I first read this novel almost 40 years ago. I’ve just finished rereading: it remains my favourite Charles Dickens novel. ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ was iI first read this novel almost 40 years ago. I’ve just finished rereading: it remains my favourite Charles Dickens novel. ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ was initially published in weekly instalments over 31 weeks in 1859: it is historical fiction, encompassing the period from 1775 to 1792.
The novel is divided into three separate sections (books) dealing with different events in the lives of Dr Alexandre Manette, his daughter Lucie, French emigrant Charles Darnay and his family, as well as a number of other people and events in France and England. I believe that the novel will be easier to follow for a reader broadly familiar with the history leading to and consequences of the French Revolution in 1789.
On my first read, I was most interested in the French aspects of the novel: the images of Madame Defarge knitting, and Vengeance, together with the guillotine, have remained in my mind. This time, I was more focussed on identifying some of the themes that run through the novel. Those themes are resurrection, relationships, retribution and redemption.
The sufferings of Dr Manette, and later of Charles Darnay; the relationships between Dr Manette, Lucie, Mr Lorry, and others; the role of the DeFarges, and Vengeance, in both sustaining relationships and seeking retribution; and the redemption of Sydney Carton: combine in a way which illustrates much of what can be good and bad about humanity.
‘Repression is the only lasting philosophy. The dark deference of fear and slavery, my friend,’ observed the Marquis, ‘will keep the dogs obedient to the whip as long as this roof,’ looking up to it, ‘shuts out the sky’.
To write more about the story may spoil its impact for those yet to read it. It is both a fine example of English literature and an interesting work of historical fiction. This is a novel where both the journey and the destination matter.
‘It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.’ ...more
‘The art of embroidery has been defined simply as the ornamentation of textiles with decorative stitchery.’
In this book, Lucinda Ganderton provides a‘The art of embroidery has been defined simply as the ornamentation of textiles with decorative stitchery.’
In this book, Lucinda Ganderton provides a clearly illustrated, step by step guide to over 200 decorative and practical stitches. A copy of this book has been part of my reference library for almost ten years, and I refer to it whenever I am looking for a decorative stitch for a particular purpose or when I need to remind myself exactly how to work a particular stitch.
‘It is an ancient craft which encompasses a wealth of history, and the same stiches are used by embroiderers throughout the world.’
After a section entitled ‘How to Use This Book’, this book contains six chapters. The first chapter covers the equipment, threads and fabrics used for stitchery, and the different techniques involved. This is followed by a library of the 234 stitches featured within the book, with the page reference to the instructions for each particular stitch.
For example: Back Stitch Rings (p102). Turn to page 102 for pictures of how to work the stitch, advice on what it is useful for and the method used and materials required to work this intermediate level stitch. I could have really used this book when I was attempting my first French knots!
The stitches are organised into four categories: Line and Border Stitches Filling Stitches Openwork Stitches Needlepoint Stitches
The colour illustrations for each stitch are clear and uncluttered, and there is an illustration of the completed stitch as well. I most recently referred to this book for decorative border stitches for some applique I’m attempting. The only problem I have is that there are so many different stitches to choose from: an entire world of possibilities.
In 1800, it was rumoured that a north-south strait separated the Australian continent into two. In 1798 an American, Captain Williamson, claimed to haIn 1800, it was rumoured that a north-south strait separated the Australian continent into two. In 1798 an American, Captain Williamson, claimed to have sailed through the strait from the south coast to the Gulf of Carpentaria. At that time the British had only claimed the land as far west as longitude 135 degrees and if the strait existed; it would simplify any French territorial claim. Bonaparte sent Nicolas Baudin to chart the strait with a view to claiming the western half of the continent for France. In response, the British sent Matthew Flinders in pursuit.
Baudin had a head start of 9 months and was better equipped. The epic journeys of both Baudin and Flinders were sailed against the backdrop of wars between France and Britain. The journey resulted in the charting of the complete Australian coastline, in the death of one captain and in the imprisonment of the other. Perhaps Baudin’s most visible legacy was the huge collection of plants and animals returned to France enabling Josephine Bonaparte to create her garden at Malmaison, near Paris. Matthew Flinders sailed, eventually, into Australian history.
The achievements of neither man were recognised within their lifetimes. Baudin was unfairly blamed for France’s failure to colonise the Pacific. The crushing defeat of the French navy at Trafalgar (21 October 1805) meant that the French no longer posed a threat to Britain in the Pacific, and consequently Britain turned a largely blind eye to Flinders’s achievements.
In this book, Klaus Toft focuses on the race between the two and in doing so brings a comparatively unknown voyage of exploration to life. Both Baudin and Flinders were distinguished navigators and both deserve appropriate recognition. If you are interested in stories of exploration, and can locate a copy of this book, it is well worth reading. ...more
I bought this book in March next year, despite the 'must' in the title. I confess that I have an inherent mistrust of books that exhort, rather than iI bought this book in March next year, despite the 'must' in the title. I confess that I have an inherent mistrust of books that exhort, rather than invite, me to do things.
Other people's lists are always interesting. Here is a link to the review I just posted on Amazon.com:
I recently listened to the audiobook of this novel while suffering some visual impairment of my own. This novel doesn't rely on hi-tech science to mak I recently listened to the audiobook of this novel while suffering some visual impairment of my own. This novel doesn't rely on hi-tech science to make its points. While I've read the book a number of times in the past forty years, in my view it remainsa classic. Here is a link to a review I've just posted on Amazon.com:
This is a book about the execution of Charles I from a legal perspective. If you can suspend whatever bias you may have about the execution itself, thThis is a book about the execution of Charles I from a legal perspective. If you can suspend whatever bias you may have about the execution itself, this is a good analysis of the legal issues involved.
I don't always agree with Geoffrey Robertson, I like the way he writes and found this book a great addition to my Stuart history shelf.
I'm on a Stuart history jag at the moment: revisiting some old books, reading some new. ...more
This book contains a wealth of Gaelic verse and prose (translated into English)collected by Alexander Carmichael over the second half of the 19th centThis book contains a wealth of Gaelic verse and prose (translated into English)collected by Alexander Carmichael over the second half of the 19th century. It contains a blend of pagan and Christian imagery steeped in the Gealic oral tradition.
Here is a link to the review I've just posted on Amazon.com: