First sentence: "If it were only true that all's well that ends well, if it were only true."
Last sentence: "She turns to the car, he following her, waFirst sentence: "If it were only true that all's well that ends well, if it were only true."
Last sentence: "She turns to the car, he following her, watching as she moves how she trails her faithful and lithe cloud of unknowing across the pavement."
From Schultreff.de: In 1944 Paul Hazlett is working in the Compound, a secret government department in Britain, which specialized in propaganda broadcasts over Europe. There he falls in love with Elsa Janovic who is also engaged with black propaganda and psychological warfare in this particular Compound. Other members of the Compound are Miles Bunting, Princes Xavier, Colonel Tylden and several prisoners of war. Among those POWs is Helmut Kiel, a German who has chosen to work for the enemy and is now broadcasting for the Compound. Elsa and Kiel happen to have a love affair and after a few months Kiel is sent back to the prison camp. From there he goes on the air in a prisoners of war exchange-of-greetings programme betraying the identity of the Compound, which was supposed to be an authentic underground German station. Six or seven years after war Kiel dies in prison. In late spring of 1944 Paul, Elsa and the other members of their intelligence unit gather in a hotel in London having just returned from a mission to the United States. Paul tells his colleagues that he has got a good job waiting for him in America and a place to stay for Elsa and him. The next day they get ready to go back to the country when a V-2 bomb hits them direct just as their train starts pulling out and Paul, Elsa, Princess Xavier, Miles Bunting and Colonel Tylden die. Paul believes to be the only survivor of the bomb attack although he is dead and after some time he imagines to live together with Elsa in an antiquated apartment by the East River in New York. He is convinced that he has dreamt up Elsa, who now is his wife, their children Pierre and Katerina and Princess Xavier. From a certain point on he is sure that those „imagined“ people have become real due to his imagination. In fact neither of them is real. They have risen from the dead or as in the case of Pierre and Katerina they never really existed. Nevertheless they live among people who are real and alive. They are even considered to be real persons by everyone else. Though there seems to be something wrong with Elsa. Paul realises that she is casting a shadow in the wrong direction; her shadow falls in a different angle to evryone else's shadow no matter from where the light shines upon her. In addition to that Elsa needs to meet he analyst quite often as she is departing from reason from time to time. She spends her day mainly by sitting by window and looking at the East River. Approximately 30 years after their death Elsa tells Paul that she has recognised a salesman in a shoe store to be Helmut Kiel. Paul does not believe her as he is certainly put out that Kiel died in prison and knowing that his wife is mad. But after proving her statement and having seen the man himself he believes that this certain person is Helmut Kiel although he ought to look much older. Paul now feels in danger from Kiel because he thinks that Kiel has returned to haunt him in order to take revenge for his imprisonment. Kiel calls himself Mueller and when Elsa goes back to the shoe store to talk to him he denies to be Kiel and claims that he was not yet born in 1944. Paul tells his son Pierre about Kiel but Pierre does not show any interest whereas Katerina is curious about Kiel.
In the end Paul is sitting in a bar watching a group of people consisting of Elsa, Princess Xavier, Kiel and Miles Bunting. When another man heads towards the group he knows that it is Colonel Tylden, another person from the Compound. Then Paul gets up, grasps Elsa's arm and pulls her out of the bar heading towards a night-club. This is when Elsa tells Paul that he also died in the bomb attack in 1944. When they realise that the group are following them they continue their escape through several discos and clubs. In a hotel they happen to arrive at the golden wedding of two old friends and afterwards they visit Pierre and Katerina telling them that they (Pierre and Katerina) do not exist. Finally Paul goes to see his oldest friend once more and at the very end Paul and Elsa stand in front of their apartment block at the East River seeing that the old building is pulled down in order to be replaced by a modern one. Just at that moment Princess Xavier, Kiel, Miles Bunting and Colonel Tylden pass by in a car and take Paul and Elsa back with them so that they can have peace.
I had never read anything written by Muriel Spark, although I knew her by name, so I really didn't know what to expect. But this novella totally came as a surprise. It took me a while to realise that everything was not what it seemed and that there was more to it than remembering a love-story from long ago. I thought this was so intriguing that I couldn't put the book down and read it in one sitting.
I will definitely read more books by Spark, because I like stories with a little unexpected twist, and I am curious to see if her other books are like that also....more
First sentence: "Judge Dee leaned back in his chair."
P. 99: "Chien stared at the judge with burning eyes."
Last sentence: "He swung himself in the saddFirst sentence: "Judge Dee leaned back in his chair."
P. 99: "Chien stared at the judge with burning eyes."
Last sentence: "He swung himself in the saddle and rode back to the city."
From Wikipedia: The Chinese Maze Murders is a detective novel written by Robert van Gulik and set in Imperial China. It is a fiction based on the real character of Judge Dee (Ti Jen-chieh or Di Renjie - chin: 狄仁傑), a magistrate and statesman of the Tang court, who lived roughly 630–700. However, van Gulik's novel is set not in the Tang, but in the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), society and customs depicted in the book reflect this period.
