despite the seemingly dense prose as advertised in various reviews/blurbs, I found Paris a fast and gripping psychological read with a three quarters...moredespite the seemingly dense prose as advertised in various reviews/blurbs, I found Paris a fast and gripping psychological read with a three quarters predictable main twist - given the setup and after reading many books in its vein, most of the main twist was expected, one half kind of clear after a while (see above cover too) and one half being being one of a few possibilities so the "3/4" - and a book that took over my reading from the first page so I couldn't put down until finished
the prose (at least in the English translation which read very smooth) does indeed remind one of Javier Marias so for example if you read the 700 page Night of Time, this 250 odd page novel will seem a breeze
everything "happens" in the mind of the narrator when now as a mid thirties adult recollects the crucial events of his childhood starting with the first arrest of his father at age 9 - arrest concealed artfully by his mother and soon forgotten despite the boy actually witnessing it, up to the final disappearance of his father from his life and a shocking meeting he witnesses a few years later which leads to his mother's second main "confession" (first being the arrest one some time after but before this fulcrum of the novel)
as expected not all is explained and we are left wondering about the main repeating theme of the novel:
“One often lies to and deceives the person one loves most in order to preserve their love, or to protect them.
The protecting lie is the one you admit to when there’s no longer any need to protect, and the lie intended to preserve love is the one you never reveal.”
on the minor niggles side, there are some repetitions that I think were intended to reinforce the main theme above, but which seemed forced on occasion, while the "purely psychological" nature gives the book "a disconnected from reality" flavor where the "rawness" of life takes a second place to one's imagination; still the prose was magic and absorbed me completely
related to the author's debut (Death of Lyndon Wilder etc - my rv of that here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... ) as now Capt. Allington - wh...morerelated to the author's debut (Death of Lyndon Wilder etc - my rv of that here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... ) as now Capt. Allington - who appeared as a secondary character there - is the main character here, while major Wilder is referenced too by name as his best friend, but also independent in terms of storyline, this book takes place some 10-12 years after the last starting in 1825 on the 10th anniversary of Waterloo where Cpt Allington has been almost mortally injured in the brain, so left partly disabled and on half-pay.
though a relative of an important family as he was raised in a manor from age 8 until he left for the Army at 15 (whether a half-brother or just stepbrother to a current Lord is not clear as his mother became the 2nd wife of the previous Lord and some speculated Allington to be his illegitimate son too) and partly supported by them, Allington is ambitious and is raising money to buy himself a manor by playing skill games (chess, whist etc) with London officers, nobles and other rich dandies
when he becomes owner of Castle Orchard and has to deal with the unexpected family of the bankrupt dandy Johnny Arthur, Allington has to make some choices that will affect the lives of others too
nothing really unexpected given the blurb, but wonderful atmosphere, characters and dialogue, though the main plot-line seems a bit forced - as opposed to the author's first book where there a was a big social gulf between the major and Anna, here Allington and Caroline are of the same class so the tentativeness of their relationship after their initial attraction appears more in order to keep the book going 100 more pages rather than from intrinsic reasons, though that is just fine as I would have read even another 100 pages too
A wonderful book (and first of a planned family saga that follows Mexican history starting in 1897) that just came out of nowhere to take over my read...moreA wonderful book (and first of a planned family saga that follows Mexican history starting in 1897) that just came out of nowhere to take over my reading and one I literally couldn't put down until I finished it.
