I have no idea where I got this book (a signed edition, no less), but seemed like the perfect read on a day when I was feeling flu-ey. And in part I wI have no idea where I got this book (a signed edition, no less), but seemed like the perfect read on a day when I was feeling flu-ey. And in part I was right: the descriptions of the various haunted castles, manors and palaces, along with some of their history was definitely worth the read.
However, the ghost part was disappointing. We're expected to believe that Prince Michael communed with these ghosts, somehow able to memorize (he has no note taking equipment with him) the stories he's told. Sometimes, but not always, there's a follow-up, wherein we learn that yes, there was this murder or that secret room. At least two of the ghosts lay claim to some incredible, esoteric knowledge - but they don't share it because they want to keep us (or the Prince) safe.
Not the shivvery experience I'd hoped for, but perhaps a starting point to learn more about these houses and their history....more
AARGH! Pacing, people!!!! What is wrong with writers and editors these days? This book suffers from the dreaded Pacing Problem: it's moving along at oAARGH! Pacing, people!!!! What is wrong with writers and editors these days? This book suffers from the dreaded Pacing Problem: it's moving along at one pace then - BANG - everything speeds up at the end. Sheesh. If you've got to cut back on pages, please PLEASE tighten up all along the book, not just at the end. Really. It absolutely ruined the climax for me. Up until the final 50 pages, it was a good book....more
This was really more of a 2.5 than a 3, but I'm feeling a bit generous.
I'd been interested in reading this because I've read a number of her works, alThis was really more of a 2.5 than a 3, but I'm feeling a bit generous.
I'd been interested in reading this because I've read a number of her works, all while I was much younger, in college (and she was alive). Learning more about the woman who'd informed some of my philosophy and women's studies classes was interesting - the problem is, Simone de Beauvoir just seems like a not nice person. Her life, at least the way it's presented here, was a series of squabbles and justifications for her thoughts and work. In a way, this is bold because there's no sense of hagiography but 600+ pages of an unlikable person...
The writing also was slightly problematic. Most of the time this is straight chronology, but then there's a weird jag in the timeline that lends itself to repetition.l Events were occasionally covered more than once, with a different emphasis (for example, the end of her affair with Algren or relationship with Sylvie le Bon). I was also surprised to see several obvious typos (for example, "writng" and "att hat").
Not quite an Aga-saga, but close... Irene is a newly orphaned young woman heading to Italy to live with her only living relative, an aunt who is lessNot quite an Aga-saga, but close... Irene is a newly orphaned young woman heading to Italy to live with her only living relative, an aunt who is less than thrilled to play guardian. Aunt Florence's life is based on the intellectual/artistic discussion at her Wednesday salotta, at which Irene is a complete disappointment, so Florence finds a nice young man to amuse Irene. This man, Tommasso, and Irene hit it off, somewhat, and end up married - Irene rather passively leaves her aunt for her husband's large family.
Throughout the book, Irene's reactions are passive and even her "affair" is conducted in that manner (can you call it an affair if there's only one real moment of physical contact, and the rest is glances and occasional conversations and covert stalking?). All this is set against the backdrop of Mussolini's rise, and the family consensus is that he's a bit of a buffoon but not much worse; of course, they change their mind as Italy invades Ethiopia and cozies up to Hitler.
I never felt a real connection to Irene, probably because she is portrayed as something of an observer in her life - we never get close to any of the characters. I wished there'd been slightly more about the political changes, as this is a period about which we rarely hear....more
Usually I'd be going on about the Brysonian humor in the book, but unlike many of his works, The Mother Tongue isn't written for humor. Instead, it'sUsually I'd be going on about the Brysonian humor in the book, but unlike many of his works, The Mother Tongue isn't written for humor. Instead, it's an etymologists' delight: how English has evolved over the centuries. He explains the difference between a pidgin and a creole language, how (and why) colonel kept its 'r', and why British pub names are so odd, among many other fascinating tidbits. I even learned that there's a name for my not-quite-voyeuristic/Peeping-Thomasina behavior when walking down Brooklyn streets: crytoscopophilia.
The parenthetical citations are a little annoying (they're not in current MLA format, but then, the book was written a few years ago), and he repeats the whole "number of words the Eskimo have for snow" thing (semi-debunked by Language Log). But those are minor quibbles - if you love words or know someone that does, buy this book....more