatriz Williams
  • How would I like to die: Of Love and Shadows / Isabel Allende
  • My soul's present condition: Falls the Shadow / Gemma O'Connor

Interesting exercise.  Keep safe and take care.

Monday, 6 April 2020

Easy reading in times of distress

When you want an easy read, something exciting and thrilling, then a thriller or mystery book comes in handy. I have already read six such books this year and two during the present worrying times. Reading all the gruesome news in the papers is enough for the time being. Not that thrillers are less gruesome reading, but at least it is in a book. Here a few short notes on good mysteries, easy to read and they keep up the thrill until the very end.

Byron's Shadow by Jason Foss - a different story set at an archeological site in Greece. A golden pen found at the dig, with the name 'Byron' on it, sets a chain of events in motion. Archeologist, Dr. Jeffrey Flint is in the middle of the action when his boss suddenly is murdered and he is accused of the deed. With the help of his ex-girlfriend, he is in for more than he asked for. Thrilling and hiding the culprit until the very end.

The Dry by Jane Harper - a favourite author and this is the first book about her detective, Aaron Falk. "After getting a note demanding his presence, Federal Agent Aaron Falk arrives in his hometown for the first time in decades to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke. Twenty years ago when Falk was accused of murder, Luke was his alibi. Falk and his father fled under a cloud of suspicion, saved from prosecution only because of Luke’s steadfast claim that the boys had been together at the time of the crime. But now more than one person knows they didn’t tell the truth back then, and Luke is dead.
Amid the worst drought in a century, Falk and the local detective question what really happened to Luke. As Falk reluctantly investigates to see if there’s more to Luke’s death than there seems to be, long-buried mysteries resurface, as do the lies that have haunted them. And Falk will find that small towns have always hidden big secrets." The past is catching up with Aaron as he stays on to try to solve the murder. The story keeps you glued to the pages. Jane Harper takes you out in the wilderness and the heat. There is no getting away. A superb author of thrillers where human actions take us beyond belief.

Don't Look Back by Karin Fossum -  a young girl is found murdered, and it takes time before detective Sejer sees the reason behind the murder. "At the foot of the imposing Kollen Mountain lies a small, idyllic village, where neighbors know neighbors and children play happily in the streets. But when the body of a teenage girl is found by the lake at the mountaintop, the town's tranquility is shattered forever. Annie was strong, intelligent, and loved by everyone. What went so terribly wrong? Doggedly, yet subtly, Inspector Sejer uncovers layer upon layer of distrust and lies beneath the town's seemingly perfect façade." A slower-moving mystery, but no less intriguing.

Kyldygnet by Philip Birk - the first book about international art thief Tom Grip. It is Copenhagen in June 2016, and the most expensive painting ever is stolen from the National Museum. The theft is very well planned, but also violent. The tracks are leading over the water to Malmö in Sweden. Tom Grip, on the run for several years, is asked to investigate, knowing that very few people would be able to go through with such an affair. The story of the theft is mixed with the story of his earlier life, as he started stealing paintings. The ending comes as a surprise. The third book in the series are soon out. They have been translated into German, and a German production company has bought the rights to film it.

Presumption of Death by Perri O'Shaughnessy - it is book no. 9 in the Nina Reilly series. My first account with lawyer Nina and her private detective boyfriend, Paul van Wagoner, is a pleasant one. "After a tumultuous year, attorney Nina Reilly heads home to put her life in order and move in with her long-time, part-time love, Paul van Wagoner. Carmel Valley, however, is not quite the sleepy town Nina remembers.
In a place where the locals clash with the rich newcomers, conflicts have always been an inevitable part of life, but lately, the hostilities have turned ugly: someone has been setting seemingly random forest fires. Just as Nina is re-establishing her family ties and beginning her new life with Paul, she is called upon again. The last fire proved fatal, and the son of her faithful ex-assistant, Sandy Whitefeather, stands accused of murder. Nina is certain that the fires are not random at all. Against her better judgement, she must work with Paul in order to gain the locals' trust in a race against time to find the truth before the real killer's motives become all too shockingly apparent." An interesting psychological drama, showing the interaction of people and their behaviour in a time of crisis. 