This was the first of the fictional mystery stories written by Robert van Gulik. It was based on three actual cases from Chinese criminal investigations.
Judge Dee is the magistrate in the fictional border town of Lan-fang. He confronts three mysteries involving poisoned plums, a mysterious scroll picture, passionate love letters, a hidden murder, and a ruthless robber. These are all somehow linked to the Governor's garden maze.
When you are looking for a fun and relaxing summer-read, you could read this book (although there are some explicit violence scenes). Judge Dee is an amiable person who reminds me strangely enough a lot of Georges Simenons Maigret character, not only in his relations with other people, but also in the way he solves his cases. There are three cases that demand his attention during the first week after his arrival in Lan-fang (The Case of the Murder in the Sealed Room, The Case of the Hidden Testament and The Case of the Girl with the Severed Head), and they are strangely interwoven with each other.
And of course he solves them all.
I did enjoy the book, but I thought the characters remained a bit flat. It was as if they were all caricatures: the pensive judge, the nonchalant artist, the loyal servant, the violent soldier, etc....more
I started this book because I wanted something really light and because I was intrigued by the title. But it didn't meet my expectations. I thought thI started this book because I wanted something really light and because I was intrigued by the title. But it didn't meet my expectations. I thought the story was rather stupid and the writing wasn't very good. But yes, I finished it....more
First sentence: "Several of us, all more or less connected with the sea, were dining in a small river-hostelry not more than thirty miles from London,First sentence: "Several of us, all more or less connected with the sea, were dining in a small river-hostelry not more than thirty miles from London, and less than twenty from that shallow and dangerous puddle to which our coasting men give the grandiose name of 'German Ocean'."
Last sentence: "I should not wonder if Schomberg's tongue had succeeded at last in scarin Falk away for good; and, indubitably, there was a tale going about the town of a certain Falk, owner of a tug, who had won his wife at cards from the captain of an English ship."
A young mariner takes charge of a ship in the far east (Bangkok) when the previous captain dies. The crew are sickly and unfriendly, the ship has no provisions, and there are delays in getting under way. He befriends Hermann, the captain of the Diana, a German ship which is moored nearby. Hermann lives on board with his wife, his four children, and his niece – who is a simple but physically attractive young woman. Also passing time with this family is Falk, the captain of a tug with a monopoly of navigation on the river leading out to the coast.
Falk is a remote, taciturn, and rather forbidding figure who is not popular with the local officials and traders. When the young captain’s and Hermann’s vessels are ready to depart, the young captain is annoyed to discover that Falk takes the Diana out first, damaging Hermann’s ship in the process. The captain tries to hire the one possible alternative navigator, but discovers that Falk has bought him off.
It transpires that Falk has taken this precipitate action because he is consumed with a passionate desire for Hermann’s voluptuous niece, and thinks the young captain is a rival. The captain confronts Falk, reassuring him that he has no designs on the girl. Falk asks for his diplomatic assistance in re-establishing good relations with Hermann, so that he can propose to the niece.
The young captain opens negotiations, and Hermann very reluctantly allows Falk to plead his case. But Falk explains that there is one thing the niece should know about him if she is to accept his offer of marriage....more
This autobiography is mainly a telling of the hoarding of the author: how it started, what he collects (nothing, as he says in the title, by which heThis autobiography is mainly a telling of the hoarding of the author: how it started, what he collects (nothing, as he says in the title, by which he means objects that have no value whatsoever, like labels of food-cans or empty cereal boxes)and what this collecting means to him and to other people. I had thought I would have found this book very interesting, but this was not the case. It is well written, but I feel it lacks something, although I couldn't say what exactly. Perhaps I would have liked more about what the collections mean to him, although it is clear that King himself doesn't quite know. I think this book is a must, however, for people who are hoarders themselves, or those that have to live with someone who hoards. ...more
First sentence: "All children, except one, grow up." P. 99: "Tink darted up the nearest tree; but no one followed her, for it was at this moment that tFirst sentence: "All children, except one, grow up." P. 99: "Tink darted up the nearest tree; but no one followed her, for it was at this moment that the pirates made their dreadful attack upon the redskins." Last sentence: "When Margaret grows up, she will have a daughter, who is to be Peter's mother in turn, and thus it will go on, so long as children are gay and innocent and heartless."
Finally I read "Peter Pan", which I never read as a child. I really liked it, and I even think I wouldn't have liked it as a child, because I remember clearly I didn't like stories with too much fantasy in them, and especially not if it was about naughty children (I know, I know, I was a strange child). But now I understand Peter Pan who didn't want to grow up. Most of us do feel a little sad sometimes realizing we did lose the naivety and innocence from our childhood.