For me, it was difficult to read this as a novel. I felt I was reading a memoir or, perhaps, a lightly fictionalised migrant experience and this is reFor me, it was difficult to read this as a novel. I felt I was reading a memoir or, perhaps, a lightly fictionalised migrant experience and this is reinforced by the facts introduced into the novel itself as well as the endnotes. Ramon Santiso himself strides through these pages: his hopes, his dreams and ultimately his triumphs are shared in detail with any reader wishing to share the journey. Father and son share the portrayal of the journey on these pages: it is difficult to differentiate the editorial voice of the son from the experiences of the father but ultimately it doesn’t matter. What we have in this novel is a personal connection with a past that has shaped America.
Many of us who live in the USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia are the descendants of European migrants from the early 20th century. We owe a great debt to Ramon Santiso and millions like him.
I enjoyed this book. Yes, it could have been edited more tightly in parts. But to have done so could have removed the voice that made it so unique. ...more
‘We ought to be content. The harvest’s in.’ In an unnamed village somewhere in pre-industrial England, traditional farming life has followed the ritual‘We ought to be content. The harvest’s in.’ In an unnamed village somewhere in pre-industrial England, traditional farming life has followed the rituals of the seasons for centuries. The rare outsiders who visit are regarded with suspicion. And so, just after the harvest, when someone sets fire to the master’s stables and dovecote, it is convenient to blame a trio of strangers who’ve announced their presence by establishing a camp at the boundaries of the village. Better to blame strangers – and see them punished – than to identify the likely culprits from amongst the village’s fewer than 60 residents. But then another stranger joins them, to survey the fields. Mr Quill, he is nicknamed. Our narrator, Walter Thirsk, is also an outsider. He has lived in the village for twelve years, and while he married a local woman he is now widowed. Walter Thirsk is assigned to assist Mr Quill: injuries he sustained while fighting the fire have rendered him unable to thresh the grain. Master Kent, the apparent land-owner, addresses the villagers before the harvest feast. With their minds on the feast, the villagers don’t sense that the dream Mr Kent is speaking of means significant change.
‘And still he has not said it: Sheep. Am I the only one to recognise what the dream is trying to disguise? The sheaf is giving way to sheep.’
The story unfolds over a period of seven days. Walter Thirsk was once Master Kent’s personal servant, and has links with Master Kent that the other villagers do not. He learns that Master Kent has no title to the land: his wife is dead and they have no child to inherit. His wife’s cousin, Master Jordan is now the land-owner. Master Jordan is even more keen on the benefits of sheep.
As the fact of change becomes clear, the villagers take some matters into their own hands. And when it becomes clear that there may be repercussions, the fragile bonds that hold the village community together are broken. Attempted preservation becomes destruction. The previously settled villagers become fugitive nomads. A way of life is lost – in less than a week.
I became immersed in the world Mr Crace created with his crisp, clear use of language. I hoped for a different ending, but it’s too late to rewrite the history of rural enclosure, and too optimistic to expect humans to behave differently in such circumstances. And Walter Thirsk? I wonder what happened to him. A beautifully written novel.
When lust, power and greed are coupled with a belief that money can buy anything and that the ends justifies the means regardless of the consequences,When lust, power and greed are coupled with a belief that money can buy anything and that the ends justifies the means regardless of the consequences, we have all of the ingredients of an explosive thriller.
When a sexual encounter between the US President and the young wife of a billionaire goes horribly wrong, a number of senior figures become involved in attempting to wipe out all evidence of the crime. Unfortunately for them, there was an eyewitness who has the only material evidence that can link the President to the crime scene.
So why was Luther Whitney robbing the billionaire’s house? Not all answers are as obvious as they may seem. Why is Jack Graham prepared to sacrifice his promising career as a partner in a leading law firm in order to defend Luther, and will he make the right choices? There’s plenty of action in this novel and believability is not necessarily an issue in escapism.
Or not for me, anyway. This is David Baldacci's first novel (I believe) and mand consider it his best. ...more
This is the fourth volume in the eight part House of Niccolo series. The House of Niccolo is definitely a series best read in order: the history, theThis is the fourth volume in the eight part House of Niccolo series. The House of Niccolo is definitely a series best read in order: the history, the intricate plotting and the characters develop throughout the series and the connections between the books can only be appreciated if read in sequence. In this volume (covering 1464 to 1468), Nicholas returns to Venice from Cyprus and is met by a watchful reception and an attack. Nicholas’s company is threatened with bankruptcy and those for whom he cares are also in danger. Nicholas embarks on a mission of his own: he will journey to the heart of Africa, to the fabled land of Prester John in search of the River of Gold. Nicholas is accompanied by some of the characters we have met in earlier novels and his life is, of course, complicated by various events along the way. From Venice to Timbuktu and all manner of places in between, Nicholas is acquiring wealth in all its forms, but will it be enough? As is the case in earlier novels, the pages are action filled, the research is impeccable and the journey is fraught with danger and discovery. As a first time reader, reading these books as they were published, I agonised over the choices Nicholas had to make and wondered what would happen next. As a serial re-reader (I confess), I find new aspects to enjoy and admire in every read. ...more
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