The Leopard by Jo Nesbo - It is the book no. 8 about detective Harry Hole. Two women have been found murdered in Oslo, both have drowned in their own blood. There are no clues, and the expert police, Harry Hole, has disappeared into the underworld of Hongkong, still suffering from his last case. Reluctantly, he comes back and gets involved in the case. There are more murders to come. This is my first book about Harry Hole, and it is terribly exciting. As more murders are detected, more clues come into the light. A complicated story that keeps you guessing. 

Do you also tend to read thrillers, when you want to read something easy? The other option I have is historical fiction. What about you? What kind of genre do you read when you just want something light to read?

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

In splendid isolation, or...?

These are difficult times, as the coronavirus spreads over the world and affects more and more people. I hope that you are all right out there? How are you keeping up with restrictions in moving around society?

In Sweden, we are allowed to move around outside, although should refrain from it when not necessary. For me and my husband, it is not a big problem. He came back from Nepal just over two weeks ago. Coming home early, due to the spreading of the virus. He landed in Vienna and re-directed his trip to come to Sweden. It is good that we can be here together in times like these. It would not be so nice to be in two different countries for a time where we don't know when it will end.

Walking close to home

We spend our days mostly at home. We go for weekly shopping and errands. We try to go for a walk most days. We are lucky to be able to start walking directly from our home, going to the beach, or around the nearby limestone quarry. Otherwise, we take the car and go to national parks, not far away from where we live. We see very few people, and when we meet someone, we all make sure to keep the distance. It is nice to be able to take these walks and get a bit of fresh air. The weather has been wonderful, so that is an extra plus. It must be very difficult for those of you who cannot leave your home. Please let me know how you are keeping up.

An excursion to Lake Pulken to watch the cranes, and
a walk on the beach at Åhus, picnic in the harbour

Since nothing much is happening due to the standstill, I take this opportunity to catch up with various projects that are lagging behind. I have picked up my journaling for 2019. I am now done with March, so still, a few months to go. Other journaling projects are also in the pipeline. Further projects that are trying to get some attention are a photographing course, getting used to being creative with my iPad pro, blogging, writing, studying, and reading.  Furthermore, projects around the house like spring cleaning, fixing broken things, organising whatever there is to organise. There is an endless list of things to do.

Walking in national parks

If you like reading you always have something to do. Especially, if your bookcases are full of non-read books. I have only read three books from my shelves this year. I tend to borrow books at the library now that I am living in Sweden. Now is the time to start with my own books.

I will make a challenge of my own, to read at least seven books per month from my shelves. And,... it is not an April Fool's Day joke! For now, I am reading The Leopard by Jo Nesbo. I find that it is easier to pick a detective story or a light storybook these days, rather than more serious and thoughtfully books. I am still dedicated to reading nonfiction books.

Please let me know how you are getting through your days. Keep up the spirit, take care and keep safe.

