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  2. Have a Rant!

    rhododendrond like acid soil, so you could be on a hiding to nothing if yours is alkaline - which it probably is if rhodos are generally difficult in your area. I doubt if they would thrive in pots, either, as they are big sprawling beasts in the wild. What about their daintier cousins, azaleas? They can be grown in pots of ericaceous compost. You'll need that for your heather, too.
  3. Today
  4. Have a Rant!

    Not a rant, more of a depressing complaint. Seems like each day I wake up and think, please God, no problems today please. Since Dave was in hospital I find myself on edge that no further episodes arrive and now that Sheila is back at work I'm nervous that the medicine is now capable of preventing more seizure activity. Each time the neurologist has to adjust the doseage I pray that this time it's sufficient to do the job. The only time I can escape the thinking is if my book takes me away. Thank the Lord for books. Also find a bit of homesickness creeps in and today when I saw a nursery ad for rhododendrons, which are really difficult to grow in our region I thought I'd give it another try, they grow so well in the UK, and just to really get in the spirit I'll get some purple heather. Amazing how yearning for how things used to be pops up in troubling times. And the terrible fire in Notre Dame added a lot of sadness, hopefully as work to rebuild starts the mood in Paris will pick up greatly, such a marvellous structure which to this point has stood the test of time.
  5. Currently Reading

    What Not, Rose Macauley
  6. Yesterday
  7. The Corset

    More Victorian Gothic from Laura Purcell. This is a very clever story about a young girl and her life and about another slightly older girl (she's 24) and her life. The chapters alternate from one main character to another. The younger girl is a seamstress and has a very difficult life, the other is a lady of leisure and adopts her mother's religion and charitable works. The older woman meets the younger one while the younger one is in jail, at the age of sixteen, and the younger one tells her story. The older one finds it difficult to believe but also finds it fascinating so keeps visiting. The older one also incurs her father's displeasure by studying phrenology which was popular amongst the Victorians, I believe. Loved this story, it has more bite to it than The Silent Companions (one of Purcell's other books) and the twist at the end was not what I anticipated. The prose is good, the characters rounded and the story believable. There are descriptions of physical cruelty in this book that should be noted if the reader isn't keen on that but other than that I highly recommend this.
  8. Notre Dame

    And, in the main from different donors. Disaster appeals draw in many small donations from individuals, and many donations to the Notre Dame repairs will also come from individuals who have been touched by the sight of the burning cathedral. The large Notre Dame pledges are from businesses, corporations and large organisations - who will no doubt benefit from being listed among the 'sponsors' when the work is done. They are the ones with the warped prioities when it comes to largesse.
  9. Notre Dame

    £18 million is still a lot! But there are several appeals each year for natural disasters and human nature being what it is, the extreme or unusual is what gets attention.
  10. Notre Dame

    I read somewhere that the organ had been saved, conflicting reports! Will be a massive project to put it mildly.
  11. Last week
  12. The Hills of Dreams

    In Arthur Machen’s The Hill of Dreams, a young writer is haunted by the presence of a ruin near his rural home. Whenever he visits the ruin, it carries him off to ancient Rome. His visions are vibrant and sensual and all-encompassing. Years later, when he moves to London, the pressure to write something of literary merit and the isolation of being friendless in a metropolis takes their toll on him. He becomes drawn into a whirlpool of altered realities that threaten not only his sanity but his life. The Hill of Dreams is a marvelously atmospheric novel that has influenced writers from Lord Dunsany to Henry Miller.
  13. Notre Dame

    Half a billion euros pledged, and rising, according to tonight's news. That's five hundred million. £18 million (not quite 21,000 euros) raised for the Idai cyclone appeal on the DEC website - compare and contrast.
  14. Notre Dame

    The catherdral in Rouen, a gothic masterpiece, was practucally destroyed during the Normandy invasions and the restoration work is incredible - if it weren't for the photos showing the extent of the damage you wouldn't believe it. I think the Fenice was more in the region of a complete reconstruction from the bottom up though, it wasn't the first time it had burnt down. It's got a timber frame so it's very vulnerable to fire.The Grande Theatre in Bordeaux is supposed to be the only timber framed theatre in Europe that has never burnt down. On a glass half full note, the damege to Notre Dame doesn't seem to be as absolutely devestating as they were saying last night - at least the windows are intact and the towers were saved though I beleive the organ has gone. My daughter and I were in Paris about five years ago stayng literally next door to Notre Dame and walked in just as the sung evening service was starting. It was so beautiful it made the hairs stand up non the back of your neck.
  15. Notre Dame

    Millions of euros/dollars pledged towards the costs involved. What a very sad sight it was.
  16. Notre Dame

    Yes it's awful, one of my favourite buildings. And the architecture is so stunning, unlike the monstrous Pompidou Centre, which is hideous. Hopefully it will be restored, they managed to restore la Fenice in Venice and York Minster after fires, so fingers crossed they can do it for Notre Dame.
  17. Notre Dame

    My condolences to our french members on the terrible fire at Notre Dame last night. My heart was in my mouth when I saw the spire topple and I was there 25 years ago for a very brief but very beautiful visit. The french people must be absolutely devastated.
  18. Currently Reading

    First time for me to read a Japanese crime writer - 'Malice' by Keigo Higashino. Engagingly different.
  19. The Smart

    Sounds terrific - just up my street.
  20. Thanks iff for the link, interesting how it is all set up.
  21. A Stranger City