Following an unlikely couple:
handsome 30 year old and "middle class" doctor Miguel Sarmiento, whose father, personal physician to Benito Juarez is now in and out of prison for sedition against dictator Porfirio Diaz, but who has no interest in politics and who after a youth as a rake culminating in a tragic medical accident that cost two lives, was sent by his father indefinitely to Europe to get his degree and practice there only being able to return now after some 10 years when the last witnesses to his youthful crime passed away
smallpox scarred noblewoman Alicia Gavilan seemingly destined to live as an unmarried maiden and show herself only veiled in public and about whose tragic history we also learn relatively soon
A dedicated - almost fanatical "man of science" - and a woman of deep faith and piety, but somehow they are thrown together to marry and have a reasonably happy and successful married life and career - as Miguel teaches Alicia medicine and uses her as his assistant especially dealing with women patients but not only - while also having a beautiful but somewhat other worldly son Jose, obviously all until politics and events intervene in 1911
Helping his best friend and cousin Jorge Luis escape Mexico while hunted by the secret police for his homosexuality (at the time considered a bigger crime than murder especially when associated with relatives of the dictator with whom Luis fell in unwittingly at his "men only" club), Miguel is utterly disgusted by Luis' inclinations but Alicia is more accepting despite the sinful nature of that as preached by the Church and in time when Luis now a committed revolutionary and socialist returns to Mexico to bring social justice, Miguel and Alicia join him fighting for the "new order"
And of course stuff happens, the book is a page turner that as mentioned one cannot put down, while the ending is at a good stopping point, though of course leaving the reader wanting more
For once a Le Clezio English translation that works and captures the lyrical but also realistic prose of the author; a (very) short autobiography deal...moreFor once a Le Clezio English translation that works and captures the lyrical but also realistic prose of the author; a (very) short autobiography dealing especially with the author sojourn in Africa from age 8 (after the war in 1948 meeting his father for the first time really as he, a doctor in the English colonial service - as Mauritius the ancestral island of his French extraction father was under English rule - was separated by the war from his mother in occupied France where she went to give birth to the future author in 1940) to about age 14 or so; scenes from the terrible time of the occupation and from later years when back in France, the author's father hard nature shaped by the African experience and the isolation of the war years became very tough to support add to the power of this superb book, while photographs from the author's archive enhance the experience
an easy and fast read but i expected more as the book is more a general impression/description of Romania ~1900 for the western public than a memoir p...morean easy and fast read but i expected more as the book is more a general impression/description of Romania ~1900 for the western public than a memoir per se and it reads very impersonal with only a few anecdotes here and there(less)
After 10 epic volumes, the saga started 6 years ago in Empire in Black and Gold ends extremely satisfying with a book that grabs one from the first pa...moreAfter 10 epic volumes, the saga started 6 years ago in Empire in Black and Gold ends extremely satisfying with a book that grabs one from the first page and never lets go until the final epilogue set a few years later which itself has a superb conclusion; there is so much to cover and so many subplots to follow that the novel doesn't feel long, maybe it actually could have had a couple hundred more pages for more detail here and there, but overall I think the balance between action and world building holds well and there is enough of the later even though not everything is spelled out
we meet again pretty much all the surviving important characters including quite a few that have not appeared in several books, though obviously the most pages are dedicated to the two subplots that dominated books 8 and 9 - the Collegium and the fates of those on both (or maybe many) sides involved there and life in the Worm domain where Che and her companions where thrown at the end of the last volume and where they have a stark choice - try and engineer a revolt and overthrow the Worm or die together with their world; things happen, twists, turns and non-stop action while as mentioned the ending is excellent - among the best wrap up of a long series I've ever read and one that can stand as an example for how to do it - enough conclusion, enough openness for more later (as far as I know more kinden books are planned though most likely they will take place in a different time with different characters), tragedy and triumph, things to do later etc; many important characters die (another book that kills them in droves like Salute the Dark) but many survive and even thrive including some that became big time favorites of mine as the series went on
Overall just great stuff and another top 5 of mine for the year (less)
Hasard, a roughly 200 page short novel which is the main piece of the two is a story that just hooked me from the first sentence and kept me rea...moresuperb
Hasard, a roughly 200 page short novel which is the main piece of the two is a story that just hooked me from the first sentence and kept me reading till the end; Nassima, a mixed race French teenager whose physician father abandoned her and her mother, sending both into poverty and making her mother hard and hating the world, dreams of escaping into the wide world; in parallel, 58 year old dissolute Spanish filmmaker, Juan Moguer, coming also from poverty but marrying into American money and becoming famous, until his fondness for younger women led into trouble one tragic night in Medellin, sails Azzar, his custom made clipper, to forget trouble and the world
An unwelcome stowaway at first, Nassima is accepted aboard Azzar due to the intervention of mysterious first mate Andriamena and the three of them get into a strange relationship as they sail the seas and the oceans...
Stuff happens of course, while the tale is just gripping, lyrical and full of tension from page one to the last combining present action with flashes from the past that show what truly happened that night long ago
Angoli Mala, the 70 page story that follows - based on an Indian legend about the young Buddha but set in the jungles of South America - is good but a bit anticlimactic
Finished volume 1 (out of 4) and will update as I read the next; leaving aside the communist times bs about the party's supposed historical role etc e...moreFinished volume 1 (out of 4) and will update as I read the next; leaving aside the communist times bs about the party's supposed historical role etc etc, the book is just pure fun and mostly satire, though not only; a recreation of the high life of Bucharest 1941-2 with incursions from the past and notes from the future by the merciless pamphleteer Eugen Barbu (less)