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

The Tigress or Forli by Elizabeth Lev

I recently visited Florence, which you can read about on my other blog The Content Reader Goes OutdoorFlorence is one of the prominent city-states during the Italian Renaissance. I am currently reading various books about the de' Medici family and will return to the subject later on. While searching for books about this time, I happened to find a book about Caterina Riario Sforza (1463-1509). She was the illegitimate daughter of Galeazzo Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan. The story of her life is more than life itself. She was an incredible woman; mother, wife, warrior, and icon.  She met many of the important men of her time:
"Pope Sixtus IV, Caterina's benefactor and uncle by marriage, who commissioned the Sistine Chapel frescoes in which she is immortalized. 
Count Girolamo Riario, Caterina's first husband and an originator of the Pazzi conspiracy, whose corrupt ways led to their flight from Rome to Forli. 
Niccolò Machiavelli, the Florentine political theorist who as a young diplomat was humiliated by Caterina and later took revenge with his pen. 
Giacomo Feo, Caterina's secret second husband, a jumped-up family retainer whose assassination led to a bloodbath on the streets of Forli. 
Giovanni de' Medici il Popolano, Caterina's beloved third husband, who provided Caterina entrée into Florentine culture and society, and an heir worthy of her legacy. 
Cesare Borgia, nephew to the ruthless Borgia pope Alexander VI, who would bring Caterina's rule to an end with unspeakable cruelty." 
Raised in the court of Milan, she grew up in a world of intrigues. That might have been the reason for her surviving all the different ordeals she met with during her life. She was married to her first husband at the age of ten and bore him six children. She was intelligent and well-read and considered the most beautiful woman of her time. When her family was threatened she did not hesitate to take unusual measures to save them. Even if it meant to ride from Forli to Rome, eight months pregnant!

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Best books read in 2019

A little bit late to summarise my reading for 2019, but better late than never. I use inspiration from Books in Bloom, who got inspired by Jamie@The Perpetual Page Turner and Esther@BiteInBooks for various surveys.

Best In Books

1. Best books you read in 2019:
- A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

2. Book you were excited about & thought you were going to love more but didn’t:
- La fille qui lisait dans le metro by Christine Féret-Fleury

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read:
- Med Örnen mot polen by Svenska Sällskapet för Antropologi och Geografi (Scientific account of the Andrée expedition 1897)

4. Book you “pushed” the most people to read (and they did):
- A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (I have pushed a lot, if people read, well, that is another matter).

5. Best series you started in 2019. Best sequel of 2019. Best series ender of 2019.
1793 by Niklas Dag och Natt

6. Favourite new author, you discovered in 2019:
- Beatriz Williams

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone:
- None

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year:
- The Man from St Petersburg by Ken Follett (audio)

9. A book you read in 2019 that you are most likely to re-read next year?
- A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

10. Favourite cover of a book you read in 2019:
- The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams

11. The most memorable character of 2019:
- Count Alexander Rostov in A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2019:
- A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

13. Most thought-provoking/life-changing book of 2019:
- A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2019 to finally read:
- Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset

15. Favorite quote from a book you read in 2019:

- “if a man does not master his circumstances then he is bound to be mastered by them.” A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

16. Shortest and longest books you read in 2019:
- Five Great Short Stories by Anton Chekhov (shortest)
- Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset (longest - all four books/parts)

17. Book that shocked you the most:
- Wedlock: How Georgian Britain's Worst Husband Met His Match by Wendy Moore (audio)

18. OTP of the year (you will go down with this ship!):
- A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

19. Favorite non-romantic relationship of the year:
- The Third Man by Graham Greene

20. Favorite book you read in 2019 from an author you’ve read previously:
- The Muse by Jessie Burton

21. Best book you read in 2019 that you read based SOLELY on a recommendation from somebody else:
- Jag for ner till bror by Karin Smirnoff

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2019:
- Count Alexander Rostov in A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

23. Best 2019 debut you read:
- Silvervägen by Stina Jackson

24. Most vivid setting you read this year:
- Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset

25. A book that put a smile on your face/was the most FUN to read:
- I think I read too many serious books this year!

26. A book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2019:
- I cry easily, but can't recall really crying over any of the stories I read in 2019

27. Hidden gem of the year:
- The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams

28. A book that crushed your soul:
- Bränn alla mina brev by Alex Schulman

29. The most unique book you read in 2019:
- A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

30. The book that made you the maddest (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it):
- Wedlock: How Georgian Britain's Worst Husband Met His Match by Wendy Moore (audio)

There you are! It might be a little bit onesided, considering that I went for A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles ten times. But, it did stand out as the best book ever. It is interesting to highlight the books you have read during the year in this way. Do you agree about any of the books I have chosen here? Please let me know.