    A Stranger City is an ambitious novel that seeks to draw parallels between recent history and Brexit Britain, using the stories of various members of northeast London’s diverse community to illustrate the situation. The frame on which the novel hangs is the discovery of an unidentified young female body in the River Thames. The discovery is investigated by a policeman and featured in a documentary by a filmmaker. We then broaden out and meet their families and some of the wider community. We find a community that is diverse even within the United Kingdom, including Scots, Irish and migrants from elsewhere in England. Then we find migrants from the Commonwealth and semi-recent conflict zones - Iran after the fall of the Shah. And then there are the more recent migrants from within the EU. All are seen to be integral to the London we see today. Contrast this with an England that seems to be retreating into itself, harking after the glory days of an Empire, capital punishment and boiled cabbage. Those who are smart enough, able enough, want to move away from this increasingly hostile and ignorant society. Which is ironic, since so many of them came to London precisely to enjoy a broader, global perspective and experience culture and sophistication. The story of the dead woman remains in the background. For a while it is (intentionally) confused by a parallel story of a missing social media star - a vacuous young woman who is famous only for being famous. And while the dead woman mystery is ultimately resolved, it is not satisfying. The main point is that it is possible for someone to go missing and not be missed, not be reported in this unfeeling society. Might it have been different if she had been English? A Stranger City is successful in depicting a multicultural society; it makes interesting political points showing the contradiction between the current insularity and the aspirations of individual members of that society. There is some wonderful depiction of characters. But it doesn’t quite hang together as a story. It is too difficult to hold so many characters in the mind all at once, so each time a character re-appears, he or she has to be re-learned. Their inter-relationships are too opaque and the narrative drive is just not there. Which is a pity, because the descriptive writing is fabulous. ***00
  22. Currently Reading

    The Corset, Laura Purcell
  23. The Smart

    From the back of the book : The Smart is a true drama of eighteenth century life with a mercurial, mysterious heroine. Caroline is a young Irish woman who runs off to marry a soldier, comes to London and slides into a glamorous life as high-class prostitute, a great risk-taker, possessing a mesmerising appeal. This is also a history of the epoch in which Caroline's life takes place. She is involved in the most scandalous financial sting of the age and becomes notorious because of it. Her fellow conspirators (both men and identical twins) are sentenced to hang but Caroline walks free - the author is certain that this is because Caroline is exceptionally clever and knows how to use her allure with the all male jury. It's a great book, fascinating from start to finish even although none of the names involved are remotely familiar in this day and age. Recommended.
  24. For the booker prize, there is the advisory committee that then select the judges. The sponsor has a representative on the advisor committee but the prize is administered by a trust The advisory committee is listed at the bottom of this press release https://themanbookerprize.com/resources/media/pressreleases/judges-announced-2019-man-booker-international-prize
  25. Warning - this post might turn into a stream of consciousness. Booker prize here I come A very apt question as with this period, I think of as award season with booker international, women's prize, republic of conscience prize (who decided on joint winners this year), wellcome prize and Dublin literary award A lot of prizes is publishers nominating the book. The booker prize for example have rules based on previously listed books from publishers on how many they can nominate. The Dublin literary prize has it that libraries worldwide nominate, making a sillylying long longlist(150 books roughly) meaning award is given 2 years after books were published. Not sure what it takes for a book to win. I think topicality can be a factor. Anna burns' milkman is very good novel and I think also helped it for the booker was the current situation concerning northern ireland, brexit and border. Belladonna's success in Warwick prize for women in translation might have been influenced by judges on the rise of populism in Europe. At the end of the day, I think it is what the 5 judges liked best. A different panel of judges may come up with a different conclusion. Elsewhere, using the longlist of the man booker international, 5 bloggers decide on their own shortlist together. For me, when it comes to the prizes, I think it depends on what is my radar previously and what I thought of books from it that I already read. I gave up on last year's booker international prize as I had read 3 on the shortlist and liked one and disliked one and hated one (and the one I liked, I thought more a book for meditative purposes than book prize purposes) I wasn't enamoured to search out the others that made the shortlist as I didn't feel the link between my tastes and the judges tastes. While in 2017, I thought the two I read on the shortlist were excellent, read and liked 2 more before the prize announcement and then read the last 2 afterwards because I felt with the 2 on the shortlist, that I had similar preferences to the judging panel. I think that is the important thing, do I share the somewhat same preference of the judges
  26. Thanks Meg, does the award granter pick out who he wants to judge the entries?
  27. I finished this book with a certain amount of relief. By half way through I was bored. Cora as a character didn't have enough depth or dialogue to keep me interested. In fact the whole novel was for me more tell than show. It's a personal thing but I like lots of dialogue (good dialogue obviously) to progress or enhance story telling rather than just the narrator laying everything out before me. Like JFP I found the 'actual' railroad preposterous. It took a serious subject matter, stories that, like the holocaust, need to be told and told especially in our current trying political times and reduced it to nonsense. The whole idea that there could be an underground railroad. That the hundreds of men already ravaged by the constrictions of slavery would have the time and the energy to create the railroad. And where would they get the materials from? I understand it was a metaphorical tool but for me it failed and took away from the validation of the novel. I would much rather have read more about the ordinary people who risked their lives to save the runaways than have this imagined artifice foisted upon me. There were parts of the history I was unaware of, the enforced sterilisation, and the bounty hunters being able to travel to all states and retrieve the 'property' so for those aspects I'm pleased I read the book. Other than that I found it a very disappointing book.
  28. Characteristics or contents of award worthy books

    Usually, I think, the publisher puts a book forward for consideration, then the award-givers have various ways of whittling the nominees down to, first, a 'long-list' and then a shortlist, and then their appointed judges pick a winner. The books nominated for each award have to fit that Award's specific criteria, and then it is up to the personal opinion of the judges who try, but do not always succeed, to reach a consensus.
  29. Characteristics or contents of award worthy books

    I don't know.
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