kittiwake: (stormclouds)
The only reason I borrowed this from the library, is that I needed to read it for an on-line book club that is on its last legs and needs support. This was my least favourite of all the books in the poll, and any other time I wouldn't have bothered with it. The other winner was "The Time Traveller's Wife", but unfortunately the library didn't have it on the shelves when I went in. At least "On Chesil Beach" is short and only took a couple of hours to read. It's more of a novella than a novel, and the main action takes place over the course of a single evening in the summer of 1962, as newly-married Edward and Florence dine in their hotel-room and worry about the necessity of consummating their marriage later that night.

There are flash-backs to their childhood and courtship, and a section at the end where Edward looks back at his life from his sixties, by which time he has enough experience to realise that the events of that night needn't have led to disaster if he had had a bit more empathy for Florence. But the ending seems rather rushed and the reader never gets to know what the older Florence thought about that evening and how her life panned out afterwards. It was okay, but I just couldn't warm to the characters or bring myself to care about their problems.

I have read two other books by this author, and looking back at my reviews, I see that I liked Atonement rather more than I remember. Either it is one of those books whose attractions fade over time, or else my memories of it are coloured by how much I disliked the dire "Amsterdam".

My thoughts on Atonement and Amsterdam.

Nottingham Round the World Reading Challenge - UK - ENGLAND - DORSET
kittiwake: (stormclouds)
Oxford academic Patrick Grant sees a retired head-mistress fall to her death from the Acropolis, and when her closest friend dies in a fall down steps at the British Museum, he decides to investigate.

I wasn't that impressed by the detective, who is one of those people who seem to trip over corpses wherever they go.
kittiwake: (mythology)
My role is to see, describe and, now, write about what I saw. Someone or something is using me to untangle the tangled plot over whose direction I have as little influence as the pen has over the poets who wield it, or the man over the gods who manipulate him, or the knife over the murderer. A plot whose denouement lies in your hands, Jorge.

Or should I say "in your tail".


When an annual Edgar Allen Poe conference is suddenly transferred to Buenos Aires, Vogelstein is thrilled that is is close enough for him to attend. Looking forward to seeing the talks by some of the Poe experts who are known to hate each other, he is thrilled to be introduced to his literary hero, Jorge Luis Borges, some of whose stories he has translated into Portuguese for publication in a magazine.

When one of the Poe experts is murdered and Vogelstein finds the body, he and Borges become involved in the investigation, but is this highly amusing story all that it seems?
kittiwake: (history)
Think of that quarter-deck. At the forward end, looking across the waist to the forecastle, there was only an open rail. That is where your Horatio stood. Think of him there, dressed impeccably, full uniform, cocked hat, silk stockings, buckled shoes, Immaculate. Unoccupied, fully aware of his danger, carnage all around him. Like a rock, Charles, like a rock. That is the way, that is the way forward, Horatio is your lifeline, stay with him, he will get you out and about. Join the Nelson Club, there must be one - in London there is a club for everything under the sun. I'll get my secretary to find the address.

As a child Charles Cleasby became interested in Lord Nelson, encouraged by having a schoolteacher who was a Nelson buff, but his interest faded during his teens. When he had a nervous breakdown at university and refused to leave his room at all, his psychiatrist suggested that he take up his hobby again, as a way of rekindling his interest in life, but unfortunately his hobby developed into an all-consuming interest, and Charles started to see himself as Nelson's other half.

He never went back to university or got a job, and at the age of fifty he is a virtual recluse living in the house he inherited from his father, and his only social life is attending the twice weekly meetings of the Nelson Club in Bloomsbury. He keeps a large collection of Nelson memorabilia in his basement, where he also re-enacts all of Nelson's battles on their anniversaries, even if that means getting up before dawn to start the battle on schedule, moving his model ships across the glass table in the basement at the exact time they did so in the real battle.

When he employs a secretary to come in twice a week to help him with the biography of Nelson that he is writing, he is perturbed by her wilfulness in seeing Nelson as a vain man, interested in money and honours, who cares nothing for the lives of his men, rather than as the patriotic hero revered by Charles as a bright angel. What makes things worse is that he has just reached a very difficult point of the book, when he has to decide how to approach the events in Naples in June 1799 which may not show Nelson in a good light at all. I seem to remember reading something else in which the exact meaning of the word embark is vital.
kittiwake: (dreams)
This was Patricia Highsmith's last novel, and was published shortly after her death.

Jakob's bar and restaurant in the Aussersihl Area of Zurich is known as the 'small g' because that is how a bar with a largely but not exclusively gay clientele is marked in the listings magazine. Among the regulars is commercial artist Ricky, still mourning his lover's murder, and Luisa, a seamstress who visits the bar with her boss and landlady Renate. The bar is the site of much pining and unrequited love.

It's quite irritating that my own books are taking me a week or two to read at the moment, but I finished this library book in two days.

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June 2012

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