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Everything posted by 24601

  1. Chourmo by Jean- Claude IZZO. It is the second book of the Marseilles Trilogy. I have the third book on standby and will review the lot together when I finish. When that gets too much then I have just started Canterbury Tales by Chaucer as 'retold' by Peter Ackroyd- I just love the modern prose adaptation...
  2. The version this review alludes to is a newly published edition by Penguin Classics of a new translation by Michael HOFFMAN. ISBN 978-0-141-18938-3 As I cannot entrust myself to use the 'spoiler' mechanism correctly I shall limit the precis to the information presented on the fly leaf of the book. In essence it is about a German couple living in war-time Berlin engaging in low level rebellion against the machinations of the Nazi State following the death of their son in the war. Their particular form of rebellion takes the shape of placing postcards with hand written anti-Nazi messages placed in public areas in the hope that this stimulates unrest. The ensuing conflict with the state and its organisations such as the Police and Gestapo is the basis of an effective thriller leading to a nicely considered conclusion. The conclusion that is reached is all the more amazing when the basis of the book is that of original Gestapo files that Fallada gained access to in 1947 when the book was written. Fallada himself has a very chequered history and there is a very interesting chronology/ biography at the rear of this edition that added immensely to my enjoyment of the text. As I cannot read German to a sufficient standard I will have to assume that the translation is accurate. The prose certainly reads very nicely with a real pace and flow of a thriller. I felt that we got a sense of the secrecy and climate of fear during this era through the clipped, short dialogue that exists between the characters where a lot is 'unsaid' rather than said and we are introduced to many characters each of whom is dissenting is some way but none seeming to have a significant wider impact. I sense that the impact is all personal and redemptive to each character rather than earth shattering in changing the regime of which they were living under. Although I had an idea of how the book finished I was reading the final chapters in a coffee shop and I had to remind myself to breathe as the conclusion is quite dramatic and powerfully written. There is no melodrama in the writing- it is just executed in a very stoic manner just as most of the characters had lived.
  3. Alone in Berlin by Hans FALLADA. I'd seen this in my local indie book store and thought that it would make me look serious and clever to you guys. Then it was given a good write up in the Times of Saturday and so I am sure that it will be all over the board soon. It is great- I am a couple of hundred pages in and it has me gripped. In short it is about dissenting voices in Nazi Berlin
  4. Hastings acknowledges that Churchill's life has undergone minute scrutiny and yet when reading Roy Jenkins' biography manuscript he felt that there was a little left for him to get his teeth into. The scope is narrow as it covers a brief yet significant part of Churchill's life. The research seems in depth looking at the bibliography that is rich in contemporary and later sources as well as original source material. An interesting aside, Hastings thanks a researcher for the work in the Russian archives but laments that access is not as open as it was even ten years ago- a worrying development! I read this on my journeys to work via the train and I was absorbed on every page. The narrative flows easily through the military, politcial, social and personal aspects of this era. It doesn't pull any punches and I felt Hastings was very even handed in the faults of Churchill compared to the often rose-tinted view that often exists nowadays. I am no history student so I accept the interpretations by the author but I have read the Jenkins biography and this is a wlecome addition to my knowledge of Churchill. However, I now need to go a study the social and domestic history of that time to see how Churchill was just what Hastings said he was- a Warlord- and not, it seems, much else.
  5. I was just about to reply and say how great Beware of Pity by the same author is then I searched and found that you know that already! I'll try a different one of his and complement your reviews of Zweig.
  6. I read sitting up or lying down. When I'm on holiday I adopt that part sitting/ part lying down pose that only dodgy sunbeds can provide. I'd really like to be a man of leisure and I'd buy a chaise loungue and read all day. I know that would have the strange sun bed pose but it would be without the stinging sun cream, glaring sun and constant demands of the kids! I admit, I do read on the toilet but is that any worse than reading in the bath?
  7. Cormac McCarthy - The Road Max Hastings - Finest Years Churchill as Warlord (current)
  8. I read equal amounts of fiction and non-fiction. I read fiction to 'fix' my soul and non-fiction to 'fix' my mind. Of course, like most, I am ecstatic when I find a novel or history or biography etc that achieves the ability to do both at the same time. I have read since the day I was being potty trained with a book in hand to keep me sat still until now and hopefully well into the future. I welcome all sorts of books into my life and some become good bedfellows (my nome de plume may give posters a good idea of one such book). Other books have less impact but I try not to judge too harshly as I am not everyones cup of tea either! I have signed on and taken the plunge as it is nice to read the musings of others and I hope I will remain true and share my thoughts when appropriate.
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